Sean Concerning Grenland ice you say “So, the best …

Comment on Adventist Education–at the crossroads? by pauluc.


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 Also Commented

Adventist Education–at the crossroads?
@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.


Adventist Education–at the crossroads?
@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.


Adventist Education–at the crossroads?
@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.



Recent Comments by pauluc

LSU memorandum confirms Educate Truth’s allegations
@Sean Pitman:

To summarize the issues in your long response.

1] NHP as you have articulated do not offer any possibility of deciding between relatedness by descent and “God made it that way”

2] ID only hypothesis; Has never been formulated in any rigorous way that has been subject to testing. I do not even know what you mean by “ID-only”. Most scientists would understand ID as code for “We dont understand this except God did it”.

3] Hypothesis testing you say

“Real science demands that models be at least theoretically falsifiable. That means that a particular model can be shown to be false even if there is no other model with which to replace the current model. A false model is a false model. It’s as simple as that.”

Unfortunately it is nowhere near as simple as that as you would know if if you had bothered to try to understand science beyond your sectarian base. Although the poperian model of science as hypothesis testing and a requirement for falsifiability is still the dominant understanding it is much more complicated than that. The discussion by Alistair McGrath in “A scientific theology vol 3 theory” pg 192-214 of the Durham – Quine theory and the nature of hypothesis testing would be a useful start to understand hypothesis testing and falsifiability. In summary however the theory suggests that a thesis such as quantum mechansisms, origin of life by evolution by common descent is surrounded by a group of agregated interrelated hypotheses. These might include Darwinian natural selection. In reality as Jerry Fodor has suggested in his book “What Dawin Got Wrong”, the Darwinian hypothesis can be rejected based on evidence without at all rejecting the core evolutionary hypothesis. As he says in his eassy “Fodor against Darwinism” found on his website

“None of this should, however, lighten the heart of anybody in Kansas; not even a little. In particular, I’ve provided not the slightest reason to doubt the central Darwinist theses of the common origin and mutability of species. Nor have I offered the slightest reason to doubt
that we and chimpanzees had (relatively) recent common ancestors. Nor I do suppose that the intentions of a designer, intelligent or otherwise, are among the causally sufficient conditions that good historical narratives would appeal to in order to explain why a certain kind of creature has the phenotypic traits it does (saving, of course, cases like Granny and her zinnias.) It is, in short, one thing to wonder
whether evolution happens; it’s quite another thing to wonder whether adaptation is the mechanism by which evolution happens. Well, evolution happens; the evidence that it does is overwhelming. I blush to have to say that so late in the day; but these are bitter times.”

The response to data that would falsify one of the hyptheses is to change that hypothesis to better account for the new fact without at all changing the original thesis.

A recent review on evolution of cellular complexity by ratchet like mechansisms rather than selection also critiques Darwinian selection as the mechanism of generating complexity but does not question the well established rubric of evolution of cellular complexity. (Gray MW, Lukeš J, Archibald JM, Keeling PJ, Doolittle WF. Irremediable Complexity? Science 2010 Nov;330(6006):920 -921). This is the model of scientific advance you are confonting. Science could completely reject all darwinian mechanisms but the thesis of evolution would remain because of the absence of a better theory.

Your approach of pointing out the problems you see with some aspect of the evolutionary model completely misses this point. You are approaching science and knowledge from the approach to truth you hear from the pulpit and from fundamentalists like Bob Ryan. You cannot be a christian unless you believe in the literal creation. You cannot have a sabbath unless the literal creation is correct. There can be no second coming unless the creation is literally true. This is not the mindset outside the inclaves of fundamentalism. The pillar talk of people like this engender the idea that failure at a single point destroys the whole edifice. This does not pass the test of realism.

You cannot hope to change the scientific paradigm that is the thesis of evolution by pointing out even a multitude of errors or inconsistencies in the surrounding interrelated hypotheses without a compelling alternative core model. You have to provide both an overarching alternative to evolution as a thesis and to each of the surrounding interrelated hypotheses each of which provide support for the overall hypothesis.

I know you have taken the view that you can and must personally understand everything related to origins and have published critiques in all conceivably related fields. This is all well and good but these have to be both credible and well informed in each field.
for Eg do you seriously want us to believe that geo biodiversity can be accounted for by a model of plate tectonics that suggests that in 6000 years south america moved >11000 km from Gwondanaland. This is incredible; minimal rate of nearly 2 Km per year! The constraints imposed on the model, a 6000 year earth history makes your task of credibility virtually impossible. But if you move away from the “about 6000” of divine relevation you are on your own and well away from the mothership of the church.

You have a problem in that your core thesis that God created everything 6000 years ago was the dominant model some 150 years ago but this has been tested and progressively rejected as untenable because of accumulating evidence for the alternative model over the last 150 years. It is extremely unlikely that this will ever be a scientific thesis although it will always remain as a faith statement which is outside the magesteria of science and hypothesis testing. People like Prof Kent seem to recognize this.

4] The organization of the genome;

“Beyond this, your notion that the genome is a hodge-podge poorly planned jumbled mess is a view that is at odds with the currently emerging view of the genome”

I think it interesting that you would take a journalists view, albeit published in science, as the best evidence for “currently emerginf view of the genome”. Even given this caveat I do not read this review as supporting your contention of design on which it is completely silent. Unless of course you see in a Mandelbrot and all complexity the finger of God.

If you had read the chicken defensin gene paper you would have an example of what I mean by messy. Within this gene family
a] Why are the introns of different length ie different ?random intronic lengths
b] why are the intergenic distances variable?
c] why does the gal13 have partial repeat sequences
d] why is the orientation of the gene seemingly at random?

This does not to me seem the carefully ordered regular precise structure I would expect of intelligent design. If you suggest that we do not yet know but that all of this nonetheless reflect careful thought or that it reflects interference and corruption from the devil as David Read woudl suggest I would have to conclude that your ID concept is vaccuous has not explanatory value and is far from scientific.

In contrast the evolutionary model of common origin and ancestory has extraordinary explanatory and predictive value. It predicts that changes between species will reflect this history of origin by descent from common ancestors.

I ask you to take any published analysis of a multigene family and ask the same questions. Do they objectively support order and design or are they best accounted for by contingency and chance with a mere modicum of selection.

5] I have dealt with “real science” and new models above but your statement

” … but on the functional aspects associated with the NHP that cannot be explained by any known mindless mechanism while being within the realm of the powers of intelligent design at a very high level.”

is a faith statement, a non-sequitur that does not get to the point of this dialogue which was why the genome is as it is and can you honestly say it is best accounted for by “design”.


The End of “Junk DNA”?
@Sean Pitman:
“I’m a very strong supporter of the freedoms of religion, speech, and general expression within the confines of civil law and government………………church employment is an entirely different matter. Church employment is a privilege, not a basic human right. No one should expect payment from any particular organization, to include a church organization, just because one claims the name of that organization”.

Does your rhetoric and claimed principle really just come down to concerns about administrative process and control of thought by economic leverage? Do you have no respect for education as a process that involves academic freedom?
Your approach seems to be blind to the progressive history of Adventism. Adventist have no creed and what you believe about origins is not precisely what early adventists would believe. Adventism has had a doctrine of creation like all christians. Most have adopted a YEC view but that YEC in general has not always believed that the earth was old or that a big bang occurred. The idea that there has been a single standard of belief over the last 150 years is naive. Are you advocating that what you believe now in 2012 including your belief on natural mechanisms of macroevolution (as it is usually defined) and the age of the earth is the gold standard manifests to me a huge amount of hubris and lack of perspective. Have you not read the statement of fundamental beliefs and its preamble? What do you want to do. Sack people every time there is new perspective on mechanisms of creation? Do you have a purge your educational faculties with every change in administration? Doesnt seem to have worked very well for ADRA. Do you think you are the one who can determine the “truth” to which we must educate. How about a little academic freedom and acknowledgment of the true standard. Recognition of a doctrine of creation rather than judging people by the nuances of some theory of creation.

I do not really know the people who teach science at La Sierra but as Prof Kent has suggested it seems to me they may well have projected a lack of respect for traditional Adventist positions and heritage in the past but I suspect you are now beating a dead horse and the University has done what it can to be responsibly responsive to the expressed concern.

“The freedom of expression and the ability to hire only those who will most accurately reflect one’s views is also extended to the “ignorant”.”

Yes we are all ignorant it is a question of whether we are able to admit it and concede expertise to those who manifest it. I have never claimed to be brilliant, I simply try to practice my craft as honestly and consistently as I can and that means accepting the tradition and process of science as a window to understand the natural world and accepting the value and insight of both the Adventist tradition and the Christian faith as it has been practised by our spiritual fathers for 2000 years. I ask only that we practice charity rather than condemnation toward those who are trying to educate in science and in knowledge of God.

Southern Adventist University opens Origins Exhibit
@Sean Pitman:

Thanks for that. Wise choice, that I knew given your intelligence you would make despite you vigorous defence of your near perfect pair model of origins. We will pass over the assumption that there are no deleterious mutations and that you discriminate against animals with variant expression of FGF4 and consider it deleterious. Why the prejudice against short legs?
Lets recap what we do agree on

1] A genetically bottle-necked population such as 2 Daschunds lacks the genetic diversity to allow rapid selection of phenotypic novelty by selection among allelic variants. imposing a bottleneck on a non-bottle-necked population of wolves is also suspect so you choose 100 pairs.

2] In this you seem to be accepting the conventional scientific view that a bottle-necked population is undesirable as it has dramatically decreased repertoire in their gene pool and high levels of homozygosity. Lack of variation rather than deleterious mutation is the issue.

3] You accept that wolves and their subfamily dogs, foxes, jackal and coyotes are all derived from 2 animals living 4000 years ago. This by definition is a genetic bottleneck

4] These animals had 2 genomes and maximum of 4 haplotypes and alleles for every gene. Any additional alleles has arisen subsequently as random or non-random mutations.

5] The vast majority of the SNP (>2.5million) arose in the progeny of this pair by mutations over a period of 4000 years.

5] The multiple DLA alleles at the class II arose denovo since these 2 animals provided the 4 original alleles.

6] Similarly in man [assuming 8 people on the ark and that Noahs sons were the progeny of he and his wife, and that his daughter in laws were unrelated to each other and to Noah and his wife and were heterzygous] there were a total of 10 alleles at HLA B. this means that 1590 of the HLA-B alleles currently recognized by genotype in man have arisen denovo over the last 4000 years.

7] In this case if we accept Seans value of 1600 HLA-B allels then 99.3% of the variation seen today has arisen by chance mutations and selection.

8] If we conservatively estimate the HLA-B serological specificities associated with amino acid changes and differences in peptide binding are 60 and all of the 10 HLA-B alleles in the 8 people on the boat were associated with serological specificity then we can assume that at least 83% of the variation in the highly functional amino acid changes in HLA-B seen the current population were derived by chance mutations.

9] There seems little reason to argue that the same process that must occur in highly polymorphic systems such as the MHC do not occur in other gene systems.

9] If between 83% and 99% of the variation in the progeny of 2 animals and 8 humans arose rapidly over 4000 years and in the case of canines this acquired variation was able to generate at least the species wolves, coyote, foxes and Jackals, it is hard to then mount a consistent criticism that species can never arise by acquired mutations.

10] You can of course invoke miracles. Indeed I think it is the only logically consistent conclusion given your premises.
1] All species variation arose over 4000 years from an extremely bottle-necked population
2] Mutations account for any variation not present in the original near perfect pair.
3] These mutations cannot generate anything useful or novel that can contribute to the phenotypic development of breeds or species.

I have great faith in your ability to reconcile these but I do not have the intellectual horsepower to do so except by invoking miracles.

Southern Adventist University opens Origins Exhibit
@Sean Pitman:

You suggest

“Don’t sell yourself short! You think you’re just as right in your opinions and that I’m clearly mistaken. You’re certainly no less “gifted” in this regard than I am.”

No Sean this is really the core of the differences between you and me. It is not a matter of opinion but a matter of statistical probability. In almost all of what I have posted on this site I have reflected the evidence for the consensus view rather than my opinion.

Dismiss me as kowtowing to authority if you will. I have faith in the process of hypothesis driven science and the community of scientists that seeks to arrive at objective truth by free and open communication of ideas by publication and peer review. In this process I continue to participate for I do think it is one of the most noble human endeavours.

As a outsider to this process and as one who has never had formal training in science you uncritically accept the paranoid meme that says you must be somehow blessed by some scientific inner circle to have your papers accepted. You feel excluded but have you actually tried to participate?

I accept in good faith the work of scientists and the derivative consensus view in most areas of science but like all good scientist understand it is always a tentative synthesis. I maintain a cynical attitude which unfortunately taints the way I view your claims. I nonetheless can appreciate the elegance of a solution to a conundrum and an hypothesis that has huge explanatory value while still accepting its tentative nature. I understand my limitations and have some inkling of the extent of the biomedical literature. I recognise expertise and am therefore happy to defer to the expertise of others with an appropriate track record.

In contrast because of your religious views you do not accept the consensus view of scientists in a vast number of areas including geology, climatology and paleoclimatology, volcanology, oceanography, genetics, paleontology, cladistics, and molecular biology. In all these areas you imagine that you have more expertise and insight than the people who have dedicated their lives to the study of the content of these areas.

In spite of the way you construct it I am not suggesting I am more righter than you and I have only ever suggested that you have some respect for the history of the current consensus view in science and a little more realism in your perception of mastery of these areas. You may view this as a contest and that you easily best some fool from the antipodes but in rejecting my appeals to the evidence and the orthodox consensus view in areas in which I have some expertise you are essentially claiming you know it all.

[to save time I will acknowledge this space as containing some castigation from you or Bob Ryan such as “Gotta love the appeal to authority!!!”]

Which brings me to the question of probabilities. Statistically who do you think is more likely to be right? 1] An MD from Southern California whose ambition in life seems to be to extinguish any open discussion of views that do not align with his own views and interpretation of most all of science. 2] The consensus view of many scientists who in good faith attempt to understand the world through a process of hypothesis testing and experimentation and open communication of that information and interpretation.

A “Christian Agnostic”?

Concerning your fixation with the numerology I can use R and bioconductor probably better than the average biologist but like lawyer jokes the adage about “lies, damn lies and statistics” resonates because it has some basis in reality. Biologists use statistics to decide what is the likely among the possible processes and hypotheses. Statistics and mathematics are tool in biology not the reality. Particularly annoying I find the abuse of post hoc probabilities which are largely meaningless and depend on the rigor of your definition of the dependent variables proposed as precedent to the outcome. Bayes and the savy gambler understood the real purpose of statistics.