Comment on Adventist Education–at the crossroads? by Sean Pitman.
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.
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.
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.
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 Also Commented
Adventist Education–at the crossroads?
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.
Adventist Education–at the crossroads?
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.
Adventist Education–at the crossroads?
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.
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Science and Methodological Naturalism
Very interesting passage. After all, if scientists are honest with themselves, scientific methodologies are well-able to detect the existence of intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. It’s just the personal philosophy of scientists that makes them put living things and the origin of the fine-tuned universe “out of bounds” when it comes to the detection of intelligent design. This conclusion simply isn’t dictated by science itself, but by a philosophical position, a type of religion actually, that strives to block the Divine Foot from getting into the door…
Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
Why is it that creationists are afraid to acknowledge the validity of Darwinism in these settings? I don’t see that these threaten a belief in God in any way whatsoever.
The threat is when you see no limitations to natural mindless mechanisms – where you attribute everything to the creative power of nature instead of to the God of nature.
God has created natural laws that can do some pretty amazing things. However, these natural laws are not infinite in creative potential. Their abilities are finite while only God is truly infinite.
The detection of these limitations allows us to recognize the need for the input of higher-level intelligence and creative power that goes well beyond what nature alone can achieve. It is here that the Signature of God is detectable.
For those who only hold a naturalistic view of the universe, everything is attributed to the mindless laws of nature… so that the Signature of God is obscured. Nothing is left that tells them, “Only God or some God-like intelligent mind could have done this.”
That’s the problem when you do not recognize any specific limitations to the tools that God has created – when you do not recognize the limits of nature and what natural laws can achieve all by themselves.
Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
Since the fall of Adam, Sean, all babies are born in sin and they are sinners. God created them. Even if it was by way of cooperation of natural law as human beings also participated in the creation process.
God did not create the broken condition of any human baby – neither the physical or moral brokenness of any human being. God is responsible for every good thing, to include the spark or breath of life within each one of us. However, He did not and does not create those things within us that are broken or bad.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'” Matthew 13:27-28
Of course, all humans are indeed born broken and are in a natural state of rebellion against God. However, God is not the one who created this condition nor is God responsible for any baby being born with any kind of defect in character, personality, moral tendency, or physical or genetic abnormality. God did not create anyone with such brokenness. Such were the natural result of rebellion against God and heading the temptations of the “enemy”… the natural result of a separation from God with the inevitable decay in physical, mental, and moral strength.
Of course, the ones who are born broken are not responsible for their broken condition either. However, all of us are morally responsible for choosing to reject the gift of Divine Grace once it is appreciated… and for choosing to go against what we all have been given to know, internally, of moral truth. In other words, we are responsible for rebelling against the Royal Law written on the hearts of all mankind.
This is because God has maintained in us the power to be truly free moral agents in that we maintain the Power to choose, as a gift of God (Genesis 3:15). We can choose to accept or reject the call of the Royal Law, as the Holy Spirit speaks to all of our hearts…
Remember the statement by Mrs. White that God is in no wise responsible for sin in anyone at any time. God is working to fix our broken condition. He did not and does not create our broken condition. Just as He does not cause Babies to be born with painful and lethal genetic defects, such as those that result in childhood leukemia, He does not cause Babies to be born with defects of moral character either. God is only directly responsible for the good, never the evil, of this life.
Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
Again, your all-or-nothing approach to the claims of scientists isn’t very scientific. Even the best and most famous of scientists has had numerous hair-brained ideas that were completely off base. This fact does not undermine the good discoveries and inventions that were produced.
Scientific credibility isn’t based on the person making the argument, but upon the merits of the argument itself – the ability of the hypothesis to gain predictive value when tested. That’s it.
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Don’t be so obtuse here. We’re not talking about publishing just anything in mainstream journals. I’ve published several articles myself. We’re talking about publishing the conclusion that intelligent design was clearly involved with the origin of various artifactual features of living things on this planet. Try getting a paper that mentions such a conclusion published…