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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168 thoughts on “Adventist Education–at the crossroads?

  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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?

    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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. I was intrigued by Jan Long’s remark:

    Jan&#032Long: 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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  9. @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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  10. Sean&#032Pitman: 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:

      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.

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

      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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  11. 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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  12. 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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  13. Wesley&#032Kime: 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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  14. 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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  15. 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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