Dr. Ervin Taylor: ‘A truly heroic crusade’

By Sean Pitman

Ervin Taylor, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of California, Riverside.  He is also a long-time supporter, executive publisher, and contributor to the “progressive” journal Adventist Today.

In response to my own position that the SDA faith, and Christianity in general, has the support of strong empirical evidence, Dr. Taylor presented a very interesting, and a very old, argument (Original Post):

I don’t think many of those of us who read Sean’s statements on this and other web sites appreciate how truly heroic is the task he has set out for himself.

His interpretation of the Bible requires that all life must be very young—less than 10,000 years. However, he is not content in just leaving it there as his personal belief about the history of the physical world based on his own interpretation of an ancient text.

He believes that there must be solid modern scientific evidence to support the conclusions he has reached because of his religious beliefs. He is thus forced to call into question and reject the foundational conclusions of the essentially all of the scientific disciplines which deal with earth history, the fossil record, and human prehistory.

I don’t think the causal reader is aware of what kind of heroic odyssey upon which Sean has embarked. He must reject all of the mainline conclusions of 99.9% of all those scientists who are involved in all isotopic dating methods, and all other types of dating methods including dendrochronology, varve dating, ice core dating, stable isotope studies of ocean cores, and on and on. The very long list of scientific conclusions he is required to reject is truly impressive. He must believe that all of the scientists involved in the study of these topics are wrong and he is right. I’m thinking of a word that describes the attitude that Sean must have to be able to do this.

Anyone reading his web site must be impressed by how many topics he has studied. This is certainly appropriate and to be lauded. But then a miracle occurs! He always finds some major, fundamental mistake or misunderstanding that all of the specialists in each field who have spend their professional lives studying either don’t know about, or ignore, or misinterpret or something.

Now one might very impressed if he might accomplish this in even one or two instances. But he must come up with reasons and arguments that refute conclusions reached throughout the entire range of scientific fields which yield evidence that the world and life are very, very old.

This is why I believe it is appropriate to call Sean’s crusade truly heroic. I continue to wonder how he has the time to practice his medical specialty which I understand is pathology.

One has to love appeals to authority like this. Such arguments are often used as an attempt to avoid directly answering the questions or challenges against mainstream thinking. One can always say, “Well, I can’t answer your arguments or questions myself, but I know you’re wrong because 99.9% of the experts disagree with you.”

Was not this very same argument used against Noah? Didn’t Jesus Himself come against similar arguments? What about anyone who steps out from the general opinion of the majority of the day? While I do agree that the majority opinion, especially the majority opinion of the best available experts in a field of study, should be carefully considered, there are many many examples throughout ancient and even modern history where the majority of experts have not only been wrong, but painfully wrong. Science itself would proceed much more slowly, if at all, if no one questioned the established wisdom of the day.

Look, I’m only challenging people to consider the generally available evidence for themselves. I’ve decided that this issue is of such importance for me personally that I’m not simply going to take someone else’s word for it. I’m going to read up and investigate the claims of mainstream scientists for myself to see if I can actually understand them as valid.

When I first started my investigation in earnest some 15 years ago, I did so with no small amount of fear and trepidation. A great deal was on the line for me. I had decided that if the claims of mainstream science were indeed valid, then I would have to leave the SDA Church behind as hopelessly out of touch with reality. I began my search with what I was most familiar – genetics. If Darwinian-style evolution happens or doesn’t happen, it happens or doesn’t happen genetically. What I found was rather shocking to me at the time. I found that the Darwinian mechanism of random mutations combined with natural selection was statistically untenable – dramatically so. Given billions or even trillions of years of time, it was hopelessly inadequate to explain the origin of novel functional biological information beyond very very low levels of functional complexity. I also found that the detrimental mutation rates were far far too high for animals with relatively slow reproduction rates, like all mammals for example, to avoid eventual genetic meltdown and extinction over a relatively short period of time – no more than one or two million years max.

While I was shocked by the obvious nature of the statistical problems for the Darwinian mechanism that I discovered, I was even more shocked by the arguments used to prop it up… arguments that were based almost exclusively on imagination or unreasonable extrapolations of low-level examples of evolution in action. I was especially shocked at the use, by modern scientists, of Mendelian variation as a basis for Darwinian-style evolution over time. Mendelian variation isn’t evolution at all. It is simply a difference in expression of the same underlying gene pool of options where the gene pool itself doesn’t change.

Now that I knew, for sure, that 99.9% of mainstream scientists were wrong when it came to the creative potential of the Darwinian mechanism to explain both the origin and diversity of living things that we see today, it was much much easier for me to believe that 99.9% of mainstream scientists could also be wrong in their interpretation of the fossil record. While interpretations of fossils and the geologic column is not as definitively precise and conclusive as dealing with genetics and the Darwinian mechanism, I’ve still found a great deal of evidence, which to me, appears to significantly counter the mainstream perspective on origins while being, at the same time, quite consistent with the Biblical perspective.

So, there you have it. This was my path and the basic reason why I am currently opposed to 99.9% of mainstream scientists. And Erv, if he is honest with himself, knows that anyone who thinks that there is any empirical evidence for God whatsoever, is opposed to 99.9% of mainstream scientists who claim that there is no empirical evidence for God’s existence whatsoever. Perhaps this is why Erv, when asked, before a large audience in the Loma Linda University Church, what he would tell his own granddaughter if she asked him for evidence of God’s existence said, “I don’t know”.

Now, that’s an admirably honest statement coming from an agnostic who definitely wants to believe in God, as Erv claims he does. However, it is also a rather sad statement. It would be much better and much more hopeful if we as Christians, and Seventh-day Adventists in particular, would be able to answer our own young people who ask for evidence of God’s existence and the credibility of the Bible (aka “ancient text”) with something more than, “I don’t know”.

Are those of us who are Adventists simply in the Church for social reasons? – as Dr. Taylor is?  Or, do we really believe that the crazy founders of this Church (as Dr. Taylor describes them) were on to something? – That the claims of the Biblical authors are literally true and that we really do have an important message, a commission from God, to tell the world about the Creative and Redemptive Power of the one who made us and died to save us?

This is why I believe it is appropriate to call Sean’s crusade truly heroic. I continue to wonder how he has the time to practice his medical specialty which I understand is pathology.

Lots of people wonder that. I wonder about that myself sometimes. Yet, somehow, I’ve managed to pass boards in anatomic, clinical and hematopathology and to maintain an active full-time practice in a 6-member pathology group taking care of two hospitals, several surrounding clinics and numerous individual medical practices. I also have my family to enjoy, to include my wife and new little one year old boy Wesley. All I can say is that I get up early in the morning, often at 4 or 5 am, to start my “work” – both professional as well as my work in other fields of interest.

Little does Dr. Taylor realize his own significant contribution to this particular “crusade” within the SDA Church in support of Creation. Without the antagonism of Dr. Taylor, this effort, to include this particular website, would most likely never have gotten off the ground much less have achieved the level of exposure that it currently enjoys within the SDA Church. So, for that I am deeply grateful and most thankful.

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172 thoughts on “Dr. Ervin Taylor: ‘A truly heroic crusade’

  1. Re Debate

    Dear Bob, OTNT, Prof Kent

    Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Sean challenge Erv to a debate?

    Why the cold feet gentleman? Why the protective mantra? I’m dismayed at this.

    Debates are a normal, active, dynamic part of life. Let’s not pre-judge or worry about the outcome. If Sean can convince a wider audience as to the credibility of creation science then I say all the power to him. I’ll be the first to congratulate him. If Erv can demonstrate there is no viable scientific young life model then I’ll do likewise for him. If I can demonstrate the need to separate science and metaphysics when it comes to discussing origins or creation then hopefully my Adventist friends won’t run me out on a rail!

    What do you think Wes? For the love of truth, and mankind should we publicly debate?

    Regards
    Ken




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  2. I wish that, when people hear of us, their response would be, “Oh, Seventh-day Adventists are the people who really love Jesus.”

    Many people do think of SDAs that way – much to the chagrin of liberals.

    Odly enough Liberal SDAs like to engage in a little game of imagining that of all the Christian denominations – SDAs are the only ones that “Love Jesus”. Interesting fiction on their part.

    The rise of the SDA church among the Christians of the 19th century was not brought about because “Millerites were the only Christians that love Jesus” or that “Millerites were the only Christians that believed in Justification” — though liberals seem to engage in stories based on that kind of thinking.

    I guess it is just their way of saying “drop the SDA distinctive doctrines and pretend that we are the only ones that Love Jesus – and that this is how everyone will know we are SDAs”.

    Sadly – the reality is that not only do we (and other Christians from other denominations) – Love Jesus but we also value His Commandments “IF you Love Me KEEP My Commandments” – which means that we think that the Seven day creation week of the 4th commandment is “real” – something that “really happened in nature”.

    Again – a point of discouragement for some of our lib friends – but true all the same.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  3. Re Bob’s Quote
    “2. Online venues for debate are much more “information oriented” than public (person-to-person) debates. So again – it is obvious as to “why” SDA evolutionists would prefer the short snippet public debate venue to online debates.
    3. Sean has talked himself out on a number of topics for any would-be opponent to know every thought Sean has before the debate ever starts – while Sean would know next to nothing about the opposing strategy in such a debate. So again – it is easy to see the value that such a public debate might have for an SDA evolutionist.”
    Dear Bob
    I understand your concerns. But the optics of this for creationists are horrible. It suggests fear.

    Indeed that is the risk I took in making that statement.

    But the point that online debate formats are “information centric” but public person-to-person venue debates are only about 40% information — the rest is all luck of the draw nuance, charisma, informed-level-vs-bias of the audience etc.

    In a “nothing to lose” model such as the SDA evolutionists are in at the moment – why not bet on at least getting “some improvement” from a public debate. They certainly can’t do worse than what they have at the moment given the GC session vote.

    It is pretty hard to miss the point that the only ones at risk under such conditions are the creationists.

    Did Jesus hide away from the public with his message?

    1. Inside the SDA church – the recent GC session vote was the closest thing we have to “World wide” and “public”.

    2. Jesus seldom ever engaged in open debate and never even once made an agreement or arrangement to “go meet Joe at sun rise for a public square debate”. The one time you see a true ad hoc full on debate – is in Matt 22 Where Jesus proves the resurrection to a group of Jews that denied it. And it lasts about 8 minutes.

    3. ALL of our evangelistic seminars present the subject of creation vs evolution and argue in favor of creation, but in one-on-one debate formats.

    Did Gandhi, Darwin? Aren’t SDA’s supposed to be evangelists as opposed to a cyber closet club?

    I refer you to point 3 above.

    Even though I disagree with Dr. Pitman’s conclusions I greatly admire him for being a strong advocate and leader for YLC. But if you hide him from public debate what is that going to say to your faithful?

    This forum is hardly “hidden from public debate”. In the one-on-one debate format, time is limited, information is limited and the observers have no written log of the arguments from each side to review and study as they have time to follow the argument in detail.

    The public person-to-person is little more than fire-hosing each side with facts and hoping people will remember 10% of what was said later to work out for themselves. Not very efficient or effective.

    As a non Christian who does not believe in YLC or OEC I think I could be fair to both sides.

    No doubt you would do well – but the information you would have been looking at during a rapid-response (that misses points due to lack of time) fire-hosing session is presented in careful detail when done online. If the objective is really “the information” then this is the way to go.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  4. Dear Bob, OTNT, Prof Kent
    Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Sean challenge Erv to a debate?

    I don’t know – it is possible that Sean was the first to suggest it.

    Why the cold feet gentleman? Why the protective mantra? I’m dismayed at this.
    Debates are a normal, active, dynamic part of life.

    The objection is not to debate – online debate is very much “information centric”. The objection is to the one-on-one hit-or-miss charisma-over-facts debate style where the bias of the audience is as much a factor in getting a sense of “outcome” than any fact mentioned by either side during the debate.

    The points of the subject are all freely “mentioned” on websites like this one and on websites where focused debate format is promoted. But in a verbal exchange where someone tosses out 10 challenges – the response is almost always of the form “Well ignoring what you just said – the main points I wanted to get to in my 12 minute response time are….”

    Not as helpful an idea as many people may have first imagined.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  5. Why the cold feet gentleman? Why the protective mantra? I’m dismayed at this.
    Debates are a normal, active, dynamic part of life. Let’s not pre-judge or worry about the outcome.

    I’m not worried about the outcome, I’m just enough of a cynic to believe that debates are about putting on a show, not sharing truth. Proof of that is what is made of debates after the fact. Often, both sides claim to have won, and whoever is able to make up the best story about the debate controls the future narrative, regardless what was actually debated. Case in point is the Huxley/Wilberforce creation/evolution debates. Most people nowadays believe Huxley won, some people at the time thought Wilberforce won, and i think we all lost. 🙂




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  6. @ Ken

    Why the cold feet gentleman? Why the protective mantra? I’m dismayed at this.

    As determined as some are to divide our Church (EducateTruthers plea for this on a regular basis), some of us feel that this is Satan’s work, so we oppose them. A divided house will fall. Church unity happens to be a fundamental belief of SDAs, and there is no reason to undermine this belief while debating opinions on other fundamental beliefs. A debate brings glory to debaters, not to God.




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  7. Dear Bob and OTNT

    Re Debate Quotes

    Thank you gentlemen for your thorough replies, with which I respectfully disagree.

    Our civil history is replete with debate. It is a fundamental right, and necessity of, our democratic institutions. How would our courts legislature and schools work without public debate? We know what happens in totalitarian regimes where freedom is suppressed and public debate denied? I’m sure you would not want the public to view the SDA church in that vein.

    Now that Erv has accepted Sean’s challenge, how do you think the Adventist populace will view Sean as the YLC standard bearer if he doesn’t accept it? I hope Sean truly appreciates what is at stake here.

    Be strong in conviction not just posture.
    Ken




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  8. 1. As I stated – I agree that debating each side is helpful and that getting the information out is a good idea.

    But history shows that online debate is by far the best “information centric” model.

    2. I know of no individual “YLC standard bearer” position in our denomination – except the that church as a denomination holds to YLC.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  9. @Ken: What do you think Wes? For the love of truth, and mankind should we publicly debate?

    You, you of all people, trying to lure me, me of all people, into this new fibril within a fiber within a thread – to debate debate? For the “love of truth and mankind”? Throw in apple pie, the flag, ratings, and motherhood, the usual suspects. To do it up right, like the celebrities, we’ll need to hassle ground rules, admissible evidence and how many points disembodied faith gets; a virtually unbiased moderator (Jim Leher or Bill O’Reilly, toss a coin); makeup persons, stage props, the lighting, who gets to stand on the stool; weapons and seconds.

    Anyway, it’s already been decided in court, the Scopes trial, starring Jack Lemmon as Henry Drummond as W.J. Bryan and George C. Scott as Matthew Harrison Brady as Darrow, and the Dover rerun, surely coming soon to a theater near you. Casting now open for the LSU trial. Why wait? Anyway anyhow, we already know, cringing, how’ll it’ll be rerun by the folks over at Spectrum and Adven’y, and right here.

    But I’m so old that the very idea of Adventists even debating Genesis 1 is just downright nonplusing plus! Genesis 1 decided it once and for all, certainly for Adventists. What’s for Adventists to debate? Everything? How’d that happen? I guess that’s what will really be debated, at bottom, pretty near up front and throughout, like a fugue.

    I always thought debating Evo v Creationism is not for Adventist against Adventist but for Adventist against secularist (as Sean does on his site). But if everybody else gets to, why can’t we? Everybody else has hauled away their pulpits and trucked in props and producers and awards. And everybody else stages creation debates, get your season tickets early — reality TV; creation debates are as common on uTube as cute dogs; name a little college that hasn’t had one. Se we have to too – it’s outreach, letting the world know we’re relevant, you know.

    But how’s Erv going to prove to me that his fossils and strata prove anything? Or Sean prove to Ken they don’t? Transcendent faith and transcendent catcalls will kick in the instant Jim Leher (he won the toss) mounts the podium. Me, I may or may not even go see it, if it’s held around here. But no way will I click the uTubes. I lost faith, transcendent or the regular kind, in debates when Kennedy and Nixon debated. I thought Nixon won. Clinton was impeached, in prime time – did it matter?

    But seriously, if you must, Sean, God bless you. May the evidence be with you. And Luke 12:11, 12.




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  10. @Wesley Kime: Clinton wasn’t actually impeached? He was acquitted. I thought OJ was. Shows you how well I pay attention to such things. Must have been watching a “Planet of the Apes” rerun.




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  11. @Wesley Kime:

    But how’s Erv going to prove to me that his fossils and strata prove anything? Or Sean prove to Ken they don’t?

    Debates and discussions like this are not usually very effective for changing the mind of the one you’re debating – that’s clearly true. I don’t think someone like me would ever be able to change the mind of someone like Erv – or visa versa. That almost never happens. However, what I’ve seen happen quite often is that there are those in the audience who have not yet become convinced for one side or the other or who are actually open to considering various points of view. I’ve seen many such people dramatically affected by presentations or debates between those who strongly hold opposing views on a topic of particular interest like this.

    In fact, after I briefly debated Erv during one of his presentations on amino acid racemization dating (at Loma Linda; Mortenson Hall) a few years back (He didn’t know me at the time and asked me during the Q&A if I might be a lawyer or something), I was told that a man in the audience who had previously been strongly opposed to any religious ideas decided that there might be something to the creationist perspective after all. After the discussion he told his father-in-law that the discussion had opened his eyes to the potential weaknesses of mainstream theories and he wanted to know more about Adventism. He had never wanted to talk to his father-in-law about religious ideas before that time…

    But seriously, if you must, Sean, God bless you. May the evidence be with you. And Luke 12:11, 12.

    Thank you for invoking this important promise on behalf of this very important issue for the SDA Church today…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  12. @Ken:

    Now that Erv has accepted Sean’s challenge, how do you think the Adventist populace will view Sean as the YLC standard bearer if he doesn’t accept it? I hope Sean truly appreciates what is at stake here.

    Just to clarify, it was Dr. Taylor who challenged me to public debate, suggesting that I would never agree to such for fear of the inevitable public humiliation that I would experience if I did agree to be “outclassed” by those who really know what they’re talking about. Note that it was not I who challenged him. I simply accepted his challenge to risk public humiliation is all…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  13. @Ken:
    Dear Ken, yours to “Dear Bob and OTNT,” coachy axioms indirectly for Sean, was too loaded even for me, a bystander to that round, to duck.

    So, shedding my jester’s suit that you know me by, tattered old thing, elaborately engineered as a combination of not-fooling-anybody disguise and body armor, I don my not-scaring-anybody jousting togs and muscle in, uninvited, and sounding stern and, worse, professorish, and ejaculate: Now see here!

    Trying to sound serious as long as I can, I need to take yours clause by clause: “…Erv has accepted Sean’s challenge” I had understood it to be the other way around. But claiming to have heroically invited a debate and accusing the other person of shrinking from it (me hero; you chicken) – the old gauntlet gambit — is the instinctive, intuitive, expected, ancient but eternal foreplay, the unbreakable 1st rule of debate, the audience-warm-up shtick, enduring when all the other rules of the duel, like not calling each other “dude,” are tossed. Whoever gets that perception across first and best, even before the venue and moderator are settled on, or before it’s certain there will even be a debate, has as good as won the high moral ground, going in. So already our debate is about who did and didn’t want it, not who won it, with our alignments already showing through. Everything is on schedule.

    “How do you think the Adventist populace will view Sean as the YLC standard bearer if he doesn’t accept it?” That one’s cram-loaded with sneaky shot, again. You’re asking Bob and OTNT (not me? I take umbrage, on behalf of truth and mankind) about the Adventist populace’s perception’s of Sean as YLC. And this bit about Sean’s being the YLC champ but not really accepting it? Ah, the great old debating ploy decoy – my distinguished opponent is arguing for something he himself doesn’t even believe. So, ladies and gentlemen, intelligent seekers after truth, I ask you – is he a hypocrite, or addle-brained, or what! Next question.

    It would seem that another old debating tactic, scraping up by others around here of vaporous artificialities, virtualities, known in the trade as straw men, inside jokes that I’ll bet you never heard of until now (which is Sean, YLC or YEC? hard for newbies, even Erv, to keep straight), has been delightfully informative and formative for you. I sigh more for your image as granite-plinthed umpire than for your soul.

    Meanwhile, on the lighter side, what’s your perception of how Botswana’s populace is seeing the Hitchens-Blair debate?

    Cheerings, W




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  14. Dear Wes, OTNT,Bob, Prof Kent, Sean

    Re Debate

    Gentleman, thank you all for your comments.

    Firstly, a sincere apology to Sean for my mistake in thinking he had challenged Erv to the debate. Nothing sinister about this Wes, just my honest mistake.

    Secondly, my profound respect for Sean in not backing away from thar challenge. He has strength of conviction notwithstanding your perceptions about the quality and outcome of the debate.

    Gentlemen, it is easy to lob cyber bombs here behind anonymous cover. Imagine if Jesus did that, would the world, even non Christians like myself have respect for him if he only faced cyber cruxisfiction! He left an indelible impression on mankind, and most indelibly on this man, because of the strength of his conviction and the steps he was willing to take to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

    So frankly I care not what motives you want to accuse me of for suggesting public debates, suggesting creation chairs be set up at Adventist schools, suggesting I might be a safe fence sitter unwilling to take a stand. I take personal offense in that regard. But I do care about truth and I don’t any of us should shirk our moral duty to pursue whatever the cost.

    Sorry but when anyone is scared about debating in public, not a violent but a civilized act, then I see fear and worry. Am I being truculent, combative and uncompromisng here. No doubt but I think it is absolutely necessary to challenge you on the strength of your convictions as you do mine. So Wes my friend, let’s not sit in the faith proof bunker together, let’s sit in the fire of public debate together no matter what the outcome.

    Hoping that your faith is as strong as my conviction.
    Respectfully
    Ken




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  15. Dear Wes

    So now here we cyber stand with our jester suits off getting down to the nub of it. That’s OK, because there is much more at stake than just entertaining the king, or queen creator for that matter. Ever note how religion seems to be such a masculine discipline.

    You seem to take umbrage with Sean being viewed by me as a standard bearer for YLC. Well on this site which he edits, takes leadership, attempts to support his faith and bears the brunt of slings and arrows he is the man. And in my estimation he is a heck of a man notwithstanding I am diametrically opposed to his position. Notwithstanding what you think my motives are, no mystery to me, I think if anything a debate will raise Sean’s stature and that of YLC not ridicule or diminish it. You see before I started to investigate the Adventist beliefs I thought creationism was mere mythology. But now I understand that
    there serious highly educated people that are trying to put scientific flesh on the bones of faith. I respect that even if I surmise the flesh is held on by duct tape and baling wire. I respect that even if I need to question my belief in evolution and it’s mechanisms. I am still toying with concepts of design, perhaps something in all of matter itself that has led to life that suggests creation at some level. This in short is why I am an agnostic. Can you understand my friend why this is just not play or jest for me? Sean, has been a major influence for me to question my rather previously held static views of evolution and I am sincerely grateful to him for it.

    You see I think Shane, Sean and the rest of the YLC /YEC have a right to stand up for the FB’s of the church. I may not agree with the methodology but I back their right to do so. Moreover I wonder why Ted Wilson is not supporting them on this site in light of his ” will not flinch” bravado. In fact have Ted Wilson moderate the debate between Sean and Erv if this will give more credence to the cause. It matters not to me as long as folks don’t run and hide when the going gets tough.

    Yes Wes, take great credit you have drawn me out. No problem with that you have done a masterful job. But I do and will take umbrage if you think I’m practicing deceit or decoy. Happy to meet you face tom face in your friendly confines to discuss this if you want to take the measure of the man as well.

    All of this reminds me of Steinbeck’s ” Of Mice and Men”. We all have our existential choices to make in that regard don’t we my friend?

    I hope you all have a clearer understanding of your agnostic friend now.

    Sincerely
    Ken




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  16. @Ken:
    Dear Ken, Wonderful! See you at the debate, then. Let’s get there a little early, for a chat. I do feel I know you pretty well now, so am all the more eager to meet you en vivo, away from blog’s built-in and contagious rancor and cantankerousity. I’ll be the asymmetrically dimpled old guy with the Brillo pad white beard, subliminal grin and a non-subliminal kyphosis. (Interesting suggestion, that Ted Wilson moderate. Hmmm. But I think he’d do better for the opening prayer and benediction. They may be more crucial than the polemics anyway. But, say! hmmmm, would you be willing?)

    If this doesn’t work out for us, some other time – even if only allegorically.

    Expectantly, W




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  17. Moreover I wonder why Ted Wilson is not supporting them on this site in light of his ” will not flinch” bravado.

    There is a reason Elder Ted Wilson is not going to publicly support this site. He recognizes full well that cyberbullying is no way to manage the Church or to meet out discipline. What I wish he had was the courage to say, “Enough is enough. Our membership needs to stop airing its dirty laundry in the public.”




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  18. Does anyone seriously believe Jesus or Ellen White would condone a debate?  

    There are certain circumstances where debate may be necessary, yes. Ellen White was clear about this. While she advocates as minimal a use of this tactic as possible, she allows for its necessity on occasion. Here are some of her statements.

    Don’t Debate Minor Items–In our business meetings, it is important that precious time should not be consumed in debating points that are of small consequence. The habit of petty criticism should not be indulged; for it perplexes and confuses minds, and shrouds in mystery the things that are most plain and simple.–Gospel Workers, p. 447. {ChL 70.4}

    God Is Seldom Glorified.–In some cases, it may be necessary to meet a proud boaster against the truth of God in open debate; but generally these discussions, either oral or written, result in more harm than good. –Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 213. (1872) {Ev 162.1}
    Discussions cannot always be avoided. . . . People who love to see opponents combat, may clamor for discussion. Others, who have a desire to hear the evidences on both sides, may urge discussion in all honesty of motive; but whenever discussions can be avoided, they should be. . . . God is seldom glorified or the truth advanced in these combats.–Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 424. (1875) {Ev 162.2}
    Opposers Must Sometimes Be Met.–There are occasions where their glaring misrepresentations will have to be met. When this is the case, it should be done promptly and briefly, and we should then pass on to our work.–Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 37. (1872) {Ev 162.3}

    In Debate We Meet Satan.–Ministers who contend with opposers of the truth of God, do not have to meet men merely, but Satan and his host of evil angels. Satan watches for a chance to get the advantage of ministers who are advocating the truth, and when they cease to put their entire trust in God, and their words are not in the spirit and love of Christ, the angels of God cannot strengthen and enlighten them. They leave them to their own strength, and evil angels press in their darkness; for this reason, the opponents of the truth sometimes seem to have the advantage, and the discussion does more harm than real good.–Testimonies, vol. 3, pp. 220, 221. (1872) {Ev 165.1}

    If Debate Cannot Be Avoided.–Whenever it is necessary for the advancement of the cause of truth and the glory of God, that an opponent be met, how carefully, and with what humility should they [the advocates of truth] go into the conflict. With heartsearching, confession of sin, and earnest prayer, and often fasting for a time, they should entreat that God would especially help them, and give His saving, precious truth a glorious victory, that error might appear in its true deformity, and its advocates be completely discomfited. . . . {Ev 165.2}
    Never should you enter upon a discussion, where so much is at stake, relying upon your aptness to handle strong arguments. If it cannot be well avoided, enter the conflict, but enter upon it with firm trust in God, and in the spirit of humility, in the spirit of Jesus, who has bidden you learn of Him who is meek and lowly in heart.–Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 624, 626. (1867) {Ev 165.3}

    Let us not forget that Jesus Himself at times answered the questions posed to Him by the Sadducees and Pharisees. On their part, the questions were presented in the spirit of debate with the intent of entrapping Him. He answered them, but with a wisdom that confounded them and which instructs us today.




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  19. Here are some especially uplifting instructions from Mrs. White regarding how we should present the truth in a debate. I believe these instructions apply to each of us here who is defending God’s Word and teaching the truth.

    Dwell as little as possible upon your opponents’ objections, but press in the truth, new and convincing, arguments to cut away and undermine error. Keep your own spirit ever calm, even against personal abuse. Never retaliate. Let the spirit of kindness, Christian courtesy, rule your every action. The Holy Spirit will help your infirmities. People will pass judgment upon the men. Those in error have learned that their strength is to maintain self-control, while the fires of hell may be stirring every fiber of the being. {8MR 24.1}
    Your opponent will say words which will irritate a sensitive mind. Pass these by unheeded. Do not once forget that you are speaking for God’s truth. Your spirit, if kept gentle under provocation, will speak louder than any force of argument. Do not imperil the truth by an unwise word. Remember how, when provoked, Moses once spoke unadvisedly, and dishonored God. You need larger experience as a student in the school of Christ, in copying His meekness and lowliness.–Letter 9a, 1894, pp. 2, 4. (To Elder J. O. Corliss, December 8, 1894.) {8MR 24.2}
    We are praying for you that the Lord may give you largely of His Holy Spirit, and that as His human agent you may represent the likeness of Christ’s character, by manifesting the practical power of the truth in the manner in which you treat your opponent. Give him not the least semblance of an excuse to become irritated over any personal thrusts that may be given in the debate. On this occasion you are representing the Author of truth. You are to show that the truth is sacred, and not to be made a scourge to those who oppose it. In handling the words of the infinite God, you are not to manifest a sharp, cruel spirit. The Lord will be your teacher and enable you to carry the controversy through with Christ-like dignity. Your opponent will seek to make the truth appear unimportant, but to many he will not be successful in this design. You are Christ’s instrumentality, and should clothe your words with sacred, reverential dignity. This attitude will not be without effect on human minds.–Letter 113, 1894, pp. 2, 3. (To Elder J. O. Corliss, December 16, 1894.) {8MR 24.3}

    That last sentence reminds me of the text in Isaiah 55:11 that promises us that God’s Word will be effectual when it is presented.




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  20. You know what? You people can argue back and forth about this until the cows come home and it is very unlikely that anyone will be convinced that he is wrong. The same old people are posting over and over again and no one is changing their tune one iota. You are making this all so much more difficult than it has to be.

    You people are all educated so why do you find it so difficult to accept what is plainly written in God’s Word? The Bible plainly states that God made the earth, the sea, and all that in them is. Then, His messenger, under His inspiration, plainly states in Ministry of Healing pp 414-415:

    “In the creation of the earth, God was not indebted to pre-existing matter. “He spake, and it was; . . . He commanded, and it stood fast.” Psalm 33:9. All things, material or spiritual, stood up before the Lord Jehovah at His voice and were created for His own purpose. The heavens and all

    Page 415
    the host of them, the earth and all things therein, came into existence by the breath of His mouth.”

    “The great Jehovah had laid the foundations of the earth; He had dressed the whole world in the garb of beauty, and had filled it with things useful to man; He had created all the wonders of the land and of the sea. In six days the great work of creation had been accomplished. And God ‘rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.” Patriarchs and Prophets p 47

    This is where we have to have that child-like faith that Jesus spoke of when He said Except ye be as a little child ye shall not enter into the kingdom of God. These passages are plain enough to me. God created everything–even the foundations–in six days. Period, no question marks.

    Please note the fact that Creation and the Sabbath are inextricably interwined. Attacking Creation means you are attacking the Sabbath as well. As any SDA knows, belief in the Seventh-day Sabbath is the dividing line between the saved and the lost. Why? Because acceptance of the Sabbath (the remembrance of Creation) means you accept God as your Creator and give Him your worship as such.

    Don’t you see? Satan rebelled because he wasn’t included in the creation of this earth. And he is trying to spread his poison throughout the human family to rob God of His people. This is so plain. Satan came up with evolution to ruin what God had begun with Creation and to take away the glory from Him as the Creator. It is a result of Satan’s jealousy. When you continue to teach evolution you are playing right into his hands. You cannot work for Satan and deny God as your Creator and be in God’s church or be saved to live eternally with those who willingly worship God as their Creator. It is like trying to mix oil and water.

    Science, with all its “scholarly” writings is not going to save you or those you unfortunately indoctinate with the bogus theory of evolution. It is so sad–the Creator and King of the Universe stoops to explain to you where you came from and how it was all brought about and you refuse to believe it in favour of the writings of mere created human beings who make false assertions. But because these people call themselves scientists and belittle all who don’t believe them as ignorant and gullible, many people, bending over backwards to prove themselves to be just the opposite to what they have been accused to be, actually become what they were accused of being. You have to be ignorant and gullible to believe the evolutionary theory.

    You guys can just go on playing with your little theories if you like. I don’t need any further proof that God made the earth and all in it. You have to be a fool to believe that the universe operates on its own. God supports and sustains all living things; He guides the planets in their orbits; He is involved in the lives of all human beings, whether or not they want to acknowledge Him.

    Erv Taylor would deprive his granddaughter of a knowledge of her Creator? How sad. He will come to bitterly regret it. As he will bitterly regret it if he does not turn from evolution and embrace creation and His Creator. And he is not the only one. Anyone involved in this controversy has the same prospect before them. When education separates you from your Creator it is a curse and not a blessing, for it is not true education but Satan’s specious couterfeit.

    Please, please…let’s put this foolishness behind us…for evolution is foolishness. If the professors refuse to embrace all SDA beliefs they should not be allowed to teach in our institutions. Teachers have a unique position of trust in that they shape the thinking of their students. These professors should fear to teach that which contradicts God and the Bible. The penalty will be fearsome when our Creator appears in the clouds to take His people home to heaven with Him.

    I will continue to keep this matter in my prayers.

    Faith




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  21. @ Faith

    You people are all educated so why do you find it so difficult to accept what is plainly written in God’s Word?

    I completely agree with you! But Sean Pitman keeps insisting here that the Bible is not adequate enough.

    Science, with all its “scholarly” writings is not going to save you or those you unfortunately indoctinate with the bogus theory of evolution.

    Again, I completely agree with you! Who is arguing here that the Bible alone is not enough; that today’s science offers the evidence we need to accept the Bible as truth; and that, if today’s science fails to reject the Bible’s account, we must reject the Bible. SEAN PITMAN! EDUCATE TRUTH! Sean has repeatedly stated that if the evidence goes against the SDA position, he will give up his belief in Adventism and in Christianity.

    Speak up, FAITH!!! Stop the heresy perpetuated by this website!!!




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  22. Thank you, Adventist Principal, in reminding us of the issues related to debating among Christians. That advice is very sound, and not long ago I decided to comply with it.

    But when there is open sin in the Church, it must be countered, right? And doing it online is the only approach that Jesus would condone, particularly since the Church’s administration is so inept. Sean Pitman and Educate Truth are attacking your faith and undermining SDA fundamental beliefs about the priority of scripture. Why am I among the very few trying to stop them?




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  23. Re Wes’s Quote

    “Dear Ken, Wonderful! See you at the debate, then. Let’s get there a little early, for a chat. I do feel I know you pretty well now, so am all the more eager to meet you en vivo, away from blog’s built-in and contagious rancor and cantankerousity. I’ll be the asymmetrically dimpled old guy with the Brillo pad white beard, subliminal grin and a non-subliminal kyphosis. (Interesting suggestion, that Ted Wilson moderate. Hmmm. But I think he’d do better for the opening prayer and benediction. They may be more crucial than the polemics anyway. But, say! hmmmm, would you be willing?)

    If this doesn’t work out for us, some other time – even if only allegorically.”

    Dear Wes

    I’d be happy to sit with you in the front row. Rather than share the canteen perhaps we can share a bag of popcorn together.

    Yes, if asked I’d be happy to moderate. I’ve read with interest the cited comments by EGW regarding debate. A lot of wisdom there. I think a civil, respectful, dignified, informative debate(s) could be conducted. The key is to set a clear agenda and the ground rules so the debaters, the moderator and the audience know what to expect.

    In light of the disparity between church’s FB #6and the biology of origins being taught at Adventist institutions, I think debates could be very useful. I’ll put more thought into this but perhaps there could be a series of debates at LSU, PUC etc, covering various facets of the issue(s).

    I hope I can be of service.

    I hope you are having a good Sabbath and I am not committing too much of a transgression writing this on same.

    Best Regards
    Ken




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  24. Here is my position on how our faith should be formed, and how it relates to a simple “Thus saith the Lord:”

    Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. Romans 10:17 (NIV) – note the absence of any reference to empirical evidence from DNA, from fossils, from the enterprise we know as “science”

    He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” Luke 16:31 (NIV) – note the priority of God’s word versus empirical facts detected by our senses

    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— Ephesians 2:8 (NIV) – note that faith is a gift from God, and not acquired through the study of empirical evidence, of science




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  25. @Professor Kent:

    Here is my position on how our faith should be formed, and how it relates to a simple “Thus saith the Lord:”

    Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. Romans 10:17 (NIV) – note the absence of any reference to empirical evidence from DNA, from fossils, from the enterprise we know as “science”

    He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” Luke 16:31 (NIV) – note the priority of God’s word versus empirical facts detected by our senses

    Prophecy is based on known history professor – i.e., empirical evidence. Comparing a prophetic statement with known history to find fulfillment is a form of science – of determining the “predictive power” of the prophet’s prophecies. That’s what scientists do. They determine the predictive power of their hypotheses/theories.

    In short, if you have absolutely no empirical basis for your faith in the Bible as “God Word”, you really have no rational basis for your belief in the Bible vs. the belief of someone else in some other “good book” as the true “Word of God”.

    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— Ephesians 2:8 (NIV) – note that faith is a gift from God, and not acquired through the study of empirical evidence, of science

    I appreciate your arguments for the value of empirically-blind faith, but the ability to reason scientifically or rationally is also a gift from God. Everything we have the power to do is a gift of God. This doesn’t mean that faith in the credibility of the Bible vs. any other book or person who claims to speak the “Words of God” is something that is automatically given to us humans. It isn’t. We are actually told, in the Bible, to “test the Spirits” to the point of testing the claims of God himself against empirical reality to see if what he says, or what the Bible claims he said, really does come true. (Malachi 3:10 NIV)

    Before faith in the Bible, in particular, can be gained as the true Word of God, it must offer some kind of empirical evidence that has general appeal to the God-given intelligence of candid minds that are otherwise open to truth as they are able to comprehend it.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  26. @ Professor Kent

    Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. Romans 10:17 (NIV)

    Probably the more accurate reading, rather than “the word about Christ” (NIV) is “the word of God,” as the more literal translations read. Thus, the reference is to the recorded Scriptures then extant.

    That may be good enough for a lot of people, but when I was young, I wondered about the evidence for the existence of God and the dependability of the Bible itself. Not being sophisticated enough at the time, I didn’t even realize that this text of “faith comes by hearing the word” [whether of chairman Mao, the Koran, the Book of Mormons or the Bible] is equally true, no matter what our source of the “word” might be. After all, it is psychologically true that we are changed by our focus (by beholding Christ, we become like Him, by beholding evil, we become evil].

    In my teens, I did have the gut feeling that I had to choose what to believe. (My father was a closet agnostic, and I sensed it, while my mother was a third-generation Adventist believer.) At the time, the alternative of agnosticism didn’t seem all that attractive, and I tentatively chose to believe in God and the Bible.

    However, if that initial choice had not been confirmed by my experience of testing [according to the scientific method, as Sean so often explains it], I would not have arrived at the settled faith I now hold.

    So Romans 10:17 may be good enough in a specific cultural context, but it is no help at all in choosing between belief systems such as communism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Mormonism, Mohammedanism, etc. In each case, “faith” comes by “hearing”/reading the “word” of the founder/leader. Millions of adherents demonstrate that this is so.

    Many young people in Western society grow up without a specific belief system, and they are faced with choosing between a confusing array of world religions. Your repetitive mantra of “only faith” is no help at all. By contrast, Sean’s reasoned apologetic in behalf of the Creator God of Christianity invites investigation and belief.

    Furthermore, we cannot take for granted that the young people who attend our colleges have a settled Christian belief of their own — particularly those who “inherited” their belief system. Not having had to wrestle with questions of belief, they are still in the time of critical decision-making, as is demonstrated by those who become agnostics as a result of attending science classes in an evolutionary framework.

    For me, understanding the shakiness of the evolutionary claims of naturalism, as clarified in my “Philosophy of Science” class at AU, helped forge my faith in the Creator God who “spoke and it was done.”




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  27. Sean Pitman wrote

    Before faith in the Bible, in particular, can be gained as the true Word of God, it must offer some kind of empirical evidence that has general appeal to the God-given intelligence of candid minds that are otherwise open to truth as they are able to comprehend it.

    SDA Fundamental Belief #1

    The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, are the written Word of God, given by divine inspiration through holy men of God who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. In this Word, God has committed to man the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are the infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the test of experience, the authoritative revealer of doctrines, and the trustworthy record of God’s acts in history. (2 Peter 1:20, 21; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Ps. 119:105; Prov. 30:5, 6; Isa. 8:20; John 17:17; 1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12.)

    From Richard M. Davidson, Interpreting Scripture According to the Scriptures: Toward an Understanding of Seventh-day Adventist Hermeneutics

    “Paul likewise rejects human “knowledge” (KJV “science”; Greek gnosis) as the final authority (1 Tim 6:20). Both OT and NT writers point out that since the Fall in Eden, nature has become depraved (Gen 3:17-18; Rom 8:20-21) and no longer perfectly reflects truth. Nature, rightly understood, is in harmony with God’s written revelation in Scripture (see Ps 19:1-6 [revelation of God in nature] and vv. 7-11 [revelation of the Lord in Scripture]); but as a limited and broken source of knowledge about God and reality, it must be held subservient to, and interpreted by, the final authority Scripture (Rom 1:20-23; 2:14-16; 3:1-2).”

    Maybe Sean has it right and the Seventh-day Adventist corporate body has it all wrong.




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  28. “…the final authority scripture,” which our scholars turn into just allegory, especially Genesis 1, putting us not just into a circular orbit, which can serve in a pinch, but into a spiral tailspin spiraling hellward, just where Satan wants us vectored. Which God knew would be the vector Satan would spin us into, and is why He, through Paul again, admonishes us to test… — but we really do know what Paul said. Our problem isn’t a lack of Pauline quotes, or doc #1 or #6 or the whole catechistic caboodle, EGW, anybody’s book on hermeneutics, or Huss or Jerome, even Alexander Carpenter. Our problem is, we are simply out of control in this faith-evidence vortex, which thus itself becomes an allegory of The Allegory, as we blog ourselves into a black hole.

    Dr. Pitman (and, by faith, God) never asked us to put evidence in place of faith, or scripture (certainly not Genesis 1) — to say he has is to utterly misconstrue and misquote him. He has said, how many times — even Google couldn’t count them — and as clearly as HTML can put it, to put evidence along with, with faith, with, and faith along with evidence. With.

    Why can not the two work, function, walk, live, and work and function and walk together? Why is it one or the other? No, it’s not like serving two masters, science or faith, but like marriage with husband needing wife and wife need husband. I know I couldn’t function without mine. As evidence I submit our grandchildren. Would you like to see our snapshots?




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  29. Inge Anderson wrote:

    Your repetitive mantra of “only faith” is no help at all. By contrast, Sean’s reasoned apologetic in behalf of the Creator God of Christianity invites investigation and belief.

    Ellen White wrote:

    “Human talent and human conjecture have tried by searching to find out God. But guesswork has proved itself to be guesswork. Man cannot by searching find out God. This problem has not been given to human beings. All that man needs to know and can know of God has been revealed in His Word and in the life of His Son, the great Teacher.

    “Let men remember that they have a Ruler in the heavens, a God who will not be trifled with. He who puts his reason to the stretch in an effort to exalt himself and to delineate God, will find that he might far better have stood as a humble suppliant before God, confessing himself to be only an erring human being.

    “God cannot be understood by men. His ways and works are past finding out. In regard to the revelations that He has made of Himself in His Word, we may talk, but other than this, let us say of Him, Thou art God, and Thy ways are past finding out.” – EGW, MS 124, 1903; cited from the SDA Bible Commentary, pg. 1079




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  30. More from Ellen White:

    “Since God is the source of all true knowledge, it is, as we have seen, the first object of education to direct our minds to His own revelation of Himself. Adam and Eve received knowledge through direct communion with God; and they learned of Him through His works. All created things, in their original perfection, were an expression of the thought of God. To Adam and Eve nature was teeming with divine wisdom. But by transgression man was cut off from learning of God through direct communion and, to a great degree, through His works. The earth, marred and defiled by sin, reflects but dimly the Creator’s glory. It is true that His object lessons are not obliterated. Upon every page of the great volume of His created works may still be traced His handwriting. Nature still speaks of her Creator. Yet these revelations are partial and imperfect. And in our fallen state, with weakened powers and restricted vision, we are incapable of interpreting aright. We need the fuller revelation of Himself that God has given in His written word.

    “The Holy Scriptures are the perfect standard of truth, and as such should be given the highest place in education. To obtain an education worthy of the name, we must receive a knowledge of God, the Creator, and of Christ, the Redeemer, as they are revealed in the sacred word.- EGW, Education, pp. 16-17

    In our zeal for creationism, some are quick to forget that the Bible is both sufficient, and superior to nature and science, for informing us about our Creator and our salvation. No one needs to pay attention to my pleas; the plain word of God and the spirit of prophecy should suffice.

    Again, I’m a young earth creationist myself, and concede there is SOME evidence to support our views. But I am opposed to the misuse and abuse of science, achieved by cherry-picking the best evidence and overinterpreting other evidence, to shore up the faith of our lay people. Let’s be more humble in acknowledging the limits to our understanding. If God’s word is not good enough for you, then you don’t know God well enough.




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  31. Wesley Kime wrote:

    Dr. Pitman (and, by faith, God) never asked us to put evidence in place of faith, or scripture (certainly not Genesis 1) — to say he has is to utterly misconstrue and misquote him.

    Rather than risk misconstruing or misquoting, as I have been accused, here are Dr. Pitman’s own statements (which have been repeated many, many times):

    “Personally, if I ever became convinced that there really is no scientific merit behind the literal seven-day creation week or the worldwide nature of Noah’s flood, or if Darwinian-style evolution one day made good sense to me, I would leave behind not only the SDA Church but Christianity as well.”

    “I, personally, would have to go with what I saw as the weight of empirical evidence. This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well…”

    So, who is Dr. Pitman’s final authority? Is it truly scripture? Does his position align with, or undermine, SDA Fundamental Belief #1? Perhaps he would like to reexamine his very publicly stated position.




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  32. Re Inge’s comment

    “In each case, “faith” comes by “hearing”/reading the “word” of the founder/leader. Millions of adherents demonstrate that this is so.”

    Dear Inge

    I enjoyed your insight regarding the cultural power of charismatics to attract masses to their words. This applies not only to religion but secular movements as well.

    I am glad you chose your faith and science has reinforced it for you. I presume from your comments that you were brought up in an Adventist household with an Adventist education. Have you ever wondered what you would have believed if you had been raised and schooled in another faith? Do you think eventually you would have become an Adventist because of creation science?

    Apart from myself is there anybody commenting on this site that was not raised as an Adventist but did become one? I’m interested in comparing all perspectives.

    Oh and in anticipation of the potential return cultural question I was raised and confirmed as an Anglican and in my teenager years went to a Baptist church.

    Your curious agnostic friend
    Ken




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  33. More from Richard M. Davidson, Interpreting Scripture According to the Scriptures: Toward an Understanding of Seventh-day Adventist Hermeneutics

    The sufficiency of Scripture is not just in the sense of material sufficiency, i.e., that Scripture contains all the truths necessary for salvation. Adventists also believe in the formal sufficiency of Scripture, i.e., that the Bible alone is sufficient in clarity so that no external source is required to rightly interpret it.

    Does anyone here disagree with one of the leading SDA theologians, representing the Adventist Biblical Research Institute, on these points? You can read more here: http://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/documents/interp%20scripture%20davidson.pdf

    A good soul kindly shared these sources with me; I claim no credit in finding them myself. I am a humble biologist with no formal training in hermaneutics. I more or less was taught these things growing up (in the Church), and retained them during my years of private reading and devotion. I’m delighted to learn that I am in line with official Church teachings. Please, for Christ’s sake, do NOT base your beliefs in God and His word based on what the fossils say!




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  34. While it is true that planet earth with its Garden of Eden perfectly reflected the Love and Wisdom of God – and by contrast the law-of-tooth-and-claw disease, death and predation system that followed after the fall of mankind only imperfectly reflects the Wisdom and love of God — YET it would be utterly foolish to ignore the Romans 1 claim by Paul that EVEN godless barbarians are “without excuse” when they “pretend” not to notice the I.D. aspect of “The things that have been made”.

    In Romans 10 Paul argues that nature itself is proclaiming the Gospel to mankind!

    Ellen White also makes a strong case for the hand of God seen in nature as does the book of Isaiah.

    How then do we get a few befuddled misguided SDAs now and then who think it a virtue to uphold atheist-centric observations in nature so obvious in evolutionism?

    The deny-the-Bible-first model of observing nature may work well in an atheist evolutionist context – but does not work for SDAs.

    The bend-the-Bible-when-evols-need-it idea may work well for what 3SG 90-91 calls the “Worst form” of infidelity – but does not work for SDAs.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  35. 12-13-10

    As I write this I see that so far no one has commented on my 12-8-10 post on the human eye. To me, the comment made there is alone enough to convince me that a brilliant Mind (a Creator God) was involved in life as we know it today so I will repeat it here:

    “The eye is an incredibly detailed mesh of more than a billion synchronized parts continuously working together to provide our brain with the thousands of images we focus on every day. No manmade machine compares to the structural complexity of the human eye.” Rebuild your Vision, by Orlin G. Sorensen, pg. 10.

    If it takes an exceptionally good mind to come up with the Rubik’s Cube and other, even more complex inventions, why is it so difficult to accept the fact that some very intelligent Mind HAD to be behind the creation of the human eye–as well as other complex organisms?

    And as far as our brains are concerned, they are “light years” ahead of the most advanced computer on the market today! I have an extremely interesting article on our brains from The Wall Street Journal dated a few years ago. It contains a number of research experiments done on how the brain works and what influences it. The thing that jumped out at me was the fact the even the THOUGHTS WE THINK are recorded there just as indelibly as if we had actually DONE what we simply thought about! That really made me sit up and take notice!

    We may outwardly be very kind and helpful toward someone we really wish were dead. And while the good things we may do for them will e “recorded” in our brains so will the unkind thoughts we may have been thinking while we were acting so “kind and loving!” My Bible tells me that “As a man THINKETH IN HIS HEART (mind), so is he.” Proverbs 3:7! Wow! Somehow I’d never thought of that before and it had a profound impact on me. (And this complex brain that puts even our most advanced super computers to shame, just “evolved?” Even this ageing, unscientifically trained mind can’t swallow that! It seems to me that even a child can see “The Emperor simply has no clothes on!”

    To me that kind of “memory” simply could not have “evolved” anywhere or at any time no matter how many eons it sat in some prehistoric slime pit! Would you believe it if someone tried to tell you that was the way computers came about? (And even the most sophisticated computer made today is simply nothing compared to our brain.) Of course you wouldn’t–and neither can I! To me, “science” means nothing if it isn’t rational.(Where, oh where, is our Common Sense?)

    Nothing, even what the most brilliant human mind has ever “created,” can compare to the eye, the heart, the mind, the circulatory system in general and the rest of the magnificent human body–and even the lowest forms of life–have. Every creature that roams our earth today is a living testimony to a super intelligent Mind somewhere. If really backed into a corner even the most stubborn mind must see this even if it doesn’t want to acknowledge it.

    The evidence is there, my friends. The myriads of stars that decorate the skies–each always going in just its own appointed path in the skies without any major, major collisions tells us there HAS to be a supernatural “Mind” behind it and that Mind belongs to a Deity we call God.

    We always know just where look each night to find Jupiter, Orion, the Milky Way and myriads of other constellations. They are always there in their own appointed path, we can depend on each one being just where it is supposed to be at that particular time and place–and they never collide. (Can we say the same thing about our man-made cars and airplanes?)

    Why don’t they ever collied like we humans do with our cars and even airplanes? Why do the sun, the moon, the stars always appear in their appointed places each and every day, month after month, year after year and century after century without fail? Who taught the birds and many animals when and how to know when to navigate thousands of miles each winter and summer to arrive at just the place they need to be for their best good? A mindless “nature”? I don’t think so!

    To me every flower, tree, human being and other living, breathing creature as well as the streams, rivers and sky with its moons and stars, its brilliant sunsets and sunrises–their very existence cry out for a Creator–a superior Intelligence that far exceeds anything and everything man makes on this small planet we humans call “home.” (I have a tendency to agree with my Grandmother who would often say, “Honey, some folks in this old world jes’ get too big for their britches!”)

    We demand a builder for every small or large building we see and occupy, an inventor for every “gadget” we see and use each day but we are told (and expected to believe) that all of nature–every living, growing, reasoning thing around us just came in to being with no Mind connected to their arrival on planet earth? (Hello! Is anybody out there THINKING???)

    Why don’t our gardens get better with every passing day instead of going to weeds, disease and death if we don’t keep after them constantly? That just doesn’t make sense to me and I can’t understand how any thinking person today can accept and believe it. (In the light of all of this what real difference does the fossil record really make? Not that I don’t believe a fossil record exist and that, rightly interpreted, truly supports Creation but the things we see around us in the here and now is convincing enough for me regardless of whether or not the fossils may be skewed to be interpreted incorrectly.)

    If evolution is true, why are there absolutely no signs of such a thing going on anywhere around us today? Why is mankind not getting better and better as time goes on? Who “pulled the switch” to stop it–and why? In some ways we actually have better health care now than we did when I was growing up but, in many respects, we are seeing more and more kinds of diseases and poorer health than we did back then. That’s PROGRESS?

    The only way we could see an obese person when I was a kid was at the annual state fair in Tampa, Florida when we would pay a nickle or a dime (big money in those penny-pinching days!) to go into a tent and see one. That surely isn’t the way things are today! Today, as I can see and understand it, in “developed” countries the obese folks–starting with young kids–either equal or even exceed in many places–the slender folks around us. And the vast majority of them have serious health problems. Again, that’s“progress”? It doesn’t sound like it to me!

    (It was interesting to me to read an article on health a while back. Did you know that during the severe rationing of food we had during WWII folks ended up healthier than they were before the war? The collected number of ”sweets” were almost completely wiped out of the diets during that time–but the health bubble quickly began to deteriorate again as soon rationing was removed and sweets again became a popular part of the diets? What does that tell us about the effect of bad diets on our health?)

    True, knowledge has increased (as the Bible said it would–Daniel 12:7) but I see no signs that health, happiness and peace of mind have increased along with it. There are more broken homes now and kids growing up without parents with every passing day. More progress?

    We didn’t have a lot during the depression when I grew up and there were many tragedies that went along with it but neighbors stuck together back then and when someone was in need we shared–at least that it the way it was where I lived. Today thousands of people don’t even know their neighbors and their kids do not have the “luxury” of playing outside with other kids. We didn’t live in Utopia, of course, but I wouldn’t trade my growing up days with kids of today for anything!

    As I see it, it isn’t the lack of evidence as much as it is a matter of not wanting to have a God in the picture because if He is acknowledge then it naturally follows that mankind is indebted to Him and will someday have to give an account of how we have lived the life He gave us and intended for us to live. And many don’t want to be accountable to any one–they simply want to “do their own thing” regardless of the consequences. But the day is coming when we will have to give that account (whether we like it or not) and, according to my Bible, that “day” is getting closer and closer with every passing moment.

    I didn’t start out to preach a sermon here but this is just the way I see things and the reasons I will never be able to “swallow” any evolutionary or agnostic (sorry, Ken) theory regardless of how many degrees anyone may have following their name. “On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand. . .” But, leaving religion out of it (which I can’t do) the whole idea just flies in the face of what I understand to be Common Sense–(or is there any such thing any more?).

    Lydian

    P.S–I’m not sure a debate is a good idea at all because my experience says they often “cause more heat than light”–and the last thing we need in this discussion is “more heat!”




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  36. @Professor Kent:

    More from Richard M. Davidson, Interpreting Scripture According to the Scriptures: Toward an Understanding of Seventh-day Adventist Hermeneutics

    The sufficiency of Scripture is not just in the sense of material sufficiency, i.e., that Scripture contains all the truths necessary for salvation. Adventists also believe in the formal sufficiency of Scripture, i.e., that the Bible alone is sufficient in clarity so that no external source is required to rightly interpret it.

    Does anyone here disagree with one of the leading SDA theologians, representing the Adventist Biblical Research Institute, on these points? You can read more here: http://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/documents/interp%20scripture%20davidson.pdf

    There is a difference between being able to interpret what the Scriptures are saying vs. being able to determine if the Bible is or is not really the “Word of God”. Coming up with a correct interpretation of a text, of what the authors were trying to say, is not the same thing as a demonstration of the Divine origin fo the text. Such a demonstration needs additional evidence beyond the text itself in order to be able to rationally pick the Bible over all other competing texts/options as the true Word of God.

    Please, for Christ’s sake, do NOT base your beliefs in God and His word based on what the fossils say!

    Or on any other empirical evidence for that matter- right? Why take on the potential for possibly being wrong? Why take on any risk?

    Well, upon what then do you base your choice of the Bible over other self-proclaimed mouthpieces for God?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  37. @ Sean Pitman

    Well, upon what then do you base your choice of the Bible over other self-proclaimed mouthpieces for God?

    We’ve been over this ad nauseum. There is ample evidence within the Bible itself; it has served generations well, long before studies of DNA and fossils came in vogue. You can choose to believe otherwise at your own peril, Dr. Pitman.




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  38. @ Professor Kent:

    Your Ellen White quotes do not address my argument at all.

    Paul, in Romans, does address my argument in suggesting that God’s creative power is evident in nature. Thus, those who do not have the background of a Christian society can, nevertheless, deduct from nature that there is a Creator and open themselves up to communication with Him.

    It is true that unaided human reasoning cannot find out God. For that matter, even aided human reasoning cannot truly “find out God.” By definition, God cannot be totally comprehended by the human mind. Yet we can know all we need to know of Him to have a saving relationship with Him. Even those who do not have the benefit of the teachings we do.

    I repeat: Your repetition of “only faith” is no help at all. A correct understanding of the creation is a first step towards worshiping the Creator. And we believe that we, as Seventh-day Adventists have been specifically called out to preach a message of Creator Worship: “And worship Him who made heaven and earth and the fountains of waters.” Thus the teaching of the evolutionary development of this planet is directly contrary to the fundamental mission of the Seventh-day Adventist church.

    Your vision seems to be somewhat limited. Sean’s vision appears to go beyond yours to address the questions asked by those who must decide what kind of God to believe in.




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  39. @ Ken
    Thank you for your feedback. 🙂

    I enjoyed your insight regarding the cultural power of charismatics to attract masses to their words. This applies not only to religion but secular movements as well.

    Indeed. Thanks for confirming my point.

    I am glad you chose your faith and science has reinforced it for you. I presume from your comments that you were brought up in an Adventist household with an Adventist education.

    Yes to the first … sort of. 😉 And mainly No to the other.

    I think I mentioned somewhere that my father was an agnostic. He died as an agnostic, as far as I know. He didn’t want to talk about religion, saying simply, “I just can’t believe.” However, he seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time supporting his inability to believe — time worthy of a better cause. (He could be seen surfing for anti-Adventist and anti-Christian sites. Much of his reading was authored by skeptics.)

    I did not attend any sort of Christian schools until my final year in high school.

    My step-grandfather was an elder in the church. Unfortunately his practical living did not match his profession — which was evident not only to my father, his stepson, but also to me, a child of less than 10. (We emigrated from Germany to Canada when I was 10.) This is the background to my profound questioning.

    Have you ever wondered what you would have believed if you had been raised and schooled in another faith?

    I never gave “another faith” (Christian faith, that is) all that much thought. Adventist beliefs seemed too firmly grounded in the Bible. My wondering went beyond that. What if I were born in Mongolia, for instance? What if the Bible was just a story made up by people — the way some of my “progressive Adventist” friends now question in their advanced years.

    Like I said, I figured I had to make a choice. I chose to act on belief and “test” God, as He invited me to do. He said He’d answer prayer. He said to “prove me” in the matter of tithes and offerings. I tested His promises and, over the years, found Him abundantly faithful to His Word.

    I believe He is particularly attentive to the prayers of children — both those young in years and those young in the faith. He says “Yes” an awful lot, when later, He often says “No” or “wait a while.” (Or so my experience tells me. 😉 )He knows just what we need and when we need it. And, of course, I was impressed by the fulfillment of prophecy.

    I remember deciding to test out a “prophet.” You’ve probably heard of her — Ellen White by name. In school I learned all the signs and “causes” of cancer. Germs weren’t considered a cause. Yet Ellen White said that meat was infected with “cancerous germs.” So I wrote away to the “Book of Knowledge Information Service” regarding “cancerous germs.” Of course, they said there was no such thing. Actually, they sent me a print-off of an encyclopedia article on “germs.” When I asked for verification that “sugar clogs the system,” they sent me a print-off of an article on sugar metabolism. No, I didn’t lose my belief in the prophet, but I certainly lost my belief that this “answering service” was of any possible value! After all, I could read the encyclopedia articles without them printing them for me!

    (I trust you realize that viral causes of cancer are becoming more and more recognized. [The word ‘virus’ is fairly new. So “germs” covered them.] And sugar does, indeed “clog the system” — it clogs the circulatory system with plaque, contrary to the original theory pointing to fats as the main culprit.)

    Do you think eventually you would have become an Adventist because of creation science?

    A correct understanding of creation could have led me to the Creator God of the Christians. Then a careful study of the Bible could have led me to Seventh-day Adventist beliefs — all with the Holy Spirit’s leading, of course.

    On the other hand, I believe there are those in other cultures who believe in the Creator God and have a relationship with Him, without ever coming in contact with Christianity, much less Seventh-day Adventism.

    Oh and in anticipation of the potential return cultural question I was raised and confirmed as an Anglican and in my teenager years went to a Baptist church.

    Your curious agnostic friend

    My dear “agnostic friend,” I challenge you to take God up on his terms. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” From your background, I trust you know that it’s an all-or-nothing deal. You cannot “know” God from a purely intellectual perspective. He asks for total surrender — a “new birth,” as He put it to Nicodemus. That means being willing to become like a little child again, in terms of simplicity of belief. To the intellectual Greeks, Christ was an offense. To the self-righteous Jews, He was an object of hatred. But to those who choose to believe, He is salvation. Even more, He becomes a personal God and intimate Friend.

    But there’s no way to “know” from the outside looking in. Education is of no help. Intellectual power fails. Only total surrender will do. Only then can you “taste and see.”

    PS How could you know what a chocolate cake tastes like if you only studied its recipe and listened to the stories of people who ate it?




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  40. @ Inge Anderson

    Paul, in Romans, does address my argument in suggesting that God’s creative power is evident in nature. Thus, those who do not have the background of a Christian society can, nevertheless, deduct from nature that there is a Creator and open themselves up to communication with Him.

    Agreed.

    I repeat: Your repetition of “only faith” is no help at all.

    What are you talking about? That’s not my position. Evidence comes in many forms, and there has always been ample evidence to support the validity of scripture without any modern science. Would you, like Sean Pitman, let go of your faith if modern science failed to support the Genesis account? Do you, like Sean Pitman, place science and reason ahead of scripture?

    A correct understanding of the creation is a first step towards worshiping the Creator.

    One day we will get to ask the thief on the cross what he thinks of this.

    And we believe that we, as Seventh-day Adventists have been specifically called out to preach a message of Creator Worship: “And worship Him who made heaven and earth and the fountains of waters.” Thus the teaching of the evolutionary development of this planet is directly contrary to the fundamental mission of the Seventh-day Adventist church.

    Agreed.

    Your vision seems to be somewhat limited. Sean’s vision appears to go beyond yours to address the questions asked by those who must decide what kind of God to believe in.

    My vision matches that of the official SDA Church. If it’s limited, then maybe you have a problem with the SDA Church, and not just me. You’re right: Sean’s vision goes much further. He insists that the Bible alone is insufficient to form one’s faith, and that one can believe only by finding evidence in modern science. If you think he is right, you too are undermining the SDA Church and its fundamental beliefs. Out of curiosity, are you a Church employee?




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  41. Dear Inge

    Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. It is obvious you are a highly intelligent person of strong faith.

    I really liked your comment about folks from other cultures having valid experiences with God.

    I understand and appreciate your entreaty to let go of the intellect to experience God. This is a zen like concept that may have some merit. When I run long distances I often feel a connectedness with everything. Quite peaceful actually. Query: if experiencing God is an individual experience who is to say I am not doing so when I am high on endorphins and communing with nature? Or is it just physiological well being?

    I wonder if certain people are genetically predisposed towards faith whereas others like me are predisposed towards perpetual curiosity? I remember asking ontological questions in Sunday school class right from the get go. No one has ever satisfactorily explained a rational bases of theodicy to me. I see a pattern in Man’s iteration of God(s) throughout history. Likely such folks were people of strong faith as well. Were they right or relative in their understanding for their time?
    What will Man’s understanding of God be in a thousand years time. Will there be a melding between quantum mechanics and religion. All matter is part of God and as we better understand matter we better understand God? Does evolution which seemingly runs on natural selection have a deeper hidden design- an essence of life that drives it?

    Forgive me Inge but I think it would be impossible for me to stop asking such questions and jump on an established faith wagon. All religions appear to me to be evolving social constructs. Does this disparage the individual’s experience with God? No, I don’t think so because it is individual for each person. That is why I respect your experience of faith, as I do my Catholic friends, my Muslim friends, my Buddhist friends, my Adventist friends, etc.

    What I hope is that the agnostic viewpoint can help to provide a bit of reflective perspective for those of faith so they can better understand and appreciate each other. Time will tell if my goal is quixotic.

    Good night
    Ken




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  42. Back to the actual topic of this thread in the OP.

    Erv is helpful in revealing more of the transparently flawed tactics of evolutionists.

    1. Pretend that accepting the Bible for what it says is the problem of one or two people like Sean – using their own ideas about the Bible — INSTEAD of admitting that this is the position of the Adventist denomination.

    Erv said
    His interpretation of the Bible requires that all life must be very young—less than 10,000 years. However, he is not content in just leaving it there as his personal belief about the history of the physical world based on his own interpretation of an ancient text. He believes that there must be solid modern scientific evidence to support the conclusions he has reached because of his religious beliefs.

    In the above statement Erv appears to claim that what you believe happened IN nature as you are informed by the Bible account of origins – should not lead you to look for it IN nature.

    2. Rely on the fact that atheist evolutionists have hijacked several areas of earth-history science (as a number of scientists point out in the “Expelled” on-camera interviews) – to say that acceptance of the Bible model for origins is “not popular” among atheist evolutionist dominated disciplines in human prehistory storytelling.

    Erv said
    He believes that there must be solid modern scientific evidence to support the conclusions he has reached because of his religious beliefs. He is thus forced to call into question and reject the foundational conclusions of the essentially all of the scientific disciplines which deal with earth history, the fossil record, and human prehistory.

    He always finds some major, fundamental mistake or misunderstanding that all of the specialists in each field who have spend their professional lives studying either don’t know about, or ignore, or misinterpret or something.

    And of course – Erv loves to “pretend” that scientists studying geology, and various other earth and human history areas of discipline who provide evidence for young life “do not exist”.

    At least Erv did not yield to the common evolutionist tactic of smearing all of science with evolutionism as if Physics, Chemistry and Biology will not work unless you repeat to yourself “birds come from reptiles… birds come from reptiles” while clicking your heels.

    Credit where credit is due.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  43. Ken – as I pointed out in the case of the book of Daniel and in instances such as the case with the atheist views of professor Veith – that book has convinced a number of atheists of the reality and reliability of the Bible account.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  44. Dear Bob

    Thanks Bob.

    Point well taken. The Bible has had an incredible impact on mankind. Great reading. I’ve enjoyed it as I have many other great books including the Origin of Species.

    Education is an inclusive rather than an exclusive process. History shows that the collective human mind will not be shackled by dogma but will progress favorably with better knowledge. What education does is give one perspective and critical thinking skills. My wish for my children, who think quite differently than me by the way, is to think for themselves.

    Nice to chat.
    Ken




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  45. I’ve been following Dr. Pitman’s pronouncements on two subjects of late: First, he says that “Faith” is not enough and second, he is talking about what AMS technology in 14C dating says about the age of organic life on earth.

    With regard to the first, I must say that I have some sympathy with the views he expresses about having “Faith” in something does not make it correct or factual. If I understand him correctly, it seems to me that this position has a lot of merit. But I am sure that Dr. Pitman might not appreciate any agreement I might have with him on this point, so I will not elaborate.

    On the other topic, I regret to have to let him know that he fails to understand several key technical characteristics of how AMS spectrometers which do 14C dating function. Because he does not understand these technical features, he makes statements that any second year graduate student in physics working in an AMS lab would know is totally misinformed.

    I would offer Dr. Pitman’s statements on this point as an excellent illustration of why the scientific community as a whole has so little regard for the scientific competence of most young earth (YEC) and young life creationists (YEC) advocates. The vast of majority of YEC and YLC pronouncements which I have read over the last 50 years about geochronology in general and 14C dating in particular, at best, often misunderstands the scientific literature and at times, apparently deliberately misrepresents the literature they cite.

    I would guess that such writers misunderstand because, with perhaps one or two notable exceptions, YEC/YLC advocates have no direct experience in the specific research environment they are critiquing. I have observed and personally known individuals who start out as YEC/YLC believers. However, when they become professionally competent through graduate training and thus fully acquainted with not only the literature, but also actually acquire research experience in a laboratory setting, they abandon their YEC/YLC positions as scientific untenable.

    In contrast, the typical YEC/YLC critic reads about a given topic but lacks an understanding of the details of the technology or the laboratory methodologies employed, a type of understanding required to interpret what is meant when some detail of the results of, in this case, AMS-based 14C measurements are published.

    The specific misunderstanding of Dr. Pitman on this issue is what the 14C/12C ratios obtained on samples used as blanks or background samples—e.g., coal or diamonds—allegedly indicate about the actual age of background blanks. (A background blank is defined as a carbon containing sample, e.g., coal or diamonds, which can be reasonably assumed from a scientific perspective to contain no 14C because of their geologic age—i..e, usually millions of years).

    Sean and fellow fundamentalists who have commented on this say the results of 14C measurements on coal or diamonds demonstrate that fossil organics actually contain cosmogenic (cosmic-ray produced) 14C and because of this all such organics must be younger than 100,000 years. Therefore, all organics are geologically young and thus all life is less than 100,000 years old. The whole point of this misrepresentation, is of course, is to be able to say that macroevolution over billions of years is therefore impossible. Here is very short and simplified version of why this argument is totally invalid.

    AMS spectrometers are complex instruments, much more complex than those used in the earlier decay counting technology used in 14C research. More complexity means that there are more factors that can influence the data you obtain than was the case in decay counting. Back in 2007, a colleague and I published a list of the factors that can influence backgrounds in AMS systems. There were fifteen listed.

    The most important factor for almost all samples―including coal backgrounds—is that these samples must be first converted into CO2 and then that CO2 converted into a form of graphite. It has been well demonstrated that even under the most stringent conditions, small amount of contamination from a number of sources—e.g., the walls of the combustion and graphitization tubes, the chemical used as an oxidizer used, etc.—yield very small amounts of 14C contamination. (Some coals apparently also contain in situ 14C through, by example, sulfur bacterial action)

    However, with diamonds, you can use them without having to combust and convert them to graphite. In the case of diamonds, the most important factor producing a background count involves the fact that all samples measured including diamonds must be ionized in a sputter source. All sputter sources have slight memory effects due to the presence of trace amounts of ions from other 14C samples that “stick” on the surface of an ion source even if very high vacuums are maintained and even if the source is physically cleaned.

    However, this is not the only source of background in an AMS system even with diamonds. There are small amounts of hydrocarbons in the spectrometer beam line which contributes trace amounts of 14C. There are also conditions when non-14C ions in the beam during acceleration acquire mass 14 characteristics and are counted in the detection circuitry as 14C. These and other factors all contribute to slight background counts even with diamonds. All of this is well know to those involved in AMS 14C research and well studied.

    Given Dr. Pitman’s way of dealing with uncomfortable facts, I am sure he will have some way of explaining away all of this.




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  46. @ Ken

    Thanks for your response 🙂

    I understand and appreciate your entreaty to let go of the intellect to experience God.

    I obviously didn’t make myself clear.

    I do not encourage letting go of your intellect to “experience God.” Quite the opposite. I encourage making an intelligent decision to “taste and see” that God is good. He encourages us to “try” (test) Him. But the only way to do it is on His terms. That means a surrender to His way. Then you can “test” Him. You can’t do it fully from the outside looking in, though God does act to reveal Himself to honest seekers who are willing to surrender. There is an instance in the gospels where Jesus said to a doubting father, “All things are possible to them who believe.” The father recognized the Jesus saw his heart, and in desperation cried out, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief!” He knew there was some unbelief in his heart that he couldn’t overcome on his own, and the Lord answered his prayer. His son was healed.

    If you are willing to be made willing, the Lord will do it for you.

    Eastern religions encourage you to let go of your intellect. God encourages us to “come now and let us reason together.” Big difference.

    This is a zen like concept that may have some merit. When I run long distances I often feel a connectedness with everything. Quite peaceful actually. Query: if experiencing God is an individual experience who is to say I am not doing so when I am high on endorphins and communing with nature? Or is it just physiological well being?

    Yes, I know that endorphin rush, though it took a day of hiking three “day hikes” end-to-end to experience it. At the end of the day, I felt like I could still run up the nearest mountain. 😉 (A delusional state, I’m sure. 😉 )

    While we may each have an individual experience/relationship with God, there are objective measures of the reality of this experience. Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” A change of heart that makes us love to do God’s will is an objective measure of a conversion experience. We may still fail to live up to what we know to be truth, but we will recognize it and feel genuine sorrow over the doubt that caused our fall into sin.

    If there is no change in the outward life, that is objective evidence that there is no real relationship with God. Those who do have a relationship with God will continually grow to be more like Him, and objective observers will see the transformation — however slowly it may happen.

    I wonder if certain people are genetically predisposed towards faith whereas others like me are predisposed towards perpetual curiosity?

    Chuckle. “Perpetually curious” is probably how my husband would describe me. 😉 Perpetual curiosity is no hindrance to a Christian experience, as long as we are willing to let God be God in His sphere. The prideful wish to “have the last word” (i.e. doubt) or the wish to possess ultimate knowledge are hindrances, though. They are part of a wish to be complete master of our own destiny that gets in the way of accepting Jesus as Lord and Master.

    The paradox is that in surrender to Jesus Christ, we experience the highest kind of freedom possible. We experience freedom from the chains of sin that bound us — fears, worries, and habits of thought and action. How constantly we experience this depends on the constancy of our connection with Christ. The way I see it, growth in Christian experience is a matter of growth in the proportion of time we are truly “connected” to Him. Because, when we are truly connected, we shall act like Him.

    I remember asking ontological questions in Sunday school class right from the get go. No one has ever satisfactorily explained a rational bases of theodicy to me.

    I believe that a good understanding of the war between Christ and Satan goes a long way towards a rational explanation. Also think about what true freedom of choice means. Could God both allow true freedom of choice and prevent all evil?

    Apparently true freedom — which makes true love possible — was of such ultimate importance to God that He risked being misunderstood by allowing real freedom of choice.

    I see a pattern in Man’s iteration of God(s) throughout history. Likely such folks were people of strong faith as well. Were they right or relative in their understanding for their time?

    Paul says that “spiritual things are spirituall discerned.” So you may have to content yourself with not getting all the answers ahead of time. 😉

    What will Man’s understanding of God be in a thousand years time. Will there be a melding between quantum mechanics and religion. All matter is part of God and as we better understand matter we better understand God?

    That “all matter is part of God” is a competing philosophy to that of Christianity which affirms that the Creator is distinct from and outside of nature.

    Does evolution which seemingly runs on natural selection have a deeper hidden design- an essence of life that drives it?

    Have you paid attention to Sean’s posts on the limits of evolution in biology? Evolution is not a godlike mechanism.

    The evolution that actually happens consists of relatively small adaptations of living organisms to the environment. In the majority of such changes, the possibility for such changes was already inherent in the original organism, and the adaptation is simply a matter of expressing a subset of characteristics. Sometimes, it’s a loss of genetic material. At other times, it’s a matter of mutations resulting in different genetic material that has some advantage in a specific environment. But there are very clear limitations to such changes. (Go to Sean’s website for more details.)

    If we study history with any kind of objectivity, it’s fairly clear that humanity has not “evolved” to some higher form of being kinder, gentler, more loving or more moral. Quite the opposite. History bears out a continuous “falling” into a deeper and deeper morass of moral and social disintegration, only interrupted now and then by the overthrow of one “civilization” by another that still had the value of self-discipline. Right now, though, there’s no other civilization in sight to “take over” for another few hundred or a thousand years. It seems to me that the next one to take over is the one that Nebuchadnezzar saw as a stone that smashed the great image and grew to fill the whole earth.

    Forgive me Inge but I think it would be impossible for me to stop asking such questions and jump on an established faith wagon. All religions appear to me to be evolving social constructs.

    Said like a true social evolutionist. 😉 You are giving away your deeply embedded bias here. 🙂 And that’s going farther than most evolutionary biologists who do not necessarily subscribe to social evolution.

    Does this disparage the individual’s experience with God? No, I don’t think so because it is individual for each person. That is why I respect your experience of faith, as I do my Catholic friends, my Muslim friends, my Buddhist friends, my Adventist friends, etc.

    Spoken like a true “post-modern.” 🙂

    I pray that in your “real life” you may meet up with Christians who truly demonstrate the Christ life in their own life. As it did to a former atheist (now pastor) of my acquaintance, that could make all the difference to you. And by the way, this young pastor is every bit as intellectually alive and curious now as he was in his days of atheism/agnosticism. Only now he sees much more room for his intellectual explorations. 🙂

    What I hope is that the agnostic viewpoint can help to provide a bit of reflective perspective for those of faith so they can better understand and appreciate each other. Time will tell if my goal is quixotic.

    I think you’re doing a great job of providing perspective and asking good questions. 🙂




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  47. @ken: @ken: (re. yours to me of Dec 11):

    Ken, You’ll rescue us yet, if you’re the Moderator of our latest Big Genesis 1 Debate. So now my own Quixotic-Heroic Crusade is to promote your candidacy. Listen, everybody: Ken’s just the right man for it, the most qualified.

    Once the very idea of Adventists debating Adventists over Genesis 1 simply would not have occurred to anybody. Now it’s impossible for even Adventists not to debate Genesis 1, again, (plus why we are even debating it), for as a class our most educated, self-styled “thought leaders” [sic] (as opposed to church leaders, hopefully) doubt Genesis 1. Basically, generically; historically from pre-antiquity on; by etymological, technical, academic, by any definition, to doubt is to agnosticize. If we now have theistic evolutionists, we have theistic agnostics. I’ll call them vegetarian agnostics. So who better to moderate than a professional, full, real, unbiased, not-on-our-payroll agnostic?

    But seriously, Ken, I’m taking up your time with whimsy when you could be talking to Inge. What a lovely exchange you’re having, your freest, most useful, serious one yet, I think. I’m following it eagerly, right now to see how you respond to Inge’s referring to you as a postmodernist. But isn’t Postmodernism the best domain name yet, in the whole WWW of agnosticism? Seriously.

    Here, my friend, have some popcorn.
    W




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  48. Dr. Ervin Taylor on Radiocarbon and AMS Technology

    @Ervin Taylor:

    Hi Erv,

    I really don’t know why you’re getting all excited about my comments regarding radiocarbon dating and AMS technology? I understand that AMS technology has various problems of contamination. I also understand that these problems can be understood and even controlled to a reasonable degree using careful techniques. Given these techniques, it seems to me like my original points and observations still stand – i.e., that most samples of coal, oil, and non-fossilized remains of fossils contain levels of 14C that are in fact above the level of that can reasonably be attributed to the AMS technology itself. In other words, there is real 14C in most of these particular types of specimens – even if it is given that there is no 14C in diamonds (I never personally understood, even from a creationist position, why there should be much 14C in diamonds to begin with).

    As an aside, did you not find it curious that your analysis (using your own AMS machine) of multiple cuts of a single diamond produced a very narrow range of apparent ages? apparent 14C ages ranging between 69-70 kyrs? Yet, the range you measured, in the very same machine, between different diamonds was 68-80 kyrs? Why the significant difference in apparent age between different diamonds if all the 14C was the result of “contamination” due to “instrument background” and other such sources of potential contamination associated with the AMS machine and methodology? – i.e., not the result of any intrinsic 14C? One would think that if there was no intrinsic 14C at all in any of the diamonds analyzed that all should have essentially the same apparent age within the same range of error according to the background produced by the machine itself… or am I way off base here?

    After all, didn’t you and Dr. Southon actually addressed this phenomenon in your 2007 paper – on the Use of natural diamonds to monitor 14C AMS instrument backgrounds ?

    “Our measurements have confirmed our hypothesis that diamonds represent a much “cleaner” surface with respect to adhesion of carbon-containing molecules from the ion source that contribute to trace memory or sample “cross talk” effect. At this time, it is not clear to us what factors might be involved in the greater variability in the apparent 14C concentrations exhibited in individual diamonds as opposed to splits from a single natural diamond. Possible factors suggested to us are greater variability in the orientation of the crystal facies and microfractures in individual diamonds.”

    Perhaps I’m showing my ignorance here, but I’m not sure what variability in the orientation of crystal facies or microfractures would have to do with producing an increased variability in apparent 14C age of the diamond? – given that the diamond did not in fact have any 14C to begin with? But, at least you and Southon admit to the reality of this curious observation given your hypothesis of a complete lack of 14C in all diamonds analyzed.

    In any case, regardless of if diamonds do or do not have trace amounts of 14C, the issue remains on how to explain the presence of real 14C in most samples of coal and oil and other organic remains of fossils? It seems like we are back to square one with the usual counter argument being “in situ contamination”…

    As noted by Dr. Paul Giem in his 2001 Origins paper, Carbon-14 Content of Fossil Carbon, the common argument of 14C production by Uranium within or near the coal sample releasing neutrons over time is not reasonable given the degree of 14C “contamination”. The amount of original radioactive material would have been prohibitive. And, perhaps the most striking problem, as noted by Dr. Giem, is:

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

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

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

    Of course, there are still a few mysteries for the creationist side of this particular line of evidence as well. For example, why do some forms of anthracite exist with no measurable intrinsic radiocarbon above the background level of the AMS technology?

    So, there remain questions on this particular issue for both sides. Yet, it seems to me, at least for now, that the weight of evidence seems to favor the creationist position when it comes to radiocarbon dating – to include the use of AMS technology. However, any further comments and education from someone of your expertise in this area would be most welcome.

    Sincerely,

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  49. One more thing Erv. I’d also be interested in your response to the following comments from Dr. John Baumgardner regarding your 2007 paper:

    Finally, Bertsche seeks to dismiss the 14C we measured in diamonds also as contamination. He cites a 2007 paper by Taylor and Southon. The paper describes the techniques the authors recently applied to measure 14C levels in natural diamond. As part of the background of their paper, Taylor and Southon list six potential sources of contamination for samples analyzed in AMS laboratories. At the very top of their list is “1 Pseudo 14C-free sample: 14C is present in carboniferous material that should not contain 14C because of its geological age.” By placing this item first, they acknowledge what has long been known by AMS radiocarbon specialists: namely, that the vast majority of samples that ought to be completely 14C-free because of their geological context display 14C levels far beyond what can be accounted for by sources attributable to laboratory procedures or equipment design.

    Indeed, they implicitly acknowledge this in the first paragraph of their introduction by mentioning 14C ages of 47.9 ka for a marble sample and 52.1 ka for a Pliocene wood sample, both far beyond the AMS 100,000-year detection limit they mention in their first sentence. It is astonishing that these authors never attribute this discrepancy to any one of the six possible explanations they list later in the article. In fact, they are completely silent as to just what the correct explanation might be. This silence is all the more noteworthy since the 14C level in the marble sample is 546 times the detection limit of their AMS system.

    The main point of their paper is that by using diamonds and mounting them directly in the sample holder, they are able to exclude items 2 through 5 in their list of six potential sources of contamination. These items are 2 Combustion/acidification background, 3 Graphitization background, 4 Transfer (to the sample holder) background, and 5 Storage background. The last item in their list, 6 Instrument background, involves a “14C signal registering in the detector circuitry when 14C-ion [is] not present.” This item is routinely and reliably tested by running the system with no sample in the aluminum sample holder. This test is the basis for the value of the ultimate AMS detection limit, about 0.0005 pMC, corresponding to about 100,000 14C years. Therefore, by process of elimination, what these authors are measuring and reporting is their item (1), namely, 14C intrinsic to the diamonds! This is precisely what we claim for diamond samples we measured using the same technique.

    Taylor and Southon report results from eight individual natural diamonds and from six separate fragments cut from a single diamond. The 14C values ranged from 0.005 to 0.021 pMC for the eight individual diamonds and 0.015 to 0.018 pMC for the six fragments, with typical uncertainties of ±0.001-0.002 pMC. Note that a value of 0.015 exceeds the AMS system background value by a factor of 30.

    I certainly grant that one needs almost to be an AMS insider to be aware how routine it is to measure the sixth item in Taylor and Southon’s list, instrument background, and hence to realize that the 14C values they report represent intrinsic 14C in the diamonds themselves and not instrument background. It is therefore understandable why Bertsche comes away with an incorrect conclusion after reading their paper. This illustrates again, however, that he is not the expert in 14C dating that he makes himself out to be.

    What about the RATE diamond measurements? Bertsche alludes to the fact that the RATE team also tested diamond by placing diamonds directly into the AMS sample holder. Our tests were done in 2006 after the RATE book was published in 2005. We obtained results quite similar to those reported by Taylor and Southon in 2007. Our ten diamond samples displayed 14C values between 0.008 and 0.022 pMC, with a mean value of 0.014 pMC. Certainly these 14C levels are much smaller than what we obtained for our coal samples; so, caution is obviously advisable in their interpretation. Nevertheless, unless one has a philosophical bias against such a possibility, the most plausible explanation, astonishing as it may be to some, is that natural diamond contains measurable and reproducible levels of intrinsic 14C.

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2007/11/30/feedback-rate-contamination

    Thanks…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  50. Erv Tayor said:

    1. Sean and fellow fundamentalists who have commented on this say the results of 14C measurements on coal or diamonds demonstrate that fossil organics actually contain cosmogenic (cosmic-ray produced) 14C and because of this all such organics must be younger than 100,000 years. Therefore, all organics are geologically young and thus all life is less than 100,000 years old. The whole point of this misrepresentation, is of course, is to be able to say that macroevolution over billions of years is therefore impossible. Here is very short and simplified version of why this argument is totally invalid.

    2. AMS spectrometers are complex instruments, much more complex than those used in the earlier decay counting technology used in 14C research. More complexity means that there are more factors that can influence the data you obtain than was the case in decay counting. Back in 2007, a colleague and I published a list of the factors that can influence backgrounds in AMS systems. There were fifteen listed.

    The most important factor for almost all samples―including coal backgrounds—is that these samples must be first converted into CO2 and then that CO2 converted into a form of graphite. It has been well demonstrated that even under the most stringent conditions, small amount of contamination from a number of sources—e.g., the walls of the combustion and graphitization tubes, the chemical used as an oxidizer used, etc.—yield very small amounts of 14C contamination. (Some coals apparently also contain in situ 14C through, by example, sulfur bacterial action)

    However, with diamonds, you can use them without having to combust and convert them to graphite. In the case of diamonds, the most important factor producing a background count involves the fact that all samples measured including diamonds must be ionized in a sputter source. All sputter sources have slight memory effects due to the presence of trace amounts of ions from other 14C samples that “stick” on the surface of an ion source even if very high vacuums are maintained and even if the source is physically cleaned.

    However, this is not the only source of background in an AMS system even with diamonds. There are small amounts of hydrocarbons in the spectrometer beam line which contributes trace amounts of 14C. There are also conditions when non-14C ions in the beam during acceleration acquire mass 14 characteristics and are counted in the detection circuitry as 14C. These and other factors all contribute to slight background counts even with diamonds. All of this is well know to those involved in AMS 14C research and well studied.

    Ok – critical thinking time.

    1. Your observation of the argument against the standard model for long ages evolution is correct.

    2. Your defense of the idea of background C14 levels intrinsic to the use of the AMS technology never gives the value for background C14 levels that were present when calibrated the AMS system background level in a vacuum and how that compares to your Diamond test or any other tests.

    3. Baumgardener’s response includes this comment about your own paper –

    Taylor and Southon report results from eight individual natural diamonds and from six separate fragments cut from a single diamond. The 14C values ranged from 0.005 to 0.021 pMC for the eight individual diamonds and 0.015 to 0.018 pMC for the six fragments, with typical uncertainties of ±0.001-0.002 pMC. Note that a value of 0.015 exceeds the AMS system background value by a factor of 30.

    Your response here proceeds as if you never read Baumgardener’s point above response or are for some other reason unaware of the point which requires the discussion to “circle back” to a point already covered in the debate by Baumgardener rather than moving forward with your response to it. Yet you certainly had to be aware of that detail even without reading it from Baumgardener’s review of your own testing.

    4. The other point you did not address in your post above is the issue of C14 cosmic production levels that the creationist argument would need to posit for the pre-flood world where atmospheric conditions were so different from the present that they “had no rain”.

    Given: The Creationist argument predicts lower C14 production levels than we have today — but not zero, and the evolutionist argument predicts zero-C14 content above the background level for the AMS technology in the case of Diamonds.

    Yet the measured amounts apear to be orders of magnitude higher than is expected or attributable to AMS background C14 levels, and yet low enough to provide evidence for a creationist low-C14 production argument for pre-flood earth. Where does that leave the true-believer in evolutionism that expects no C14 in the Diamond test above the AMS background level? (Much less 30-50 times that level!)

    Maybe your reluctance to address Baumgardener’s response specific to this point in your paper is a clue.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  51. Dear Inge and Wes

    Sean’s Quote

    “Our understanding of truth does in fact change over time as does our understanding of the weight of evidence in support of that “Present Truth”. The SDA Church recognizes the progressive nature of human understanding of truth. What did it for my grandfather may not be enough given the additional information that is known today…”

    My Quote

    “What will Man’s understanding of God be in a thousand years time.”

    Hmmmm…see some parallels there folks? If truth is a moving target why pour the concrete of faith around one’s ontological feet? Is Sean progressing or stuck in a YLC paradigm? Is Erv progressing or stuck in a progressive Adventist paradigm. Am I progressing or stuck in an existentialist/agnostic paradigm. I don’t know, in which response Wes will ‘undoubtly’ see the irony.

    Why is truth progressive but faith fixed? Why did mankind proceed from polytheism to monotheisn? How did the Nicene Creed come about long after the death of Christ? Why did Martin Luther break away the Catholic Church? Why did the Church of England emerge( Henry’s appetite for the ladies or a missive from God?) Why are progressive Adventists trying to marry the concept of an old earth and long life into a less literal understanding of the biblical account of origins? Why is Sean valiantly trying to marry YLC with empirical evidence to his his deep rooted conviction to a recent life and the writings of EGW? Is this all divinely inspired or maybe just maybe the social constructs of Man?

    Inge’s Quote

    ” ‘Said like a true social evolutionist. 😉 You are giving away your deeply embedded bias here. 🙂 And that’s going farther than most evolutionary biologists who do not necessarily subscribe to social evolution.”

    Do I see an evolution of religion. I do. Is it a bias or based on observations? Well we can’t change the facts of what has happened or cloak the dispute of origins in the Adventist community can we? Are schisms in religious institutions inevitable when strong leaders challenge or pull the doctrinal threads apart? If ‘Present Truth’ is evolving which faith faction is right, if any?

    Inge forgive me, if this is bias rather than observation. Does it mean that any one particular iteration of faith is right and all others wrong? No, not logically, but as new iterations -or new religions for that matter – grow, the probability of one being right decreases.

    Inge’s Quote

    “I think you’re doing a great job of providing perspective and asking good questions. :)”

    Thank you my friend. I hope so and that I’m not just being a rabble rouser! And thank you very much for your concern for my salvation. I do not take that lightly! I’ve been treated very well on this forum and that speaks highly of Christian, Adventist charity.

    Your agnostic, yet hopefully not antagonistic, friend Ken




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  52. Re THE GREAT DEBATE and Wes’s Quote

    “Ken, You’ll rescue us yet, if you’re the Moderator of our latest Big Genesis 1 Debate. So now my own Quixotic-Heroic Crusade is to promote your candidacy. Listen, everybody: Ken’s just the right man for it, the most qualified.

    Once the very idea of Adventists debating Adventists over Genesis 1 simply would not have occurred to anybody. Now it’s impossible for even Adventists not to debate Genesis 1, again, (plus why we are even debating it), for as a class our most educated, self-styled “thought leaders” [sic] (as opposed to church leaders, hopefully) doubt Genesis 1. Basically, generically; historically from pre-antiquity on; by etymological, technical, academic, by any definition, to doubt is to agnosticize. If we now have theistic evolutionists, we have theistic agnostics. I’ll call them vegetarian agnostics. So who better to moderate than a professional, full, real, unbiased, not-on-our-payroll agnostic?”

    Dear Wes et. ‘All’

    Not just whimsical comments Wes, very insightful and brilliant.

    Wes understands the peril of debate for what should be foundational established FB’s. I now understand more fully why many of the more ardent defenders of YLC/YEC do not want it. Why put anything in doubt or raise Doubt upon an altar if FBs are cast in Adventist stone? Here is the problem- that old tricky moving target of Present Truth. Bit of an oxymoron isn’t it? What we know now is truth but that can change in the future as we know more. Truth is immutable but Present Truth is not but we can only know Present Truth. Bit of a relativistic conundrum isn’t it?
    ‘Present’ in this context is really an euphemism for relative.

    I chuckled at Wes’s comments about the suitability of the purveyor of doubt (me) being the moderator of the great debate. He is right in his concern of course but am I the lesser of all the evils when it comes to neutrality? Yes Wes, we had better not raise Doubt up on a pedestal or else the purveyors of same might get a God complex and inadvertently knock the agnostic pedestal over! I promise I’ll only use a micro thin platform so my fall from perceived objectivity is not too painful.

    Sorry to keep ‘agging’ you on about the debate. I’ll be happy to sit eating popcorn with Wes or moderate if you like. Your choice.

    Standing on my ‘low to the ground’ agnostic platform
    Ken




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  53. Personally, and for the moment, I like this thread best – heroic crusaders and crusades, awarded and wannabes. So I shall indulge (pending editorial indulgence) an essay.

    This thread is not just a thread but a fabric, not always of the most skillfully extruded acrylic, sometimes twisted, but all the more priceless the garment: see-through and teasing like a peignoir, yet heavy, scratchy wool suitable for field uniforms in a civil war (such as we are in – duck! Where’s the closest bomb shelter!), yet satiny and elegant enough for academic robes.

    Personally, and to offer my unsought but master-class critique, I think any blog, regardless of it’s domain, whether secular or religious, is successful to the degree that it tolerates jaw-droppingly divergent and even hostile opinions. Thus, this one is a howling success. It must be a texture of styles from heavy-handed to delicate, from in-your-face to nuanced, from charming to grungy edgy; evocative of reasoned unrushed responses and provocative of the blurted usually regretted kind — xo@X!-you-called-me-a-lier-let-me-at-my-keyboard-whack!-let-him-have-it! And of moods, from serious to light, from dread of the cosmic to flipping it off, to shrinking from it; and protocols, from obsession with fact and detail to untethered metaphor and bravura brush strokes; from the deadly prosaic to the dreamily poetic. A tent big enough for all.

    But hopefully not over-crowded with allegory. Our church is overdosed on that stuff right now, choking on it. If once we were overdosed on proof texts, now we’re overdosed, almost fatally, on allegory. If my generation was too legalistic, this new one is too liberated.

    I further venture – “I submit,” as we say in committee – that the two awarded and archetypal heroes herein, Dr.s Pitman and Taylor, are especially and exceptionally intelligent and educated and well-read; both give a plethora of discursive detail, equally relevant, equally authoritative, equally credible, being mostly from the same sources. I don’t see Irked Erv offering the better. In accordance with his allegorical take on issues, it may be said that Erv’s presentations are not a flood of Noachian proportions flooding the debating floor, but patchy, not global, cloudbursts, heavy to be sure, but survivable. As to style – maybe what fascinates me most, and where I lose credibility – while both are even-toned and certifiably formal, both bang the table, but somehow Evo Erv reminds me of Khrushchev and his shoe. Erv, the old pro at it, seems just slightly more rattled. And I add, as my amen but not as benediction against feedback — rightly so.

    Popcorn, anyone? Ken and I will share with you. His is buttered, mine salted.




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  54. @ Ken with just a quick note:

    Why is truth progressive but faith fixed? Why did mankind proceed from polytheism to monotheisn?

    First of all, I notice that Sean wrote very precisely –not writing that truth is progressive, but that our understanding of truth is progressive. Big difference.

    I believe that in any particular culture understanding of truth is generally progressive, but I don’t believe that’s true for all of man’s history. (I have a feeling that we don’t understand truth nearly as well as Enoch did.)

    Secondly, I believe it is incorrect to assume that man proceeded “from polytheism to monotheism.” That’s an evolutionary concept, because the Bible clearly teaches that man originally worshiped the one Creator God.

    We can see how that original faith became corrupted and developed into polytheism. The original offerings that were meant to prefigure the death of the incarnate Creator became corrupted into various kinds of sacrifices to appease the gods. (Even the Jews lost sight of the significance of the sacrifices.)

    By the way, your last post confirms your “postmodern” mind set in that it is apparent that you apparently do not believe that absolute truth exists.




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  55. @ Ken

    I shouldn’t reply before reading your whole post. 😉

    Truth is immutable but Present Truth is not but we can only know Present Truth. Bit of a relativistic conundrum isn’t it?
    ‘Present’ in this context is really an euphemism for relative.

    You say truth is immutable?! Or are you attributing that understanding to folks like Wes, Sean and me?

    I don’t see “present truth” as a euphemism for “relative.” I see it as a matter of emphasis on a particular aspect of the whole truth. It should not do away with other aspects of truth.




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  56. Ken said –

    Now it’s impossible for even Adventists not to debate Genesis 1, again, (plus why we are even debating it), for as a class our most educated, self-styled “thought leaders” [sic] (as opposed to church leaders, hopefully) doubt Genesis 1. Basically, generically; historically from pre-antiquity on; by etymological, technical, academic, by any definition, to doubt is to agnosticize. If we now have theistic evolutionists, we have theistic agnostics. I’ll call them vegetarian agnostics. So who better to moderate than a professional, full, real, unbiased, not-on-our-payroll agnostic?”

    So our SDA T.E’s are in fact V.A’s by that logic. Well said!

    You are not far from the 3SG 90-91 “disguised” comment so oft referenced and applicable to this subject.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  57. In an effort to help the Web Admin – replace my prior post with this one.

    ReplyBobRyan says:
    December 14, 2010 Ken – as I pointed out in the case of the book of Daniel and in instances such as the case with the atheist views of professor Veith – that book has convinced a number of atheists of the reality and reliability of the Bible account.
    in Christ,
    Bob BobRyan(Quote)

    Ken replies

    ReplyKen says:
    December 14, 2010 Dear Bob
    Thanks Bob.
    Point well taken. The Bible has had an incredible impact on mankind. Great reading. I’ve enjoyed it as I have many other great books including the Origin of Species.
    Education is an inclusive rather than an exclusive process. History shows that the collective human mind will not be shackled by dogma but will progress favorably with better knowledge. What education does is give one perspective and critical thinking skills. My wish for my children, who think quite differently than me by the way, is to think for themselves.

    Ken — “Think for themselves” — a good goal/objective. no sense in simply parroting “birds come from reptiles” mythology and “eukaryote cells come from rocks gas and water” alchemy when no science demonstrates that such wild fictions are valid.

    But as you point out above – there are opposing views such as we find in the Bible vs Darwin’s own doctrine on origins. Darwin himself confronted that problem and finally admitted – no way to bridge that gap. The two views are completely opposed to each other.

    He was right in that regard.

    One must “pick a lane” as they say – and I pick the lane that says that observations in nature will reflect what actually happened IN nature even if those observations do not pander to atheist religious notions about there “being no god”. As firmly as the atheist evolutionist begins his observations in nature with firm belief and conviction that “there is no god” — I begin mine with the firm belief and conviction that the Bible is the infallible Word of God and is to be accepted “as it reads”.

    The God of the Bible is described as creating a “free will” system of intelligent life including Angels and humans etc. Thus each person – even today much make their choice.

    To each his own.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  58. Re Inge

    “By the way, your last post confirms your “postmodern” mind set in that it is apparent that you apparently do not believe that absolute truth exists. Inge Anderson(Quote)”

    Dear Inge

    I have to respectfully disagree with your conclusion.

    To say there is no absolute truth would be an absurdity. The issue is can Man know it absolutely? I actually agree with Sean here, our understanding of truth (empirical reality?) progresses over time. But absolute truth is likely a Platonic ideal that we may never reach. Otherwise we’d be gods. Even if some day one stands before God will one know the truth as absolutely as God or only relative to how much God wants to confide? So, if logically there is Absolute Truth but we cannot understand it absolutely, is not our understanding relative at any given point in time? Ipso facto: Present Truth= Relative Truth?

    Postmodern? Hmmm…grammatically does that mean things were once modern but no longer so? The longer we live the less modern we become? Pretty soon we’ll be ancient, going back in time to creation. That would be good because we would all know if we are going back 6000-10000 years or about 13 – 14 billion. Yuk yuk.:)

    Inge, please excuse my play with language, inspired greatly by the talents of my creative friend Wes. All done in good spirit I assure you.

    Cheers
    Ken




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  59. Re Wes’s Quote

    “Personally, and to offer my unsought but master-class critique, I think any blog, regardless of it’s domain, whether secular or religious, is successful to the degree that it tolerates jaw-droppingly divergent and even hostile opinions. Thus, this one is a howling success. It must be a texture of styles from heavy-handed to delicate, from in-your-face to nuanced, from charming to grungy edgy; evocative of reasoned unrushed responses and provocative of the blurted usually regretted kind — xo@X!-you-called-me-a-lier-let-me-at-my-keyboard-whack!-let-him-have-it! And of moods, from serious to light, from dread of the cosmic to flipping it off, to shrinking from it; and protocols, from obsession with fact and detail to untethered metaphor and bravura brush strokes; from the deadly prosaic to the dreamily poetic. A tent big enough for all.”

    Dear Editors of Educate Truth

    Ditto on Wes’s sentiments regarding the great value of this site. Great work.

    Gratefully under the tent
    Ken




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  60. Re Inge’s Quote

    “You say truth is immutable?! Or are you attributing that understanding to folks like Wes, Sean and me? ”

    Dear Inge

    If the editors permit, this reminds me of an apropos joke: “Everyone is crazy around here except you and me….and I’m beginning to wonder about you!”

    Cheers
    Ken




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  61. Re Bob’s Quote

    “As firmly as the atheist evolutionist begins his observations in nature with firm belief and conviction that “there is no god” — I begin mine with the firm belief and conviction that the Bible is the infallible Word of God and is to be accepted “as it reads”.”

    Dear Bob

    Well stated. I understand the polemic of both extreme positions and the ideological war being waged. I don’t mind you being a warrior for your deeply held convictions and understand the rhetorical tools you feel obliged to use. Atheists do the same.

    That’s OK, there is room for all under the world’s big tent. Hopefully everyone can share some ontological popcorn with me and Wes.

    Be well my friend
    Ken




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  62. Ken – I am more than happy to agree that Darwin, Dawkins et all reveal the distinctively religious nature of their argument – and in many respects I would do the same thing on a creation vs T.E debate.

    However – a zillion “different topics” have been reviewed on this web-site so far regarding evidence both for and against belief in evolutionism — the end result is that the evolutionists will simply “run to another point” if the current point does not hold up well and creationists will also speak to their strengths while minimizing the unknowns.

    No real news there.

    What you do not see is Kris “reconsidering belief in evolutionism” just because one of his ideas does not pan out. He simply goes to another one hoping for better results.

    And you can see that in the creationist argument there is no claim to have all answers to all puzzles. But there are very good answers to certain points and there is the “still gathering evidence” on other points.

    I value these discussions because you can always find new material here. But in the context of a Christian web site and specifically and SDA web site there is a huge “I must ignore the glaringly obvious facts” that an SDA evolutionist has to engage in when it comes to the Bible and Ellen White that goes far beyond many of the observations in nature point-and-counter-point scenarios.

    If they are not willing to master the easy topics where everything is clearly spelled out – what about the more speculative questions?

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  63. @Ken:

    “Gratefully under the tent”? No, GRACIOUSLY under the tent, Ken, popcorn and all. Umm—good! May I have some more?

    The big tent I’m talking about, of course, is this here roomy tent, this site, under our needfully single-minded but preternaturally tolerant ringmasters.

    The SDA tent itself has always been really big, especially our evangelical “Effort” tents, complete with sawdust floors. I remember when I was 10 years old, and a huge tent, a real tent, sawdust and all (maybe popcorn too; I think I remember the smell), biggest one I’d ever seen, came to our town. North Hollywood, of all places. Pitched right across from the Public Library for a whole year, always with a full house eager to hear about Daniel 2, it was that big tent I was baptized in, me and maybe 50 others, further swelling the tent.

    That big tent was 70 years ago. But now our tent isn’t big enough. Kleig lights in banks can’t be hung from tent poles. Not enough room for the clowns and the juggling, tumbling, dancing acts, special effects and extreme makeover crews, and Daniel 2 too. Daniel will have to go. Watch out! The seams are splitting – cra-a-a-a-k!




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  64. Dear Wes

    Reading your posts is sheer delight.

    Perhaps all of our respective tents are like Russian dolls, fitting within each other under a meta universe super tent that we cannot perceive. Maybe every once in a while we can peer through a hole in the wall of own tent and look at another?

    Like Inge’s personal faith story I enjoyed yours. At 10 was the experience an overwhelming one?

    Curious
    Ken




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  65. Dear Sean

    I was reading this thread again with great admiration for your quest. I’m glad you are challenging mainstream science on behalf of Adventism.

    Many of your brethren are worried about this
    because they fear the outcome and would rather think solely within the faith box. The claim that human reason can only be valid if consecrated is subjective to the point of dismay.

    I think you are on the cutting edge of making Adventism far more plausible for the collective Adventist mind. Too much focus is placed on your conclusions rather than your method.

    And any time an apostate secularist like myself opines that a man of faith is using the right method that is a victory for that faith! I hope your brethren and sisteren can see that.

    On a lighter note, if you don’t mind me asking, did you name your son after Dr. Kime? Good brush stroke if you did.

    All the best in your noble quest.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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