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

  1. How fitting, Erv Taylor’s rhapsody, even if meant as a lampoon, to Sean’s heroism. Sounded more like an old Dean Martin Roast.

    But if Sean is heroic, as indeed he is, and his undertaking heroic, as indeed it is, and timely, as indeed indeed it is — it’s about time! — the award presenter himself, Dr. Taylor, merits an Award for Disruption/Enlightenment on a Biblical scale, fittingly of the Bible itself, and of denominational identity. Under his inspiration, the Bible is to be seen as allegorical, not inspired. Thus Dr. Taylor stands among the heroes of Adventism, along with James White and Hiram Edson (cornfield fame), Canright and Kellogg (not of corn-flake fame). Applause-applause, as nowadays is heard bursting forth beneath the Klieg lights, from our churches, for an especially great performance.

    As any gracious awardee would say, “Thank you thank you! But there are so many others who also deserve this award!” Gracious words, and true, for Taylor’s Heroes have pretty much taken over our Stalag 13, as they see it. Ceded to them are just about all SDA scholarly circles, in the bigger churches and bigger medical institutions and bigger educational centers. I know, I can attest. I’m not making this up.

    I can with the authority of experience speak to and of those circles, for by fluke of profession and my scholar-admiration, those are the circles I have found myself in, for nearly fifty years. The only circles I’ve known, they enclose my best friends, really my only friends, my most admired mentors. Even if, in those circles, I was an alien, fearing to speak up, and put in my place when I did (“I feel sorry for you”).

    I can but trust that outside such enclaves other kinds of Adventists do exist. Thanks again, then, to EduTruth, for opening the door to those other Adventist voices, unfamiliar to me ensconced in my higher circles, and for opening the closet, from whence I feel it is time to emerge, however sweatingly, anxiously, guardedly.

    That it is that way inside our edu-ghettos, is, again (I find myself saying “again” a lot), thanks to the pioneering and untiring work of our Dr. Taylor especially. Nearly fifty years, that’s a long time. (By the way, his and my tenures started in the same little church, and are synchronous if not, in the end, tandem. I’ve seen him at work for a long time. A Lifetime Achievement award?)

    Honestly, I’m a little sweaty and nervous about naming names, but, well, Dr. Taylor has – again – set precedent. Do unto others as…pretty good ethics, still.

    That’s not the end of it. Another award is due, again fitting if unsought. For as Dr. Pitman says in the preface to this thread, if Dr. Taylor is the archetype of the Postmodernist Adventist (Postadventist) thought-leader, he is by the same token responsible for jarring awake and perking up another, if minority, segment of educated Adventists. I can certify such cases. Like, long ago, when Dr. Pitman was in high school and more concerned with girls than genomes, this Adventist, lulled and lethargic (once known as Laodicean), went into a Taylor seminar taking Creation and Genesis 1 for granted (Creation is true, of course, so what else is new?), and came out whacked and reeling, staggering back to Genesis 1, this time seriously. And being educated and scientific, saw evidence, and believed, this time staunchly and actively. “Thanks, Erv, I needed that,” as some old movie line goes.

    And there was this other Adventist who likewise for years and years was whacked and whacked at large SDA Medical Center Sabbath Schools, of all places, as taught by a string of our PhDs. There, whew! I’ve come out of the closet. Not easy, among friends.

    Now, I must muster the audacity to insert this I-was-there witness among all the other postings insisting that the evidence and documentations presented herein are all boat-rocking, insensitive, biased and baseless and base distortions and outright lies and invasions of privacy and incursions against academic freedom; and anyway so what – it’s progress, it’s freedom, it’s liberation. It’s science. (Meanwhile, over at Adventist Today…better left in ellipsis.) Well, sigh, if I felt constrained to hold my peace for all those years at Sabbath School, my own church, by the same token I shan’t here. And I’ll do it on Thanksgiving, while waiting for the feast, when nobody will notice and it’ll all soon lost to the archives. This isn’t heroism; it’s merely, at my age, anticlimax. Happy thanksgiving, all.

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  2. @ 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. @ 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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  9. @ 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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  10. 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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  11. @ 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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  12. 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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  13. 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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  14. 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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  15. @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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  16. @ 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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  17. @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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  18. @ 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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  19. 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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  20. @ Sean

    Science isn’t about providing ‘proof’. Science is about providing consistency and predictive value while remembering that there is always the potential for effective falsification…

    Fine, but you still have not answered my questions.

    1) What would constitute a falsification of the literal 6-day creation model?

    2) If falsified, would you then throw out the literal 6-day creation model?

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  21. Brother Wesley Kime,

    If you followed my response to Pitman, you should be able to understand my context. But perhaps I was not clear enough.

    Sean concedes that the virgin birth of Jesus, His sinless life, and His ascension are metaphysical claims of the Bible; that is, they cannot be verified empirically.

    Obviously, the creation of all major life forms in 6 days, including the instantaneous conversion of a lump of dust into a living breathing human, is a metaphysical claim as well. Neither the virgin birth, nor fiat creation, can be verified empirically. These are supernatural events, beyond the realm of science.

    Sean would never demand theologians to teach that the weight of empirical evidence supports the The Virgin Birth, but he demands scientists to teach that the weight of empirical evidence supports Fiat Creation. And his demand is accompanied by teeth: he will shame and humiliate any offender publicly. Do you not see the inconsistency here?

    Until the whole world hears,
    PK
    “The righteous shall live by faith”

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  22. @OTNT_Believer:

    Religious belief has never been entirely rational, and there is no reason to expect it to be. Not all truth is accessible by rational means.

    The well-known Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias, tells a story of a lady standing up during one of his lectures and explaining to him that religion is not rational and is not supposed to be rational. In response, Ravi said, “Would you like a rational or an irrational response?” – to which the lady stood silent for a moment before sitting down without further comment…

    To argue that important truths are completely irrational is itself an irrational statement that is essentially nonsensical. The God of the Bible constantly strives to appeal to the rational candid mind as well as the heart. He is quoted as saying, “Come, let us reason together.” – Isaiah 1:18 NIV.

    The Christian God is not a God of confusion, but of order and reason. He has given us rational minds for a reason. As Galileo once opined, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  23. @ 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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  24. @ 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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  25. 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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  26. @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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  27. 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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  28. 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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  29. 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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  30. 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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  31. 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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  32. “…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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  33. 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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  34. 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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  35. 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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  36. @ Sean Pitman

    As I’ve noted for you dozens of times now, the credibility of the metaphysical claims of the Bible which cannot be directly tested or evaluated through any scientific methods, are based on the credibility of those Biblical statements that can be directly tested and evaluated in a potentially falsifiable manner.

    As I’ve noted for you dozens of times now, the origin of life as stated in the Bible is a metaphysical event. You acknowledge that the metaphysical claims of the Bible cannot be directly tested or evaluated through any scdientific methods, YET YOU DEMAND THAT SDA SCIENTISTS TELL OUR YOUNG PEOPLE THAT THE SCIENCE PROVES THE METAPHYSICAL CLAIMS OF GENESIS.

    Does your head spin in circles?

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  37. @ Wesley Kime:

    Meanwhile, hmmm, don’t all our other professors say Genesis is “allegorical”?

    Some here seem to want to believe that, especially at LSU and PUC, although I don’t believe it. But since I’m usually mistaken it may well be true.

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  38. @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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  39. While in Roosevelt, New York, August 3, 1861, different churches and families were presented before me. The different influences that have been exerted, and their discouraging results, were shown me. Satan has used as agents individuals professing to believe a part of present truth, while they were warring against a part. Such he can use more successfully than those who are at war with all our faith. His artful manner of bringing in error through partial believers in the truth, has deceived many, and distracted and scattered their faith. This is the cause of the divisions in northern Wisconsin. Some receive a part of the message, and reject another portion. Some accept the Sabbath and reject the third angel’s message; yet because they have received the Sabbath they claim the fellowship of those who believe all the present truth. Then they labor to bring others into the same dark position with themselves. They are not responsible to anyone. They have an independent faith of their own. Such are allowed to have influence, when no place should be given to them, notwithstanding their pretensions to honesty.

    Erv has had decades to come into line. According to the above counsel from the Lord, “no place” should have been given him regardless of his pretensions. And it is far past time that place cease to be given him.

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