It’s about authority

Answers in Genesis recently posted an article Why Don’t Many Christian Leaders and Scholars Believe Genesis? by Dr. Terry Mortenson. He quotes 13 Christian leaders and scholars who have indicated that “evolutionary theories about the history and age of the earth and universe are the determining factor influencing their understanding of Genesis 1-11.” The conflict at La Sierra University is ultimately about authority.

Mortenson says these leaders and scholars are teaching “that science is the final authority in determining the correct interpretation of some or all of Genesis 1–11, or at least that science is the final authority in determining that the young-earth view must be wrong.” This shows that often it is not careful exegesis of Genesis that drives LSU professor’s interpretation of chapters 1-11. It is no wonder professors in the LSU religion and biology department feel “free to advocate all kinds of alternative interpretations, no matter how exegetically weak they may be.”

Why Don’t Many Christian Leaders and Scholars Believe Genesis?
By Dr. Terry Mortenson

Many people think that Bible scholars and other Christian leaders or educators who accept millions of years and hold to the gap theory or day-age view or framework hypothesis or a localized Noachian Flood do so because of careful attention to the Biblical text in the original languages.

However, the following old-earth proponents’ own words indicate that evolutionary theories about the history and age of the earth and universe are the determining factor influencing their understanding of Genesis 1-11. Error-prone and, in many cases, erroneous scientific interpretations about the unobserved past appear to have a higher authority for them than Scripture does. Consider these statements, made by Christian scholars who all avowedly affirm that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. All of these scholars are clear that they accept the millions of years or, at least, lean quite strongly in that direction. But some of them are not clear about precisely which old-earth interpretation of Genesis they favor. That is why I say in some cases that someone “apparently favors” a particular view. (Read more)

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30 thoughts on “It’s about authority

  1. Who or what is informing our interpretation of the Bible? When I come across evidence that appears to support an old-earth, do I reject what the Bible says in order to make it fit with my interpretation of the data?




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  2. “When I come across evidence that appears to support an old-earth, do I reject what the Bible says in order to make it fit with my interpretation of the data?”

    If you reject what science says, then be honest: you reject science and you can no longer argue the validity of Genesis based on science.

    Maybe God wants you to believe in spite of science. The record has been muddled…by the flood, by fallible human interpretations, whatever. It does’nt matter.

    There is only one way we know that our mother’s love is real: by our personal experience with her.




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  3. Thankfully, we do not have to believe in spite of the evidence. It’s our world view that drives our interpretation of the evidence. For the Adventist Christian, the Bible should be the ultimate authority. Thus it should be a biblical world view that drives our interpretation of the data.




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  4. Geanna: We don’t reject science, we reject science as interpreted by naturalism. As long as you remain ignorant of that fact you will remain ignorant. The idea that science is something that stands by itself is pure mythology and fantasy perpetrated by ignoramuses or liar or someone who is living in the 17th century. Popper and Khun (look them up) have shown that science can only falsify (never prove) hypothesis and that all science is presuppositionally driven. Anyone who perpetrates the fantasy — “science vs. religion” is clueless.




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  5. @Shane Hilde:

    Who or what is informing our interpretation of the Bible? When I come across evidence that appears to support an old-earth, do I reject what the Bible says in order to make it fit with my interpretation of the data?

    It should be the data and the God-given gift of scientific reasoning ability that drives our acceptance of the authority of the Bible and of the Bible’s ultimate authority regarding those metaphysical claims that are not subject to direct testing or potential falsification. In other words, the Bible’s authority should be based on its demonstrable credibility regarding those things that it says that can be subject to testing and potential falsification – as with any other valid scientific hypothesis or theory that gains more and more credibility over time after surviving many tests.

    The problem here is that science itself is not entirely an objective empirical enterprise. There is always the subjective element in science. That is why the available evidence must be considered on a personal basis if it is considered important to the individual.

    We simply are not asked to believe even the Bible based on blind faith, but on a reasonable faith that is in fact in line with the weight of available scientific evidence as God has given us to understand that evidence…

    Consider an excerpt from an interesting interview with the well-known Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias, along these lines:

    What do you say to a pastor who says, “Apologetics is just philosophy, and we do not need that. All we need is the Bible”?

    Ravi Zacharias:

    I desperately wish it were that simple. When pastors believe and teach, “all we need is the Bible,” they equip their young people with the very line that gets them mocked in the universities and makes them unable and even terrified to relate to their friends. If pastors want their young people to do the work of evangelism — to reach their friends — that line will not get them anywhere. Even the Bible that Christ gave us is sustained by the miracle of the Resurrection…

    If a pastor says, “All we need is the Bible,” what does he say to a man who says, “All I need is the Qu’ran”? It is a solipsistic method of arguing.

    The pastor is saying, “All I need is my own point of reference and nothing more than that.” Even the gospel was verified by external references. The Bible is a book of history, a book of geography, not just a book of spiritual assertions.

    The fact is the resurrection from the dead was the ultimate proof that in history — and in empirically verifiable means — the Word of God was made certain. Otherwise, the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration would have been good enough. But the apostle Peter says in 2 Peter 1:19: “We have the Word of the prophets made more certain … as to a light shining in a dark place.” He testified to the authority and person of Christ, and the resurrected person of Christ.

    To believe, “All we need is the Bible and nothing more,” is what the monks believed in medieval times, and they resorted to monasteries. We all know the end of that story. This argument may be good enough for those who are convinced the Bible is authority. The Bible, however, is not authoritative in culture or in a world of counter-perspectives. To say that it is authoritative in these situations is to deny both how the Bible defends itself and how our young people need to defend the Bible’s sufficiency.

    An Interview with Ravi Zacharias by Richard L. Schoonover, associate editor of Enrichment Journal, 2009

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  6. @Sean Pitman: I believe God gave us reason. In fact I would go so far as to say that if the biblical world view were not true, we would not expect there to be laws of logic. It is only under a biblical world view that laws of logic are possible. The same goes for uniformity in nature and absolute morality.

    However, our own reasoning can only lead us so far. This is where the Bible plays important role because it gives us context. The Bible is self attesting. So I believe we have to accept it presuppositionally.

    I’ll give Zacharias’ quote some more thought, but initially I don’t accept his assertion. Remember, the argument is not “The Bible is the Word of God because it says it is.” Rather, the argument is “The Bible is the Word of God because it says it is and any alternative leads to absurdity.” The Bible claims to be the ultimate standard by which all truth should be measured. The law of non-contradiction is based on the self-consistent nature of the biblical God (2 Tim. 2:13). The Bible cannot contradict itself. If it does, then it is self-refuting and thus implodes on its claims.

    Islam and Mormonism both endorse the Bible (or at least portions of the Bible), but then they contradict it. For example, the Koran teaches that Jesus is not the Son of God (Surah 4:171), but was merely an apostle and that He was not crucified (Surah 4:157). This clearly contradicts the gospel accounts, yet the Koran endorses the gospel of Jesus (Surah 3:3).

    The Bible provides lots of internal evidence for it’s claims, but also provides lots of opportunity to verify its claims externally.

    If he’s trying to argue that we need reason, then I agree. To me this goes without saying. If we could not reason, we could not make sense of the Bible. If you’re only point was we don’t have to accept the Bible on blind faith, I agree. The evidence merely confirms the Bible though and does not prove the Bible. Otherwise the Bible would no longer be the ultimate measure of truth as it claims it is.




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  7. @Shane Hilde:

    Otherwise the Bible would no longer be the ultimate measure of truth as it claims it is.

    My LDS friends believe that the Book of Mormon is “true” because of a deep internal feeling that they get that they believe is from God. According to them, this feeling is what lets them know what is and what is not true.

    I personally don’t think God works that way. I think that God appreciates the mind and the rational powers that He has given us to think and reason logically in order to approach truth and determine error. I don’t think feelings are a reliable method for determining truth. And, I think the reliability of external references, to include the Bible, should be tested by our God-given reasoning abilities (i.e., a form of scientific investigation) before they are accepted as trustworthy in any respect – physical or metaphysical. The biblical authors even quote God Himself as asking us to test Him to prove that He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.

    Therefore, I believe that our God-given ability to reason and weigh evidence is the very best measure of truth that we have. It is the basis by which we can reasonably determine that the Bible is in fact true vs. other “good books”. For me, internal consistency is not enough to determine that the Bible is rationally “true”. There are many other good books that are also internally consistent, or at least as much as the Bible is, but do not have the same match to external reality that the Bible has.

    If external reality truly falsified much of the biblical claims about external reality, the biblical authors would in fact loose their credibility, not only regarding external reality, but regarding their metaphysical claims as well.

    This is what Ravi Zacharias is getting at and I think he has an excellent point. I for one would no longer be a Seventh-day Adventist, or a Christian for that matter, if I ever became convinced that the modern theory of evolution was in fact the true story of origins. This view would falsify too many key testable elements of the Bible for me and I would have to abandon it has having any significant credibility regarding physical or metaphysical realities.

    Clifford Goldstein, you might be interested to know, holds a similar view. He would also leave Adventism and Christianity if the testable statements regarding physical reality within the Bible were ever convincingly falsified in his mind.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  8. The OP on this thread makes the case that “many Christian” leaders reject the Bible when it comes to Genesis as a trustworthy accurate document. They do so to their own hurt – because belief in evolutionism undermines more than “just genesis”.

    The slice and dice – pick and choose – “sacrifice Genesis and then regroup” defensive strategy is a failure.

    What is more apparent from the EU and Canada is that evolution kills Christianity.

    A much bigger problem today – than Kellogg’s “Living Temple”.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  9. “dripping blood coming from 250 billion year old dinosaur bones, giant fossilized bones of humans rather than small hunched over ape like cave man, the discoveries of human foot prints with dinosaur foot prints”

    Unfortunately it is an abundance of unsubstantiated comments such as these, emanating from well meaning but misinformed creationists, that tarnish the integrity of creationists–including those of us who strive to be credible as both scientists and Bible-believing Christians.

    For what it is worth, I tend to agree with Professor Kent, Geanna Dane and others who have claimed here to believe in a relatively recent creation BASED MORE ON FAITH THAN EVIDENCE. I genuinely wish with all my heart that I could agree with Sean that the scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports a relatively recent creation. I agree that some scientific evidence does and I’m impressed with the SDA scientists (e.g., Leonard Brand, Paul Buccheim, Art Chadwick, Ariel Roth) and non-SDA scientists who are out there searching for and finding evidence in support of our traditional interpretations of scripture, but I see an enormous amount of evidence in the published literature that contradicts our interpretations. Science doesn’t have all the answers. Any view of origins requires a giant leap of faith.




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  10. What funny is that about 10 months ago, I had a few doubts about educatetruth.com, and I was hoping that most of the findings concerning LSU’s evolutionary teaching would be exaggerated.

    Boy was I mistaken. The exaggeration could not be overstated.

    Now I have noticed that a lot of people keep wondering why evolutionary professors and faculty refuse to leave LSU. I give my two cents from experience in always going through public school:

    The issue is pride.

    By leaving voluntarily, these professors and faculty members will symbolically be succumbing to defeat. In their own minds, they cannot allow such a thing to happen because it would prick their status. Remember that many folks build reputations not upon prayer, but prestige and achievement.

    How anyone can see through the foggy curtain is easy. Whenever someone truly believes in something as truth, they don’t need a salary to convince them. They don’t need external influences (besides God Himself) to fully cement this undiscovered truth. A mere website forum full of human criticism wouldn’t be able to stop them in their endeavors.

    Here are some examples of what I am talking about:

    * 3ABN – Danny Shelton believed that God told him to begin broadcasting a 24/7 TV station. So he went forward with it and now we have 3ABN all around the world.

    * Noah – He received a message about an upcoming worldwide flood. He believed it and preached for 120 years despite the rest of the world deeming him “nuts.” And we know the rest of the story…

    * Moses – He was called to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, the most powerful kingdom on earth, despite being the laughing stock of Pharaoh. And we know the rest of the story…

    * Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego – All believed that true worship did not constitute worshiping a golden image. They stood up and stood their ground despite the king’s anger and attempt to kill them.

    My point is this: Wisbey, Greer, and anyone else who does not agree with a literal 6-day creation-why don’t you start an independent ministry teaching your supposedly “true” & “scientific” doctrines? If what you teach is truth, then how can anyone even begin to fight it? Wouldn’t God bless it and multiply it without the help of a doctrinally “wrong” institution such as the SDA Church? I hope I’m making sense here.

    If the SDA doctrines are supposedly wrong on creation, why would you want to associate yourself with the church? Or better yet, why would you use an educational institution of the church as your platform? This would be the equivalent of me going into a university of the society of Jesus, becoming a converted Jesuit, and then preaching the Protestant Reformation as valid. This is like trying to somehow find the best measurement for taste involving a mixture of orange juice and whole milk.

    LSU – please cut to the chase and stop cutting the cheese.




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  11. @Cheng: Cheng, you’re putting Danny Shelton in some rarefied company where he himself probably wouldn’t be comfortable.

    On the issue of why don’t the Darwinists go do their own thing, you’re not understanding something basic. It takes alot of faith to go out and start your own [religion, business, church, etc.]. People without faith do not create and found new institutions. Conservative Adventists often do found independent ministries and independent ventures. ASI is teeming with independent conservative ministries. (There are exceptioins to every rule, and Spectrum/AAF and Adventist Today are independents that were founded by liberals, albeit for explicity liberal purposes.)

    Liberal Adventists tend simply to take over the existing structures (which were built up by conservative Adventists in the past). Additionally, it is a law of human action that any insitution that isn’t explicitly and militantly conservative will eventually be liberalized. This has happened to all of mainline Protestant denominations and is now happening to the Adventist Church.




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  12. @David Read: David, You got it absolutely right. And the “takeover” is well underway here in the Pacific Union Conference. It’s been done in the SECC, SCC, and is happening in the NCC right now.




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  13. Sean Pittman said, “I believe that our God-given ability to reason and weigh evidence is the very best measure of truth that we have.” Gerhard Pfandl’s article (“A Historical Review of the Creation Debate Among SDAs”) quotes Dr. Richard Hammill, whose “God-given ability to reason” apparently led him to become what he called “a progressive creationist,” having concluded, for one thing, that “animals were living on the earth . . . millions of years ago.”

    So I’m uneasy with the idea that human reason is the “best measure of truth.” As finite and erring creatures, do we not need to choose to trust in a source outside ourselves to be that best (authoritative) measure for us? The exercise of our reason is in that process of choosing, it seems to me.

    I hope I have misinterpreted Dr. Pittman’s statement. Perhaps I am assuming you would equate “measure” with “standard,” and that is not what you meant.

    Sandi




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  14. @David Read:

    Yes I know, but I was more trying to illustrate a point about believing in something. Belief takes action and investment (as in the case of Danny Shelton). If we are so certain that a 6-day literal creation CANNOT be the only interpretation, why don’t we just step out and back it up like we believe it? Or if we are confused on the subject, why don’t we just admit it, and ask for prayer and support from our Adventist brethren?

    Basically, I’m throwing out a challenge to all those who are not willing to believe in the literal 6-day creation account. In the same way Elijah told the false prophets manifest their faith in Baal, I would like to have those who do not uphold the traditional SDA/Biblical doctrines to come forward onto the platform. Why hide if you believe it’s the truth? What is more crucial and edifying than exposing the error of the church?

    Is my drift not being caught here?

    Oh well, it’s just a challenge that most aren’t willing to take up. Why? Because there is no love of the truth present. Only a desire for validating “my own personal interpretation” as always in the post-modern human mind.




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  15. @Cheng

    Now I have noticed that a lot of people keep wondering why evolutionary professors and faculty refuse to leave LSU. I give my two cents from experience in always going through public school:

    The issue is pride.

    By leaving voluntarily, these professors and faculty members will symbolically be succumbing to defeat. In their own minds, they cannot allow such a thing to happen because it would prick their status. Remember that many folks build reputations not upon prayer, but prestige and achievement.

    One issue I take with the statement regarding LSU professors “refusing to leave” is that the sense of “refuse” here evokes images of tenured academicians tenaciously holding on to positions in the face of widespread and sustained pressure to resign. I do not think that “a mere website forum full of human criticism” proportionally qualifies as widespread and sustained pressure. It is also unreasonable to expect officials at any level to resign if any pressure is applied; if that were the reality, no position at any level or context could remain filled for long. If a student of mine is dissatisfied with a grade they receive in my class and subsequently calls for my resignation, I will certainly “refuse” to leave unless and until proper procedures and protocols are followed through.

    The second issue I take with the above-quoted statement is its assumption that professors’ decisions to stay at LSU are founded in pride and a reticence to “prick their status”, not to mention a reputation not built on prayer. This assumption puts thoughts into the minds and intentions into the hearts of these professors in an entirely inappropriate manner. It may have been an experience gained at public school, but it does not necessary transmit to LSU, or a different public school for that matter.

    My two cents to contribute affirm that the colleagues with which I associate have lives and reputations both founded solidly in prayer.

    If what you teach is truth, then how can anyone even begin to fight it? Wouldn’t God bless it and multiply it without the help of a doctrinally “wrong” institution such as the SDA Church?

    People fight truth all the time. Jesus warned us that “in this world, you will have trouble” and so a lack of opposition is not a guarantee of Divine favor. Outward appearances may be deceptive, and it is difficult to determine how and in what forms God may choose to bless any endeavor. We have the entire “dark” middle ages to illustrate this: biblical truth, as we Protestants see it, certainly did not prosper in a worldly sense.

    This would be the equivalent of me going into a university of the society of Jesus, becoming a converted Jesuit, and then preaching the Protestant Reformation as valid.

    A side note only: my wife is both Jesuit university-educated, and a Seventh-day Adventist. Being a Jesuit is not something you are necessarily “converted” into, rather it is a religious order within the greater Catholic Church, like the Dominican, Franciscan and Augustinian Recollect orders. I am acquainted with a number of Jesuit priests and institutions through my academic research.

    Pax,

    David Kendall, PhD
    Adjunct Professor of Music
    La Sierra University




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  16. To Sean Pitman: After sending my previous comment, I got curious about how Clifford Goldstein would respond to your statement: “I for one would no longer be a Seventh-day Adventist, or a Christian for that matter, if I ever became convinced that the modern theory of evolution was in fact the true story of origins. This view would falsify too many key testable elements of the Bible for me and I would have to abandon it has having any significant credibility regarding physical or metaphysical realities.

    “Clifford Goldstein, you might be interested to know, holds a similar view. He would also leave Adventism and Christianity if the testable statements regarding physical reality within the Bible were ever convincingly falsified in his mind.” – Sean Pitman

    But anyway, I emailed Clifford Goldstein, shared with him your comment, and suggested he might want to add his own. He sent me a response and gave me permission to quote it here:

    My statements were purely hypothetical; I understand that science really has a hard time “proving” much of anything. My point, instead is that were I somehow convinced that evolution were true, I would reject the Bible. It’s a rhetorical way of saying that if evolution were true, the Bible can’t be. That’s my point. I am an avid student of the philosophy of science, and so I am not scared by science because I know how tentative and contingent it all is.

    Hope that helps clarify things a bit.

    Cliff

    I don’t know if that was your understanding of his position, but it doesn’t seem quite the same to me. If it is, that may mean I have misinterpreted your position.

    I believe as Shane Hilde said, that the Bible is “self-attesting,” and not to be accepted with the proviso that if something (in science) comes along that convinces me the Bible is wrong I will have to reject it. The only question is whether we individually are going to be convinced, via whatever means it takes for us to come to that acceptance, that the Bible is inspired of God and an “infallible guide” for our life (as EGW puts it, Maranatha 44.2, SR 368.1, etc.).

    God bless,

    Sandi Reiber




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  17. @David Kendall, PhD:

    One issue I take with the statement regarding LSU professors “refusing to leave” is that the sense of “refuse” here evokes images of tenured academicians tenaciously holding on to positions in the face of widespread and sustained pressure to resign. I do not think that “a mere website forum full of human criticism” proportionally qualifies as widespread and sustained pressure. It is also unreasonable to expect officials at any level to resign if any pressure is applied; if that were the reality, no position at any level or context could remain filled for long.

    I agree with this. In fact the Walla Walla incident is a good example of “The direct pressure that it takes” to get the to resign. So far that level of direct pressure has NOT been applied to the LSU example.

    The EducateTruth web site is not the “end all” of models for pressure – it is merely one of many catalysts at God’s disposal to get the process going at something beyond a sluggish reluctant pace.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  18. @Cheng: Cheng, I see what you are saying now. The Seventh-day Darwinians are being very bold about evangelizing their views in the fora they control. That’s the report we have about the Darwinists at LaSierra and was also what we saw in the freshman seminar class from Webster and Johns.

    It isn’t in their political interest to advertise that they control LaSierra, although they aren’t really denying it either. The thing that impresses me is that these folks have been and are very politically astute. The sad fact is that the conservatives have been badly outmaneuvered politically, at least in California.




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  19. @Sandra K. Reiber:

    I don’t know if that was your understanding of his position, but it doesn’t seem quite the same to me. If it is, that may mean I have misinterpreted your position.

    I believe as Shane Hilde said, that the Bible is “self-attesting,” and not to be accepted with the proviso that if something (in science) comes along that convinces me the Bible is wrong I will have to reject it. The only question is whether we individually are going to be convinced, via whatever means it takes for us to come to that acceptance, that the Bible is inspired of God and an “infallible guide” for our life…

    As Shane will agree, the Bible is not merely “self-attesting”. If it was not at all consistent with external realities outside of itself, it wouldn’t be any more useful than believing in Santa Claus or garden fairies – no matter how internally consistent the stories of Santa Claus or garden fairies might be…

    It is in this sense that the Bible is supported and confirmed through external evidence – through “science”.

    Cliff understands that scientific conclusions are always tentative because science always involves an element of subjectivity and is therefore open to potential falsification itself. There are, therefore, always leaps of faith in science. This doesn’t mean that science isn’t helpful. It’s pretty much the best we have when it comes to determining the “truth” of any information that comes into our minds regarding the world that exists outside of our minds – to include the trustworthiness of the Bible.

    Science is simply a process of inductive and deductive reasoning that all of us use every day. It give “predictive value” or a dependability score to the “weight of evidence” that we have personally experienced. For Cliff and I, if that weight of evidence ended up supporting the modern theory of evolution, we would not longer remain SDA or even Christian. The contradiction between the theory of evolution and Christianity is so strong that one or the other would have to go in our opinion. This is the reason why Cliff has noted, many times, that he is in the SDA Church because of the doctrines of this Church; not because of its culture or anything else since the SDA “culture” is actual quite foreign to the culture he was born in. This is also the reason why Cliff has spent so much time reading up on scientific apologetic arguments as well as the philosophy of science.

    I know Cliff’s ideas on this topic pretty well and have talked to him fairly extensively on the phone and through many E-mails regarding these issues. I think we are in very close agreement here…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  20. @Sandra K. Reiber:

    So I’m uneasy with the idea that human reason is the “best measure of truth.” As finite and erring creatures, do we not need to choose to trust in a source outside ourselves to be that best (authoritative) measure for us? The exercise of our reason is in that process of choosing, it seems to me.

    In figuring out that the Bible is indeed a very reliable external source of truth, one must use “scientific” reasoning to do this in a convincing manner. Some come to their conclusions based on feelings or emotions of “truth”. Personally, I do not consider such methods, short of direct Divine revelation, nearly as reliable as the scientific method of approaching truth. Many other people have come to very different conclusions as to which book is the most reliable – such as the Qur’an or the Book of Mormon, etc.

    Not everyone’s reason brings him/her to the same conclusion as everyone else, obviously. Not everyone has the same ability to reason or to determine “truth”. This is why we are not judged, morally speaking, by our ability to reason, but by our ability to love the little truth that we think we do know – especially when it comes to loving our neighbors as ourselves. How can we who have never seen God love God if we do not show love to our neighbors whom we can see?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  21. Thanks, Sean, for your thoughts. You and I approach things differently it seems, which is probably a result of differences in how our minds work. I don’t see that the only choices we have of determining truth are either “emotional” or “scientific” as you put it, unless you include the spiritual aspects in the “emotional” arena, in which case they can be moved upon and guided by the Spirit of God.

    Certainly, the Bible needs to be intelligible to us in relation to our “external” world. But we are told by God’s modern-day messenger that there will come a time when Satan will so obfuscate the truth, so dazzle human eyes with his beautiful counterfeits, that even the “elect” will not be able to trust their senses (with which we determine “scientific truth”), and that the Bible will be the only source we can rely on for truth. So if you are subordinating your belief in the Bible to scientific discoveries, that seems dangerous to me. That is the core of my concern here.

    1John 5:10 says that “The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony [or witness] in himself.” So however nebulous or “emotional” or subject to counterfeit you may consider it to be, the inner movings of the Holy Spirit are sure and solid. The most tangible, physical, apparently obvious realities of nature are just as subject to counterfeit. And the human mind is very prone to self-deception. Therefore it stands to reason that we must be led in our quest for “scientific truth” just as much as “spiritual truth.”

    You said, “I do not consider such methods, short of direct Divine revelation, nearly as reliable as the scientific method of approaching truth.” Well, how would we know “direct Divine revelation” when we saw it? There is nothing on this earth, so infiltrated as it is by the adversary, that is straightforward–in the physical world any more than the spiritual. He has used every means he knows to obscure the truth in the spiritual world; can we say that God has not allowed him to do the same in the physical? I know you believe Satan has affected the physical world. So I’m just saying the same issues are in play whether we speak of the spiritual (which you might associate more readily with emotions) or the physical (the scientific realm, though the emotional in the form of bias is by no means absent).

    If a person is sincerely searching for truth, comes upon a Bible, reads it, remains open to the Holy Spirit’s promptings (whether or not he recognizes such an entity), he will know of the truth, whether it be of God or whether it be a fairy tale. This is an experience that many people have had, and it attests to the divine nature of God’s Word. A power from beneath can “inspire” a person to accept “another gospel,” but the fruits will tell from whence it derives.

    Perhaps you do know Cliff Goldstein’s thinking better than I do. I understood his email response to me to be saying that he is so confident that science can never disprove the Bible to his satisfaction that he makes those bold statements. That is what I got from his calling them “rhetorical.” In other words, I don’t get the idea that he holds his faith in the Bible tentative to nothing convincing (to him) being found in the scientific world to refute it. Whereas I do get that idea from you. If I am incorrect I’ll be very happy to know that.

    Good discussion!

    Sandi




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  22. @Sandra K. Reiber:

    1John 5:10 says that “The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony [or witness] in himself.” So however nebulous or “emotional” or subject to counterfeit you may consider it to be, the inner movings of the Holy Spirit are sure and solid. The most tangible, physical, apparently obvious realities of nature are just as subject to counterfeit. And the human mind is very prone to self-deception. Therefore it stands to reason that we must be led in our quest for “scientific truth” just as much as “spiritual truth.”

    There are internally-derived truths, to include moral truths (like the rightness of loving one’s neighbor as one’s self), that are not subject to testing or potential falsification. However, there are also truths that are external truths which we can only appreciate as our senses and reasoning abilities give us the power to approach an understanding of these truths. Such truths can only be reliably approached through inductive and deductive reasoning with the formation of testable predictive value to our conclusions – i.e. a form of “science”.

    External truths that God seems to require us to use our minds to evaluate include the reliability of the Bible. The notion that the Bible has a Divine origin is not an internally derived truth. It must be studied and investigated and tested against other external realities with the use of our higher God-given reasoning capabilities.

    Is it possible for these reasoning capabilities to be deceived? Sure it is. But, God does not judge against us if we are honestly deceived. The wicked who are “tricked” in the end of time will not be honestly or sincerely deceived. They will have wanted to believe the lie as did Eve in the Garden when she believed the Serpent (Lucifer). She had abundant evidence to know the truth, but she was tricked, not so much because of the counterfeit evidence the Serpent provided, but because of her own desires contrary to what she knew, with overwhelming evidence, to be true.

    The same will be true to an even greater degree for those in the end of time who end up working against God. Because of their evil desire to go against what they know to be true, God will have no choice but to give them up to believe the lies that they want to believe. The only difference between these and Eve in the Garden is that Eve had not fully understood the path she was taking. She had enough information to know she was doing wrong when she took the path, but she did not have enough information to really understand all of the implications of her decision. This will not be the case with those at the end of time who choose against God. These will make this choice in the fact of much greater light; so much greater in fact that the granting of additional light would make no different to their decision. At this point the case of such is hopeless for there is nothing further that God can do for them to bring them back from their deliberately chosen rebellion against the light that they already consciously understand…

    Yes, the deceptions will be very clearer, so cleaver that they would deceive the very elect if the elect actually had anything but the fullest desire to know, love and live by the truth. However, God will supply abundant evidence for the truth to those who are earnestly and honestly searching for it. There simply will be no honest reason left to be deceived for those who really do love the truth that they have found so far.

    In short, God wants to appeal to our minds as well as our hearts. He supplies more than enough evidence to cause the honest reasonable mind to be able to find Him if one searches for Him with the entire heart. Remember when Jesus, on the road to Emmaus, appealed to the evidence of prophecy to support His claims rather than reveal himself directly to his disciples? He wanted to appeal to their intelligent minds first and let this evidence result in an appeal to the heart later.

    Biblical prophecy is a very important scientifically testable evidence in support of the Divine origin of the Book. It is consistent with external reality – as are it’s claims regarding other external physical realities. This is unlike all other religious books which form the basis of other religions on this planet. This is why the Bible stands unique among them all as clearly of Divine origin – because of its testability against physical reality.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  23. Sean Pitman:

    I agree with your last three paragraphs. God certainly does present evidence to us that appeals to our reason. Jesus was appealing to those disciples’ minds through the prophecies of the (OT) Scriptures, with the assumption that they already had accepted the Scriptures as God’s word. The question was whether they would accept (which of course they did) that He was the fulfillment of them.

    From your comments about Bible prophecy (your last paragraph), I gather that you are using the word “scientific” in a broad sense. I like that. It seems you are saying that the historical fulfillment of the prophecy is the “external” validation for the “internal” predictions.

    You state, “The notion that the Bible has a Divine origin is not an internally derived truth. It must be studied and investigated and tested against other external realities with the use of our higher God-given reasoning capabilities.” I’m not sure what you mean by that, but apparently from your illustrations your are not restricting the “external realities” to scientific discoveries (as we use the term today), which is the premise I was working with in my earlier remarks.

    You say, “God does not judge against us if we are honestly deceived.” I’m not sure it’s that straightforward. Consider the following quote, which is a description of the Laodicean church: “What greater deception can come upon human minds than a confidence that they are right, when they are all wrong? The message of the True Witness finds the people of God in a sad deception, yet honest in that deception. They know not that their condition is deplorable in the sight of God. While those addressed are flattering themselves that they are in an exalted spiritual condition, the message of the True Witness breaks their security by the startling denunciation of their true situation of spiritual blindness, poverty, and wretchedness. The testimony, so cutting and severe, cannot be a mistake; for it is the True Witness who speaks, and his testimony must be correct.” {RH, September 16, 1873 par. 5}. Just something to consider.

    Sandi Reiber




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  24. In an article called 4th Down by David Harris, I read an interesting snippet, which I think is relevant to this thread. The article discusses the new changes to Wednesday night dorm worship at LSU, formerly called Rendezvous–now 4th Down. According to the article, Matt Burdette and James Murdock do a majority of the speaking at 4th Down. Harris makes reference to some controversial comments that were made by Burdette and Murdock:

    Two miscommunications from the messages have arisen this quarter. The first happened during week one when J. said that he wanted to abandon the idea of being Seventh-day Adventists and become Seven-day Disciples. Murdock did not want to totally abandon the SDA faith. He just didn’t want people getting stuck in the mentality that worship is solely for Sabbath.

    The controversy with Burdette involved the statement, “I don’t believe in the Bible. I believe in Jesus.” Matt did not mean to say that the Bible is not relevant or true; he was just saying that we should not put our faith in a book.

    We’re not given any context for Burdette’s comment, so all I have to go off of is what is printed here. We wouldn’t know anything about Christ’s life without the Bible. The Gospel is would not be if it weren’t for the historicity of the Bible. The spiritual truths of the Bible are intricately linked with the events it depicts. Harris’ commentary isn’t very helpful either. I won’t attribute his reasoning to Burdette, but Harris’ explanation doesn’t do anything to bolster Burdette’s comment. I agree we shouldn’t put our faith in a book; however the Bible is not just a book. It was inspired by God.

    It is this type of mentality that I think is becoming increasingly pervasive at LSU, especially amongst a few of the religion professors. Some say it isn’t inspired, others say it is. I would wager though that their view of inspiration would differ considerably from the church’s or even what the Bible teaches.

    My point is there appears to be a chasm in our church about the authority of the Bible in relation to our lives and reality.

    I can understand why Michigan Conference and Central California Conference do not recruit pastors from LSU.




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  25. I very much appreciate Shane’s observations. It reminds me of things I’ve read about some elements in the Emerging Church movement. The same mentality about “I don’t believe in the Bible, I believe in Jesus,” seems to be pervasive.

    It is interesting that the great Reformer, John Calvin, in arguing against the Church’s assertion that Scripture could not be authenticated without its (the church’s) authority says, “Those whom the Holy Spirit has inwardly taught truly rest upon Scripture, and the Scripture indeed is self-authenticated; hence it is not right to subject it to proof and reasoning. And the certainty it deserves with us, it attains by the testimony of the Spirit. For even if it wins reverence for itself by its own majesty, it seriously affects us only when it is sealed upon our hearts through the Spirit. Therefore, illuminated by his power, we believe neither by our own nor by anyone else’s judgment that Scripture is from God; but above human judgment we affirm with utter certainty (just as if we were gazing upon the majesty of God himself) that it has flowed to us from the very mouth of God by the ministry of men. [He says this, even though he did not believe in word inspiration.] We seek no proofs, no marks of genuineness upon which our judgment may lean; but we subject our judgment and wit to it as to a thing far beyond any guesswork!”

    We have come a long way from the Reformation! I plan to read on from that quote. I believe he goes on to give evidence of the Bible’s divine nature. But what a statement! There is much for us to ponder on and learn from. How he exalted the Holy Scriptures!




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  26. Everyone in the end is entitled to believe as they will. But, if the SDA church belief system doesn’t fit your beliefs, please find another church, and don’t ruin it for us. We believe in the Bible and the Bible only. There are plenty of churches out there that mix the bible with tradition. So if you can’t fully accept the Bible please join one of them. This is God’s last day church, and he wants it kept pure.




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  27. Everyone in the end is entitled to believe as they will. But, if the SDA church belief system doesn’t fit your beliefs, please find another church, and don’t ruin it for us. We believe in the Bible and the Bible only. There are plenty of churches out there that mix the bible with tradition. So if you can’t fully accept the Bible please join one of them. This is God’s last day church, and he wants it kept pure.  

    Richard, You’re entirely correct. However, out here in California in the Pacific Union Conference, we have many who believe in the “Gospel of Inclusion” where anyone and everyone can come into an SDA Church and spout or even preach whatever beliefs they have, no matter how [contrary to the SDA interpretation of the Bible].

    And those who support the [SDA view], must keep their mouths shut, because we may foster an atmosphere of “intolerance!”




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  28. Mortenson says these leaders and scholars are teaching “that science is the final authority in determining the correct interpretation of some or all of Genesis 1–11, or at least that science is the final authority in determining that the young-earth view must be wrong.”

    Science is an abstract ideal. It has, therefore, nothing to “say” for itself.

    Scientists, on the other hand, are people. Humans. Flawed. Subject to all that flesh is heir to, as the Bard put it. That inlcudes the influence of money, power, and popular acclaim, and it’s opposite, public opprobrium.

    Anyone who claims (A) to be a Christian (and in particular, an Adventist Christian) and (B) that a man or group of men is their authority to whom they resort for adjudicating Truth, has strayed far from the path of wisdom.

    These two things simply cannot be simultaneously held without contradiction. But truth does not ever contradict itself, and therefore those who take this position are in grievous error.

    We must pray for people so lost and confused.




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  29. Denver, You’re entirely correct. Anyone who claims (A) to be Christian (and in particular, an Adventist Christian) and (B) that a man or group of men is their authority has strayed far from the path of wisdom. That is why we must never allow the 28 fundamental beliefs or the “Adventist” church (both of which were created by a group of men and women) to define truth or be our sole authority and guide, whether here in California or elsewhere. Thank you so much for clarifying this. We must pray for people so lost and confused on this grievous error.




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  30. Clifford Goldstein, you might be interested to know, holds a similar view. He would also leave Adventism and Christianity if the testable statements regarding physical reality within the Bible were ever convincingly falsified in his mind.
    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

    Sean, I understand what you are saying here, but don’t you think that is a bit dangerous position to hold? Yes, I know you are saying it out of concern for and to illustrate your intellectual integrity, but still, don’t you think it is a dangerous position to be in? Are you sure you aren’t setting yourself up for a fall later on?

    Here’s a quote from Great Controversy pg 625:

    “Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures and who have received the love of the truth will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive. By the Bible testimony these will detect the deceiver in his disguise. To all the testing time will come. By the sifting of temptation the genuine Christian will be revealed. Are the people of God now so firmly established upon His word that they would not yield to the evidence of their senses? Would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible and the Bible only?”

    Focus intently on the last two sentences there. They are VERY important.

    I think Satan will one day offer false evidence that is going to overwhelm one’s senses (and maybe he is even doing it now via evolution). I agree, we need to be thoughtful and rational people. However, there ultimately is a standard which we must cling to regardless. For Christians, it is the Holy Scriptures.

    Regarding falsifiability, evolutionists would contend that the data from various dating methods (and other data from evolution) is empirical evidence that the scriptures have been proven false. They feel that all that remains is to convince you of the validity of their interpretations, and then you will abandon the scriptures too. (Thus their agenda with schools).

    Again, what you said (I think) is very dangerous, and is a very dangerous position to hold. The reality is that it’s about the authority and source of scriptures. They (scriptures) have the support of the sure word of prophecy, they exhibit great internal consistency, and have been shown true by archeology which all put together makes them very trustworthy (contrasted with other ‘writings’ that don’t have those assurances)…even on the issue of evolution.

    In my opinion, the very basis of the idea that the Bible itself is reliable as the revealed will of God is physical evidence that exists outside of the Bible itself which confirms the biblical statements. A rational mind is a gift of God and God expects us to use it. He wants to appeal to the mind, not just the emotions, with the Gospel message. Christianity is not anti-intellectual. It is primarily intellectual in that in Christianity the heart is supposed to follow the mind, not the other way round. The heart is important in Christianity when it comes to motive, but when it comes to understanding it is the mind that God strives to win over to His point of view.

    If the heart is in the right place, earnestly seeking after the Truth, there is in fact abundant evidence for God and for the reliability of the Scriptures. I see little “risk” of being deceived given such a vast weight of evidence provided by God so that all will truly be without any real excuse during the last days of this Earth’s history…

    In short, no one is going to be tricked out of Heaven – not even by Satan. The issues at the end of time will be very clear. The only ones that are going to be “deceived” by Satan with his “strong delusions” are those who want to be deceived. Those who are truly honest and sincere will be able to see the truth for what it is. God has promised that if we seek the Truth, seek Him, with all of our hearts, we will find what we are looking for.

    – Sean Pitman




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