Last Thursdayism

By Sean Pitman

In response to interesting comments by Professor Kent (who was responding to a post by Dr. Paul Giem):

@Professor Kent:

Paul, as you well recognize, one cannot reasonably prove this possibility of life evolving millions of years ago, not today, not tomorrow, never. More importantly, even if you could prove it, God STILL could have wiped the slate clean 6000 years [ago] and created all major life forms in 6 days. The one possibility cannot rule out the other; how can you not see this? …

So the conclusion to all of this appears to be that, for SDAs, science and evidence trump faith. I completely disagree, but so be it. ( Link )

Professor Kent is not alone in his argument that “faith trumps science and all other forms of evidence.” For example, he is backed up by “Ron” who wrote:

It is possible that God created a young earth to look old, much older than 6000 years. It is also entirely possible that the creation and flood were miraculous and that we cannot use human observation to answer these questions at all and we must simply believe. ( Link )

Ever hear of “Last Thursdayism“? You’re making this very same argument here. God could have created everything 5 minutes ago, to include your memories and mine. No one can prove otherwise.

Such arguments are pointless because of the very fact that they are not, even in principle, testable or potentially falsifiable. This is the reason why, if your faith position isn’t backed up by testable potentially falsifiable evidence, it would be very hard to judge the superiority of your beliefs in God, based on faith alone, from someone else’s belief or faith in the “Flying Spaghetti Monster”.

On a more practical level, it would be very hard to judge the superiority of the Seventh-day Adventist view of reality vs. that of the Latter-day Saints or Catholics or Buddhists or Agnostics or even Atheists. Upon what basis, besides wishful thinking, does one have to decide which belief system is more likely to be in line with reality? Why, for example, do you consider your admitted belief in a literal 6-day creation week to be superior to the beliefs of those who think that life was formed and evolved on this planet over the course of hundreds of millions of years? Would it not be helpful to have at least some sort of empirical argument if you wish to appeal to another mind beyond your own? – a mind that is actually interested in an argument that appeals to something more solid than your deep feelings on the question?

Rational arguments as to the nature of the reality, a reality that we all assume really does exist outside of our minds, must be based on empirical evidence that is open to testing and potential falsification from at least the individual perspective. In other words, rational beliefs regarding the nature of reality are in line with the weight of currently available externally-derived evidence and the best predictive value that it supports at the present time from a particular limited perspective.

This is why scientific hypothesis are compared to alternate hypotheses that are also testable and, at least in principle, falsifiable with the weight of evidence. If the weight of apparent empirical evidence from a given perspective does in fact work against the idea that everything was created 5 minutes ago, the hypothesis that everything was in fact created 5 minutes ago is essentially falsified as best as anything can be falsified from a limited perspective.

The same thing is true about the Genesis statement. The only difference being that instead of 5 minutes ago the author(s) of Genesis claim that all life on this planet was created in just six literal days within recent history.

So, either you admit that your argument makes you unable to reasonable suggest that you have been alive longer than 5 minutes, or you agree that the Genesis account is, in principle, falsifiable. You really cannot reasonably have it both ways. The fact that what appears to be true may not actually be true does not negate the obvious appearance of reality from a particular perspective. That’s all that science is – an interpretation of the appearance of reality at the present time. This interpretation may or may not be true in reality, but it is the best we have at the present time when it comes to being able to more successfully live within and predict the behavior of the reality in which we find ourselves.

The SDA Church understands this. It is because of this argument, this need for faith to be supported by empirical evidence that is appealing to the intelligent candid mind, that the SDA Church original set up and continues to sponsor the Geoscience Research Institute or GRI. If one does not honestly recognize the evidence as being in favor of the SDA position, that person should not be working for an institution whose whole goal is to obtain and promote empirical evidence that actually supports the SDA faith perspective. If faith alone were enough, why would the SDA Church be interested in geoscience at all? Blind faith just isn’t enough, evidently, from the SDA perspective. That’s why the Church sponsors an organization like the GRI…

If one’s “evidence” is not testable or falsifiable that means that it is impossible for one to be wrong, even in theory, regardless of any additional evidence that might be presented. Again, given this form of non-falsifiable “evidence” it would be impossible to distinguish between the existence of God and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

If a child appealed to this sort of non-testable non-falsifiable evidence to support his/her belief in Santa Claus there would be no way that this child could ever realize that Santa Claus really doesn’t exist. It is only because the child’s evidence is potentially falsifiable given additional evidence that he/she ever comes to realize the truth about Santa Claus…

In the same way, if your evidence for the existence of God or the reliability of the Bible is not testable or potentially falsifiable, what good is it as a basis for a rational intelligent faith? – or anything else for that matter?

www.DetectingDesign.com

Share on Facebook0Pin on Pinterest0Share on LinkedIn0Tweet about this on TwitterDigg thisShare on Google+0Share on Tumblr0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Print this pageEmail this to someone

66 thoughts on “Last Thursdayism

  1. “The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the Old One. I, at any rate, am convinced that He [God] does not throw dice.”–Albert Einstein

    “I want to know God’s thoughts; the rest are details.”—Albert Einstein




    0
    View Comment
  2. @Aaron:

    “I want to know God’s thoughts; the rest are details.”—Albert Einstein

    It is an error to suggest, as this quote does, that Einstein believed in a personal God. Unfortunately, he did not. He writes:

    “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

    Albert Einstein, 1954, from “Albert Einstein: The Human Side”, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press

    However, while Einstein did not believe in a personal God, he did believe in the value of certain ethical principles that some might even call “Christian” ethics. He writes:

    “A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”

    Albert Einstein, “Religion and Science”, New York Times Magazine, 9 November 1930

    I agree with Einstein here. Morality is not based on knowledge per say, but on motive. However, hope in the Gospel’s “good news” is based on knowledge and a solid hope has its own rewards. It has the power to make life better and more tolerable here and now. Unfortunately for Einstein, he did not realize the brightness that such a solid hope in a very bright future could have given him while he was here…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  3. Sean Pitman, who remains most unhappy that I and others defend Biblical faith rather than the superiority of evidence and reasoning and, therefore, Seventh-day Adventism, wrote:

    Ever hear of “Last Thursdayism“? You’re making this very same argument here. God could have created everything 5 minutes ago, to include your memories and mine. No one can prove otherwise. Such arguments are pointless because of the very fact that they are not, even in principle, testable or potentially falsifiable.

    Sean then went on to write:

    If the weight of apparent empirical evidence from a given perspective does in fact work against the idea that everything was created 5 minutes ago, the hypothesis that everything was in fact created 5 minutes ago is essentially falsified as best as anything can be falsified from a limited perspective. The same thing is true about the Genesis statement. The only difference being that instead of 5 minutes ago the author(s) of Genesis claim that all life on this planet was created in just six literal days within recent history. So, either you admit that your argument makes you unable to reasonably suggest that you have been alive longer than 5 minutes, or you agree that the Genesis account is, in principle, falsifiable. You really cannot reasonably have it both ways.

    Sorry to disappoint, Sean, but I just can’t match your profound reasoning skills.

    Let me get this straight. You’re saying that simply because I can figure out that I was alive 5 minutes ago, I can therefore figure out whether all life forms were created in 6 days 6,000 years ago? And you’re saying that if I can know with some degree of certainty what I was doing 5 minutes ago, I can know with some degree of certainty what God was going 6,000 years ago?

    I have no idea why you would think this line of reasoning is at all helpful to your peculiar obsession with evidence-based beliefs.




    0
    View Comment
  4. @ Sean Pitman:

    Blind faith just isn’t enough, evidently, from the SDA perspective.

    I think everyone but you has agreed that you are the only one speaking of “blind” faith. And I think everyone but you has agreed that faith can exist outside of the realm of what everyone considers to be “science” (falsifiable, data-based, repeatable, naturalistic evidence).

    If one’s “evidence” is not testable or falsifiable that means that it is impossible for one to be wrong, even in theory, regardless of any additional evidence that might be presented. Again, given this form of non-falsifiable “evidence” it would be impossible to distinguish between the existence of God and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. … In the same way, if your evidence for the existence of God or the reliability of the Bible is not testable or potentially falsifiable, what good is it as a basis for a rational intelligent faith? – or anything else for that matter?

    God herself said in Hebrews 11:

    1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for. 3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

    If you’ve got a problem with what God said, I suggest you not seek employment within the SDA Church.




    0
    View Comment
  5. @Professor Kent:

    I think everyone but you has agreed that you are the only one speaking of “blind” faith. And I think everyone but you has agreed that faith can exist outside of the realm of what everyone considers to be “science” (falsifiable, data-based, repeatable, naturalistic evidence).

    You don’t just argue against science “trumping” faith. You argue that faith trumps all forms of evidence. Even in this very thread you write,

    “I and others defend Biblical faith rather than the superiority of evidence and reasoning”

    You’ve also suggested elsewhere that faith trumps both “science” and “evidence”. ( Link )

    I ask again, how is this “biblical faith” determined to be useful if it is “superior to all forms of evidence and reasoning”? Why then does the Bible say, “Come let us reason together?” if reasoning is trumped by faith? – if useful faith need not be based on the weight of available evidence and logical reasoning? How does one determine that your faith makes more sense than the faith of someone else in the greater credibility of the Book of Mormon? or the Qur’an? or mainstream science? or any other type of faith in anything else?

    If all such faiths are in fact apparently equal with respect to logic, reason, and evidence, where is the basis for choosing one over the other? for picking one among many potential options? Why even study the empirical evidence at all if it doesn’t really matter? – if ‘faith’ always trumps the empirical evidence every time anyway? What’s the point? What’s the point in a Church, like the SDA Church, sponsoring a Geoscience Research Institute (GRI) if it doesn’t really matter what they do or do not find as far as empirical evidence is concerned? If the SDA faith will not be at all affected by such evidence? – since faith trumps the evidence anyway?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  6. @Professor Kent:

    Let me get this straight. You’re saying that simply because I can figure out that I was alive 5 minutes ago, I can therefore figure out whether all life forms were created in 6 days 6,000 years ago? And you’re saying that if I can know with some degree of certainty what I was doing 5 minutes ago, I can know with some degree of certainty what God was going 6,000 years ago?

    In theory, yes.

    If you can, in theory, effectively falsify the notion that you were created 5 minutes ago, it is also possible, in theory, to effectively falsify the notion that life on Earth was created 6000 years ago. The logical principles are the same…

    This is why most scientists believe that all young-life theories have in fact been very clearly falsified by mainstream science – because of what they feel is the overwhelming evidence favoring the theory that life has existed and evolved on the planet for several orders of magnitude longer than 6-10,000 years (just as you believe that the best available evidence essentially falsifies the idea that you were created last Thursday).

    Therefore, your assertion that the young-life theory is not falsifiable to a useful degree of certainty, even in theory, is a distinctly unpopular notion within mainstream science.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  7. @ Sean Pitman

    You’ve also suggested elsewhere that faith trumps both “science” and “evidence”.

    How does one use science–the study of natural phenomenon–to falsify or prove a supernatural, miraculous event? Why would you dispute a simple thus saith the Lord: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3)? I’m sorry, Sean, but She didn’t say, “the geochronological clocks will one day prove that I formed the university instantaneously at my command; and you will one day have http://www.detectingdesign.com to provide you this evidence to convince you that you don’t need faith after all to believe in what I am telling you.”

    If you can, in theory, effectively falsify the notion that you were created 5 minutes ago, it is also possible, in theory, to effectively falsify the notion that life on Earth was created 6000 years ago. The logical principles are the same…

    Okay…you’ve convinced me that you actually believe this.

    …overwhelming evidence favoring the theory that life has existed and evolved on the planet for several orders of magnitude longer than 6-10,000 years

    10,000 years? Why would you throw out that number?




    0
    View Comment
  8. @Professor Kent:

    10,000 years? Why would you throw out that number?

    Because, as many people have pointed out to you in this forum, this isn’t about proving an exact period of time for creation – be it exactly 5 minutes ago or exactly 6,000 years ago. This is about showing that the evidence is consistent with the falsifiable statement that the creation of all life on this planet took place “about 6,000 years ago.”

    You’ve argued that this statement is not falsifiable at all – not even in theory. You are mistaken in this claim for the same reason that Last Thursdayism is mistaken for all practical or scientific purposes:

    If the statement that creation took place “about a week ago” or “about 5 minutes ago” is essentially falsifiable, for all practical or useful purposes, so is the statement that, “creation took place about 6,000 years ago.” The reasoning for the claim of essential falsification would be the same in all cases. The evidence and reasoning one would present to argue that creation took clearly took place way way before last week would be the same as what is being used, by most mainstream scientists today, to argue that the creation of life on this planet took place much much farther back in time than just 6,000 years ago… effectively falsifying the young-life hypothesis in the minds of nearly all mainstream scientists.

    You do understand that a theory that claims that the evidence is “consistent with” a given pre- or post-diction (such as the claim that all life was made last Thursday) can be open to the potential for falsification in science?

    Remember, all arguments about the true nature of historical events involve a component of abductive reasoning in science. Your counter that not all forms of abductive reasoning are reasonable does not change the fact that abductive reasoning is still a required component of all historical sciences and refutes your claim that the study of history is outside of the realm of science. If it is, many mainstream sciences aren’t really sciences – to include anthropology, forensics, the theory of evolution, SETI, etc. Is that your claim?

    I’m really not sure why you are apparently having such difficulty with this?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  9. Evidence – The Basis of Faith

    @Professor Kent:

    You’ve also suggested elsewhere that faith trumps both “science” and “evidence”. – Sean Pitman

    How does one use science–the study of natural phenomenon–to falsify or prove a supernatural, miraculous event? Why would you dispute a simple thus saith the Lord: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3)? I’m sorry, Sean, but She didn’t say, “the geochronological clocks will one day prove that I formed the university instantaneously at my command; and you will one day have http://www.detectingdesign.com to provide you this evidence to convince you that you don’t need faith after all to believe in what I am telling you.”

    Tell me, did the disciples of Jesus have more or less “faith” in Him as the Christ before or after his resurrection? before or after they had the physical evidence of such a dramatic demonstration of Divine Power?

    Evidence doesn’t remove faith. Evidence strengthens faith. Biblical faith doesn’t trump evidence as you claim. Rather, rational faith is built upon evidence. While one must always take leaps of faith beyond what can absolutely be known, even in science, leaps of faith that are not based on evidence are not any more helpful than wishful thinking.

    The author of Hebrews is therefore not talking about faith that is blind to the evidence, but faith that is based or built upon abundant evidence – evidence which included the personal observation of the risen Christ in the days of the apostles and evidence for us today which includes abundant evidence in history and in nature of who God is and of the reliability and credibility of His Word.

    “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16

    That’s evidence… the basis of faith.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  10. @ Sean Pitman

    If the statement that creation took place “about a week ago” or “about 5 minutes ago” is essentially falsifiable, for all practical or useful purposes, so is the statement that, “creation took place about 6,000 years ago.”

    Okay…then using your logic:

    If the statement that Hank experienced flatus while on a canoe crossing of the Delaware River “about a week ago” or “about 5 minutes ago” is essentially falsifiable, for all practical or useful purposes, so is the statement that “a guy named Hank experienced flatus while on a canoe crossing of the Delaware River about 6,000 years ago.”

    Do you really want to push your line of reasoning?




    0
    View Comment
  11. Tell me, did the disciples of Jesus have more or less “faith” in Him as the Christ before or after his resurrection? before or after they had the physical evidence of such a dramatic demonstration of Divine Power?

    I am certain the disciples of Jesus had a stronger “faith” after seeing the evidence of his resurrection. I have no quarrel with the evidence of a personal experience. But one’s personal experience does not, in most people’s minds, translate to “scientific evidence.” One reason is that our senses, and our descriptions, can be unreliable. If Satan himself can appear as an imposter, our senses could mislead us if we put too much trust in them. Victor Marshall adroitly brought up this concern on another thread, but apparently he left little impression on you.

    While one must always take leaps of faith beyond what can absolutely be known, even in science, leaps of faith that are not based on evidence are not any more helpful than wishful thinking.

    If I understand you correctly, you’re saying it’s okay to take a leap of faith beyond anything “known,” even though it may not be helpful. Since there are no data beyond a few eyewitness accounts that Jesus has risen, and that he will return to save us one day, should I assume you think my belief in his personal return one day is nothing more than wishful thinking?

    I’m far from convinced that faith should be subservient to evidence. If Satan appears and makes claims that he can back up with miracles, should I believe him if he claims he created the heavens and the earth himself? Should I believe him more so if he can repeat his miraculous “experiments” over and over, thereby appealing to my scientific training in testing the validity of his claims?

    Sorry, but I don’t think evidence necessarily trumps faith. At some point we must surrender and say “I believe” in spite of sometimes contradictory–perhaps even overwhelming–evidence. I think we need to be selective in what we contemplate as evidence to support our beliefs. And if we are to believe in the claims of the Bible in total, we simply must go beyond–far beyond–any “evidence” that backs up those claims.




    0
    View Comment
  12. On a more practical level, it would be very hard to judge the superiority of the Seventh-day Adventist view of reality vs. that of the Latter-day Saints or Catholics or Buddhists or Agnostics or even Atheists. Upon what basis, besides wishful thinking, does one have to decide which belief system is more likely to be in line with reality? Why, for example, do you consider your admitted belief in a literal 6-day creation week to be superior to the beliefs of those who think that life was formed and evolved on this planet over the course of hundreds of millions of years? Would it not be helpful to have at least some sort of empirical argument if you wish to appeal to another mind beyond your own? – a mind that is actually interested in an argument that appeals to something more solid than your deep feelings on the question?

    The steps on the ladder are pretty simple.

    1. We test all doctrine “sola scriptura” – yes even FB#6. Acts 17:11 demonstrates it.. Gal 1:6-11 demands it, 2Tim 3:16 commands it.

    That “testing” is done objectively, using the evidence of scripture and using the grammatical/historical method to exegete the text with accuracy. No “parsing” the text to meet the demands of creed or bias.

    2. But why do we accept the Bible as the “Word of God” instead of the Koran or the Bhagavad Gita? Here the objective testing methods “from science” a much more applicable in a few of the reasons below.

    a. We find the historic record of the bible to be historically accurate.
    b. We find the prophetic predictions of the bible to be historically accurate
    c. We find health message of the Bible to be scientifically valid.
    d. We find the life of Christ to have changed history itself in such a short period of time – that nothing compares to it.
    e. We find the prompting of the Holy Spirit “convicting the WORLD of sin and righteousness and judgment” to lead to acceptance of the Bible.

    Getting to point a – part of that Bible history points to Young Life and Young Earth. We find young earth evidence in a number of geochronometers – including erosion rates and also in radiometric data regarding the N14==>C14==>14 cycle. (As a few simple examples).

    We also find young life evidence in the form of soft tissue finds and DNA fragment finds, and the rate of harmful mutations in the species.

    We find evidence refuting abiogenesis since the days of the alchemists – so nothing new there.

    in Christ,

    Bob




    0
    View Comment
  13. @Professor Kent:

    If the statement that creation took place “about a week ago” or “about 5 minutes ago” is essentially falsifiable, for all practical or useful purposes, so is the statement that, “creation took place about 6,000 years ago.” – Sean Pitman

    Okay…then using your logic:

    If the statement that Hank experienced [abdominal pain] while on a canoe crossing of the Delaware River “about a week ago” or “about 5 minutes ago” is essentially falsifiable, for all practical or useful purposes, so is the statement that “a guy named Hank experienced [abdominal pain] while on a canoe crossing of the Delaware River about 6,000 years ago.”

    Do you really want to push your line of reasoning?

    Are you kidding me?!

    Just because some real historical possibilities are not testable in a falsifiable manner does not mean that all historical hypotheses are therefore theoretically untestable and unfalsifiable to any useful degree of certainty.

    Why else do you think that the vast majority of mainstream scientists believe that the notion of the creation of all things “last Thursday” is, for all practical purposes, clearly mistaken? – essentially falsified by the available evidence? Why else do you think that the vast majority of these same scientists believe that a literal 6-day creation week occurring just a few thousand years ago is quite clearly falsifiable as well?

    I think they’re right about at least the potential for falsification here – to a useful degree of certainty. You evidently do not?

    Do you really want to disagree with just about everybody on this particular question? If so, you’re going to have to put up much better reasons than you’ve put up so far… that is if you actually care about convincing anyone but yourself…

    How far do you want to push these irrelevant, even silly, arguments of yours against the validity of historical sciences?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  14. A Faith for Those Who Can’t Stand the Thought of Potentially Being Wrong

    @Professor Kent:

    Tell me, did the disciples of Jesus have more or less “faith” in Him as the Christ before or after his resurrection? before or after they had the physical evidence of such a dramatic demonstration of Divine Power? – Sean Pitman

    I am certain the disciples of Jesus had a stronger “faith” after seeing the evidence of his resurrection. I have no quarrel with the evidence of a personal experience. But one’s personal experience does not, in most people’s minds, translate to “scientific evidence.”

    What is science except a method to make meaningful sense of personal experience? Do you not use scientific methodologies and logic to interpret your own personal experiences? How else do you determine what is and what is not most likely true? – about anything?

    Beyond this, you don’t just discount “scientific” evidence as a valid basis of faith. You claim that faith trumps all forms of evidence – scientific or otherwise. This is not the claim of the Bible which appeals to all kinds of evidences as a rational reason for faith.

    For yet another example, do you think the two men on the road to Emmaus had more or less faith before or after the “Stranger” had explained the evidence of the biblical prophecies to them regarding the life and death of the Messiah? (Luke 24:35 NLT) Jesus appealed to their higher reason, their thinking minds, by showing them the generally available evidence for His own Divine mission and origin before He revealed His own true identity to them personally. He showed them the generally available historical evidence before He made his personal identity known to them so that their faith would be based on the more generally available evidence in support of the scriptures rather than on an appeal to their emotions and evidence that could only appeal to them personally when the Risen Christ was directly revealed to them…

    One reason is that our senses, and our descriptions, can be unreliable. If Satan himself can appear as an imposter, our senses could mislead us if we put too much trust in them. Victor Marshall adroitly brought up this concern on another thread, but apparently he left little impression on you.

    As far as the possibility of being wrong in our personal hypotheses and theories, the possibility of unreliability or potential falsification, that’s simply the risk of using scientific/rational thinking when investigating any phenomenon. The use of “science” does not remove the potential for unreliability or falsification. Nothing removes this possibility.

    Such is the nature and limits of all scientific and logical methodologies and arguments used to explain the world in which we find ourselves…

    It would be prudent for both you and Victor Marshall to consider the uselessness of blind faith – of faith that needs no appeal to evidence of any kind or that can stand regardless of if the weight of available evidence is overwhelmingly pro or con.

    While one must always take leaps of faith beyond what can absolutely be known, even in science, leaps of faith that are not based on evidence are not any more helpful than wishful thinking. – Sean Pitman

    If I understand you correctly, you’re saying it’s okay to take a leap of faith beyond anything “known,” even though it may not be helpful.

    What I’m saying is that this is what science does. All scientific hypotheses and theories require leaps of faith beyond that which is absolutely known or knowable. This is why there is always the potential for failure – for falsification. In short, you could be wrong using scientific reasoning. And, you could be wrong regardless of the type of reasoning you choose to use. You simply cannot avoid the possibility of being wrong unless you’re God…

    Since there are no data beyond a few eyewitness accounts that Jesus has risen, and that he will return to save us one day, should I assume you think my belief in his personal return one day is nothing more than wishful thinking?

    It may be. It depends upon the weight of evidence available to you as you understand it. I personally think that the significant weight of evidence supports the reality of the Gospel story, but the weight of evidence is different for different people depending on their own personal experience and mental capabilities…

    I’m far from convinced that faith should be subservient to evidence.

    If faith trumps all forms of evidence, what you have is blind faith – faith that is blind to the evidence because the evidence plays no essential part in faith. In other words, you can believe whatever you want regardless of if the overwhelming weight of evidence is for you or against you. Such blind faith has the benefit of being immune from the potential of error. You can’t be wrong – even in theory. That’s very nice. It is appealing to those who can’t stand to be wrong on anything. However, it isn’t very helpful since it is a feelings-based faith; an emotion-driven faith – not a rational evidence-based risky kind of faith (the only kind of faith that has the power to provide a truly solid basis for a real vibrant hope in the future – in the Gospel’s Good News!).

    If Satan appears and makes claims that he can back up with miracles, should I believe him if he claims he created the heavens and the earth himself? Should I believe him more so if he can repeat his miraculous “experiments” over and over, thereby appealing to my scientific training in testing the validity of his claims?

    How would you know it was Satan and not God? Upon what basis would you be able to tell the difference?

    Such tests have been reported in the Bible – Satan made the staffs of the magicians working for Pharaoh appear to turn into snakes. Of course, God then caused Moses’ snake to eat up all the other snakes. In other words, God will always provide superior evidence of who He is vs. anyone else who may also demonstrate superhuman creative power.

    It is like Elijah when he went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” – 1 Kings 18:21 NIV

    This was a test, a scientific test, to determine who was the real “God”. Whoever won this test, according to Elijah, should be the One everyone should worship.

    I’m sorry, but God does not expect us to believe in Him without having given us access to superior evidence, to the clear weight of evidence, of who He is and the trustworthiness of His Word…

    Again, no one is going to be honestly tricked out of Heaven…

    Sorry, but I don’t think evidence necessarily trumps faith. At some point we must surrender and say “I believe” in spite of sometimes contradictory–perhaps even overwhelming–evidence.

    Then you really have no rational basis to distinguish your faith or make it attractive to anyone else who has faith in anything else. What are you going to say to someone else who asks you for a reason for the hope that it in you? “Because I have faith despite all the evidence against me.”? Is that what you’re going to say? Of course not. Why not? Because this argument carries no weight with anyone other than yourself…

    I think we need to be selective in what we contemplate as evidence to support our beliefs. And if we are to believe in the claims of the Bible in total, we simply must go beyond–far beyond–any “evidence” that backs up those claims.

    Again, if your faith needs no generally available evidence, no evidence at all, to back it up, it will appeal to nobody with a rational mind but yourself. That’s not the basis of the Christian faith – a faith that is supposed to appeal generally to the candid rational mind that decides to come and “reason” with God based on the weight of evidence that God provides in abundance to those who seek God with all their heart (Isaiah 1:18 and Jeremiah 29:13); the God who actually invites to to experiment with Him – to try and test and even to taste or experience Him and see that He is good (Psalms 34:8 NIV and Malachi 3:10 NIV); the God who appeals to evidences in the form of historically fulfilled prophecies, to His own Signature in nature, as well as His own power expressed in the converted heart (Romans 1:20 NIV; Isaiah 45:21 NIV; Philippians 2:13).

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  15. @ Sean Pitman

    Do you really want to disagree with just about everybody on this particular question? If so, you’re going to have to put up much better reasons than you’ve put up so far… that is if you actually care about convincing anyone but yourself…
    How far do you want to push these irrelevant, even silly, arguments of yours against the validity of historical sciences?

    I laughed so hard reading this I spilled my coffee. Good one!




    0
    View Comment
  16. Sean Pitman wrote

    [obligatory rant deleted, as Bob Ryan would charitably say]…It would be prudent for both you and Victor Marshall to consider the uselessness of blind faith – of faith that needs no appeal to evidence of any kind or that can stand regardless of if the weight of available evidence is overwhelmingly pro or con. …[obligatory rant deleted, as Bob Ryan would charitably say]

    Geez, Sean, I think you really are too wound up about all of this.

    I really don’t think Victor Marshall and I need to explain further our views; we’ve gone over this and over this enough. Why can’t you just let this go?

    We simply disagree with you that everything we believe must be accepted on an evidentiary basis. Unlike you, we don’t need prima facie evidence that God formed man from a pile of dirt; that a flock of sheep appeared instantaneously on a mountain; that Jesus was born from a virgin, committed no sins, and was resurrected. We believe in all these things just like you do; so why do we have to believe in them for the exact same reasons that you do?

    Are you some kind of control freak? Why is this so unfathomably intolerable to you? Why can’t you just drop this obsession and let things be?




    0
    View Comment
  17. @Professor Kent:

    Geez, Sean, I think you really are too wound up about all of this.

    Just asking questions professor. You can believe and promote whatever you want on your own dime and time. I have no burden to convince you of the uselessness of blind faith. If you can’t be proved wrong, even in theory, by the overwhelming weight of evidence, that’s fine with me. Most people don’t like the risk of being open to even the remote potential of being wrong. That’s Ok…

    I just find it fascinating to see why someone like yourself, a professor with at least some interest in the sciences, would argue so strongly for the virtues of blind faith – faith that need not be based on any kind of evidence whatsoever. Very curious…

    I really don’t think Victor Marshall and I need to explain further our views; we’ve gone over this and over this enough. Why can’t you just let this go?

    Why can’t you? No one is twisting your arm here. If you don’t like my questions, no one says you have to respond at all. It’s a free country you know…

    We simply disagree with you that everything we believe must be accepted on an evidentiary basis.

    Indeed… as do those who believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, garden fairies and Santa Claus… 😉

    Unlike you, we don’t need prima facie evidence that God formed man from a pile of dirt; that a flock of sheep appeared instantaneously on a mountain; that Jesus was born from a virgin, committed no sins, and was resurrected. We believe in all these things just like you do; so why do we have to believe in them for the exact same reasons that you do?

    You can believe or not believe for whatever reasons or non-reasons you choose. I’m just curious as to why anyone would actually choose to believe anything without any need to appeal to any evidentiary basis whatsoever… that faith “trumps” all forms of evidence.

    Are you some kind of control freak? Why is this so unfathomably intolerable to you? Why can’t you just drop this obsession and let things be?

    Again, I’m just asking simple questions. If you don’t care to answer them, don’t. I have no need to “control” you. That’s silly. I don’t care if you find faith that is blind to any and all opposing evidence comforting in some way. I don’t care if your faith can resist all forms of evidence. I just find your mindset most interesting and thought I’d ask you a few questions to see if I could get you to explain your position further.

    Yet, you seem to be quite resistant to directly and seriously addressing most of my questions – or even admitting that you are in fact arguing for the virtues of a faith that is blind to or has the potential to “trump” all evidence (i.e., “blind faith”). But, that’s Ok. I’ll live 😉

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  18. @Professor Kent:

    I laughed so hard reading this I spilled my coffee. Good one!

    Hey, you’re the one arguing that historical sciences, like forensics, anthropology, archeology, paleontology, geology, astronomy, astrophysics and even the Theory of Evolution, are no more scientific than making up “just-so stories” off the top of your head about plausible but non-testable and non-falsifiable to any useful degree scenarios…

    Good one! 😉

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

    P.S.

    See Carol E. Cleland (2001) “Historical science, experimental science, and the scientific method” Geology, 29(11):987-990 for a discussion of why “the claim that historical science is methodologically inferior to experimental science cannot be sustained.”

    http://spot.colorado.edu/~cleland/articles/Cleland.Geology.pdf




    0
    View Comment
  19. Sean,
    Genesis 1 clearly states that God created the universe in six ordinary length days.

    While the word “day” has a variety of possible meanings, the meaning intended by an author is always specified by the context. The context in Genesis 1 is “evening and morning, one day.” The author clearly intended the word to mean an ordinary-length day. The Ten Commandments, which God wrote down with His own finger in stone, confirm this conclusion. The Fourth Commandment says that the Israelites were to observe the Sabbath as a memorial to the fact that God created the universe in six days.

    Jesus was totally committed to the authority of the Scriptures, particularly the writings of Moses (which begin with Genesis), and He said that we must do so too.

    Jesus said that if we do not believe what Moses wrote we could not believe what He said, because Moses wrote about Him. Jesus claimed to be the God whom Moses wrote about, and He claimed that the writings of Moses provided the foundation for His incarnation, atonement and resurrection. Jesus made it a condition of Christian discipleship that we believe what He says.

    The honor and glory of God as Creator are revealed in His work of creation.

    God defines himself throughout the Bible as the Creator. His honor and glory are shown forth in His work of creation, so it is logically absurd for Christians to worship God as Creator, but then to refuse to believe what He says on the subject of creation.




    0
    View Comment
  20. @ Sean Pitman

    I just find it fascinating to see why someone like yourself, a professor with at least some interest in the sciences, would argue so strongly for the virtues of blind faith – faith that need not be based on any kind of evidence whatsoever. Very curious…

    This quote by you is why our conversation is so bizarre. I think both Victor Marshall and I have made clear that we do not advocate “blind” faith. You’re still stuck on a characterization of faith–as “blind”–that I have argued repeatedly is not a real issue. Even children do not exercise “blind” faith when, after learning (scientifically, you would say) that their parents share reliable information on many subjects, they believe when told of the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. It’s not “blind” if their faith was based on prior evidence that proved reliable (which is science, you would say).

    Let me guess: you were an exception. Either your parents never deceived you or you could not be deceived. 😉




    0
    View Comment
  21. @Professor Kent:

    This quote by you is why our conversation is so bizarre. I think both Victor Marshall and I have made clear that we do not advocate “blind” faith.

    Excuse me, but didn’t you and Marshall argue that faith trumps all forms of evidence? – that faith is not at all dependent upon evidence of any kind?

    You’re still stuck on a characterization of faith–as “blind”–that I have argued repeatedly is not a real issue. Even children do not exercise “blind” faith when, after learning (scientifically, you would say) that their parents share reliable information on many subjects, they believe when told of the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. It’s not “blind” if their faith was based on prior evidence that proved reliable (which is science, you would say).

    In the same breath that you appeal to evidence you claim that your faith trumps all evidence – that your faith is not dependent upon evidence of any kind. Where then is the need to appeal to evidence at all to defend your faith?

    I understand very well the evidentiary basis for a child to logically believe in Santa Claus. I understand that just fine. But, you’ve made it very clear that even if all the available evidence were against you, you would still believe based on faith alone. As far as I can tell, a child’s belief in Santa Claus is far more rational than a faith that trumps all evidence. How is that argument not an appeal to the virtues of blind faith? – faith that is not and need not be based on any kind of evidence whatsoever?

    It’s like a child arguing that he will have faith in his parent’s claim that Santa Claus really does exist despite all evidence to the contrary – despite overwhelming evidence that his parents aren’t telling the truth about Santa Claus. How can such a faith distinguish “cunningly devised fables”, like the existence of Santa Claus, from the real thing? How can your faith distinguish the truth among many competing options with more reliability than random guesswork? Neither you nor Victor Marshall have even tried to substantively address this question. Why not?

    In short, I find that particular argument of yours most interesting – that “faith trumps all forms of evidence”. I’m curious as to why you don’t seem to want to address this particular argument directly?

    I’ve asked this question over and over again and you keep ignoring it. I’ll ask yet again: Does your faith trump all forms of evidence or does it not? It’s a simple question…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  22. @Professor Kent:

    This quote by you is why our conversation is so bizarre. I think both Victor Marshall and I have made clear that we do not advocate “blind” faith. You’re still stuck on a characterization of faith–as “blind”–that I have argued repeatedly is not a real issue. Even children do not exercise “blind” faith when, after learning (scientifically, you would say) that their parents share reliable information on many subjects, they believe when told of the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. It’s not “blind” if their faith was based on prior evidence that proved reliable (which is science, you would say).

    Let me guess: you were an exception. Either your parents never deceived you or you could not be deceived. Professor Kent(Quote)

    You appear to be arguing that God has deceived you in that analogy.

    I find that odd.

    in Christ,

    Bob




    0
    View Comment
  23. @Professor Kent:

    Let me guess: you were an exception. Either your parents never deceived you or you could not be deceived.

    Faith in any assumed source of reliable authority that is not at all dependent upon the available weight of evidence would make it impossible for one to discover if one had actually been deceived by the assumed source of reliable authority. It would make it impossible for the child to discover the truth about Santa Claus outside of the parent’s own admission that Santa Claus really doesn’t exist.

    The same thing is true of the spouse who will not accept the clear weight of evidence that his/her partner is cheating… because of “faith” in the partner that is not dependent upon the weight of evidence.

    That’s the problem with your argument that “faith trumps all forms of evidence.” Such an evidence-blind faith cannot detect when one is being deceived…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  24. I think both Victor Marshall and I have made clear that we do not advocate “blind” faith.

    Let me make one thing perfectly clear here. I am not an advocate for ‘blind faith.’ If faith is at least based on the Word of God, it is never ‘blind.’ If it must also in every instance be grounded in ‘human reason’ and ’empirical evidence’ – then I believe it can become ‘spiritually blind.’

    Let me make something else perfectly clear. I do not coordinate my comments with those of Prof. Kent. I do not know Prof. Kent from Adam. Actually I have more proof that Adam existed 6,000 years ago than I do that Prof. Kent exists at all(no offense Prof.). The Bible is a far more reliable source of information than EducateTruth (no offense Sean and Shane); or my faulty senses and powers of reason for that matter.

    Truth be known, I am probably far more aligned with Shane and Sean than I am with the Prof.. I have been very supportive of their efforts and purpose. I probably fall into category #4 as defined by Paul Giem. I have never said I question the importance of Creation Science, or the validity of its findings.
    I agree with Shane’s most recent statements defining the philosophical platform of EducatTruth:

    “4. More important than all of these is that the Bible find its place as the ultimate authority on all it touches upon within the classroom……
    The bottom line of this controversy is not about creation vs. evolution, but authority. Does the Bible inform our science or does science inform the Bible? This question lies at the heart of this controversy.”

    If as Sean seems to imply, the Bible is useless without scientific empirical evidence to support it – then is the Bible really informing science, or the other way around? Is the Bible the final authority or science?

    One last caveat.
    I cannot with absolute scientific certainty conclude that Prof. Kent is not a mythical computer construct manufactured by Sean Pittman to perpetuate the promulgation of his somewhat unique empirical theology of ‘faith’ that is not similarly articulated by Adventist theologians(nor even by the dictionary definition of faith; nor even by Sean’s own use of the expression when he talks about a ‘leap of faith’).
    Nor can I say with 100% assuredness that Sean Pittman is not an extreme empiricist using EducateTruth for the promulgation of a humanistic view of faith, equally as materialistic as that of evolutionists.

    I must accept the contrary by a leap of faith based on the current weight of evidence.




    0
    View Comment
  25. @Victor Marshall:

    The bottom line of this controversy is not about creation vs. evolution, but authority. Does the Bible inform our science or does science inform the Bible? This question lies at the heart of this controversy.” – Shane Hilde

    If as Sean seems to imply, the Bible is useless without scientific empirical evidence to support it – then is the Bible really informing science, or the other way around? Is the Bible the final authority or science?

    As I’ve asked you before, upon what basis does one choose the Bible as authoritative over other competing options? Do we as Seventh-day Adventists do as the Latter-day Saints and argue that we know that our Book is “The Truth” because the Holy Spirit tells us directly? – through some sort of deep impression or sensation way deep down inside?

    I think not. Rather, as the Bible defends itself against the accusation of being a bunch of “cunningly devised fables” (2 Peter 1:16) by appealing to the empirical evidence experienced by the authors and to the empirical fulfillment of prophecy in actual history – among other empirical arguments.

    Therefore, our faith in the Bible should not without empirical basis and actually demands an empirical basis in order for one to be able to take a rational stand on the credibility of the Bible vs. other competing options – such as the Book of Mormon, the Qur’an, the Talmud, or even the claims of mainstream scientists. The Bible must have greater logical appeal based on the weight of available empirical evidence than any other competing option. If it does not, what basis is there, besides blind faith, to give someone as a reason to trust the Bible over any of the other competing options?

    Consider the response of well-known Christian appologist Ravi Zacharias in answer to this question: 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”?

    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.

    The Resurrection gave the Early Church the argument that Christ is risen: We saw, we witnessed, we felt, and we touched. The apostle Paul defended this gospel. He went to Athens and planted a church there. In Ephesus he defended the faith in the school of Tyrannus. We also need to become all things to all people.

    If a pastor says, “All we need is the Bible,” what does he say to a man who says, “All I need is the Quran”? 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.

    It is sad that some people think a person who asks, “Why the Bible?” is being dishonest. This is a legitimate question.

    Last week, I was in India. I met with the president of India, and then I had meetings with some key men and women who hold the highest places in society. They are India’s tycoons. My driver was a Muslim man. Every time he introduced himself, he would give his name and say that he was a Muslim. So I introduced myself, “I am Ravi Zacharias. I am a Christian.”

    On the last day, I sat down with him with a Bible in Hindi, and we talked. Before that hour was over, he bowed his head and received Christ. He had numerous questions on how God could have a Son. People had told him that the Bible was corrupted. He was honest. He needed to know why the Bible is authoritative and can be trusted. He gave his life to Jesus Christ. What a wonderful way to end a three-week journey, with my chauffeur — a man in his twenties — who bowed his head, wiped away his tears, and prayed to receive Jesus Christ.

    In short, our faith in the credibility of the Bible must be based on some sort of empirical evidence – a form of “science” that uses the same basic logical arguments as scientific arguments use. It is only with the the use of such empirical evidences that we can appeal to the logical candid rational mind – as did the biblical authors.

    So yes, a form of science is needed to support a rational leap of faith in the authority and credibility of the Bible. Therefore, the debate here isn’t “science vs. religion”, but “science vs. science” and “religion vs. religion”. Our religion should be our science since God is the God of both scientific and religious understanding. Both science and religion take leaps of faith which can be based on the weight of empirical evidence.

    As Mrs. White put it:

    “True science and the Bible religion are in perfect harmony.” and goes on to describe the conclusion of mainstream scientists that differ from the claims of the Bible as “”science falsely so called” – not valid scientific conclusions.

    – Ellen White, Nichol SDA Bible Commentary, 4:1167.
    – Ellen White, Great Controversy, p 522

    In other words, science and empirical reasoning are not the enemies of true religion. These are gifts of God which, rightly used with sincere motives, are the only rational options we have to appreciate God and worship Him in an intelligent and thoughtful manner that goes beyond mere emotion. Emotion and faith need to follow the mind, not the other way around.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  26. @Professor Kent:

    I’m sorry Prof. I guess I am aligned with you when it comes to many of your fairly balanced expressions about the importance of Biblical faith – as opposed to ’empirical-evidence-based faith’.
    Victor




    0
    View Comment
  27. @Victor Marshall:

    I’m sorry Prof. I guess I am aligned with you when it comes to many of your fairly balanced expressions about the importance of Biblical faith – as opposed to ‘empirical-evidence-based faith’

    I ask again, what is the reason for your faith in the superior authority of the Bible vs. other options? – such as the Book of Mormon, the Qur’an, or any other claimed source of authority? – without any appeal to empirical evidence? If faith trumps all empirical evidence, what do you have left as a reason for choosing the Bible?

    I’ve asked this question many times now, but neither you nor Prof. Kent seem to want to touch it in any sort of thoughtful serious manner.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  28. @Sean Pitman:

    Here is one dictionary definition of faith:

    “2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.”

    I do not advocate a faith without supporting evidence to help confirm and apologetically defend said faith. My confidence in the Bible was partially strengthened through such apologetic evidences (more so by the testimonies of Christians who befriended and ministered to me than any scientific inquiry though). My confidence in the Bible as opposed to the other religious books was confirmed by actually reading most of them and comparing their testimonies. Not by undertaking a scientific/historical investigation of their claims as compared to external evidences. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to read the Quran, sayings of Buddha, Egyptian and Tibetan Book of the Dead, the writings of Zen Budhism, the Gita, Upanishads, Vedas, I Ching, Sayings of Confucius, LaoTzu, Theosophy, Bahaism, Book of Mormon, Native American Wisdom, Spritualism, Primitive Tribal Animism etc, etc. – and then to read the Bible, to know you are dealing with a thoroughly different document with the stamp of true Divinity. Of course that was how it went for me. God reaches different people in different ways in different cultural/educational/linguistical/environmental contexts. Most people historically or even currently worldwide probably can’t even understand what you are talking about Sean. Nor, as Paul Giem has already said, is it necessary for them to do so. What may work for you Sean may not work for everyone else . It sounds quite condescending when you pronounce others expressions regarding their ‘faith’ or their ‘evidences’ as being no different than garden fairies, spaghetti monsters or useless campfire stories etc.

    I guess what I am really saying is that God wants us to trust His Word without always demanding proof or evidence or a sign. Once we commit ourselves to Christ and cast ourselves with lifelong commitment to His Word (yes, in many cases also based on confirmatory empirical evidences) then God may actually test us by challenging us to walk by faith solely in His Word and promise – not by sight (empirical evidence).
    The Bible is filled with examples of persons who were called on to exercise raw faith in the Word of God – contrary to ’empirical evidences.’

    Example:

    While Noah received an angelic visitation that brought to Him the Word of God in regard to his mission;. he had to act upon faith purely in that Word from God to believe that he should build an ark for a family that did not yet exist, for children that had never been born to a man his age, for a cataclysmic altering of nature that defied science (no fossils to confirm a cataclysm could happen), for rain that had never even occurred in human history etc. In other words he had to act on faith in the Word of God – in spite of the empirical evidence.

    Noah was called to preach the message of the deluge to the antediluvians. The antediluvians had no such angelic visitation. Was the material evidence of a man claiming to be a prophet who received angelic visitations, building a huge boat to float on an unseen rain produced cataclysmic ocean an empirical proof? No, they were held accountable for rejecting the Word of God coupled with the convicting influence of the Holy Spirit preached by His prophet. By the time God provided confirmatory empirical evidence with the animals getting on the boat, it was too late. They had already rejected the primary evidence – the Word of God through His witness the prophet.




    0
    View Comment
  29. Oh my, our amusing agent provocateur finally, at least for the moment (it can’t last), gets his comeuppance. Our professor rather asked for it, again. Go Victor. While this, shall we say, more intimate level of interaction lasts, may I join in?
    Rather as the Pouncing Professor tried to identify Vic with his own shtick, I second Vic’s motion: absolute candy-cotton spun whimsy, as has become so familiar to these posts, is not evidence for real existence. If evidence for anything, it’s against it. Ergo, the Kent construct is most likely a Seanean keyboard macro punched in four times a day to play against his own signature level-headedness, yea his peace that passeth all understanding against what he has had to put up with, thus demonstrating how silly and rejectable all-out Alinsky-speak can get. This has now become manifest, “…as any thinking reader of this blog will agree,” as per our Forp’s own favorite punch-in proverb, more accurately sent against him than employed by him. The kind of sleight of hand that could, if played with less whimsy, deceive the very elect has become a laughing stock, I think.
    But seriously, as to faith/evidence, to my way of thinking both Victor and Sean, if I may thus personify their concepts, are right, simultaneously. God made our minds capable of processing evidence and requires us to do just that, and accordingly indeed has provided such evidence if we but have eyes to see (that’s the tricky part), whereby our faith may be all the stronger, whereby we are made capable of perceiving even more exquisite evidence. He requires us to require evidence, so He has given us evidence, to have faith, which He requires. It is true that He requires faith, and therefore has given us a heart to believe with, but only on evidence, and therefore has given us eyes to see with, as Christ Himself urged. It is an integrated process, not separate components good only for arguing, a process ongoing and progressive and smooth and seamless; simultaneous and parallel and in sequence, meeting itself coming and going, compounding itself upon every return.
    This is circular reasoning. But it is divinely circular reasoning. To humans it’s contradictory reasoning. Christ, however, presented cosmic contradictions with a straight face, e.g., “No man can come to me except the Father … draw him.” John 6:44 KJV; “No one cometh unto the Father but by me.” John 14:6 KJV. Man cannot, must not reason like that or he simply spins and is spun.




    0
    View Comment
  30. @ Sean Pitman

    In short, I find that particular argument of yours most interesting – that “faith trumps all forms of evidence”. I’m curious as to why you don’t seem to want to address this particular argument directly?

    I don’t believe I ever made the statement in quotes.

    Looks like there are a lot more posts I need to read up on…




    0
    View Comment
  31. @ Victor Marshall

    @Professor Kent: I’m sorry Prof. I guess I am aligned with you when it comes to many of your fairly balanced expressions about the importance of Biblical faith – as opposed to ‘empirical-evidence-based faith’.Victor  (Quote)

    Victor, you’re a good soul, and I think you’re doing a better job of defining and defending faith than I am. I just don’t understand this jackhammer approach by Sean and why it is so important to him. Good luck if you continue trying to reason with him.




    0
    View Comment
  32. @ Wesley Kime

    Oh my, our amusing agent provocateur finally, at least for the moment (it can’t last), gets his comeuppance. Our professor rather asked for it, again. Go Victor. While this, shall we say, more intimate level of interaction lasts, may I join in?
    Rather as the Pouncing Professor tried to identify Vic with his own shtick, I second Vic’s motion: absolute candy-cotton spun whimsy, as has become so familiar to these posts, is not evidence for real existence. If evidence for anything, it’s against it. Ergo, the Kent construct is most likely a Seanean keyboard macro punched in four times a day to play against his own signature level-headedness, yea his peace that passeth all understanding against what he has had to put up with, thus demonstrating how silly and rejectable all-out Alinsky-speak can get. This has now become manifest, “…as any thinking reader of this blog will agree,” as per our Forp’s own favorite punch-in proverb, more accurately sent against him than employed by him. The kind of sleight of hand that could, if played with less whimsy, deceive the very elect has become a laughing stock, I think.

    Wow, Wesley, you really enjoy heaping ridicule on me, the “amusing agent provocateur.” And you’re good at!

    Would it interest you to know that my wife and I do not attend Church and therefore greatly appreciate watching Sean Boonstra’s IT IS WRITTEN on TV? My wife and I really appreciate him. I’m glad he does not speak to our souls at the level you choose to communicate. We love his positive, uplifting spirit–and even more so the warm embrace of a Christian family that we feel a part of as we watch his program.




    0
    View Comment
  33. I decided to compile a few of Sean’s statements for better understanding:

    “In short, there is no rational basis for’hope’without at least some associated empirical evidence for that hope…”

    “The appeal to faith alone is never enough for the rational mind.”

    “The empirical evidence has a part to play that the Holy Spirit simply backs up with power to follow the conviction supported by the empirical evidence.”

    “God does not appeal to blind faith or the conviction of the Holy Spirit apart from the weight of empirical evidence.”

    “Blind faith = faith that is not based on any kind of scientific reasoning or evidence.”

    “I am opposed to the idea that faith can have value without the backing of the weight of empirical evidence.”

    “If you are unable to evaluate the evidence for yourself all you have left is blind faith in the statements of someone else.”

    “Such beliefs can only be reasonably based on the credibility of those biblical statements that can be subjected to testing and potential falsification.”

    “Believing without any basis in physical evidence whatsoever behind the credibility of your source of ‘authority,’ the bible in this case, is not rational, and therefore cannot be distinguished from some other blind faith belief.”

    “Ones faith can be the same as ones science – and vice versa.”

    “Leaps of faith that are not based on evidence are not any more useful than wishful thinking.”

    “Scientific reasoning can be the basis of religious faith.”

    “Evidence is worthless without some form of scientific reasoning.”

    “There really is no useful ‘evidence’ outside at least some form of scientific style reasoning or logic.”

    “Thats evidence… the basis of faith.”




    0
    View Comment
  34. Please help me Sean,
    It appears that what you are saying is that the testimonies of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God are insufficient, in and of themselves, as an evidence upon which to place our faith and hope.
    That the Holy Spirit does not operate outside of empirical testimony, nor can the Bible be trusted without outside testable empirical evidences? Is this correct?




    0
    View Comment
  35. “To all the test will come… 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?” GC625




    0
    View Comment
  36. “To all the test will come… 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?” GC625

    Amen.




    0
    View Comment
  37. @Victor Marshall:

    “To all the test will come… 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?” GC625

    You take this comment of Mrs. White out of context. She clearly argues, over and over again, that faith must be based on the understood “weight of evidence.” It is only after this weight of evidence is investigated and understood that a useful faith in the Bible is established to the point where it can withstand severe trial as that described above. Mrs. White is not arguing for “blind faith” here.

    He gives evidence, which must be carefully investigated with a humble mind and a teachable spirit, and all should decide from the weight of evidence” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 255). “God gives sufficient evidence for the candid mind to believe; but he who turns from the weight of evidence because there are a few things which he cannot make plain to his finite understanding will be left in the cold, chilling atmosphere of unbelief and questioning doubts, and will make shipwreck of faith” (ibid., vol. 4, pp. 232, 233).

    “God never asks us to believe, without giving sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith. His existence, His character, the truthfulness of His Word, are all established by testimony that appeals to our reason; and this testimony is abundant. Yet God has never removed the possibility of doubt. Our faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration. Those who wish to doubt will have opportunity; while those who really desire to know the truth, will find plenty of evidence on which to rest their faith.”

    – Mrs. White, The Great Controversy, p. 527. and Steps to Christ, p. 105.

    So, you see, a solid faith in the Bible as the Word of God must be based on evidence; on the weight of evidence. Faith that can resist all evidence is not distinguishable from the “faith” of those for whom evidence doesn’t matter at all – like many of my LDS friends. The Christian faith should be an intelligent faith – especially given the abundance of solid evidence that God has provided as a basis for our faith and confidence in His Word…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  38. @ Sean Pitman

    Faith that can resist all evidence is not distinguishable from the “faith” of those for whom evidence doesn’t matter at all – like many of my LDS friends.

    I’d say your understanding of your LDS friends is no better than your understanding of Victor Marshall.




    0
    View Comment
  39. Faith vs. evidence, in these posts separately championed, passionately, ably, or frivolously, as if they were NFL teams competing for the Super Bowl. But should they not operate together? I submit they must work together.
    Being of the troop of MDs making rounds on these wards, the model that comes first to my mind is the human body. Consider the bone cells and fat cells; the liver and the biceps; the lungs and the anus; teeth and sphincters; the somatic and the splanchnic nerves, hypothalamus and the frontal cortex. You could look it up. And consider how these cells, organs, systems are separate yet inseparable, separate yet functioning together, one taking charge of the others as the occasion demands. Paul (1 Cor 12:14-16) and PET scans say so. When your femoral vein is severed and within minutes you lose half your blood volume, your autonomic system (call it faith) takes over, or should. When you draft architectural, engineering, air conditioning, stage lighting plans, and the financing for a new 30 million dollar multi-media megachurch, your frontal cortex (call it evidence) takes over, or should.
    God made our minds capable of processing evidence and requires us to do just that, and accordingly indeed has provided such evidence if we but have eyes to see (that’s the tricky part), whereby our faith may be all the stronger, whereby we are made capable of perceiving even more exquisite evidence. Put this in any order you like, as your premise: He requires us to require evidence, so He has given us evidence, thus to have faith, which He requires. Matt 22:37 says so: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul (call it faith), and with all thy mind (call it evidence). It is true that He requires faith, and therefore has given us a heart to believe with, but only on evidence, and therefore has given us eyes to see with, as Christ Himself urged. It is an integrated process, not separate components good only for arguing on blogs, a process ongoing and progressive and smooth and seamless, like your cerebellum and thumbs, like keyboard and motherboard; simultaneous and parallel and in sequence, meeting itself coming and going, compounding itself upon every return.




    0
    View Comment
  40. @Sean Pitman:

    It appears that what you are saying is that the testimonies of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God are insufficient, in and of themselves, as an evidence upon which to place our faith and hope.
    That the Holy Spirit does not operate outside of empirical testimony, nor can the Bible be trusted without outside testable empirical evidences? Is this correct? 

    “It is a sincere question and I’d be most interested in a serious response”
    “These are sincere and valid questions… they really are.”
    “So, I ask again…Is this not a valid question?”
    “Again, this is a serious question which I do not see that you’ve serious discussed much less answered.”




    0
    View Comment
  41. It’s paradoxical, I think.

    If we accept the closed-minded interpretation of the geologic, genetic, embryologic, etc., evidence as absolutely demanding eonic evolution and absolutely ruling out Genesis 1, there being evidence only for evolution and absolutely none for Genesis 1, we, if we want to remain Adventists, have gotten ourselves into one helluva predicament. Having thus taken prevailing science and its evidence as our premise and prime mover, we must somehow achieve a kind of transcendent faith that can be inspired only by immanence, by internal awareness, by sheer grit, rather than the Bible which is patently untrustworthy, or evidence of which there is none. And we will defend our superior faith to the death, and brand — here comes the paradox — those who have eyes to see scientific evidence FOR creation as devoid of even a shredy-shred-shred-shred of faith, and as bowing to the idol of science.

    Paradox. Or is it irony? Shall we take a break and argue THAT




    0
    View Comment
  42. The bible presents its own evidence. It is self affirming. So the bible appeals to history and science and human experience and then claims its own authority in all these matters.

    If and when these affirming evidences seem contrary to the bible, then we have necessarily misunderstood the evidences and placed a wrong conclusion and interpretation on their meaning.

    But many see the evidences as affirming scripture and for this reason trust the bible that claims and validates its own authority. If you deny the bible is the final authority on its on self affirmations, then you are simply not a bible Christian.

    The bible does not try to “prove” everything. Something are simply stated as a fact. Especially things that are not “proveable” by science and/or human experience.

    Prophecy helps us see the sovereignty of God. As we behold the “sure word of prophecy”, it is adequate evidence to accept those things that can not be “proven” by science or human experience.

    Science and human experience may be helpful, but they are not the final word and it is a mistake to try to affirm every jot and tittle of scriptual teaching by such “proof”. Human wisdom is foolishness when it appeals to science to correct or attack any biblical affirmation of truth.

    And finally, the bible is more than clear enough in its affirmations to be understood and those who endeavor to create doubt, skeptcism, and unbelief by claiming the bible is too ambiguous to be certain of its teachings are simply working against God.

    Most bible believing SDA’s would agree with what I have written. Not many would support the LSU fiasco. And there are other issues equally important and maybe more so, because they are more subtle in their attacks on bible Christanity and the historic SDA bible faith.

    None the less, it is important to continue to agitate this issue, for it may eventually lead to the other issues that need addressing in the church today.

    Bill Sorensen




    0
    View Comment
  43. @Bill Sorensen:

    The bible presents its own evidence. It is self affirming.

    If you deny the bible is the final authority on its on self affirmations, then you are simply not a bible Christian.

    The bible does not try to “prove” everything. Something are simply stated as a fact. Especially things that are not “proveable” by science and/or human experience.

    Science and human experience may be helpful, but they are not the final word and it is a mistake to try to affirm every jot and tittle of scriptual teaching by such “proof”.

    Well stated Bro. Sorenson.




    0
    View Comment
  44. @Bill Sorensen:

    The bible presents its own evidence. It is self affirming. So the bible appeals to history and science and human experience and then claims its own authority in all these matters.

    Self-affirmation is meaningless. Lots of claimed sources of authority are “self-affirming”. However, if something or someone only has its own testimony, that testimony is not valid (John 5:31 NIV).

    If you want to convince someone else who has not grown up understanding the Bible authoritative, like a Muslim or a Hindu for example, you can’t simply assert that the Bible is authoritative because it is “self-affirming”. That’s just not going to fly in a discussion with a candid mind that is approaching the Bible for the first time.

    What will fly are arguments for the Bible’s credibility that are generally appealing to candid minds – such as evidences that the Bible is accurate and credible in those things that it says about the nature of the world in which we live – about history, about nature, about prophecy, etc. These evidences appeal to a form of scientific reasoning and understanding for the intelligent candid mind.

    The Bible must therefore be tested in order for it’s claimed credibility to be convincing as a basis of an intelligent faith. In this sense, the Bible must be subjected to our God-given reasoning abilities. God does not expect us to believe without reasonable evidence. It is this evidence that trumps blind faith – even blind faith in the Bible as the ultimate authority.

    After all, the very same arguments for blind faith (i.e., faith that is not dependent upon empirical evidence at all) is forwarded many of my LDS friends who argue that the Book of Mormon is the ultimate authority based on their faith – despite all empirical evidence to the contrary.

    At this point there is simply no more basis for discussion since it is impossible to bring anything to the table that will convince a person of error who is appealing to blind self-affirming faith in their chosen source of ultimate authority.

    How then is our SDA faith any different from the LDS faith regarding our claimed superiority of the Bible vs. the Book of Mormon? Is it not based on a rational appeal to a match between the Bible and the weight of empirical evidence? – a match between what the Bible says and the real condition of the world that it describes?

    If and when these affirming evidences seem contrary to the bible, then we have necessarily misunderstood the evidences and placed a wrong conclusion and interpretation on their meaning.

    This is like a child who believes in Santa Claus as the ultimate authority claiming that all evidence that is against the existence of Santa Claus must have been misunderstood somehow. The very same argument is used by many of my LDS friends. They argue that apparently contradictory evidence against the claims of the Book of Mormon regarding history and nature must necessarily be misunderstood and a wrong conclusion and/or interpretation placed on their meaning.

    Such arguments simply aren’t helpful since such arguments can be used to support any belief however irrational. It ends up making us look no different than the Flat Earth Society.

    It is much better to take a risk and admit that our religion is at least open to testing and the real potential of falsification – as any valid scientific argument is. In this way, our religion, while having the potential of failure, also has the potential of gaining real predictive power and credibility with each test that is successfully past.

    But many see the evidences as affirming scripture and for this reason trust the bible that claims and validates its own authority. If you deny the bible is the final authority on its on self affirmations, then you are simply not a bible Christian.

    But I do deny that the Bible is the final authority. I don’t think that it is the final authority. Yet, I am a Bible-believing Christian. How can that be? It just so happens that I believe that the weight of evidence strongly supports the authority of the Bible and the Word of God. Just because I base my faith on the weight of evidence doesn’t make me a non-believer… does it?

    “God never asks us to believe, without giving sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith. His existence, His character, the truthfulness of His Word, are all established by testimony that appeals to our reason; and this testimony is abundant. Yet God has never removed the possibility of doubt. Our faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration. Those who wish to doubt will have opportunity; while those who really desire to know the truth, will find plenty of evidence on which to rest their faith.”

    – Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 527. and Steps to Christ, p. 105.

    Notice that Mrs. White points out that even the “truthfulness of His Word” is based on evidence and reason – a form of science. As with all scientific conclusions, there is always the possibility of error since we must believe based on the weight of evidence, not demonstration. We are subjective creatures and our reasoning abilities are likewise subjective. The potential for error is always there.

    Yet, God wishes to appeal to our human reasoning abilities which He Himself gave to us. Therefore, He does not judge us for honest errors of belief, but for deliberate rebellion against what we honestly belief is in fact true.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetecgintDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  45. Sean said……”The Bible must therefore be tested in order for it’s claimed credibility to be convincing as a basis of an intelligent faith.”

    Yes, Sean, the bible must be tested by those things that can and will affirm scriptural authority.

    Right now, I can only think of one conclusive test, and that is prophecy. Everything else is ambiguous and less substancial than prophecy. Even though other evidences have credibility, they are not so conclusive as prophecy.

    You also said…..”But I do deny that the Bible is the final authority.”

    Now you have no foundation to build your faith on except your own limited understanding of science, nature and human experience.

    The bible affirming itself as the final authority is the same as God affirming His own authority. If you don’t like this arrangement, you have no foundation for your faith by yourself.

    If others have been taught to trust in false teachings that affirm themselves, it is tragic. But won’t change the reality. It only makes it more difficult for them to abandon their false ideas.

    Prophecy is the closest “proof” we have to validate the bible’s claim. And this is why Peter stated after his self affirming faith in Christ, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy……”

    More “sure” than what? More sure than Peter’s testimony. Peter’s testimony is helpful and helps us believe that Jesus is the Messiah. But even Peter’s testimony is not adequate to affirm Jesus and who He is. We must necessarily turn to “Moses and the prophets” and validate Jesus as the Messiah based on their testimony.

    Simply put, Moses is the final authority in all matters of doctrine and faith. If it is not in harmony with Moses, it is false. And this includes Jesus and His ministry.

    Every “Tom, Dick, and Harry” could claim to be the “Messiah” as the Pope does. And Jesus Himself could have been a false Messiah if He were not in harmony with Moses and the prophets.

    Sean, you will never “prove” the bible by science, nature, nor human experience. All of these are less than authoritive as proof that the bible is true. You quote EGW who concurs with evidence for faith. But she clearly understands “The bible as our only rule of faith and practice.”

    In my opinion, you are on a slipper slope in the way you define faith, science, and the bible.

    Bill Sorensen




    0
    View Comment
  46. @Bill Sorensen:

    More “sure” than what? More sure than Peter’s testimony. Peter’s testimony is helpful and helps us believe that Jesus is the Messiah. But even Peter’s testimony is not adequate to affirm Jesus and who He is. We must necessarily turn to “Moses and the prophets” and validate Jesus as the Messiah based on their testimony.

    Simply put, Moses is the final authority in all matters of doctrine and faith. If it is not in harmony with Moses, it is false. And this includes Jesus and His ministry.

    Very good Bill.
    I like to look at it this way as well. Moses said that, “at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.” We have the two witnesses of the Old and New Testaments – each one establishes the testimony of the other – both are further established by a third witness – the Holy Spirit. These three witnesses are sufficient to establish truth.

    The bible affirming itself as the final authority is the same as God affirming His own authority.

    Another interesting parallel passage in the Bible is, “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.” In this passage we have the concept that God is a sufficient witness for Himself. Of course, in a sense, He is also actually three witnesses isn’t He!




    0
    View Comment
  47. @Sean Pitman:

    As if all of your previous statements were not enough – here you come with this outrageous statement:

    But I do deny that the Bible is the final authority. I don’t think that it is the final authority.

    I think it is plain enough now for all to see that the founding scientist of EducateTruth, who has vigorously been seeking to have LSU tow the orthodox Adventist line – is himself heterodox when it comes to the most foundational of Adventist beliefs!
    Not only have you equated science with faith, you have supplanted Biblical authority with scientific authority. Isn’t this exactly in essence what theistic evolutionists do?! Is it possible that one who incessantly declares others to be ‘blind’ would himself be blind to his own hypocritical presuppositions?

    Seventh-day Adventists are ‘people of the book.’ They claim the Protestant principle of ‘Sola Scriptura’ as the very foundation of their faith. You are not a Sola Scripturist. By your own standard, if you were employed by the Adventist church, you yourself should consider employment elsewhere.
    This is indeed a most grave and serious ironic twist.

    If the issues are not yet clear enough I will here quote one of the denominations most preeminently orthodox theologians. You will find that his clear and definitive statements are diametrically opposed to your own:

    “A fundamental principle set forth by Scripture concerning itself is that the Bible alone is the final norm of truth, the primary and absolute source of authority, the ultimate court of appeal, in all areas of doctrine and practice… The principle of sola Scriptura implies two corollaries: the primacy and the sufficiency of Scripture….”

    “Paul likewise rejects human “knowledge” (KJV “science”; Greek gnōsis) 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 of Scripture (Rom 1:20-23; 2:14-16; 3:1-2).”

    “2. The Sufficiency of Scripture. The principle of sola Scriptura implies the further corollary of the sufficiency of Scripture. The Bible stands alone as the unerring guide to truth; it is sufficient to make one wise unto salvation (2 Tim 3:15). It is the standard by which all doctrine and experience must be tested (2 Tim 3:16-17; Ps 119:105; Prov 30:5, 6; Isa 8:20; John 17:17; Acts 17:11; 2 Thess 3:14; Heb 4:12). Scripture thus provides the framework, the divine perspective, the foundational principles, for every branch of knowledge and experience. All additional knowledge and experience, or revelation, must build upon and remain faithful to, the all-sufficient foundation of Scripture. 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.”

    “Adventists maintain the rallying cry of the Reformation–sola Scriptura, the Bible and the Bible only as the final norm for truth. All other sources of knowledge and experience must be tested by this unerring standard. The appropriate human response must be one of total surrender to the ultimate authority of the word of God (Isa 66:2).” – Richard M. Davidson, ‘Interpreting Scripture According to the Scriptures:Toward an understanding of Seventh-day Adventist Hermeneutics.’ BRI

    Not only do you seem diametrically opposed to foundational Adventist theology. You also appear (for all intents and purposes) to be fundamentally opposed to the purposes and goals of EducateTruth itself.

    “4. More important than all of these is that the Bible find its place as the ultimate authority on all it touches upon within the classroom…… The bottom line of this controversy is not about creation vs. evolution, but authority. Does the Bible inform our science or does science inform the Bible? This question lies at the heart of this controversy.” – Shane Hilde

    In light of this further unfortunate irony – perhaps you should seek employment on another web site.

    I encourage you to reexamine the basis for you faith and prayerfully surrender it to the Word of God – not scientific reason.

    “When we come to the Bible, reason must acknowledge an authority superior to itself, and heart and intellect must bow before the great I AM.” (SC 110).




    0
    View Comment
  48. Why are we wandering down some tangent trying to satisfactorily prove that believing in the Bible is the right thing to do? It seems to me that another website would be a better venue if someone is back at square one, trying to decide if God is real or not and whether the Bible is God’s Word or not… I am not trying to be cantankerous because I am extremely grateful for the untiring efforts to make this website possible and the numerous well-written, thoughtful blogs and postings that Sean, Shane and the faithful bloggers have provided. I hate to see this website deteriorate and become irrelevant because its mission was valid and the stakes are too high. I realize that as individuals we all have our differing perspectives and different opinions, except, hopefully on the very important pivotal principles.

    Here’s my short answer Sean, to your question about how/why we have confidence in the Bible rather than the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an or Dr. Seuss, from my non-scientist, ordinary “man/woman on the street” viewpoint. I use the basic tests for truth that William James describes, to paraphrase: 1) immediate luminescence 2) philosophical reasonableness 3) moral helpfulness I also subscribe to the SDA acceptance of the Bible as God’s Word because of historical evidences, the prophetic evidences, the internal consistency and its internal claims, the life-changing application and the fact that spiritual things are spiritually discerned, i.e. a person has to allow God to impress their heart or all the knowledge in the universe will not penetrate. If we are to follow the example of Christ, then we have to believe in the inspiration of scripture, at times, even going so far as to refute what our senses are telling us, as Christ did during the time of temptation in the wilderness, and while dying on the cross, for an excruciating period of time. If we don’t have faith in the Bible as God’s Word, all these arguments are futile. We would be better served to go out and have some fun rather than sitting at our computers, debating about nonsense.

    The weight of evidence that the Lord has seen fit to give us so that we can believe in Him and His Word, is only that—-a weight of evidence, not 100% doubt-proof. The evidence given would not meet the standards for a criminal conviction, only a civil conviction. If we were given overwhelming evidence, our freedom to choose would be compromised; we’d be “forced” by the evidence. Now, during this probationary period, it has to be our free-will choice to believe or not to believe. At the second coming and after the millennium, every knee will bow because the evidence will be 100%. But knowing God and loving God are NOT synonymous: love is always a choice.

    Although the Lord accommodated his doubts, doubting Thomas was not commended for his demand for additional evidence: “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” There are some references in scripture that could be described as intuitive knowing or behavior (a mother’s love for her child…men exchanging their “natural” affection…knowing God as creator from what is seen) in all of these people can chose to go against their intuitive knowing, but they will not be excused for that.

    A homeless man asked me yesterday if I knew what “Bible” meant, and then he answered himself: “basic instructions before leaving earth.” And yet here we are, with unlimited access to God’s Word, full exposure to the Seventh-day Adventist message, and we have pastors and teachers who can’t give a message as clearly as that homeless gentleman did!

    Isn’t this website about the fact that La Sierra claims to be a Seventh-day Adventist Christian institution yet is allowing teaching that is not in alignment with SDA beliefs? If someone chooses to be a LDS and teach at Brigham Young, they teach in accordance with the LDS doctrines; or a Catholic who teaches at Notre Dame, etc. The validity of their beliefs or whether they are based on “blind faith” is not the point.

    If we have chosen to be Seventh-day Adventists then we have chosen to believe in the Bible as the Word of God and to align ourselves as consistently as we can with the stated fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. If someone is “sincerely deluded” about the veracity of scripture and the validity of the church’s 28 fundamental beliefs, then by all means, don’t pretend to be a Seventh-day Adventist and especially do not attempt to be a representative of the church! It is a high calling to be a teacher or administrator at a Seventh-day Adventist institution. It is not a right. There are basic minimum requirements that must be met.

    I am thankful God won’t require a science test as the heavenly entrance exam. If that were the case, I’m a lost soul. My confidence comes from knowing in Whom I believe, and that means God, as He defines Himself, not a god of my own or anyone else’s devising. He is not a wimpy, impotent, nebulous, deceptive God trying to trick us by describing six days when He actually meant eons. His creative power to speak matter into existence (Psalm 33:6-9) is clearly stated.

    Ecclesiastes 12 begins with “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth…” and concludes with “Of making many books [i.e. scientifically peer reviewed articles & Educate Truth website blogs] there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment including every hidden thing whether it is good or evil.” There is not one section of scripture that can be used alone to fully define the basis of salvation, or God’s character, or anything. God has given us all 66 books, plus inspiration through Ellen G. White, for our instruction and to keep us from falling into deception. The Bible is full of admonitions that will make us “wise unto salvation.” The narrow path that leads to salvation is not the broad road of a social gospel only. Revelation 22:14 describes many classes of people who are outside the holy city.

    There is no end to scientific “discoveries,” theorizing and extrapolating. If that ever takes precedence in a person’s allegiance, then it is idolatry. The requirement to walk humbly with our God, means we worship Him on His terms. We can choose to be “ever hearing but never understanding…ever seeing, but never perceiving…” (Acts 28:26) but that does not erase our accountability. I don’t have a burden to defend the morality of false teachers and false shepherds, quite the contrary. My burden is that the false teaching and administrative cover-ups, cease— now, rather than later!

    What is occurring at La Sierra is egregious. There is no excuse.




    0
    View Comment
  49. @ Victor

    I think it is plain enough now for all to see that the founding scientist of EducateTruth, who has vigorously been seeking to have LSU tow the orthodox Adventist line – is himself heterodox when it comes to the most foundational of Adventist beliefs!

    There are other ironies here as well. As but one example, this “founding scientist,” who writes copiously about the SDA Church “maintaining internal governance and order,” is demanding change in an institution (LSU) and a denomination (SDA) while employed by a Catholic hospital.

    Come to think of it, my wife had surgery at a Catholic hospital. As I am now an “insider” I think I have the right to tell them how they should manage their hospital, and demand that some of their employees resign or face firing.




    0
    View Comment
  50. @Victor Marshall, Great post above. Sean has his own “gospel” which does have some biblical and SDA components, but he’s added a few “extras” to it. Does the bible speak of anything other than the word of God as being the “final” authority? Certainly we can use other things, but what is “the final authority” if not the bible as the word of God?

    Does anyone have a biblical answer?




    0
    View Comment
  51. As this thread winds on, perhaps unravels, may I present this extract from our beloved “Screwtape Letters.” We all have read “Srewtape Letters,” have we not? The authenticity of the script is being proven, in spirit if not text, before our very eyes:

    DEVIL: …we are confronted with a website exposing LSU’S teaching against the very principles of Adventism, which we hate. Can’t have that, down with the site.

    OTHER DEVIL: How?

    DEVIL: Easy: (1) Direct the blogging as far from its repeatedly expressed purpose as Zion from Vegas, by (2) creating straw men shouting every learned and pop irrelevancy, shouting and drowning out the real issues, blurring the focus, and by (3) laughing it all – every idea, every posting, the whole site — to scorn, preferably by professors and such dudes. If called on it, they’re to instantly cry “abuse!” (4) By transferring the focus from LSU to the whistleblower, and how he sinned somehow in blowing the whistle. He’s intolerant of other views, violated ethics of some sort, that kind of thing, the supply is endless. (5) Have Postmodernists and professors blast the protagonist for not accepting peer review and obvious science, which, we’ll say, totally disprove Creationism if not God and the Bible. Thus LSU is not tearing down basic SDA principles but transcending them, and should be awarded (again) for it, and that the whistleblower is the real devil. (6) At the same time have good loyal Adventists blast him to hell for bowing to science and rejecting faith. He’s the real devil. In a word: Befuddle, derail, demonize, laugh off, blast from all sides.

    OTHER DEVIL: [Devilish chuckle:] Teach on, LSU…”

    Does posting this really help anybody or anything? I fear not. The way it’s working out in real time, it’ll just be more fodder. Not what I really want. It was fun writing it (alas for me that whimsy should be such fun for me too), but knowing how futile it is, the fun evaporates into sorrow. Holy Spirit, we need thee now more than ever.




    0
    View Comment
  52. Susie, You’ve got it right, too. As in the Lazarus and rich man parable, “They have Moses and the prophets…” Do you think some “ghost” or whatever else you can see, hear, and experience is gonna change you into believing what God says?




    0
    View Comment
  53. @Victor Marshall:

    I encourage you to reexamine the basis for you faith and prayerfully surrender it to the Word of God – not scientific reason.

    It is a form of scientific reasoning that brought me to the Bible and convinced me of its authority. Surely you cannot then disparage the very reason why I would be willing to lay down my life before denying the Divine origin, credibility and authority of the Bible?

    The Bible defends itself by appeals to empirical reasons for its claimed origin and credibility. Mrs. White also supports this approach. It is curious to me though that you don’t seem to wish to specifically respond to her arguments or my questions regarding the supposed value of blind faith – faith that is not at all dependent upon any empirical evidence whatsoever.

    “God never asks us to believe, without giving sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith. His existence, His character, the truthfulness of His Word, are all established by testimony that appeals to our reason; and this testimony is abundant. Yet God has never removed the possibility of doubt. Our faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration. Those who wish to doubt will have opportunity; while those who really desire to know the truth, will find plenty of evidence on which to rest their faith.”

    – Mrs. White, The Great Controversy, p. 527. and Steps to Christ, p. 105.

    What do you do with comments like these? – comments claiming that God never asks us to believe or have faith in Him or His Word without first supplying sufficient evidence to convince the truly candid mind? – that, “evidence is the basis of faith”?

    I’m sorry, but there is no appeal to blind faith from the Bible or the Mrs. White. Both are in agreement that faith, rational useful faith, is based on, and even requires, evidence; empirical evidence that appeals to human reasoning abilities. That’s what it says. And, it only makes sense.

    Blind faith in the Bible or anything else is really not any more helpful as a solid basis of hope than is wishful thinking in my book. I am therefore very very glad that God has condescended to provide thinking honestly searching minds with the overwhelming weight of empirical evidence for the reality of the Gospel Message of hope.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  54. @Bill Sorensen:

    Now you have no foundation to build your faith on except your own limited understanding of science, nature and human experience.

    We cannot be more than who we are and what we have been given. It is through our rational minds that God appeals to the evidence of who He is and the credibility of His Word. He uses empirical evidence in this appeal. He doesn’t simply ask for faith that is completely blind to the weight of available empirical evidence. That’s simply not true.

    The bible affirming itself as the final authority is the same as God affirming His own authority.

    God affirms his own authority with the use of testable empirical arguments. God even asks us to test and prove Him and see if what He says regarding empirical testable reality is not so. God never ever asks for belief or faith without first supplying enough evidence to appeal to the sincere candid mind.

    Why else do you think we’re in the middle of this “Great Controversy”? If God expects blind faith from His creatures, there would be no need for this empircal demonstration of the effects of evil. You do realize that God is the main one on trial here? He has therefore condescended to an empirical test – the results of which are calculated to appeal to rational, intelligent, candid minds throughout the universe. God does not simply appeal to His own authority and leave it at that. If He did, no one could love Him. He must therefore appeal to empirical evidence to support His own testimony. He must do this because He has created us with intelligent minds that simply don’t take bald unsupported claims at face value – even from God.

    There comes a point when the answer, “Because I said so!” just isn’t good enough. There must be supporting evidence to establish faith and trust in God as God and His Word as His Word…

    By the way, prophecy is based on historical scientific reasoning. It is therefore not conclusively known or knowable – as nothing is, not even in science. We remain and always will remain subjective creatures, subject to potential error. This is why God does not judge us for honest errors in our thinking or understanding; only for a deliberate rejection of and rebellion against what we know to be true…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  55. @Ron Stone M.D.:

    Susie, You’ve got it right, too. As in the Lazarus and rich man parable, “They have Moses and the prophets…”

    The appeal to Moses and the prophets was an appeal to empirical evidence by Jesus. And, in order to clarify His point that the unbelief of the leadership of His day was not due to a lack of evidence, He noted that, “Neither will they believe if someone were raised from the dead.” He then proceeded to provide this overwhelming empirical evidence, in the resurrection of Lazarus (same name used in the parable by the way), and they still didn’t believe – they didn’t even believe when He raised Himself from the grave!

    Again, this is not an appeal to faith that is blind to all empirical evidence – just the opposite in fact. There is no useful faith without a basis in empirical evidence.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  56. Mark 8:13-21

    And He left them, and getting into the boat again, departed to the other side. Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat. Then He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”

    And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have no bread.”

    But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?”

    They said to Him, “Twelve.”

    “Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?”

    And they said, “Seven.”

    So He said to them, “How is it you do not understand?” NKJV




    0
    View Comment
  57. @Ron Stone M.D.:The appeal to Moses and the prophets was an appeal to empirical evidence by Jesus… There is no useful faith without a basis in empirical evidence.Sean Pitman

    Sean, You must have a different definition of “empirical” than others. Empirical means by direct experience or observation alone, without regard to a system or theory. If someone asked you to prove, using empirical evidence, that God created the earth, would you say the “empirical evidence” is Genesis?




    0
    View Comment
  58. @Ron Stone M.D.:

    Sean, You must have a different definition of “empirical” than others. Empirical means by direct experience or observation alone, without regard to a system or theory.

    Empiricism refers to a theory of knowledge in philosophy which adheres to the principle that knowledge arises from experience and evidence gathered specifically using the senses.

    If empirical data reach significance under the appropriate statistical formula, the research hypothesis is supported. If not, the null hypothesis is supported (or, more correctly, not rejected), meaning no effect of the independent variable(s) was observed on the dependent variable(s).

    It is important to understand that the outcome of empirical research using statistical hypothesis testing is never proof. It can only support a hypothesis, reject it, or do neither. These methods yield only probabilities.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empirical_research

    In this sense, empirical data are used in various forms of scientific reasoning. The same can be, and I think should be, true of useful religion.

    You cannot list off any example in the Bible where God asked anyone to believe anything without first supplying adequate empirical evidence; evidence that appeals directly to the senses and the rational mind. Nowhere does God ask for or expect completely blind faith in His Word.

    If someone asked you to prove, using empirical evidence, that God created the earth, would you say the “empirical evidence” is Genesis?

    As noted above, one cannot absolutely “prove” anything. One can only produce a useful level of predictive value by appealing to empirical evidence and the past success of the hypothesis/theory in question that is never absolute.

    Genesis, by itself, is not empirical evidence of anything. Someone approaching it for the first time has a host of possible explanations for its existence. Perhaps it is a moral fable? or a poetic allegory? Perhaps it is an effort to describe remote history from a limited perspective where much of the information is simply mistaken or not very accurate? Perhaps it is accurate?

    How does one decide among these various potential hypothetical options as to which option is most likely true? The argument that one must simply assume, a priori, without any appeal to any kind of comparison with the real world that is experienced by the senses, is simply not convincing to the candid individual who hasn’t already made up his/her mind.

    What reasons are you going to give to a Muslim or Hindu or Latter-day Saint for why your Bible should be considered of supreme authority? – your blind faith? The same as the LDS often use? – to the point of withstanding all available empirical evidence? How is that supposed to fly?

    Rather, if you know you have an honest and sincere seeker for truth in front of you, why not appeal to what God appeals to as a support for His claims? – the actual universally available empirical evidence?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  59. The first thing Adam saw when he opened his eyes was Jesus. When he opened his eyes again, Jesus was giving him the most beautiful creature on planet earth to be his wife. Everywhere humanity turned their eyes they saw the handiwork of their Creator (And it was better than an all expense paid vacation to Hawaii), Who created a special day just to be with them in person.

    Then there was the serpent:

    ‘Just believe me. Just have blind faith, I know what I’m talking about…’

    Rom 1:18-21

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, FOR GOD HAS SHOWN IT TO THEM. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
    NKJV

    John 1:14

    And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
    NKJV

    Friends, we have a real God, not a system or theory. Can I tell you about what I have seen and personally experienced in my short life? Is that reality? Or are the Buddhists right? I’ve seen the sick healed, demons cast out and physical circumstances changed in answer to prayer and the intervention of powers that operate outside of the realm of nature. These things are tangible, I have handled and interacted with them. I didn’t make any of it up. What is true science anyway? I’m not very smart, but I’ve looked through a microscope and a telescope. I’ve felt my pulse and tasted food. I’ve been involved procreation and child birth. My heart has been changed by a Power completely outside of anything that nature could offer me. So what are we dealing with anyway? How much more proof can we be given?

    1 John 1:1-4
    That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life — the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us — that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
    NKJV




    0
    View Comment
  60. “The deepest students of science are constrained to recognize in nature the working of infinite power. But to man’s unaided reason, nature’s teaching cannot but be contradictory and disappointing. Only in the light of revelation can it be read aright, ‘Through faith we understand.’Heb.11:3” – Ed.134




    0
    View Comment
  61. @Victor Marshall:

    “The deepest students of science are constrained to recognize in nature the working of infinite power. But to man’s unaided reason, nature’s teaching cannot but be contradictory and disappointing. Only in the light of revelation can it be read aright, ‘Through faith we understand.’Heb.11:3″ – Ed.134

    It is because of scientific investigation that we can come to the conclusion that revelation is valid and credible – that it has useful predictive power beyond just-so stories and moral fables.

    You reference Mrs. White who in turn references Hebrews 11:3. Yet you fail to even comment on the many statements of Mrs. White where she very clearly explains that faith must rest upon the weight of evidence, not demonstration; where she claims that God always gives plenty of evidence upon which to base our faith:

    God does not propose to remove all occasion for unbelief. He gives evidence, which must be carefully investigated with a humble mind and a teachable spirit, and all should decide from the weight of evidence” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 255).

    “God gives sufficient evidence for the candid mind to believe; but he who turns from the weight of evidence because there are a few things which he cannot make plain to his finite understanding will be left in the cold, chilling atmosphere of unbelief and questioning doubts, and will make shipwreck of faith” (ibid., vol. 4, pp. 232, 233).

    “God never asks us to believe, without giving sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith. His existence, His character, the truthfulness of His Word, are all established by testimony that appeals to our reason; and this testimony is abundant. Yet God has never removed the possibility of doubt. Our faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration. Those who wish to doubt will have opportunity; while those who really desire to know the truth, will find plenty of evidence on which to rest their faith.” – The Great Controversy, p. 527. and Steps to Christ, p. 105.

    There is no appeal to blind faith here. Faith, according to Mrs. White, is ultimately supported by the weight of evidence together with a form of scientific reasoning. She specifically notes that, “God never asks us to believe without first supplying sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith.” Why don’t you address such statements? – even once?

    The very same thing is true of the biblical appeal to faith. Biblical faith is clearly supported by the weight of empirical evidence as well. It is not blind to the weight of empirical evidence and rational reasoning abilities common to human beings. (Psalm 19:1, Romans 1:20 NIV, John 14:11 and 2 Peter 1:16)

    How do you not yet understand this concept? How do you not see that it is through a form of scientific reasoning that one is able to come to a reasonable conclusion that the Bible is superior to any other source of information about God, His Creative Power, and His care and plan for the universe and for us as individuals?

    Blind faith is worthless my friend. Even you appeal to empirical evidences for your faith when it comes right down to it…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




    0
    View Comment
  62. Victor, I’m with you in your understanding of faith and evidence. Some battles aren’t worth the effort, and Sean is not going to budge from his evidence-trumps-all position. So be it.

    Blessings,

    PK




    0
    View Comment
  63. Psalms 116:1-2
    I love the LORD, because He has heard
    My voice and my supplications.
    Because He has inclined His ear to me,
    Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
    NKJV

    Psalms 28:7
    My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
    Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
    And with my song I will praise Him.
    NKJV

    If these were just hopeful poetic sentiments made as a statement of philosophic theory I suppose they wouldn’t be worth much—but not only were these sentiments the result of the life experience of the author, but express the tested and proven experience of millions who have lived since they were written thousands of years ago. They are certainly true in my life. I was agnostic as a youth and young adult, until I took God up on HIs offer and asked for help. How do you ignore continuous, systematic and ongoing results that span almost half a century? I know, I’m just another religious fanatic, but it sure is fun to see supernatural things happening all the time and have the Creator of the universe as your best Friend.




    0
    View Comment

Comments are closed.