Comment on Last Thursdayism by Sean Pitman.
Iâ€™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 â€“ as opposed to â€˜empirical-evidence-based faithâ€™
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 Also Commented
â€œThe deepest students of science are constrained to recognize in nature the working of infinite power. But to manâ€™s unaided reason, natureâ€™s teaching cannot but be contradictory and disappointing. Only in the light of revelation can it be read aright, â€˜Through faith we understand.â€™Heb.11:3â€³ â€“ 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).
â€œGod 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.â€ – 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, You must have a different definition of â€œempiricalâ€ 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.
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 â€œempirical evidenceâ€ 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?
So He said to them, â€œHow is it you do not understand?â€ – Mark 8:13-21
This is one of my favorite exchanges of Jesus with His disciples. Thank you for quoting it. Don’t think that Jesus was without a sense of humor. This passage is hilarious 😉
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I fail to see where you have convincingly supported your claim that the GC leadership contributed to the harm of anyone’s personal religious liberties? – given that the GC leadership does not and could not override personal religious liberties in this country, nor substantively change the outcome of those who lost their jobs over various vaccine mandates. That’s just not how it works here in this country. Religious liberties are personally derived. Again, they simply are not based on a corporate or church position, but rely solely upon individual convictions – regardless of what the church may or may not say or do.
Yet, you say, “Who cares if it is written into law”? You should care. Everyone should care. It’s a very important law in this country. The idea that the organized church could have changed vaccine mandates simply isn’t true – particularly given the nature of certain types of jobs dealing with the most vulnerable in society (such as health care workers for example).
Beyond this, the GC Leadership did, in fact, write in support of personal religious convictions on this topic – and there are GC lawyers who have and continue to write personal letters in support of personal religious convictions (even if these personal convictions are at odds with the position of the church on a given topic). Just because the GC leadership also supports the advances of modern medicine doesn’t mean that the GC leadership cannot support individual convictions at the same time. Both are possible. This is not an inconsistency.