SDA Darwinians compromise key church doctrines

David C. Read

By David C. Read

Adventists who want the church to compromise with Darwinism typically minimize the implications of their beliefs for the Church. But any compromise with Darwinism would strip the Seventh-day Adventist Church of its signature doctrine, the key to its prophetic interpretation, and its founding prophet.

This church takes the first part of its name from the fourth commandment, the biblical rationale for which is “in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.” God audibly spoke the Ten Commandments within the hearing of the entire congregation of Israel (Ex. 20:1-21; Deut. 4:10-13). God Himself inscribed the Ten Commandments on stone tablets, twice (Ex. 31:18; 34:1, 28; Deut. 4:13; 10:1-4). The tablets were placed inside the Ark of the Testimony (Ex. 34:29; 40:20; Deut. 10:5), the most sacred article of furniture in the sanctuary, above which was seen the visible manifestation of God’s presence.

The Biblical rationale for the Sabbath commandment—that God created the earth in six days and rested on the Sabbath day—could not be clearer. This rationale cannot be accommodated to Darwinism, which posits that life on earth evolved from a singled-celled organism over the course of hundreds of millions of years. Darwinism vitiates the biblical rationale for the Sabbath.

Seventh-day Darwinians (Cliff Goldstein’s moniker for Adventists who hold a Darwinian view of origins) typically respond by noting that the iteration of the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5:1-21 does not include the creation rationale, but urges the Israelites to keep the Sabbath because they had been delivered from slavery in Egypt. But this is not the version of the Ten Commandments audibly spoken by God and inscribed by God’s own finger. In Deuteronomy 5, Moses is speaking to the Israelites, using covenant language that applies only to those people who were brought out of Egypt and were about to be led into Canaan, the land promised to their ancestor, Abraham. The rationale of deliverance from slavery in Egypt applies only to the Israelites as a nation, not to all of humanity.

Seventh-day Darwinians also point to the fact that modern Jews, such as Abraham Joshua Heschel, are Sabbath-keepers yet do not read Genesis one as being literally true. But Sabbath keeping is an essential characteristic of Jews and Judaism; it is an ethnic and religious identifier, and, for a Jew, needs no more rationale than that. By contrast, the Seventh-day Adventist Church calls everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, to return to the true Sabbath, regardless of culture or ethnicity. An ethnic or cultural identifier cannot support our mission. Our universal appeal to keep the Fourth Commandment demands a universal rationale, and only Genesis 2:2-3 and Exodus 20:11 provide that universal rationale.

The Sabbath doctrine is also central to the Adventist Church’s interpretation of prophecy. After the disappointment of 1844, when the early Adventists realized that the cleansing of the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 did not refer to Christ’s second coming to earth, they learned that there was an earthly sanctuary and a heavenly sanctuary. Moses was instructed to carefully follow the pattern shown him (Ex. 25:9, 40; 26:30; Acts 7:44) because the sanctuary he was building would be a representation of a sanctuary in heaven. (Heb. 8:5; 9:11, 23-24)

Revelation tells us that when “the time had come for judging the dead . . . then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant.” (Rev. 11:18-19) In the earthly sanctuary, the Ark of the Covenant was in the Most Holy Place, which was opened only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16; Heb. 9:7). So in Revelation 11, when the time had come for judging the dead, it was the Most Holy Place of the heavenly temple that was opened. The early Adventists thus realized that a heavenly judgment of the dead had been typified, pre-figured, or foreshadowed by the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.

The Hebrew word Kippur comes from a root that means “to cover or hide”; a secondary meaning is “to obliterate or expiate.” So, in the judgment in Heaven typified by Yom Kippur, the sins of the sinner who has placed his faith in Christ are covered and hidden by Christ’s righteousness (Psalm 32:1-2; 85:2), expiated by Christ’s sacrifice, and will be forever obliterated. The determination of whose sins are covered and expiated by the blood of Christ is a process of investigation and of judgment.

When the early Adventists saw there was Ark containing the Ten Commandment law in both the earthly and the heavenly sanctuaries, their attention was drawn to the continuing force and validity of the Fourth Commandment. The investigative judgment and the Sabbath became the twin pillars of the Adventist movement, and this new light was the key to interpreting the Three Angels’ Messages of Revelation 14. The First Angel’s message, “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” refers to both (1) our warning that the investigative judgment in Heaven has begun, and (2) our call to worship the Creator God on the biblical, Seventh-day Sabbath, which is God’s sign and seal as our Creator. The “mark of the beast” in the Third Angel’s message refers to the keeping of the false sabbath established by the beast power, Sunday, in place of the true Sabbath established by God at the creation. In short, our interpretation of prophecy is entirely bound up in the continuing validity of the Fourth Commandment, with its rationale that God created the world in six days.

There is also the issue of Adventism’s founding prophet, Ellen White, who received some 200 visions during the course of her prophetic career. As was demonstrated many times, these visions were supernatural occurrences; she did not breathe while in vision, and she possessed supernatural strength. She claimed to have been carried back in vision to the creation week, and to have been shown that it was a week just like every week since:

I was then carried back to the creation and was shown that the first week, in which God performed the work of creation in six days and rested on the seventh day, was just like every other week. The great God in his days of creation and day of rest, measured off the first cycle as a sample for successive weeks till the close of time. Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 90.

Seventh-day Darwinians typically shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, she made a mistake. She wasn’t inerrant.” But what was she mistaken about? Was Ellen White mistaken about what she was shown in vision? If so, how could she ever be trusted about anything she was shown in vision? Assuming that God was not wrong about how long the creation took, was Ellen White mistaken in believing that God was the source of her visions? If God was not the source of these manifestly supernatural occurrences, what power was?

In any “mistake” scenario, Ellen White’s prophetic authority is gravely impeached. To say that Ellen White was mistaken on this issue is tantamount to saying that the Adventist Church never really had a prophet.

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106 thoughts on “SDA Darwinians compromise key church doctrines

  1. Great article, Dave!

    The denigration and “dissing” of Ellen White is a major part of any “progressive” SDA philosophy.

    Simply go to Spectrum or even AT to see this in both articles and especially in the responses.




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  2. Proof texts from the Bible are not enough. I always thought that SDAs subscribed to Sola Scriptura, but increasingly I am seeing hostility to this view by the very group–conservatives–that I expected to defend it the most.

    I’m not an SDA Darwinian, but I am confident there will be SDA Darwinians and Non-Darwinians alike in heaven. I just hope and pray that I will be among them.




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  3. Personally, I’m willing to accept Ellen White’s claim, but here is some sober reality for thought (lifted from an SDA website, no less: SDAnet.org):

    Although godliness was the usual direction of their lives, we do see the best of prophets stumbling and falling at times. We should be careful not to judge them on their worst times, which may be fleeting compared to the overwhelming amount of their lives which were godly. Note these: Abraham (the first person ever to be called a prophet) denied Sarah was his wife and told the half-truth that she was his sister (Genesis 12: 10-20). Samuel deceived Saul into thinking he was going out to make a sacrifice when in reality he was going out to anoint David as king (1 Samuel 16:2). David lied to the High Priest to get the consecrated bread (1 Samuel 21:1-9). He was also a mass murderer and an adulterer. Jeremiah lied to the people at the king’s suggestion (Jeremiah 38:24-29).

    Moses lost his temper and had to be disciplined by God because of his rash actions (Numbers 20: 9-13). Some of the most magnificent prophecies found in the Old Testament regarding the coming of Christ were uttered by Balaam who was an apostate (Numbers 22-24). Elijah fled in despair and wished to die (1 Kings 19: 3-5).

    In the New Testament, Peter is led astray in his judgment by the Judaisers and withdrew from eating with Gentiles. He was later rebuked by Paul for denying “the truth of the gospel” (Galatians 2: 11-14). Earlier, though, he had been given a vision to show that all people were equal in the sight of God (Acts 10:9-48). After realising the significance of the vision and declaring it to others he later fails to live by what had been revealed to him and what he had proclaimed to others.

    Paul had a sharp disagreement with Barnabas about the future ministry of Mark. He did not think [Mark] worthy to go with him on his next missionary journey and they parted company. Paul went with Silas and Barnabas took Mark with him. Subsequent events showed that Barnabas showed better judgment than Paul. Mark performed well when given the chance (Acts 15:36-41).

    We must recognise that prophets are human, like the rest of us. They can make mistakes. They can follow poor advice. They can misjudge a situation. They can be discouraged and irritable. They may be well informed in some areas and not so in other areas. Even prophets used mightily by God are still very human. The danger is that we may expect them to have the perfection we see in Christ. The truth is that no one has lived as He lived. If they fail at times it does not make them false prophets because of their lapses.

    A simple question regarding time: did the New Testament authors believe they would live to see Christ’s second return? Was their understanding of temporal events correct?

    Regarding Ms. White: was she actually incapable of telling a lie? Was she ever mistaken in her understanding? Did she ever fail to practice what she preached (as in indulgence of appetite and the wearing of jewelry)? Let’s not make her any more inerrent than the prophets of old.




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  4. Been a while since I commented, but that was because it was thought that this site ran it’s course. Well, now giving my two cents:

    Adventists who want the church to compromise with Darwinism typically minimize the implications of their beliefs for the Church. But any compromise with Darwinism would strip the Seventh-day Adventist Church of its signature doctrine, the key to its prophetic interpretation, and its founding prophet.

    Accepting Evolution has no essential implications of Christianity by itself. The most it can do is have implications for certain ideas about God and one of many interpretations of the Bible. I for one was raised in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church though I accept Evolution, but I am no less a believer in the Bible and no less a Theist than I have been before I accepted it.

    The Biblical rationale for the Sabbath commandment—that God created the earth in six days and rested on the Sabbath day—could not be clearer. This rationale cannot be accommodated to Darwinism, which posits that life on earth evolved from a singled-celled organism over the course of hundreds of millions of years. Darwinism vitiates the biblical rationale for the Sabbath.

    Young Earth Creationists agree with this, but Old Earth Creationists would argue that even if the Creation Days were not “Literal” 24 hour periods, the seven day week in the Jewish calender itself could be a mini-time frame representing a larger time frame; in which case, the Sabbath Doctrine can remain intact.

    Also, there is no universal consensus in the Hebrew Linguistic community of the meaning of “Day” in Genesis chapter one. Rodney Whitefield, for example, has really interesting arguments as to why the Creation days are not literal as far as linguistics go. [1] On the other hand, Jeff A. Benner from the Ancient Hebrew Research Center says that Genesis Chapter 1 is written in Block Logic; that is to say that it is in reality comprised of six different stories not necessarily in chronological order, as opposed to “step logic” which would be chronological. He then concludes by saying:

    It must be remembered that modern western thinkers view events in step logic. This is the idea that each event comes after the previous forming a series of events in a linear timeline. But, the Hebrews did not think in step logic but in block logic. This is the grouping together of similar ideas together and not in chronological order. Most people read Genesis chapter one from a step logic perspective or chronological, rather than from the block logic so prevalent in Hebrew poetry. [2]

    Young Earth Creationists, however, like to cite a letter written by James Barr who they quote in support of their position, as he was a Hebrew Linguist who thought that was the meaning of Genesis, but they usually fail to point out that he also says in the same letter that the point of view had nothing to do with the linguistics at all, and that he didn’t think that most in the field would even bother getting into the discussion supporting one side over the other. [3]

    In any “mistake” scenario, Ellen White’s prophetic authority is gravely impeached. To say that Ellen White was mistaken on this issue is tantamount to saying that the Adventist Church never really had a prophet.

    If the Seventh-Day Adventist Church had no prophet, then so be it. Faith in God and acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice is much more important. That, and that alone affects our salvation, not whether or not Ellen White had visions.

    And there are my two cents. Feel free to agree or disagree.

    _________________
    [1]Whitefield, Rodney. Genesis One and the Age of the Earth: What Does the Bible Say? Available online at: http://www.creationingenesis.com/Genesis_One_and_the_Age_of_the_Earth.pdf

    [2] Benner, Jeff A. “The Poetry of Genesis 1.” Ancient Hebrew Research Center. Online at: http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/23_genesis_1.html

    [3] James Barr letter (23 April 1984) available at: http://members.iinet.com.au/~sejones/barrlett.html




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  5. The issue of sola scriptura is not relevant to the creation/evolution controversy. There is nothing in Scripture that hints otherwise than that God created the world in one week, as indicated in Genesis and in Exodus 20:11. It is entirely unnecessary to resort to Ellen White to believe that Scripture teaches that the world was created in six literal days a few thousand years ago (which is why over 120 million Americans, very few of whom recognize the prophetic authority of Ellen White, believe that).

    Biblical hermeneutics can be an issue, however, because if one approaches Scripture with a critical hermeneutic, e.g., using extraneous Darwinian “science” to interpret Scripture, then one tends to gravitate toward a non-literal reading of Genesis and Ex. 20:11.

    God chooses to speak through human prophets despite their humanness and sinfulness. A prophet’s trustworthiness is not impeached by his humanness. Psalm 22 is a true Messianic prophecy notwithstanding David’s sinfulness. However, if a prophet conveys a false message, a message that she claims was from God but was not from God, then she is a false prophet.




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    • @David Read:

      God chooses to speak through human prophets despite their humanness and sinfulness. A prophet’s trustworthiness is not impeached by his humanness. Psalm 22 is a true Messianic prophecy notwithstanding David’s sinfulness. However, if a prophet conveys a false message, a message that she claims was from God but was not from God, then she is a false prophet.

      Would it really rock your boat if she were? The faith of Christians should be in Jesus Christ, not in Ellen White. If it comes to a choice between Jesus Christ and Ellen White, then we are to chose Jesus.

      When I was a lot more into the SDA doctrine, not even then did I put much emphasis on Ellen White, so when I started having doubts about her, my boat was not rocked at all.




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  6. Fortunately, we are not presented with a choice between between Ellen White and Jesus Christ. To the contrary, Ellen White always pointed her readers to Jesus Christ.

    We do have to choose between Ellen White and Darwinism, because she was fully aware of the scientific consensus behind long-ages geology and evolutionism, yet she explicitly rejected both. No only did she reject them, she claimed that she was shown that they were false. In other words, it wasn’t her personal opinion that Darwinism and Lyellism were wrong; rather, she claimed to have been shown by God that the creation week was a regular week just like every week since.

    Not only would my boat be rocked if she was a false prophet, there would be no reason whatsoever for the Seventh-day Adventist Church to continue to exist. The prophetic gift that Adventists believe attended the beginning of our movement is a crucial part of our raison d’etre, as is the Sabbath, which can’t really be all that important if God did not in fact rest on the seventh day after creating the world in six days. If these two things are gone, there is no Adventism. There are buildings with the name “Adventist” on them, and there are pastors and administrators who are still being paid, but there shouldn’t be.




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    • @David Read:

      Fortunately, we are not presented with a choice between between Ellen White and Jesus Christ. To the contrary, Ellen White always pointed her readers to Jesus Christ.

      That I do understand. Point well taken.

      Not only would my boat be rocked if she was a false prophet, there would be no reason whatsoever for the Seventh-day Adventist Church to continue to exist.

      Perhaps not. Perhaps this is my non-denominational stance talking, but I don’t personally see a problem with that. Even if the Seventh-Day Adventist Church would have no reason to exist, Christianity as a whole would still retain it’s purpose.

      Just my two cents.




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  7. Re David’s quote

    Hello David

    Your article was a very good exposition of the traditional Adventist doctrine. Thank you for taking the time to do that.

    I was intrigued by your comment that 120 million Amercans belief in six day recent creation. That is a staggering number of YEC’s! What is your authority for that proposition?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @Ken: Ken, Gallup has been polling this issue for about 30 years, and consistently about 40% of Americans identify as creationists. That’s about 120 million of us. See this article:

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

      “According to a Gallup poll in December 2010, around 40% of Americans believe in YEC,…”

      As of 2008 a Gallup poll indicated that 36% of US adults agreed with the statement “human beings developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process.”, 14% believed that “Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.” and 44% of US adults agreed with the statement “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”

      The purely atheistic opinion on origins has recently risen sharply from less than 10% to 14%, but the increase does not seem to have come at the expense of the young earth creationists.




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  8. David Read: Not only would my boat be rocked if she was a false prophet, there would be no reason whatsoever for the Seventh-day Adventist Church to continue to exist.

    Huh? So if she was a fraud, what other denomination whose beliefs are more closely aligned with sola scriptura would you join?

    I’m not SDA because of EGW; I’m SDA because of sola scriptura. Had EGW never existed I would still embrace SDA doctrines and join the organization.




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    • @Eddie:

      Hi Eddie,

      I think what David is talking about is a hypothetical situation where Ellen White is shown to be a false prophet regarding her claimed visions on the literal creation week. Such a demonstration would rock my boat as well because such a demonstration would also show that the SDA interpretation of the Genesis account was/is in error as well… that the Bible itself is untrustworthy as it reads or was intended, by the authors, to be read.

      Certainly the SDA doctrines are based entirely on the Bible, not on Mrs. White. So, they could stand without ever having had the extra gift of Mrs. White’s inspiration. However, where Mrs. White and the Bible are in harmony, as is the case with the Genesis account of origins, falsifying one would also falsify the other.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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    • @Eddie: Eddie, Sean is correct that I was thinking specifically about the creation issue. If Ellen White was wrong about a six day creation, then it means Adventists are wrong in our approach to scriptural interpretation, wrong about the importance of the Sabbath as a continuing observance for all of humanity, and wrong about the centrality of the Sabbath to our prophetic interpretation, particularly our interpretation of the Three Angels Messages of Revelation.

      It certainly would not mean the end of Christianity, just that Adventism is an errant permutation of Christianity, a denomination that went down a wrong path.

      Again, the issue with regard to origins is not so much sola scriptura as it is how Scripture will be interpreted, what hermeneutic will be used to interpret Scripture.

      The belief that Darwinism is true is both a cause and an effect of a critical hermeneutic. Extraneous evidence from “science” is used to interpret Scripture, the early chapters of Genesis are interpreted in a non-literal way in order to accommodate Darwinism, and this reading of Scripture in turn encourages more people to believe Darwinism is true.

      This critical hermeneutic and feedback mechanism explains the 36% of Americans that identified, in a 2008 poll, as theistic evolutionists. Their denominations, generally described as liberal, employ a critical hermeneutic in their approach to Scripture. By contrast, the 44% of Americans that believe man was created in his present form at one time in the past 10,000 years are taking a “high view” of Scripture, i.e., they believe that the plain meaning of Scripture should trump scientific speculations about origins, not vice versa.

      I think theistic evolutionists have been sold a bill of goods, accepting the idea that there is strong evidence for the mega-evolution story, when in fact the case for Darwinism is based on philosophy. It is what you’re left with to explain the creation if you deny, a priori, the existence of God. If you believe, as theistic evolutionists apparently do, that there is a God capable of guiding evolution, there is no reason to believe in the Darwinian origins myth in the first place.




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      • @David Read:

        The belief that Darwinism is true is both a cause and an effect of a critical hermeneutic. Extraneous evidence from “science” is used to interpret Scripture, the early chapters of Genesis are interpreted in a non-literal way in order to accommodate Darwinism, and this reading of Scripture in turn encourages more people to believe Darwinism is true.

        Old Earth Creationists as well as Theistic Evolutionists may have a different interpretation of the Bible, but reading Genesis in a non-literal way is by no means a reaction to scientific consensus,…well, at least not completely. After all, for the last 2,000 there were many Christians and Jews that interpreted the six days of creation is many diverse ways.

        As some examples:

        1. Philo of Alexandria, who was contemporary with Jesus Christ wrote: “When, therefore, Moses says, “God completed his works on the sixth day,” we must understand that he is speaking not of a number of days, but that he takes six as a perfect number.” (Treatise 1:2) Philo most certainly did not interpret the Creation week literally.

        2. St. Cyprian of Carthage thought that each day in Creation week contained 1,000 years, as he wrote, “As the first seven days in the divine arrangement containing seven thousand of years” (Treatise 11: 11)

        These are just two examples. Certainly some early Christians and Jews did read Genesis literally, but many others did not, as shown by the two examples given. What this tells me at least is that the interpretation of Genesis is really up for grabs, and it certainly is not for the only purpose of accommodating “Darwinism.”

        I think theistic evolutionists have been sold a bill of goods, accepting the idea that there is strong evidence for the mega-evolution story, when in fact the case for Darwinism is based on philosophy. It is what you’re left with to explain the creation if you deny, a priori, the existence of God.

        Even if Evolution were the default position one would take if he did not believe in God, that has no bearing on its truth or falsehood.

        If you believe, as theistic evolutionists apparently do, that there is a God capable of guiding evolution, there is no reason to believe in the Darwinian origins myth in the first place.

        I would be classified as a “Theistic Evolutionist” considering that I am a theist and accept evolution. However, I do not believe that God necessarily “guided” it. Personally, I do not believe God needs to “guide” anything in order to create; I think he had no need of that. Personally I would say I think that since God knows the future, then he could had simply started the entire creative process knowing full well what the results would be, and therefore allowing his natural laws which he estated himself take their course.

        I’ll say it again: In order to create, God has no need to “guide.” Likewise, neither does God have any need to design.




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        • @krissmith777:

          It is very hard to argue with the definition of “days” being marked off by “evenings and mornings” representing anything other, in the mind of the author of Genesis, than literal days. That is certainly how the rest of the Biblical authors interpreted the Genesis account – including Jesus who referred to the Genesis account as literal history.

          Jesus quoted Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 as an authoritative Divinely inspired historical account in His teaching about divorce (Matthew 19:3-6; Mark 10:2-9), and by referring to Noah as a real historical person and the Flood as a real historical event, and in His teaching about the ‘coming of the Son of man’ (Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26-27).

          Do you, as a Christian, think that Jesus, as the direct Son of God, didn’t really know true history? If so, how can you believe Jesus when He said, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightening”? (Luke 10:18 NIV) – speaking of a time before the creation week of Genesis? Or, how can you believe Jesus when He claimed to have personally known and even existed before Abraham? (John 8:58 NIV)

          Other biblical authors held the same view. For example, Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, and Noah are referred to in 15 other books of the Bible in literal terms. For example, Paul writes: ‘For as by one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Jesus] shall many be made righteous’ (Romans 5:19). And, ‘For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive… And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit’ (1 Corinthians 15:21-22; 45).

          In short, according to Paul, the historical truth of the record concerning the first Adam is a guarantee that what God says in His Word about the last Adam [Jesus] is also true. Likewise, the historical, literal truth of the record concerning Jesus is a guarantee that what God says about the first Adam is also historically and literally true.

          It is for such reasons that the significant majority of Hebrew scholars, ancient and modern, have come to this very same conclusion: that the author of Genesis intended to write a literal historical narrative, for obvious reasons. Cherry picking a few rare outliers here and there really isn’t convincing to most candid minds who carefully consider the text.

          Hebrew scholar Dr Stephen Boyd has shown, using a statistical comparison of verb type frequencies of historical and poetic Hebrew texts, that Genesis 1 is clearly historical narrative, not just allegorical ‘poetry’. His conclusion:

          ‘There is only one tenable view of its plain sense: God created everything in six literal days.’

          Stephen W. Boyd in chapter 6, “The Genre of Genesis 1:1-2:3”

          Some other Hebrew scholars who support literal creation days include:

          ­ Dr Andrew Steinmann, Associate Professor of Theology and Hebrew at Concordia University in Illinois.

          o Steinmann, A., 2002. אחד [echad] as an ordinal number and the meaning of Genesis 1:5, JETS 45(4):577–584.

          ­ Dr Robert McCabe, Professor of Old Testament at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary in Allen Park, MI.

          o McCabe, R.V., 2000. A defense of literal days in the Creation Week, Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 5:97–123. .

          ­ Dr Ting Wang, lecturer in biblical Hebrew at Stanford University.

          o Sarfati, J., 2005. Hebrew scholar affirms that Genesis means what it says! Interview with Dr Ting Wang, Lecturer in Biblical Hebrew, Creation 27(4):48–51.

          And, of course, James Barr; late Professor of Hebrew at the University of Oxford (of whom you are already aware)

          Also, form critic Hermann Gunkel concluded long ago:

          “The ‘days’ are of course days and nothing else.”

          Hermann Gunkel, Genesis übersetzt und erklärt (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1901), 97.

          This refrain can be continued with many additional voices, sharing the same non-concordist position. Victor P. Hamilton concludes, as do other broad concordist neoevangelical scholars:

          “And whoever wrote Gen. l believed he was talking about literal days.”

          Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17, The New International Commentary of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Ml: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), 54.

          John H. Stek, another broad concordist, makes a number of points in his support for literal “days”:

          Surely there is no sign or hint within the narrative [of Genesis 1] itself that the author thought his ‘days’ to be irregular designations — first a series of undefined periods, then a series of solar days — or that the ‘days’ he bounded with ‘evening and morning’ could possibly be understood as long aeons of time. His language is plain and simple, and he speaks in plain and simple terms of one of the most common elements in humanity’s experience of the world…. In his storying of God’s creative acts, the author was ‘moved’ to sequence them after the manner of human acts and ‘time’ them after the pattern of created time in humanity’s arena of experience.

          John H. Stek, “What Says Scripture?” Portraits of Creation, 237-238.

          Numerous scholars and commentators, regardless of whether they are concordist or non-concordist, have concluded that the creation “days” cannot be anything but literal 24-hour days. They are fully aware of the figurative, non-literal interpretations of the word “day” in Genesis 1 for the sake of harmonization with the long ages demanded by the evolutionary model of origins. Yet, they insist on the ground of careful investigations of the usage of “day” in Genesis 1 and elsewhere that the true meaning and intention of a creation “day” is a literal day of 24 hours.

          In short, there are very few if any serious scholars of Hebrew who would support the idea that the author(s) of the Genesis account intended to convey anything other than a literal historical narrative of events. Now, there are many serious scholars of Hebrew who don’t believe the Genesis author(s) got it right, but arguing that the author(s) got it wrong isn’t the same thing as arguing that they didn’t intend to write a literal narrative of actual historical events.

          Sean Pitman, M.D.
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • @Sean Pitman:

          It is very hard to argue with the definition of “days” being marked off by “evenings and mornings” representing anything other, in the mind of the author of Genesis, than literal days

          Then I have question for you: In Daniel 8:14, the tern “evenings and mornings” are also used for the 2,300 days, that is in the literal Hebrew wording since the Hebrew words “boqer” and “ereb” are used; the very same words used in Genesis. Are the 2,300 evenings and mornings in that particular verse therefore literal days?

          I realize you may want to make the claim that in prophesy, a “day” is equal to a “year.” But then we will run into an inconsistency that the “day” with “evening and morning” only means one thing verses another only when it fits into someone’s theology.

          The term “evening and morning” are used in non-literal ways in the Bible certain times; Psalms 90:6, as an example. The usage of the term by no means implies that it is necessarily literal.

          Jesus quoted Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 as an authoritative Divinely inspired historical account in His teaching about divorce (Matthew 19:3-6; Mark 10:2-9),

          Jesus was not talking about the length of the Creation days, all he was doing was citing Genesis to the extent that “God made male and female,” which is absolutely obvious. The context of what Jesus was talking about had to do with divorce, and nothing to do with the process or length of Creation.

          and by referring to Noah as a real historical person and the Flood as a real historical event, and in His teaching about the ‘coming of the Son of man’ (Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26-27).

          And your point is? I do not now (nor have I ever) dismiss the plausibility that Noah existed or that he built and ark.

          Do you, as a Christian, think that Jesus, as the direct Son of God, didn’t really know true history? If so, how can you believe Jesus when He said, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightening”? (Luke 10:18 NIV) Or, how can you believe Jesus when He claimed to have personally known and even existed before Abraham? (John 8:58 NIV)

          You are committing the logical fallacy of a “slippery slope.” Besides, Jesus himself said “I saw” in the passage, and therefore it is to be considered literal since there is no other way to put it.

          Other biblical authors held the same view. For example, Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, and Noah are referred to in 15 other books of the Bible in literal terms. For example, Paul writes: ‘For as by one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Jesus] shall many be made righteous’ (Romans 5:19).

          People talk about the “little boy who called wolf” in literal terms. Does that mean that he litteraly existed? –But your argument completely assumes that all Christians who accept evolution do not accept the existence of Adam, Eve or even Noah. That is a wrong assumption, as many do accept their existence. Neither am I close minded to the idea of their existence; in fact I would be thrilled if they did.

          Cherry picking a few rare outliers here and there really isn’t convincing to most candid minds who carefully consider the text.

          Sean, you’re not one to talk about Cherry Picking. You cited Taung with a quote that mentions Sarfati. Both men are Young Earth Creationists, and Sarfati is not even a linguist. — On the other hand, one of my sources is Jeff A. Benner of the Ancient Hebrew Research Center who is NOT even involved in the debate one way or the other…I think my sources are somewhat less bias than yours are.

          As for your citation of Hermann Gunkel, I am really puzzled. As far as I can tell, he was a Professor of the Old Testament, however that does not make him an expert in Biblical Hebrew since many in the same field do not know Hebrew. BUT, if you are going to cite him as a reliable source, I would wonder if you would think that his “Documentary Hypothesis” would be reliable? And if not, then can’t it be said that you are “cherry picking” as well?

          Your quotation of James Barr is misleading… In fact, I already mentioned how his usage by Young Earth Creationists has been abused. It is true that Barr says that a more forward reading does lead to a literal six day creation, but he also points out the following:

          … it’s really not so much a matter of technical linguistic competence, as of appreciation of the sort of text that Genesis is.

          Notice that he says that the “linguistic competence” has nothing to do with such an interpretation. He also adds:

          The only thing I would say to qualify this is that most professors may avoid much involvement in that sort of argument and so may not say much explicitly about it one way or the other.

          He makes it clear he thinks that the literal reading is accurate, but he also makes it clear that that is just an opinion, not a fact! He also adds that most experts in the field would not take sides on this topic.

          Now, there are many serious scholars of Hebrew who don’t believe the Genesis author(s) got it right, but arguing that the author(s) got it wrong isn’t the same thing as arguing that they didn’t intend to write a literal narrative of actual historical events.

          Not many serious scholars? What is your statistic behind that? I don’t want a quote; I want a survey if you are going to make such a statement; A Gallup Poll, a Pew Poll, a Rasmussen Poll… a source that is known to be reliable.




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        • @krissmith777:

          You wrote:

          He [Professor James Barr] makes it clear he thinks that the literal reading is accurate, but he also makes it clear that that is just an opinion, not a fact! He also adds that most experts in the field would not take sides on this topic.

          James Barr made it quite clear that this “opinion”, as you call it, was just a bit more one man’s mere personal opinion since it was an opinion shared by all, or nearly all, world-class Hebrew scholars of which he was aware.

          He wrote:

          “The apologetic arguments which suppose the ‘days’ of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know…

          You might find one or two people who would take the contrary point of view and are competent in the languages, in Assyriology, and so on: it’s really not so much a matter of technical linguistic competence, as of appreciation of
          the sort of text that Genesis is.”

          http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/barrlett.html

          I dare say that such near universal agreement on the intent of the author of Genesis, by the significant majority of “world-class” Hebrew scholars (secular scholars to be sure), is based on more than a vague hunch or personal opinion… wouldn’t you say?

          A significant part of interpreting the intended meaning of a given text is the ability to “appreciate the sort of text” that is before you. Is the text poetic in style or intentionally allegorical in form? Or is there a seeming effort on the part of the author to relay a literal historical narrative? The significant majority of Hebrew scholars, according to Barr, have taken this second point of view.

          The vast majority of Hebrew scholars today have recognized that the book of Genesis is historical narrative. There are sub-genres, verses that are poetic, but most of it is straightforward historical narrative. If you say that Genesis 1 is poetic, allegorical or metaphorical or some kind of parable, you have to say the same about the stories of Abraham and Joseph; because there is no break in genre within the Genesis narrative.

          Or do you need a poll? 😉

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • @Sean Pitman:

          Yes, I do need a poll. Barr makes it clear that he “thinks” that he represents the opinion; he never says that he does! Huge difference, pal. –What statistic does Barr cite? None, nada. Has he done a survey himself? No! Does it seem more likely that he just simply assumed it? Yes! — Until you cite more than pure opinion to back up your own, there is no hard reason to accept the argument’s premise. Until any actual confirmation, Barr’s opinion, though interesting, holds no real weight.

          You haven’t addressed my citation of one Hebrew Linguist who has NO vested interest in the Old Earth/Young Earth debate on the meaning of Genesis. Considering that most of your quotations come from some who are known to be biased, I find Jeff A. Benner’s take on Genesis to be much more interesting since he has NO vested interest in the debate. — Ting, Sarafti, and most of the others you do cite, however, DO have vested interests…. And you have not answered my question of why you even cited Hermann Gunkel.

          And you completely dodged other points that I have.. I really wanted you to deal with those. So I will repeat them:

          You started off by saying:

          It is very hard to argue with the definition of “days” being marked off by “evenings and mornings” representing anything other, in the mind of the author of Genesis, than literal days

          My reply:

          Then I have question for you: In Daniel 8:14, the tern “evenings and mornings” are also used for the 2,300 days, that is in the literal Hebrew wording since the Hebrew words “boqer” and “ereb” are used; the very same words used in Genesis. Are the 2,300 evenings and mornings in that particular verse therefore literal days?

          I realize you may want to make the claim that in prophesy, a “day” is equal to a “year.” But then we will run into an inconsistency that the “day” with “evening and morning” only means one thing verses another only when it fits into someone’s theology.

          The term “evening and morning” are used in non-literal ways in the Bible certain times; Psalms 90:6, as an example. The usage of the term by no means implies that it is necessarily literal.

          You add:

          Jesus quoted Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 as an authoritative Divinely inspired historical account in His teaching about divorce (Matthew 19:3-6; Mark 10:2-9),

          To which I say:

          Jesus was not talking about the length of the Creation days, all he was doing was citing Genesis to the extent that “God made male and female,” which is absolutely obvious. The context of what Jesus was talking about had to do with divorce, and nothing to do with the process or length of Creation.

          I’m not going to repeat everything in my former pose since I feel it unnecessary. — Sorry to repeat what I did already say, but when I make a point, I make it with the assumption that it should be answered.

          Also, notably, you completely ignored my examples from the last 2000 years of Christians and Jews who did NOT read Genesis literally as far as the creation days are concerned. I have already pointed out Philo of Alexandria from the first centuries, BC and AD who understood them as not being actual days at all, as well as Cyprian of Carthage. Both of these men had different opinions as to what the “creation days” actually were. Many Christians and Jews did… Some Early Christians and Jews believed in a literal Creation week, and many others did not! If the first chapter of Genesis were so straight forward as you apparently think, then that begs the question of why the early interpretations were so diverse, and why many of them were non-literal, as far as the Creation week is concerned. — Philo of Alexandria is a really good example, since I have mentioned him several times: That it because he was a Jew and would have understood the Hebrew for himself…probably better than any Hebrew linguist of our day.

          A really good example of a Biblical Linguist that accepts the “old earth” view is Gleason Archer…

          Now you cannot rule out Gleason Archer at all, considering that he worked on many Bible Translation committees, including those for the New American Standard Bible and also the New International Version…

          I would say, this would meet your definition of a “serious scholar.”




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        • @krissmith777:

          You wrote:

          Yes, I do need a poll. Barr makes it clear that he “thinks” that he represents the opinion; he never says that he does! Huge difference, pal. –What statistic does Barr cite? None, nada. Has he done a survey himself? No! Does it seem more likely that he just simply assumed it? Yes! — Until you cite more than pure opinion to back up your own, there is no hard reason to accept the argument’s premise. Until any actual confirmation, Barr’s opinion, though interesting, holds no real weight.

          I dare say that for most people the opinion of someone as well known as well respected as James Barr, and Oxford Professor of Hebrew, would be given quite a bit of “real weight”.

          Prof. Barr clearly said that he was unaware of more than a handful of serious Hebrew scholars at “world-class universities” living in his day who thought that the author(s) of the Genesis narrative truly intended to convey anything other than a literal historical narrative to their readers. Given Barr’s expertise in this particular field of study, one would think that he personally knew pretty much everyone of any significant influence in this field. It is hard to imagine, despite your suggestion to the contrary, that Barr didn’t really have a good grasp on the pulse of thought on this topic – that he was really just spouting off about something of which he really had no clue. What you’re suggesting along these lines really strains rational thought.

          Of course, you do mention a few examples of scholars with contrary views, such as Gleason Archer or Walter Kaiser. Consider, however, that Gleason Archer was a Professor of Biblical Languages at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California from 1948 to 1965. From 1965 to 1986 he served as a Professor of Old Testament and Semitics at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois. These are, or at least were at the time, evangelical institutions. Such institutions would not likely have been considered, by James Barr, as “world-class universities”. In fact, Barr would not have likely considered evangelical scholars “world-class” scholars to begin with.

          In short, Barr’s statement is meant to reflect the opinion of secular scholars of Hebrew at world-class institutions would do or did not share the bias of evangelical scholars to preserve some sort of intended insight or Divine inspiration for the author(s) of the Genesis narrative.

          The only reason I can see why you yourself do not wish to give Barr’s statement any real weight is because his statement directly undermines your own position on this topic – a position that attempts to attribute Divine inspiration to Genesis while not accepting the clear reading of the text as being literally true. Otherwise, I think Barr’s statement would indeed carry a great deal of weight with most people considering this topic with a candid mind – especially since Barr himself rejected the validity of the literal creation week and the world-wide Noachian Flood. He even rejected the notion that Genesis was necessarily Divinely inspired. Given such a position, then, it is very interesting that most Hebrew scholars who take such a mindset (secular scholars) accept the idea that the whoever wrote the Genesis narrative intended to convey to his readers a literal historical narrative of real events. He just got is facts wrong is all and presented a false story. That is quite different than your suggestion that the author of Genesis was actually inspired by God, but never intended to be taken as writing a truly literal historical account of origins.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • @krissmith777:

          You wrote:

          Then I have question for you: In Daniel 8:14, the tern “evenings and mornings” are also used for the 2,300 days, that is in the literal Hebrew wording since the Hebrew words “boqer” and “ereb” are used; the very same words used in Genesis. Are the 2,300 evenings and mornings in that particular verse therefore literal days?

          I realize you may want to make the claim that in prophesy, a “day” is equal to a “year.” But then we will run into an inconsistency that the “day” with “evening and morning” only means one thing verses another only when it fits into someone’s theology.

          Daniel is largely a prophetic book and the passage you reference is clearly a prophetic passage. Prophecies clearly use symbolic language throughout the Bible. Both Daniel and Revelation are filled with symbols that are clearly not intended to be taken literally. Jesus himself often used obvious symbols and parables in this teaching of the people.

          In contrast, Genesis is not a book of prophecy and is not written in a style that obviously lends itself to be taken in a non-literal, allegorical, or parabolic manner. It is written in the style of a historical narrative and the same style is used throughout Genesis. If you claim that the first chapters are obviously non-literal, you have to say that the rest of the book, to include the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph were intended to be non-literal parables as well…

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • @krissmith777: Philo of Alexandria used allegory to try to fuse and harmonize Greek philosophy and Judaism. He was a Hellenized Jew who probably did not read Hebrew, who was trained in Greek philosophy, and his main enthusiasm, in addition to numerology, was blending pagan Greek philosophy and Judaism, not reading the Torah on its own terms. As it states in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Philo attempts to harmonize the Mosaic and Platonic accounts of the generation of the world by interpreting the biblical story using Greek scientific categories and concepts.”

          Of course, Darwinism has roots in Greek philosophy, so in trying to blend paganism with the biblical worldview, Philo was doing exactly what modern compromising Christians do when they try to blend Darwinism into a biblical worldview. Philo is a case in point that the project of trying to blend paganism with the biblical worldview has been underway for a long time.

          This blending of Greek philosophy with biblical and Christian concepts is the pride and joy of the Roman Catholic Church, and it was already well underway by the time of Cyprian’s conversion in the mid-Third Century, but Adventists have sought to return to a purer biblical worldview.




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        • @David Read:

          The fact that he was hellenized has no bearing on whether what he said was true or false. Besides, there is no “Hellenized” reason why his interpretation of six days should have been affected by the Hellenization he did go though.

          Even if it did, it by no means dismiss the several other Early commentators. — Most of them were NOT hellenized.

          –Robert I. Bradshaw had compiled a list comparing the beliefs of early commentators (Jewish and Christian) as to their opinions of Genesis. Most of the interpretations were that the meaning of the “Creation Days” were “unclear.” In fact, the “unclear” opinion actually outnumbers those that had the beliefs that they were literal or not.

          Here is a link:

          http://www.robibrad.demon.co.uk/Chapter3.htm

          Interestingly enough, Robert I. Bradshaw began his project with the intention to support Young Earth Creationism… However, the more he researched, the more he came to the conclusion that the Young Earth position was wrong.

          More accurately, Bradshaw’s position turned to the realization that Early Christianity’s position of the Creation days was quite diverse. The position that I was taught when I used to be a Creationist –that the early Christians ALL believed in a completely literal reading–is wrong.

          It is true that they would be considered Young Earth Creationists by today’s standards, but if they were to see the evidence for an old earth, I am confident that some of them would adjust. After all, Augustine of Hippo was against not changing a position on Biblical interpretation if the evidence demanded the change…even if nature demanded it.




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        • @krissmith777: Of course the fact that Philo was trying to blend pagan Greek thought and Judaism has a bearing on what he wrote about Genesis. How could it not? He wasn’t trying to interpret Genesis within a biblical worldview; he was trying to justify Jewish beliefs by reference to Greek philosophical thought, and vice versa. His knowledge of the Old Testament was limited to the Septuagint, because he didn’t even read Hebrew. Philo is just further evidence that the project of trying to blend the pagan worldview with the biblical worldview is a very old project.

          More generally, it is remarkable that an Adventist would appeal to the fathers, especially the later fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries, such as Augustine. These people were known for fanciful, allegorical interpretations of Scripture, and doctrinal error. E. J. Waggoner encountered appeals to the fathers so often that he wrote a book rather pointedly entitled “Fathers of the Catholic Church,” in which he noted some of the bizarre and obviously erroneous teachings of Ireneus, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, etc. (The book was recently facsimile reprinted by Teach Services.)

          As Adventists, we have our authorities, which are the Bible, and secondarily Ellen White. The fathers are not authoritative, or even particularly persuasive, for Adventists.




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        • @David Read:

          So when Philo says something you just do not agree with, you will just assume that it was only because of Hellenization?

          More generally, it is remarkable that an Adventist would appeal to the fathers, especially the later fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries, such as Augustine. These people were known for fanciful, allegorical interpretations of Scripture, and doctrinal error. E. J. Waggoner encountered appeals to the fathers so often that he wrote a book rather pointedly entitled “Fathers of the Catholic Church,” in which he noted some of the bizarre and obviously erroneous teachings of Ireneus, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, etc.

          So I guess this is your way of dismissing even the early Christians who WERE NOT hellenized…like Philo was. I guess this shows your attitude on the subject along thses line: “If someone was hellenized, we will dismiss what he says as pure hellenization; if someone was NOT, we still will dismiss them.”

          BUT you are COMPLETELY MISSING my pount. The point I am making by citing them is that their differing opinions prove that early Christianity was really diverse in the interpretation of Genesis 1. — I asked Sean this, and now I will ask you: If the interpretation of Genesis were so clear cut, then why can’t even non-hellenized Christians from the time period agree on a single interpretation. The dominant opinion most seem to have is that the meaning is “unclear.”

          Plenty of the names here were not even Catholic, so it is actually unfair to call them “Fathers of the Catholic Church.” The Catholic Church, as we know it, came about AFTER the a good number of the Church Fathers, and definitely AFTER the Council of Nicea. Even if they were Catholic, that would have no bearing on the truth or falsehood of what they say.

          As Adventists, we have our authorities, which are the Bible, and secondarily Ellen White. The fathers are not authoritative, or even particularly persuasive, for Adventists.

          I cannot see why the Church Fathers cannot be seen as credible. I am not saying everything they say is accurate at all. All I am saying is that their diverse opinions show that early Christian interpretations of the passages in question were diverse. –As I keep pointing out, even the non-hellenized Christians cannot agree.

          Ellen White is not an early, or even a primary source. And I am a lot more skeptical of her than I am about the Early Church Fathers…Evolution not EVEN being the reason for my skepticism, but that is a completely different topic.




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  9. Re David’s quote on % of YEC’s

    Hello David

    Thank you very much, that was very informative. I had no idea that YEC was that popular in the USA.

    Regards
    Ken




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  10. Re Sean’s quote

    “Now, there are many serious scholars of Hebrew who don’t believe the Genesis author(s) got it right, but arguing that the author(s) got it wrong isn’t the same thing as arguing that they didn’t intend to write a literal narrative of actual historical events.”

    Dear Sean

    Good point.

    What is clear is that there was no human there to witness or record creation first hand. But that also applies to the big bang theory or the theoretical beginning of life by evolution.

    Thus we turn to empirical means to try to sort this out.

    When it comes to empiricism what is more reliable: individual prophecy or scientific methodology?

    Regards
    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  11. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.

    Prophecy is a gift from God:

    And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

    Relying exclusively on human reasoning is potentially dangerous. The Bible warns against this:

    Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

    With that said, we know from Scripture that God said:

    Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD.

    Prophecy from God is always more reliable than exclusive reliance upon human methods, however helpful they maybe.




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    • @Shane Hilde:

      You wrote:

      Prophecy from God is always more reliable than exclusive reliance upon human methods, however helpful they maybe.

      Yet prophecy itself is determined to be reliable based on human reasoning abilities – based on the weight of evidence that appeals to the candid rational mind. It is for this reason that Biblical prophecy is so commonly used in evangelistic series as a basis to convince those who are unchurched of the Divine origin of the Bible. Fulfilled prophecy is a powerful empirically verifiable evidence, even to those originally unfamiliar with the Bible, of the Bible’s Divine origin.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  12. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

    You’ve gotta be kidding. You’re going to tell us now that God’s word can be trusted ahead of empirical evidence and human reason? That sounds a lot like believing in Santa Claus, the Tooth Monster, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Sorry, but that’s not good enough. Every SDA knows that God wants us to use our God-given brains rather than accept God’s word at face value.

    Those who teach uncritical acceptance of God’s word ahead of our own understanding (the historical-grammatical hermeneutic), like Dr. Ben Clauson at the Geoscience Research Institute, are unfit for employment in the Church. EducateTruth has already established this, and quite forcefully I might add.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You’ve gotta be kidding. You’re going to tell us now that God’s word can be trusted ahead of empirical evidence and human reason? That sounds a lot like believing in Santa Claus, the Tooth Monster, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Sorry, but that’s not good enough

      What they do not seem to understand is that trusting in God does not mean ignoring empirical evidence. Such arguments only made by our fellow Christians will only serve to fuel the “hyper-skeptical” atheist community since they like to argue that “faith” is simply blind faith without evidence. –Even the Bible does not hold to the view that we should ignore the evidence. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, “Submit everything to the test, and hold on to the good.” [1] — The Greek word for “testing” in this verse is dokimazō which means “to prove,” or even “to scrutinize.” [2] What this means to me is that we are to “scrutinize” the evidence and follow it wherever it may lead, irregardless of whether the conclusion is uncomfortable. We are not to “believe” based on no evidence; we are to believe based on a critical evaluation.

      Trusting in God should not have to mean dismissing evidence and human reason simply because “human reason is limited,” as some excuses say. Human reason is limited, that much is true, but that is no justification for ignoring the details if they are uncomfortable. Unfortunately, this seems to have become a cop out excuse to do just that.

      ________
      [1] I was translating out of a Spanish Bible, so if the wording is different than one is used to, it is for that reason. The Spanish Bible was the first one I could grab at the moment.

      [2] Strong’s G1381 – dokimazō, blueletterbible.com




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    • @Professor Kent:

      “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

      – as quoted by Shane Hilde.

      You’ve gotta be kidding. You’re going to tell us now that God’s word can be trusted ahead of empirical evidence and human reason? That sounds a lot like believing in Santa Claus, the Tooth Monster, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Sorry, but that’s not good enough. Every SDA knows that God wants us to use our God-given brains rather than accept God’s word at face value.

      You’re not answering how one can recognize the Bible as truly being “God’s Word” to begin with, out of all the competing options, without using one’s own brain? – without the use of human reason to which the Bible appeals? without any appeal to the candid intelligent mind as the Word of God?

      Certainly once the candid intelligent mind is convinced, by the weight of evidence (as described by Mrs. White), then one can take the Bible as a Source of Divine Authority regarding those various points of which one might originally have thought differently than the Bible makes clear.

      Those who teach uncritical acceptance of God’s word ahead of our own understanding (the historical-grammatical hermeneutic), like Dr. Ben Clauson at the Geoscience Research Institute, are unfit for employment in the Church. EducateTruth has already established this, and quite forcefully I might add.

      The SDA Church has asked for teachers to fill teaching positions in the Church who can actively promote the Church’s position on origins from a position of scientific credibility. Consider, yet again, the very clear request of the SDA Church in this matter:

      We call on all boards and educators at Seventh-day Adventist institutions at all levels to continue upholding and advocating the church’s position on origins. We, along with Seventh-day Adventist parents, expect students to receive a thorough, balanced, and scientifically rigorous exposure to and affirmation of our historic belief in a literal, recent six-day creation, even as they are educated to understand and assess competing philosophies of origins that dominate scientific discussion in the contemporary world.

      http://adventist.org/beliefs/statements/main-stat55.html

      If an individual cannot provide “a thorough, balanced, and scientifically rigorous exposure to and affirmation of our historic belief in a literal, recent six-day creation” then that individual would not be someone who could effectively fulfill the mission of the SDA Church in the capacity of a science teacher within the Church’s employ.

      Not everyone is qualified to fulfill such positions within the Church. This doesn’t mean that those who are unqualified are therefore bad people. On the contrary, they may be very good people indeed who are sincerely honest in their respective positions. It is just that not all honest people can be effectively employed to do certain specific tasks within the SDA Church organization.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  13. Re The Word of God and Human Reason

    The irony is that one must use fallible human reason to interpret the ‘inerrant’ Word of God. Moreover the ‘inerrant’ Word of God was recorded by fallible humans.

    Query: do any of you interpret the Bible exactly the same way? If not what meaning, interpretation of the Bible, is inerrant? Should one subordinate one’s human reason to the consensus of Church leaders or the GC in this regard? Martin Luther refused to do that and followed his own reason. Was he wrong?

    What does it mean that many of my fine, intelligent Adventist friends, who I have had the great privilege to debate with, disagree on the inerrant Word Of God? It may mean that inerrancy can only ever be an ideal and not understood in real terms.

    So where can science play a role in this conundrum? Well, can it serve as an objective tool, independent of any one interpretation, or non- interpretation of the Bible, to examine reality. I posit so, and should empirically do so independent of belief or non belief to have objective credibility.

    Respectfully
    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @Ken:

      You wrote:

      So where can science play a role in this conundrum? Well, can it serve as an objective tool, independent of any one interpretation, or non- interpretation of the Bible, to examine reality. I posit so, and should empirically do so independent of belief or non belief to have objective credibility.

      The problem here, as Kuhn pointed out, is that “science” itself isn’t entirely objective either. Different scientists can look at the very same empirical data and interpret it in very different ways. Therefore, science isn’t this ultimate “objective tool” that you’re looking for. It is simply a tool, an important and very useful tool, but it also has a subjective component to it that should be appreciated up front.

      The reason for this, when it comes to both religion and science, is that humans are inherently subjective creatures who by our very nature cannot determine “the truth” directly in any realm. We can only approach the true meaning of the Scriptures as we can only approach the true meaning of empirical reality. We cannot determine it absolutely. It is also for this reason that your “agnostic” position isn’t nearly as objective or independent of bias as you make it out to be. We are all biased to one degree or another as we come to the table to discuss apparent reality in any field of study – including you.

      It is for this reason, then, that an individual is ultimately responsible for his/her own comprehension of truth. God considers each individual case on the individuals own comprehension or misapprehension of truth and this honesty or sincerity that the individual is trying to live up to the best concept of truth that he/she has comprehended so far…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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    • @Ken: Greetings friend Ken,

      As an observer you are concerned, and rightly, about the unbridgeable gap, if honestly assessed, honestly confessed, between proAdventists adhering to founding Adventists beliefs and academic, updated, relevant, doubting postAdventists. There’s no agape, just gap – it’s come to that. That seems established by now. Even your friendly tweaks seem token, and rightly so.

      So now you seemed to have zoomed in upon and espied the different nuances of even proAdventist doubt-free believers’ interpretations of God’s word, no two of us exactly agreeing.

      But no two of us have the same droop to our eyelids, either. Even my own two palpebral fissures differ widely, even when I’m not winking, as I am right now. (wink.)

      Still, you see us as in need of spiritual negotiation and spiritual arbitration and spiritual adjudication, for which you commend to us totally unspiritual science, exactly where our postAdventists have already gone, deeply, sadly. We should go and do likewise? Hmmmmm.

      But seriously, it’s not as though we don’t revere science, as our host is so at pains to explain over and over again. Many of us spend most of our lifetime in pursuit of science, whence our IRAs, and not infrequently, increasingly, find ourselves loyally defending it against curious alternatives, medical notably, doctrinaire Evoean, and now, alas, Adventist. Thanks for your advice.




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  14. Sean Pitman wrote

    If an individual cannot provide “a thorough, balanced, and scientifically rigorous exposure to and affirmation of our historic belief in a literal, recent six-day creation” then that individual would not be someone who could effectively fulfill the mission of the SDA Church in the capacity of a teacher within the Church’s employ.

    Who decides that which is thorough and balanced? And what, exactly, constitutes scientifically rigorous?

    Most SDA scientists concede the evidence affirming a literal, recent, six-day creation is weak at best, and accept it instead on faith. Where is an official Church position that states A, B, C, and D constitute the rigorous evidence that must be taught by faithful Church professors?
    Leonard Brand’s book might come as close as any, but he clearly and humbly acknowledges the weaknesses in the evidence. He completely disagrees with your position, and has much better credentials, I might add.

    You are the ONLY one insisting that overwhelming evidence supports our position, and declaring that those who teach any differently than your position are unfit to be employed by the Church. On second thought, let me rephrase this: you insist that ALL the evidence supports our position. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you concede that there is difficulty for our position. In short, you basically insist that no one is worthy to teach science in the Church except for … tada … yourself.

    Professor Kent
    Professing Christ until the whole world hears




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  15. Ken wrote

    Should one subordinate one’s human reason to the consensus of Church leaders or the GC in this regard?

    The answer: depends on whether you want to keep your job.




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  16. Great Article Dave!

    Excellent discussion of the way that Seventh-day Darwinian errors directly undercut the beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

    In Christ,

    Bob




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  17. Ken: Re The Word of God and Human Reason
    The irony is that one must use fallible human reason to interpret the ‘inerrant’ Word of God. Moreover the ‘inerrant’ Word of God was recorded by fallible humans.
    Query: do any of you interpret the Bible exactly the same way? If not what meaning, interpretation of the Bible, is inerrant?

    Take a look at 2Peter 1:20-21 and tell me what you see there.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  18. Re Bob’s Reference

    “2 Peter 1:20–21 (KJV 1900)

    20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

    Hi Bob

    Good to dialogue with you again.

    I read your reference with interest.

    Queries: Does prophecy revealed have the exact same meaning for all Adventists?, Christians? Or, do they all have to use some facet of their human reason to understand it or the prescribed method of interpretation? When Adventists differ on the meaning of prophecy how does the individual Adventist decide which interpretation is right?

    For example, prior to the Great Disappointment, weren’t all the early ‘Adventists’ in the Miller camp of meaning? Afterwords didn’t EGW come up with a different interpretation on the exact same biblical passages(s) that Miller misinterpreted?

    Perhaps I am missing the point, but as the good Dr. Kime pointed out, everybody thinks a bit differently don’t they about the revealed Word of God? So if God inspires the prophets, does He also inspire the readers of the prophecies?

    I am not trying to be facetious here but rather comment on the different prisms through which we all view reality. In this Sean is right, individually we all view things with a bit, or a lot, of subjectivity. But over time doesn’t science provide a more objective view. For example, would the laws of gravity or the theory of relativity be any different if Newton and Galileo had have been of a different religious stripe? Is a Christian earth, versus a secular one, more greatly attracted to the sun? What does testing and observation tell us?

    Wes suggests, cleverly I might add, that I am attempting to make Science a ‘holy grail’. It’s a good objective tool to examine reality, but not sacred, just a tool. It’s a tool that needs to be constantly sharpened, examined, and upgraded by the hands that use it.

    I was taught by a fine Adventist friend that we all have faith, even fervent agnostics!, of some sort. Does an atheist have a faith there is no God?

    Your faithful agnostic friend
    Ken




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  19. @Sean Pitman

    Daniel is largely a prophetic book and the passage you reference is clearly a prophetic passage. Prophecies clearly use symbolic language throughout the Bible. Both Daniel and Revelation are filled with symbols that are clearly not intended to be taken literally. Jesus himself often used obvious symbols and parables in this teaching of the people.

    He-hem. You said that the term “evening and morning” indicated that the creation days were meant to be literal days. The way many young earth creationists talk, they usually leave no room for the terms to mean nothing else than a literal day whenever they are used in the Bible. That would ALSO implicate the 2300 “evenings and mornings” since they leave no room for exception.

    A problem with your making an exception for Daniel 8:14 “because it is profecy” is demonstrated by the fact that there are MANY examples of “days” being used in prophesy in the Bible in which they turned out to be literal days. Also, there is a time when Daniel profecied an amount of 7 years in Daniel 4:25, the word עִדָּן (or iddan) is used which actually literally means “years.”(Strong’s H5732) –It actually turned out to be literal years, but using your position that Daniel is prophetic, and therefore not to be taken literally since a “day is equal to a year,” then we should wonder why this prophetic “7 years” did not turn out to be 2,520 years.

    n contrast, Genesis is not a book of prophecy and is not written in a style that obviously lends itself to be taken in a non-literal, allegorical, or parabolic manner.

    I notice you insist on making no qualifications. — If you mean to say that it talks about Abraham, Noah, Jacob, and Joseph in historical terms, then I agree with you. But I do make the qualification for Genesis chapter one, as I have already pointed out that that particular chapter is written in poetic form called “parallelism” as well as “block logic.”
    Link: http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/23_genesis_1.html

    If you claim that the first chapters are obviously non-literal,

    “Chapter 1.” Singular. Not chapters,” as in plural. As I have said, that chapter is written in “parallelism,” which is Hebrew poetry, which is the same style that the Psalms are written in.

    …you have to say that the rest of the book, to include the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph were intended to be non-literal parables as well

    Logical Fallacy: Slippery Slope. The conclusion by no means necessarily follows. I have already explained to you that I have no problem with Abraham, Noah, Joseph existing. — Just because I read Genesis 1 (which is written in poetic form) as poetry, it doesn’t follow that I read the rest of Genesis (which is written in historical format) in a non-literal way.




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    • @krissmith777:

      You wrote:

      Daniel profecied an amount of 7 years in Daniel 4:25, the word עִדָּן (or iddan) is used which actually literally means “years.”(Strong’s H5732) –It actually turned out to be literal years, but using your position that Daniel is prophetic, and therefore not to be taken literally since a “day is equal to a year,” then we should wonder why this prophetic “7 years” did not turn out to be 2,520 years.

      The answer is quite obvious to the candid mind. The prophecy of Daniel 4:25 was specificially in regard to Nebuchadnezzar himself… what would happen to him in particular if he did not follow the Divine warning to him personally? Obviously God was not telling Nebuchadnezzar that he would be driven from men for thousands of years since he was to be restored to his throne after his period of insanity – according to the prophecy. Obviously, this doesn’t make sense if you interpret the 7-years as being thousands of years. And, the fulfillment of the prophecy, as described by Daniel himself, after 7 literal years is an internal explanation of the prophecy.

      You have to use common sense here my man.

      I notice you insist on making no qualifications. — If you mean to say that it [Genesis] talks about Abraham, Noah, Jacob, and Joseph in historical terms, then I agree with you. But I do make the qualification for Genesis chapter one, as I have already pointed out that that particular chapter is written in poetic form called “parallelism” as well as “block logic.”
      Link: http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/23_genesis_1.html

      The parallelism of days 1-3 to 4-6 is often cited. Parallelism, however, is not all that makes up Hebrew poetry. Hebrew poetry consists of a series of couplets or triplets exhibiting complementary, climatic or antithetic parallelism e.g. in Psalm 5:1, “Give ear to my words, O Lord;”: is complemented and paralleled by “Consider my meditation.” This is clearly different from the fact that on days 1-3 God creates the environment and on days 4-6 the creatures who are to live and rule in the respective environments. One is a parallel of ideas in successive stichoi, the other a parallel of ideas which may be several verses apart.

      Short of some sort of metaphysical presupposition that regards history as totally random and all order in historiography as being a result of arbitrary human imposition, I cannot see how one would ever reasonably support a proposition that an ordered description of historical events lends itself to the intretation that such a description was indended, by the author, to be taken as allegory or in any other way but a literal description of real historical events?

      Again, the rest of the Genesis narrative continually supports the literal reading of the first chapter of Genesis (to include the second chapter) and the rest of the Bible also supports a literal reading of this text.

      Yet, especially among evangelicals anyway, there is a willingness to accept the historicity of the patriarchal narratives even though these narratives also use parallelism. The patriarchal narratives are structured history in the same way as the earlier chapters of Genesis. They fit within a framework created by the heading “These are the generations of . . .” (Genesis 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12, 19 etc.). There are clear instances of parallel structure. Thus the experiences of Isaac parallel those of Abraham:

      Both Abraham and Isaac have barren wives (Genesis 15:2; 16:1; 25:21). Both lie concerning their wives (Genesis 20:2; 26:7). Both face famine in the promised land (Genesis 12:10; 26:1). Both make a covenant with the Philistines (Genesis 21:22-34; 26:26-33).

      If parallelism of structure proves that a passage is not historical then the patriarchal narratives are not historical. This of course is the conclusion of many liberal exegetes, but evangelicals once more maintain an inconsistency, being willing to apply a higher-critical principle in one area of Scripture but not in another. (for further information along these lines see: Link).

      This is why the vast majority of secular scholars of Hebrew, like James Barr, argue that the author of Gensis clearly intended to convey, to his readers, a literal account of true historical events. Now, these same scholars argue that the author was simply mistaken, but that’s a completely different argument from the one you’re making…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        The answer is quite obvious to the candid mind. The prophecy of Daniel 4:25 was specificially in regard to Nebuchadnezzar himself… what would happen to him in particular if he did not follow the Divine warning to him personally? Obviously God was not telling Nebuchadnezzar that he would be driven from men for thousands of years since he was to be restored to his throne after his period of insanity – according to the prophecy. Obviously, this doesn’t make sense if you interpret the 7-years as being thousands of years. And, the fulfillment of the prophecy, as described by Daniel himself, after 7 literal years is an internal explanation of the prophecy.

        I am not denying what you are saying here at all. It is absolutely obvious that he seven years were intended as a literal time. However, many evangelical Christians argue the same thing about the 2300 represent something less symbolic and more literal. Their basis for that is that Antiochus Epiphanese is the last of the four goat’s horns that desolates the temple, and then they cite the end of the 2300 evenings and mornings with his death (Daniel 8:25,26) Just saying, if they are right –and reading the context, it appears to me that they are, especially since the goat is called the “kingdom of Greece” (Daniel 8:21) then the days would take on a more literal view if they are associated with the rise and fall of a single man. Now, could they still be non-literal? Yes. I have no dogmatic position one way or the other.

        –Wow, we’re really digressing..

        If parallelism of structure proves that a passage is not historical then the patriarchal narratives are not historical.

        Logical Fallacy: Strawman. I have not said that Genesis 1 was not historical per say, I simply said it was written in a poetic format, and so it must be read as such. Poetry can and, in many cases, does contain true history, but it has to be taken into account that poetry takes on an arrangement to which the author takes some liberties for the flow of the text. I would indeed say that Genesis 1 is historical; to the point that it is simply calling God the creator. That I would not dispute in the slightest detail.

        —The examples you give of apparent parallism do not apply since they are out of context in relation to eachother.

        Also, as Benner points out, (and something you have not tackled) Genesis 1 is also written from “Block Logic.” Block logic means that it is NOT NECESSARILY in chronological order.. This does not make it un-historical; just that it is not EVERYTHING would be chronological necessarily. We tend to read it in “step logic” because of our modernistic sense.

        Quite franckly, I do not see why you would object to Genesis 1 NOT being in (nor intending to be in) chronological order since this this could be a good solution to apparent discrepancies between Science and Scripture: For example, it could reconcile the apparent contradiction of the Sun and stars being created on the fourth day and still having “evening” and “morning” on the three preceding days. (Genesis 1:14, 19)–With this into account, the events ARE historical.

        This is why the vast majority of secular scholars of Hebrew, like James Barr, argue that the author of Gensis clearly intended to convey, to his readers, a literal account of true historical events.

        You have still not substantiated your claim that the “majority” of Hebrew sholars hold this view, and it will be rejected until an unbiased survey is given.

        Besides, I find it interesting that you are resorting to the claim that the “vast majority” of scholars agree with your claim. And quite frankly, I find it no different than claiming that the “vast majority” of scientists agree with me that the old age of the earth and evolution are facts. — Both arguments follow the same logic and the same fallacies.




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        • @krissmith777: There’s no contradiction in there being days with a light and dark portion prior to the creation of the sun. God created light on the first day (Gen. 1:3), and as long as there is a light source and the globe revolves, there will be days with a dark and light portion. God doesn’t need the sun to provide light. Rev. 21:23-24.




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        • @David Read:

          Then let me ask you this:

          What would be the point in God creating a light source, getting rid of it, then making a new one?

          I’m sorry. I cannot accept that argument because it demeans God by implying that he didn’t get it right the first time.




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        • @David Read:

          As for your verse from Revelation, read down to verse verse 25:

          And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

          I know you probably wanted to use Revelation 21:23-24 as an indication it was probably God’s personal light. — I would have probably agreed with you IF IT WERE NOT for verse 25…

          Verse 25 clearly says that there is no night with the God’s personal glory… The problem here is that leaves us with the problem of how we can justify there being “morning” AS WELL as “evening” since there could be no night…So obviously this was not the light source for the first three Creation days.

          So this leads me back to my question: What is the point of God creating a light source, destroying it only to make another one?




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        • @krissmith777: Kriss, you write that you can’t accept the argument because it demeans God by implying that He didn’t get it right the first time. But the fact that God created light on the first day (Gen. 1:3) is not an “argument.” It is a Scriptural fact.

          You also write, “What would be the point in God creating a light source, getting rid of it, then making a new one?” I don’t know, maybe to have light to work by during the first three days of creation?

          When builders are framing a house, the house doesn’t yet have any electricity, but the builders need electricity to run power tools. So they bring in a generator or set up a temporary power pole at the site. When the house is finished, the generator is taken away, the power pole taken down, and the house is powered by the wiring that was eventually installed and hooked up.

          Does it “demean” the builders that they brought in a temporary power source until the house was permanently wired? I think not. To the contrary, it shows their power, in that they were not dependent upon what they eventually built.

          In the same way, it is an important aspect of the Genesis narrative, in the context of ancient societies that worshiped the sun, to show that God is not dependent upon the things He creates. He did not need the sun for light; He created another light source before He created the sun. The sun is merely the permanent light source that he installed later in the creation week. To acknowledge this is the opposite of demeaning God; to the contrary, it demonstrates that we should worship God, not the sun.




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        • @David Read:

          No one says that the builders can “create with the word.” — God cannot be compared to builders.

          Did God need a “power generator” to see what he was doing while he was creating the earth and the creatures in it before the forth day?– I would venture to say “no.”

          Implying that God would probably need a power generator WOULD still work to demean…since it would set limitations on his creative ability.

          Does God have limitations to his creative ability? No. Do human builders? Yes.

          As I was reading this reply, I remembered one mocking comment that a skeptic of Genesis said. He said:

          And God saw the light was good, because now he could see what he was doing.

          Now I can see this with human builders… But I stand by my statement that it demeans God.




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        • @krissmith777:

          You wrote:

          As I was reading this reply, I remembered one mocking comment that a skeptic of Genesis said. He said:

          And God saw the light was good, because now he could see what he was doing.

          Now I can see this with human builders… But I stand by my statement that it demeans God.

          I have to agree with this observation. The Bible makes it clear that light and dark make no difference to God as both are alike to him. The “light” is only for the benefit of those who are limited to their need to see with their physical eyes. In short, the “light” that was produced during the first day of creation week must have been for the benefit of the observer(s) of the creative acts of God which God wanted them to be able to see…

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • @krissmith777: God can create in any way He wants to, but the Genesis narrative is the authentic account of how He created. God could have created the world instantaneously, but He chose to create over the course of six days. God does not have to do everything He can do. God has free choice in how He creates; He does not have to work to the limit of His creative capacity. We see this again in the fact that He rested on the Seventh Day and hallowed it. Gen. 2:2-3. God did not need to rest because He was tired, but chose freely to rest, in part as an example to us.

          God may not have needed the light to work by, but the light was needed to have 24-hour days with a dark portion and a light portion on the first, second, and third days, before the creation of the sun. (Light may also have been needed for photosynthesis of plants, which were created on the third day, before the sun was created on the fourth day. Gen. 1:11-13.)

          That God chose to do things in the way He did, even though He could have done them differently, does not demean Him.




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        • @David Read:

          You wrote:

          There’s no contradiction in there being days with a light and dark portion prior to the creation of the sun.

          It is just that the story makes better sense if the source of light for “day one” was the same source of light for “day six” – i.e., the sun. In other words, it seems like the sun (as well as the moon and stars and the universe itself) were already in existence before the creation week started for this planet. It is just that the description of the creation week seems like it was given from an Earth-bound perspective. The observer simply couldn’t see the light of the sun at first (perhaps because of the thickness of the original atmosphere or gases above the surface of the planet). Finally, as the creation process proceeds, the sun and moon become visible from the Earth-bound perspective (when they were in fact there all along, but not visible to the observer).

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • @Sean Pitman: It doesn’t make better sense to me as a straightforward reading of the text. God created light, and also created days with a dark portion and a light portion, on the first day. Gen. 1:2-5. Then, on the fourth day, God created the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night. Gen. 1:14-19. These were apparently the sun and the moon, although they are not specifically named in the narrative (perhaps to further demean them and show them to be unworthy of worship).

          From a straightforward reading of the text, these seem like two completely different creative acts on two different days. But I sense that you have some external scientific concern that would be eased by not reading the text in this way, and instead interpreting the light created on the first day and the “greater light to rule the day” created on the fourth day as being the same thing. What is that concern?




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  20. Rev 21 does not say the planet has no light – it says the City has no NEED of light from the Sun.

    The inconvenient deatils point to the fact that the New Earth will have a Sun and Moon but the New Jerusalem will have eternal day due to the light of God’s presence.

    This is not the hard part.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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    • @BobRyan:

      I didn’t say that that Revelation 21 said that the earth had no light; just that it cannot work with the first three Creation days having both “morning and evening” because Rev 21:25 clearly says that in God’s glory there is NO night, and therefore no evening.




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  21. Krissmith,

    I have a simple suggestion, but fear that I will offend. Stay open-minded when you read scripture, but keep on reading, and give the Spirit years to do its work on your heart. Please don’t be too quick to dismiss that which we see but dimly for now. And understand that I couldn’t agree more if you believe that living in Jesus transcends all of this.

    May peace be yours,

    PK
    Until the whole world hears




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    • @Professor Kent:

      I’m not offended at all. I have been known to change several positions in my time, so I do consider myself an open minded person…though I am still an opinionated person.

      Your point is well taken though.




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  22. Dear Krismith 777, David, Sean, Bob, Shane, et. al.

    Re Biblical interpretation

    Gentleman, although I realize your discourse is tangential to the issue of evolution being taught at LSU, it is interesting and demonstrates a very important point. Well meaning folks of the same faith can differ on the interpretation of the biblical account of creation.

    Although I am humbled -and grateful for the education – of your biblical knowledge, I ask the following: Do you use human reason, consensus of others (i.e. church doctrine), faith, or a combination of these factors, to come to your own conclusions?

    Let’s say we were in a room together and you were all teaching me the correct interpretation of Genesis. Let’s say each of your as teachers had a different, albeit slight, interpretation. Would it be wrong of me as a novice to ask if there was an empirical methodology to resolve the issue. Isn’t this what science does without the bias of faith or non faith?

    Cheers
    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @Ken:

      Let’s say we were in a room together and you were all teaching me the correct interpretation of Genesis. Let’s say each of your as teachers had a different, albeit slight, interpretation. Would it be wrong of me as a novice to ask if there was an empirical methodology to resolve the issue. Isn’t this what science does without the bias of faith or non faith?

      It wouldn’t be wrong of you at all. In fact, I would encourage it.




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  23. Ken: Although I am humbled -and grateful for the education – of your biblical knowledge, I ask the following: Do you use human reason, consensus of others (i.e. church doctrine), faith, or a combination of these factors, to come to your own conclusions?

    We call it “exegesis”.

    It is a standard method for letting the text speak for itself. And the most accurate application I know of is the Historical-Grammatical hermeneutic.

    The idea is to let the Bible speak for itself and then let the chips fall where they may – instead of trying to bend-the-Bible to fit every wind-of-fancy.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  24. Ken: For example, prior to the Great Disappointment, weren’t all the early ‘Adventists’ in the Miller camp of meaning? Afterwords didn’t EGW come up with a different interpretation on the exact same biblical passages(s) that Miller misinterpreted?

    Actually Ellen White did not come up with any interpretations of scripture when it comes to doctrine. Our doctrines were worked out in study groups in which Ellen White had very little doctrinal insight/preference since she was at the time in her late teens and early 20’s.

    God gave her visions at times during that process that confirmed this or that direction already taken by the group – but Ellen White was clear about the fact that during those Bible study sessions she was very distracted and not at all able to focus on the subject.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  25. One more thought along those lines – your question about whether people can differ is “A given”. People “Can differ”.

    But they do not have to – because as 1John 2 and John 16 state – God sends the Holy Spirit to guide each person and if that person chooses of their own free will to listen – then can be guided into all truth.

    Free will is a big deal as it turns out.

    Each person tends to be married to their own biase more than they would like.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  26. BobRyan: It is a standard method for letting the text speak for itself. And the most accurate application I know of is the Historical-Grammatical hermeneutic. The idea is to let the Bible speak for itself and then let the chips fall where they may…

    Yes, the historical-grammatical hermeneutic makes crystal clear that the Bible speaks for itself, and that we are not to judge its validity or interpret its meaning based on external evidence. Implicit is a very simple concept that the SDA Church formally embraces and which Satan seeks desperately to undermine: God’s Word can be trusted at face value.

    But I am learning that many SDAs outright reject this hermeneutic, including the administrators of this website. They ask, “how can we know the Bible is true without some form of external evidence to evaluate its validity?” They quote scripture and Ellen White to support their view that God expects us to put his Word to the test.

    One of the biggest challenges is to find evidence to support the Bible’s claims. What do we do if we fail to find evidence to support a young earth? Or a flood that covered 100% of the earth’s surface (and not 98%)? Or that an axe head can float on water? Or that a pile of dirt can be transformed into a living human? Or that a virgin woman can give birth to a child? Sean Pitman tells us that if we fail to find evidence for a young earth and global flood, that he would reject God’s word outright. Yet he seems blithely unconcerned about the lack of evidence for other claims.

    So here is the crux of the problem: if we insist that we must use our God-given brains to decide whether God’s word is trustworthy (Sean Pitman’s position), how do we select WHICH claims of the Bible must be supported for it to be believed? Obviously, some claims can be supported, and others cannot (which also happens to be true of the Book of Mormon and other supposedly inspired books). Do we accept the Bible because of the claims that can be supported, or do we reject it because of the claims that cannot be supported?

    Although Ken has not articulated the concern posed in this latter question, I believe it creates an enormous dilemma for those who reject the historical-grammatical approach and insist the Bible must be subject to external validition (the historical-critical hermeneutic). In relying on science, human reason, and falsifiable evidence (Sean Pitman’s clearly articulated position), the decision to accept or reject the claims of Scripture becomes an inescapably arbitary and capricious exercise. It also destroys Sola Scriptura.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      So here is the crux of the problem: if we insist that we must use our God-given brains to decide whether God’s word is trustworthy (Sean Pitman’s position), how do we select WHICH claims of the Bible must be supported for it to be believed? Obviously, some claims can be supported, and others cannot (which also happens to be true of the Book of Mormon and other supposedly inspired books). Do we accept the Bible because of the claims that can be supported, or do we reject it because of the claims that cannot be supported?

      I accept the Bible as having a Divine origin because of the weight of evidence regarding those claims that can actually be tested and evaluated. Those things that can be tested have proven themselves to be true. It is this weight of evidence that allows one to also trust those metaphysical claims of the Bible that cannot be directly tested.

      This is the reason why the Bible stands out as superior to other claimed sources of Divine authority. You mention the Book of Mormon. Why do you accept the Bible over the Book of Mormon? Well, for me, I see the Bible as superior because the testable elements within both books strongly favor Bible as being far more reliable and trustworthy.

      If you are honest with yourself, you do the very same thing.

      Although Ken has not articulated the concern posed in this latter question, I believe it creates an enormous dilemma for those who reject the historical-grammatical approach and insist the Bible must be subject to external validition (the historical-critical hermeneutic). In relying on science, human reason, and falsifiable evidence (Sean Pitman’s clearly articulated position), the decision to accept or reject the claims of Scripture becomes an inescapably arbitary and capricious exercise. It also destroys Sola Scriptura.

      What is arbitrary is your acceptance of the Bible without any appeal to rational thought or empirical evidence of any kind. You simply assert that one should pick the Bible as Divinely inspired based on an arbitrary choice, the luck of the draw so the speak, among the many competing options available.

      One cannot get much more arbitrary and capricious than this. It is far more rational and non-arbitrary to defend one’s conclusion that the Bible (or particular interpretations of the Bible) is in fact trustworthy as the Word of God based on the overall weight of empirical evidence that appeals to the candid intelligent mind.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  27. Sean Pitman: @Professor Kent: I accept the Bible as having a Divine origin because of the weight of evidence regarding those claims that can actually be tested and evaluated. Those things that can be tested have proven themselves to be true. It is this weight of evidence that allows one to also trust those metaphysical claims of the Bible that cannot be directly tested.

    Phil Brantley has stated over at Spectrum that Sean has admitted to rejecting the Historical-grammatical model.

    Nothing I have seen here suggests such a thing other than some of Prof Kent’s entertaining antics suggesting something like that.

    It was my understanding that the H-G model was accepted by Sean and others here as valid, just like the rest of us would accept it. And after using that method to determine “what the Bible says” the next step was to note the confirmation or refutation of the Bible claims as presented in our objective observations “in nature” and compare the two.

    NOT with the objective of “bending the Bible to fit whatever model of popular science thinking at the time” but rather to see where points in the Bible are being highlighted (or denied as the case may be) through direct observations in nature.

    To Reject the H-G model would allow you to simply “bend the Bible” every time one of your pet ideas about nature does not fit the Bible.

    Did I miss something?

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  28. Professor Kent: BobRyan: It is a standard method for letting the text speak for itself. And the most accurate application I know of is the Historical-Grammatical hermeneutic. The idea is to let the Bible speak for itself and then let the chips fall where they may…
    Yes, the historical-grammatical hermeneutic makes crystal clear that the Bible speaks for itself, and that we are not to judge its validity or interpret its meaning based on external evidence. Implicit is a very simple concept that the SDA Church formally embraces and which Satan seeks desperately to undermine: God’s Word can be trusted at face value.
    But I am learning that many SDAs outright reject this hermeneutic, including the administrators of this website. They ask, “how can we know the Bible is true without some form of external evidence to evaluate its validity?” They quote scripture and Ellen White to support their view that God expects us to put his Word to the test.

    That is the kind of confused convoluted logic I was referring to in my previous post. You have conflated the principle of exegesis (using the H-G model as the most accurate method of exegesis) to determine “WHAT the Bible says” as compared to using observations in science to TEST the RESULT and see if the Bible is trustworthy.

    Those are two different subjects entirely — not competing forms for the SAME idea as your seem to be so bent on suggestion.

    The H-G subject addresses the issue of how to tell WHAT the Bible says. Its competiting concept can be found in one of the critical models for hermeneutic.

    The other a subject (observations in nature testing the Bible) is being used to determine the accuracy, (trustworthy nature) of the text of scripture.

    These are two entirely different concepts. Conflating them as Prof Kent proposes serves no purpose at all.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  29. Re Sean’s Quote

    “It is far more rational and non-arbitrary to defend one’s conclusion that the Bible (or particular interpretations of the Bible) is in fact trustworthy as the Word of God based on the overall weight of empirical evidence that appeals to the candid intelligent mind.”

    Dear Bob, Krismith 777, Prof Kent and Sean

    Gentleman, thank you very much for your reply to my queries on biblical interpretation. This ignorant agnostic has a lot to learn when it comes to matters of faith and your collective help is invaluable in that regard.

    I’m not sure how any text can speak for itself without interpretation of some sort. I understand the concept of looking at the plain meaning of words in law as one method of interpretation. It seems to me that the historical grammatical method of biblical interpretation is akin to that. And I see nothing inherently wrong with different interpretations of texts, sacred or otherwise. That’s only human.

    However, with the greatest respect to Prof Kent’s eloquent defence of faith alone which I understand, I think Sean’s position as per his quote above puts meat on the bones of faith. To be credible to the modern educated mind this is imperative, or else Adventist doctrine may eventually be resigned to the mythological scrap heap. Not that I don’t enjoy mythology, I cut my teeth on Greek literature and philosophy.

    Now, where I do side with Prof Kent, is I cannot see how the weight of the evidence favours creation, vs. evolution, at least not yet. To me, distinguishing between macro and micro evolution is an apologetic, creationist argument based on a presumption of life being created all at once. To my (‘candid’? ‘intelligent’?!) mind when I look at chimps I see a strong connection to humans. Similar genotypes support the notion of a common ancestor.

    As I watch Sean brilliantly debate with many evolutionists on this forum. I realize I am very much out of my league to understand the data, let alone the arguments in layman’s terms. But what a joy and wonder to observe and participate in the debate! Great stuff!

    There is something, can’t comprehend it yet, that intrigues me about intelligent design. Is chance, randomness part of a design humans don’t understand yet? Ironically, Stephen Hawkings new book, which I expect did not come into being ex nihilo, is called The Grand Design.

    What I do know is that this site in which I am privileged to partake is very valuable. I have been treated with great Christian charity and tolerance which speaks volumes about your faith. It is my express hope that you of adversarial positions can be more charitable with each other. As I have tried to establish, we all think differently; that should not be a crime but rather an invitation to learn more from each other.

    Your agnostic monkey’s uncle
    Ken




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  30. Ken: Re Sean’s Quote“Now, where I do side with Prof Kent, is I cannot see how the weight of the evidence favours creation, vs. evolution, at least not yet. To me, distinguishing between macro and micro evolution is an apologetic, creationist argument based on a presumption of life being created all at once. To my (‘candid’? ‘intelligent’?!) mind when I look at chimps I see a strong connection to humans. Similar genotypes support the notion of a common ancestor. As

    1. Duckbilled platypus “looks” in some ways like a duck – but no evolutionist worth his salt will claim that looking similar means that ducks come from marsupials or that marsupials come from ducks.

    2. Baseballs in some ways “look” like snowballs – but one does not come from the other. The “looks simmilar” argument has never been a “science basis” for “they must be cousins”.

    3. You say there is no difference between small changes within a genome vs massive transition up the taxonomic latter from simple genomes to complex ones. Have you really thought that one through?

    With a flex of a muscle I can move my hand from 0 to 40 mph in 1 second. Does that mean that “with time and more muscle flexing” I will be able to move my hand from 0 to a billion MPH in 2 seconds?

    You are taking something that has an observed science limit and pretending that it has no limit.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  31. As for Day 1 vs Day 4 of creation week.

    The details “specified in the text” are these for day 1

    1. Light source,
    2. Sequence — with the time being the same for all other days.

    day 4

    1. Two Great lights made
    2. One to rule the day – the other the night. (one is the brightest light in the day – the other the brightest light in the night).

    ==================================

    The minimual “guesswork” then is that on day 1

    1. We have a single sided light source. (Whatever that is)
    2. The earth is rotating – once every 24 hours the same as for each day of the week.

    The Minimal for day 4 is

    1. God made the Sun and the moon
    2. The earth continues the same 24 hour rotation as from day 1.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  32. Bob, I’m in general agreement with your interpretation, except perhaps use of the word “minimum,” as we can only infer your interpretation from other texts. However, I do have several questions which you or someone else might care to address:

    1. Would our earth spin at the same speed if it was not influenced by a nearby sun or moon? I assume the sun would have a much larger affect, but I just don’t know.

    2. If the earth was freely spinning in space (prior to day 4), and it was suddenly captured in the gravitational field of a new object (the sun; day 4), which affected its spin, would this act to accelerate or decelerate the spin?

    3. If the earth’s complete rotation happened to occur during a longer (e.g., 30 hours) or shorter (e.g., 10 hours) timeframe than it does today, would a day still be a single rotation, and would this possibility invalidate scripture, in your opinion?

    I don’t think the Bible tells us anywhere that a full day has always been, and never has budged from, 24.0 hours. Of course, there are gravitational consequences to any change, but they might be relatively minor. I just think we should be careful making claims that cannot be suppported by the actual wording itself.

    Please note my respectful tone.




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  33. Kent –

    I am more than happy to stick with “one rotation” of the planet causing evening and morning such that IF it turns out in heaven that we find that the earth took 23.5987 hours to rotate on day 1 and it took 24 hours on day 4, I am still pretty much ok sticking with “1 rotation” and the “sense of the meaning” still carries.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  34. Re Throwing a monkey wrench into the
    works and Bob’s quote

    ” 3. You say there is no difference between small changes within a genome vs massive transition up the taxonomic latter from simple genomes to complex ones. Have you really thought that one through?

    With a flex of a muscle I can move my hand from 0 to 40 mph in 1 second. Does that mean that “with time and more muscle flexing” I will be able to move my hand from 0 to a billion MPH in 2 seconds?

    You are taking something that has an observed science limit and pretending that it has no limit.”

    Dear Bob

    Thanks for your comments.

    Sorry to be picayune, but I don’t recall stating ” there is no difference within small changes within a genome..” Those differences are what make organisms unique ( even finches). The question is how did those small changes come about and why the similarities?

    And your respectful admonition about the limits of observed science is appreciated. It is simply not enough for my untrained eye, yet ‘candid’? mind, to look at a chimp and see a remarkable similarity between it and a human. Phenotypes might be helpful, yet not definitive clues.

    So what is the closest genome to that of a human?

    ‘Trying to think things through’
    Your agnostic monkey’s uncle
    Ken




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  35. BobRyan: It was my understanding that the H-G model was accepted by Sean and others here as valid, just like the rest of us would accept it. And after using that method to determine “what the Bible says” the next step was to note the confirmation or refutation of the Bible claims as presented in our objective observations “in nature” and compare the two…Did I miss something?

    Yes, you did miss something. You need to read more about the historical-grammatical hermeneutic. Here is a good starting point: http://biblicalresearch.gc.adventist.org/documents/interp%20scripture%20davidson.pdf

    The H-G hermenteutic and the official SDA Church (the Rio Document) make explicitly clear that the Bible is NOT to be subject to external validation. You just don’t get it yet.




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  36. Sean Pitman: I do not reject the H-G method of interpreting what the biblical authors were trying to say. I’m a supporter of this method of interpretation. However, interpretation of what was said isn’t the same thing as verifying the truth of what was actually said.

    Sean gets it. He accepts the interpretation part of the H-G method, but rejects the verification part, since the H-G hermeneutic does not allow for verification from external sources. Sean’s evangelism for verification unmistakably comprises the historical-critical hermeneutic, which he openly embraces.

    Bob may refer to my comments as “entertaining antics,” but pg. 10 of Davidson’s article at http://biblicalresearch.gc.adventist.org/documents/interp%20scripture%20davidson.pdf
    leaves NO ROOM FOR DOUBT where Sean stands.

    Apparently it’s okay that Sean chooses a heterodox theology. Phil Brantley and I seem to be among the very few who care whether our SDA fundamental beliefs are being undermined in this regard.




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  37. Pg. 10 of Davidson’s article embraced by the SDA Biblical Research Institute:

    Historical-Critical Method. Definition: The attempt to verify the truthfulness and understand the meaning of biblical data on the basis of the principles and procedures of secular historical science.

    Historical-Biblical Method Definition: The attempt to understand the meaning of biblical data by means of methodological considerations arising from Scripture alone.

    “Entertaining antics?”




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You wrote:

      Historical-Biblical Method Definition: The attempt to understand the meaning of biblical data by means of methodological considerations arising from Scripture alone.

      This very same method can be used to understand the intended meaning of the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an. You don’t seem to grasp the concept that a method used to understand meaning is not the same thing as a method used to understand the validity or credibility of what the text is actually saying…

      As Jesus himself pointed out, the testimony of a witness about himself is not valid (John 5:31 NIV). Validating the testimony of anyone or anything requires outside references.

      Please also refer to the following comment listed below (Link).

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  38. Sean Pitman: Exactly. I do not reject the H-G method of interpreting what the biblical authors were trying to say. I’m a supporter of this method of interpretation. However, interpretation of what was said isn’t the same thing as verifying the truth of what was actually said.
    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

    That is precisely the difference between heremeutics and epistemology.

    H-G is just the hermeneutic part of that discussion. It only deals with the objective accurate way to “render the text”.

    It does not argue for the methods used to accept the statement of scripture as being authorotative or accurate.

    That argument is in the realm of epistemology as Richard Davidson from ATS points out.

    Phil Brantley keeps arguing that H-G somehow needs to subsume and fully encompass the field of epistemology so as to claim that some people are rejecting H-G when they compare the Bible to observations in nature.

    I see a flaw in that argument.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  39. Professor Kent: Sean gets it. He accepts the interpretation part of the H-G method, but rejects the verification part, since the H-G hermeneutic does not allow for verification from external sources. Sean’s evangelism for verification unmistakably comprises the historical-critical hermeneutic, which he openly embraces.
    Bob may refer to my comments as “entertaining antics,” but pg. 10 of Davidson’s article at http://biblicalresearch.gc.adventist.org/documents/interp%20scripture%20davidson.pdf

    Biblical Interpretation by Richard M. Davidson

    http://www.andrews.edu/~davidson/Publications/Hermeneutics,%20Biblical/biblical_interpretation.pdf

    Page 1 (numbered as 58 in the doc) –
    “The study of the basic principles and procedures for faithfully and accurately interpreting Scripture is called biblical hermeneutics”

    And everyone agrees that H-G is a model for hermeneutics – not epistemology.

    Davidson also said –

    Page 11 (numbered pg in doc 68) – Davidson introduces H-G
    “The specific guidelines for interpreting biblical passages arise from and build upon the foundation principles thus far described. These guidelines encompass essentially the grammatico-historical method is dictated by common sense and Laws of Language to ascertain the meaning of ANY writing”

    Thus an ATHEIST could use the H-G model to state that the Bible actually does say that the world was made in 7 real days and then try to use his own arguments from nature to destroy trust in the text.

    The desire by a few to conflate hermeneutics with epistemology does not have sound objective data to support it.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  40. Christ in the Classroom
    Adventist Approaches to the Integration of Faith and Learning
    Vol 31-B

    http://www.andrews.edu/~davidson/Publications/Hermeneutics,%20Biblical/Bible%20&%20Hermeneutics.pdf

    Chapter: Richard Davidson:
    “ The Bible and Hermeneutics. Interpreting Scripture according to the Scriptures” pg 81

    document page 83… PDF page 3 bottom notes.

    Richard Davidson:

    “This paper does not deal with the issue of epistemology (i.e., how we come to believe, and in particular, how we come to accept the authority of Scripture); in the pages that follow we assume the acceptance of the Bible as the Word of God. Within this presupposition of faith, the question that occupies our attention is the issue of biblical hermeutics, i.e., how to properly interpret the text”. [emphasis added]




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  41. Sean Pitman: You don’t seem to grasp the concept that a method used to understand meaning is not the same thing as a method used to understand the validity or credibility of what the text is actually saying…

    You obviously have not grasped what Dr. Davidson and the Biblical Research Institute are saying in their publications. Have you even read their papers?

    You insist that the historical-grammatical method is not used “to understand the validity or credibility of what the text is actually saying.” But Dr. Davidson states that a basic presupposition of the method is that “biblical data [are] accepted at face value and not subjected to an external norm to determine truthfulness, adequacy, validity, intelligibility, etc. (Isa 66:2)” OBVIOUSLY he is describing a method used to understand the validity or credibility of what the text is actually saying! Are you daft?

    It’s okay to disagree with Dr. Davidson and the BRI on what constitues the historical-grammatical hermeneutic. But stop pretending you are the pillar and exemplar of SDA teachings and theology, when you enthusiastically undermine the most fundamental of our fundamental beliefs: how we come to understand and accept the scriptural basis of our beliefs.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You wrote:

      You obviously have not grasped what Dr. Davidson and the Biblical Research Institute are saying in their publications. Have you even read their papers?

      I did read Davidson’s paper.

      Have you read: Christ in the Classroom: Adventist Approaches to the Integration of Faith and Learning? – by Humberto Rasi?

      http://www.andrews.edu/~davidson/Publications/Hermeneutics,%20Biblical/Bible%20&%20Hermeneutics.pdf

      As already listed for you, note the chapter entitled: “Richard Davidson, The Bible and Hermeneutics. Interpreting Scripture according to the Scriptures” p. 81

      On page 83 (at the bottom of page 3 of the PDF file), you will find the following notation regarding the Davidson paper you so commonly reference:

      Richard Davidson:

      “This paper does not deal with the issue of epistemology (i.e., how we come to believe, and in particular, how we come to accept the authority of Scripture); in the pages that follow we assume the acceptance of the Bible as the Word of God. Within this presupposition of faith, the question that occupies our attention is the issue of biblical hermeutics, i.e., how to properly interpret the text”.

      So, I’m not the only one in the SDA Church who questions your views of or basis for biblical epistemology.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  42. BobRyan: Phil Brantley keeps arguing that H-G somehow needs to subsume and fully encompass the field of epistemology so as to claim that some people are rejecting H-G when they compare the Bible to observations in nature.
    I see a flaw in that argument

    As Phil patiently pointed out to you at Spectrum, you are unable to grasp the very simple meaning of Dr. Davidson’s writing. Dr. Davidson could not have been any clearer in what he stated, and Phil has interpreted it correctly. You are not speaking of Phil’s shortcomings; you are addressing your own.




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  43. BobRyan: The desire by a few to conflate hermeneutics with epistemology does not have sound objective data to support it.

    You need to address this to Dr. Davidson and the BRI. Phil Brantley and I defer to their expertise on the matter, which you continue to misrepresent.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You wrote:

      You need to address this to Dr. Davidson and the BRI.

      Humberto Rasi has already done this quite effectively:

      “This paper [by Dr. Davidson] does not deal with the issue of epistemology (i.e., how we come to believe, and in particular, how we come to accept the authority of Scripture); in the pages that follow we assume the acceptance of the Bible as the Word of God. Within this presupposition of faith, the question that occupies our attention is the issue of biblical hermeutics, i.e., how to properly interpret the text”.

      http://www.andrews.edu/~davidson/Publications/Hermeneutics,%20Biblical/Bible%20&%20Hermeneutics.pdf

      Also, Dr. Davidson does a nice job of explaining how the H-G method can be used to correctly interpret pretty much any text (biblical or non-biblical):

      http://www.andrews.edu/~davidson/Publications/Hermeneutics,%20Biblical/biblical_interpretation.pdf

      “The study of the basic principles and procedures for faithfully and accurately interpreting Scripture is called biblical hermeneutics”

      Page 1 (p. 58 in the pdf)

      “The specific guidelines for interpreting biblical passages arise from and build upon the foundation principles thus far described. These guidelines encompass essentially the grammatico-historical method as dictated by common sense and Laws of Language to ascertain the meaning of ANY writing” [emphasis added]

      Page 11 (p. 68 in the pdf)

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  44. Professor Kent: OBVIOUSLY he is describing a method used to understand the validity or credibility of what the text is actually saying! Are you daft?

    Upon reconsideration, I think the word “encompasses” would be more appropo than “used.”




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  45. Kent apparently feels that I am not quoting Davidson accurately.

    What a Joy to know that my quoting Davidson verbatim is spun as “mirepresenting him”.

    Biblical Interpretation by Richard M. Davidson

    http://www.andrews.edu/~davidson/Publications/Hermeneutics,%20Biblical/biblical_interpretation.pdf

    Page 1 (numbered as 58 in the doc) –
    “The study of the basic principles and procedures for faithfully and accurately interpreting Scripture is called biblical hermeneutics”

    Davidson also said –

    Page 11 (numbered pg in doc 68) – Davidson introduces H-G

    “The specific guidelines for interpreting biblical passages arise from and build upon the foundation principles thus far described. These guidelines encompass essentially the grammatico-historical method as dictated by common sense and Laws of Language to ascertain the meaning of ANY writing” [emphasis added]

    Hmm – that last sentence is worth repeating – “as dictated by common sense and Laws of Language to ascertain the meaning of ANY writing”

    This means an ATHEIST could use the H-G model to first show that the Bible actually does say that the world was made in 7 real days, and then try to use his own arguments from nature to destroy trust in the text.

    Put simply, there is no need to conflate epistemology with hermeneutics, nor to ignore cases when others do it.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  46. BobRyan: Davidson also said –
    Page 11 (numbered pg in doc 68) – Davidson introduces H-G

    “The specific guidelines for interpreting biblical passages arise from and build upon the foundation principles thus far described. These guidelines encompass essentially the grammatico-historical method as dictated by common sense and Laws of Language to ascertain the meaning of ANY writing” [emphasis added]

    And what exactly did he say were the “foundation principles?” What part of “biblical data are accepted at face value and not subjected to an external norm to determine truthfulness, adequacy, validity, intelligibility, etc.” do you not get?




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  47. By the way, Bob and Sean’s approach is the very same as that used by ATHEISTS: “you must go where the evidence tells you to go, regardless of what ‘God’ says.” (I can play your game as well as you can, Bob)




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    • @Professor Kent:

      There are many different voices claiming to be “God’s” voice. Picking out the true voice of God must be based on understood empirical evidence if it is to be rationally convincing to the intelligent candid mind.

      This is why only God can tell if one has honestly considered the evidence that was made available to him/her – to include those who take on the “atheist” position. Salvation isn’t based on a correct understanding of the empirical evidence, but on a love of or a desire to have a correct understanding.

      Because of this, I dare say that it is quite likely that more than a few “atheists” will find themselves in Heaven someday…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  48. Bob, you may not be willing to admit it, but this IS your approach, and that of Sean, in Davidson’s words:

    The technical meaning of “criticism” in the historical-critical method is that “historical sources are like witnesses in a court of law: they must be interrogated and their answers evaluated. The art of interrogation and evaluation is called criticism.” In this process “the historian examines the credentials of a witness to determine the person’s credibility (authenticity) and whether the evidence has come down unimpaired (integrity).”

    You embrace the historical-critical hermeneutic by subjecting the claims of the Bible’s authors to science and reason. You can’t deny it.




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  49. Professor Kent: Bob, you may not be willing to admit it, but this IS your approach, and that of Sean, in Davidson’s words:
    The technical meaning of “criticism” in the historical-critical method is that “historical sources are like witnesses in a court of law: they must be interrogated and their answers evaluated. The art of interrogation and evaluation is called criticism.” In this process “the historian examines the credentials of a witness to determine the person’s credibility (authenticity) and whether the evidence has come down unimpaired (integrity).”
    You embrace the historical-critical hermeneutic by subjecting the claims of the Bible’s authors to science and reason. You can’t deny it.

    Kent you are digging a hole for yourself in ignoring the fact that hermeneutics does not subsume, does not encompass epistemology.

    As for your appeal to H-C tools being used in H-G.

    Here is Davidson on the shared tools between H-C and H-G – notice that evidence in nature is missing because the issue in a pure hermeneutics model like H-G is rendering the text, not simply bending the text so that you will like it better.

    Richard Davidson said –

    Those who follow the historical-biblical method apply the same study tools utilized in historical criticism.

    There is careful attention given to historical, literary and linguistic, grammatical-syntactical, and theological details, as we have outlined in the previous section of this paper.

    But while utilizing the gains brought about by the historical-critical method in sharpening various study tools for analysis of the biblical text, there is a consistent intent in historical-biblical study to eliminate the element of criticism that stands as judge upon the Word.

    The objective is to accurately render the text not to judge the text.

    The above quote is from –

    Institute for Christian Teaching
    Education Department, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists


    THE BIBLE AND HERMENEUTICS:

    INTERPRETING SCRIPTURE ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES

    http://fae.adventist.org/essays/31Bcc_081-132.htm

    Richard M. Davidson

    2nd Symposium on the Bible and Adventist Scholarship

    Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic
    March 15-20, 2004

    The Bible and Hermeneutics:
    Interpreting Scripture According to the Scriptures

    by
    Richard M. Davidson
    Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
    Andrews University

    Appendix: Two Hermeneutical Methods Contrasted

    Your argument has failed in the area of “first principles”. By definition hermeneutics deals with interpretation, rendering the text. It is an exercise in exegesis.

    What is more the re-defining of the entire field of hermeneutics is not a function of the BRI or even of Davidson. He merely states the facts regarding the definition.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  50. Sean Pitman: Because of this, I dare say that it is quite likely that more than a few “atheists” will find themselves in Heaven someday…

    Totally agreed…even though they reject a literal 6-day creation 6,000 years ago. Fancy that.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      Totally agreed…even though they reject a literal 6-day creation 6,000 years ago. Fancy that.

      Fancy that. Knowledge, by itself, doesn’t save. The motive of selfless love is what saves. Yet, knowledge has the power to provide one with a solid hope of bright future in this life, making this life more tolerable and giving us a closer and more intimate walk with God here and now. It also has the power to quicken the conscience and in this way has an indirect role in contributing to our salvation.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  51. LSU is not mentioned in this article and is mentioned only in one comment, by our agnostic friend Ken, who wrote “although I realize your discourse is tangential to the issue of evolution being taught at LSU…”

    Kudos for informing readers about what is happening at LSU!




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  52. Sean Pitman: Further repetitions of your very same argument without even addressing the counters presented to you will not be posted in this forum…

    I am responding to “counters” just as you and Bob are by supplying different quotes, so why are you stating that I am unresponsive?

    Dr. Davidson cannot make his position any clearer than this:

    God asks us to develop our critical powers so that we will not accept
    anything we hear, see, or experience unless it is in accordance with
    what He tells us in the Bible.

    Is he talking about anything other than epistemiology? Come on now. He is NOT talking just about interpretation. He then continues with the next line…

    I am not opposed to the critical spirit;
    I just refuse to use it on the Word of God, which is the critical authority by which I am to be judged. The proper approach, I believe, is found in the grammatical-historical biblical interpretation, which claims that the Bible is the ultimate authority and is
    not amenable to the principle of criticism. Biblical data are to be
    accepted at face value and not subjected to an external norm that
    determines their truthfulness, adequacy, validity, or intelligibility. –

    If Dr. Davidson’s position is disagreeable to you, to Bob, to Humberto Rossi, or anyone else, you are welcome to your position. But Dr. Davidson makes crystal clear that his understanding and elucidation of the H-G method includes the authority and regard for the sacred text, not just interpretation. Sorry, Sean, but Humberto Rossi’s statement is his opinion, and I think Dr. Davidson’s position is straightforward enough that Phil Brantley and I are interpreting it correctly.

    As Phil Brantley adroitly stated, “The reason that hermeneutics concerns both (a) how the text is interpreted and (b) how the text is regarded is because how the text is regarded affects how it is interpreted and how the text is interpreted affects how it is regarded.”




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  53. Professor Kent: I am not opposed to the critical spirit;
    I just refuse to use it on the Word of God, which is the critical authority by which I am to be judged. The proper approach, I believe, is found in the grammatical-historical biblical interpretation, which claims that the Bible is the ultimate authority and is
    not amenable to the principle of criticism. Biblical data are to be
    accepted at face value and not subjected to an external norm that
    determines their truthfulness, adequacy, validity, or intelligibility. –

    Which is true for “rendering the text” – obviously — hermeneutics. Questioning the accuracy of the claims being made in the text is not part of hermeneutics. Questioning the accuracy of RENDERING the text is part of hermeneutics — as Davidson has already pointed out.

    This could not be any more obvious.

    But when the objective is “testing the text for accuracy and trustworthiness in its claims” (i.e. epistemology) then the question is very much appropriate.

    And Kent is already on record as imagining that hermeneutics encompasses epistemology – a point that Davidson has never claimed.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  54. Eddie: LSU is not mentioned in this article and is mentioned only in one comment, by our agnostic friend Ken, who wrote “although I realize your discourse is tangential to the issue of evolution being taught at LSU…”Kudos for informing readers about what is happening at LSU!

    A few LSU professors such as those in both religion and biology departments (and possibly few others) are using the arguments for H-C based Bible-bending to try and get to a downsized-Bible that meets the dictates and demands of evolutionism.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  55. Brantley over at Spectrum –

    Phil Brantley said

    on – Mon, 04/18/2011 – 18:59

    Dr. Pitman, trying to explain something to
    you and Bob Ryan is frustrating. I strongly suspect that you both are being disingenous, that you have conceded the argument in your hearts but do not want to publicly capitulate for fear of embarrassing yourselves. Why the fear?

    I would argue that “fear” would consist of blocking Brantley from speaking to this point on EducateTruth — something that has not been done.

    I wonder if Spectrum itself will choose to demonstrate “fear” at this point. Time will tell.

    But more specficially – Davidson’s material linked by Brantley shows the clear distinction “by defintion” between hermeneutics and epistemology. Brantley’s solution is to try ad hominem instead of addressing the issue of first principles (i.e. the definition that Davidson also affirms explicitly in his text).

    David Read posts that he is violating the H-G purist principle when it comes to rendering the text — as follows.

    David Read said:
    To cite another example, one could argue from texts such as Ecclesiastes 1:5, Psalm 19:6, and Joshua 10:12-14 that the sun orbits the earth. That would be a pretty straightforward inference from Scripture, but we don’t make that inference. Instead, bringing in outside scientific knowledge, we interpret these passages as reflecting the point of view of the casual earthbound observer, for whom the sun seems to rise in the east, travel across the sky, set in the west, and then hasten back around to rise in the east again. But few if any modern interpreters take these text to teach that the sun is orbiting the earth.

    And Brantley compliments this claim

    Phil Brantley said:

    I compliment David Read for his candor in confronting the issue in an honest manner and opining that he believes that application of the historical-grammatical hermeneutic in its purest form is not practical under these circumstances.

    However – I believe David is technically incorrect and I believe Brantley is coopting David’s statements to some degree.

    1. David is incorrect to assume that H-G is violated by observing in our epistemological arguments – the theory of relative motion. David’s argument assumes that the use of epistemology would violate H-G as if heremeneutics does not “Allow” you to also use epistemological argument to validate the trustworthy nature of the text.

    2. To the degree that David is blending both epistemology and hermeneutics – and then claiming that this resultant blend is some new hermeneutic that is not pure H-G he is falling into Brantley’s proposed trap.

    Simply put – there is no such thing as hermeneutics that does not allow for epistemology as an additional endeavor because they are two different (but closely related) disciplines and they each have their specific purpose and scope.

    They are not mutually exclusive.

    In the case above – the H-G rendering of the text requires that we admit that the text says “sun rise” — just as we use the term today. H-G requires that we not bend the text.

    But epistemology can then be ADDED to explain WHY that statement is still valid given things like relative motion (theory of relativity described by Einstein) where it is scientifically valid to describe motion from the frame of reference of the observer.

    At present – Spectrum appears to be be “fearful” of having this response posted over there… so I offer it here in an attempt to aleviate their “fears”.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  56. Pauluc at Spectrum addressed this question to me – but since Spectrum has kindly requested that I not reply on Spectrum when someone addresses a question to me – and since Pauluc’s question illustrates a key point on this thread — I am answering it here.

    Pauluc makes the argument that it would be just as wrong to accept Gen 1 as it reads – as it would to accept Matt 17 as it reads because in his view Matt 17 says that miracles are the normative mode of healing, medical treatment is invalid, and all seizures are caused by demons.

    I claim that the H-G model is valid for interpreting both Gen 1 and Matt 17 “just as they read”.

    Pauluc said –
    After considerable vebiage we finally got to the point that you in contrast to most adventists apply the same H-G to the Genesis 1 as the new testament texts such as Matt 17 on healing.
    We can now move on to the supplementary questions in David Assherick style

    Do you use modern medicine in any form? yes or no

    If you had a car accident would you use a blood transfusion? yes or no

    Would you accept care and life support in an ICU? yes or no

    Would you accept a donor organ? yes or no

    Do you think that these things are based on miracles? yes or no

    Do you think that healing in the new testament was by natural mechanisms ? yes or no

    Do you think that naturalistic moden medicine is consistent with the divine explanations of healing described in the new testament? yes or no

    If you can answer no to all these questions then I do believe you are entirely consistent in you use of the HG througout the bible

    ” At no point did Matt 17 argue that no healing takes place outside of Christ or a disciple coming to your home to do a miracle.”

    The key point is that those who use H-C to “bend the Bible” in Gen 1 are claiming that the Bible is a compilation of some rather backwoods unsavory texts – and it needs to be “dressed up” by some polite H-C bending before you can show it to your friends.

    In this next round Pauluc argues that IF there is a both-and solution for Matt 17 (both miracles AND medical treatment or natural remedy) then the same holds for Genesis 1. Possibly there is BOTH a miraculous origins for some planets and for other planets – a natural origin.

    pauluc said

    on – Tue, 04/19/2011 – 06:49
    BobRyan says

    You are absolutely and entirely right. And that is I think the main point of comparing genesis 1 and Matt 17. Both Genesis 1 and Matt 17 give descriptions of events in terms of the supernatural. One the act of creation the other the divine act of healing. Both are rooted in supernatural explanations. As you indicate Matt 17 does not argue that healing cannot be based on a natural explanation but neither does Genesis 1.

    A prescientific supernatural explanation is offered but at no point does it indicate there can be no other explanation, indeed as if to underscore this Gen 2 goes on to describe a second and different account of the same events.

    Gen 2 does not provide a chronological time-boxed sequence, but Gen 1 does.

    Gen 2 is a narrative providing details not present in Gen 1, details that have to be inserted in context into the timeline created in Gen 1:2-2:3.

    But in any case – Gen 1 and 2 do not allow for life on two different planets being created, one via creationism and one via evolutionism.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  57. I disagree with some of Pauluc’s more liberal positions, but I admire the grace and respect with which he generally treats others, and I could only wish certain conservatives (including myself) possessed as much tact.

    Pauluc: may grace continue to abound with you.




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  58. Meanwhile back to the actual point that Pauluc was making.

    The argument is transparent to the reader. Matt 17 is being argued as somewhat “unsavory” in a representative fashion suggesting that we would no more want to believe Gen 1 for “what it say” than we might wish to believe Matt 17 “for what it says”.

    Thus Pauluc provides the underlying view of the Bible itself at the root of this debate. A gap in the way we approach scripture that goes far beyond the issue of origins.

    The point remains.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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