The Credibility of Faith

By Sean Pitman

From a response to Pastor John Thomas Mclarty in an Atoday discussion blog by Cindy Tutsch entitled, “Who’s a Fundamentalist?

Pastor Mclarty wrote:

Cindy, You begin by defining fundamentalism in the context of 20th century American Protestant history and prove that Adventists, even staunchly conservative Adventists, disagree with a crucial element of that definition. However, you weaken your point by acknowledging this is only one definition of fundamentalism. You cite Hood, Hill and Williams who write:

“What distinguishes fundamentalism from other religious profiles is its particular approach toward understanding religion, which elevates the role of the sacred text to a position of supreme authority and subordinates all other potential sources of knowledge and meaning.”

It all depends upon the reason why a particular text, or a particular person, or even a particular idea is elevated to a position of authority. It has to do with establishing credibility. To quote Mrs. White in this regard:

The infidel Voltaire once boastingly said: “I am weary of hearing people repeat that twelve men established the Christian religion. I will prove that one man may suffice to overthrow it.” Generations have passed since his death. Millions have joined in the war upon the Bible. But it is so far from being destroyed, that where there were a hundred in Voltaire’s time, there are now ten thousand, yes, a hundred thousand copies of the book of God. In the words of an early Reformer concerning the Christian church, “The Bible is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.” – Ellen White, GC p. 288

Or, consider the thoughts of popular Christian apologist Ravi Zaccharias as he addresses this question:

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

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

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

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

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

The Christian Gospel with its message of hope is written to appeal to the intelligent, thoughtful, candid mind. It is not an appeal to blind faith, devoid of any empirical basis or evidence, at all. It is an appeal that itself invokes physical empirical evidences as the basis for its own authenticity and credibility.

For example, consider the story of Jesus healing the paralytic. In this story Jesus asks the question, “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?” Matthew 9:5. Let me ask you, what would have happen to Jesus’ metaphysical claim to be able to forgive sins if the paralyzed man had not been healed when Jesus said, “Get up and walk”? Obviously, Jesus’ claim to be able to forgive sins would have taken a huge blow. His credibility would have been shot.

The same thing is true when it comes to a rational belief in the Christian Gospel – or even the Bible itself as anything more than a collection of moral fables. The credibility of such a belief is based, or at least can be based, on the established credibility of those biblical statements that are subject to empirical evaluational, testing, and at least the potential of falsification. And, as in the case of Jesus and the paralytic, if the falsifiable claims of the Bible are in fact falsified, the credibility of the Bible, with regard to those metaphysical claims that are not directly testable, declines as well…

For this reason, it is a mistake to argue that all those who believe in the Bible as the inspired Word of God, who take the intended literal meaning of the Genesis authors at face value, or who actually believe that the biblical stories of fantastic miracles really did happen as described, believe such things based on blind faith in the supreme authority of the Bible alone – without any outside empirical evidence or basis for a truly rational faith in such fantastic things.

While such may be called “fundamentalists” according to certain definitions of this term, these fundamentalists need not be any more irrational in their beliefs compared to high-level scientists who hold certain laws of nature to be fundamentally reliable, with great predictive value regarding the as yet unseen future, due to their extreme credibility in past experience under close empirical evaluation and testing.

On August 7th, 2010, in response to this line of reasoning dhok wrote:

Well, just how do we set up an experiment or research paradigm wherein we can at least potentially falsify the story of the resurrection of Jesus and his healing of the paralytic? And if we cannot set up such a test of their credibility, then how is it that those stories can be established as being just as deserving of our belief (from a scientific perspective) as the reliable laws of nature that high level scientists hold in such high esteem?

You miss the point. The point of the story of Jesus and the paralytic (and Ravi’s basic argument) is that, according to the biblical authors, Jesus Himself appealed to empirical evidence to support His metaphysical claims. In other words, the biblical authors had a sense of the need for an empirical basis to establish the credibility of metaphysical claims – which is a very interesting rational, even scientific, concept.

In this line there are many aspects of the Bible, as Ravi points out, that are open to testing and potential falsification – to include its historical statements and statements about natural phenomena and even the human condition. Many, especially among mainstream scientists, consider that many elements of the claims of the Bible have been clearly falsified. For example, the claims of the biblical authors regarding a recent literal creation week and a worldwide Noachian flood are considered, by the vast majority of mainstream scientists, to have been overwhelmingly falsified by the physical evidence.

What this means, of course, is that there are in fact key elements in the Bible that are indeed open to comparison with external physical reality, to testing in other words, and therefore to the potential for falsification – the basis of the science of establishing credibility in the reliability or authority of a witness. And, as these testable elements are in fact falsified to the satisfaction of one’s own mind, the credibility of those elements of the biblical claims that are not directly subject to testing or potential falsification decline to the same degree – as would have been the case in Jesus’ day if He had not been able to heal the paralytic. Logically, the credibility of His claim to be able to forgive sins would have taken a huge hit – by His own admission.

In short, the biblical authors do not argue for blind faith as the basis behind their own beliefs, but for a rational evidence-based faith that was built upon solid empirical evidence. They claim that they have not followed cunningly devised fables (2 Peter 1:16), but have believed what they personally saw, heard, and tested. Elsewhere the biblical authors quote God as asking us to “prove” or even “taste” and see if what He says is or is not true. (Malachi 3:10 and Psalms 34:8).

The same thing is, or at least can, in theory at least, be true today. One’s “faith” can be the same as one’s “science” – and visa versa. In fact, there is always a component of faith even in science. Science is all about taking leaps of faith across gaps in knowledge that are not and cannot be known with absolute perfection. Science is about dealing with limited information as best as one can. If the information were not limited, science would no longer be needed. It is only when information is limited, and one must take a leap of faith of at least some distance, that science becomes useful in helping one to take the best or most useful leap of faith possible…

www.DetectingDesign.com

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49 thoughts on “The Credibility of Faith

  1. It seems the main thrust of Tutsch’s article (Tutsch is a “moderate” liberal, as is Herbert Douglas, over at AT) is to counter the ridiculous claim by the more liberal elements at AT who try to marginalize the “fundamentalist” SDA’s by claiming they are a bunch of bizarre, moronic, wacko, backwater crackpots.

    Using her technique of trying to “define” what a fundamentalists is is doomed to fail, as liberals will (as we see at AT) counter her definition, argue about insignificant details over what a “real” fundamentalist is, and argue ad infinitum about it. See for yourself over at AT!

    Liberals will always hate fundamentalists and what they believe, no matter what the “definition” is or what anyone, such as Tutsch says.




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  2. You can not defend the bible solely by the use of XYZ arguments. Certainly, there are some clear objective givens such as the creation story as well as other solid non-negotiable revelations. But many aspects of God and His kingdom come to us by way of concepts, and each concept adds some extra added insight to the whole picture.

    Thus, Jesus told many parables. Each was to convey some concept of truth. No one parable could “tell it all”. And there is always the possibility of misunderstanding some aspect of the biblical message.

    Our goal is to find the clearest flowing continuity that fits the whole picture. If something seems out of place, we must see if and how we may have misunderstood the idea or concept. And we must continually remember, nothing is written in a vacuum. Each writer assumes you understand something of what has gone before.

    The bible is not “infallible” on each given detail. It is infallible for its intended purpose which is to community a final and clear picture of God and His kingdom in such a way, no one needs to be deceived concerning its overall message and meaning. All ideas and concepts can be tested by the bible concerning the issues of salvation. In this, the bible is infallible.

    The creation story is one of those non-negotiable objective givens. Everything is built around it from beginning to end. You can not deny its clear explanation of origins and even slightly hope to maintain some flowing consistent message in the bible itself. Either you believe this, or you don’t. And much of the ongoing “bickering” is useless as no possible solution can be arrived at without this clear confession of faith.

    I still believe that the real meaningful purpose of Educate Truth is to show that anyone who does not hold the church’s position on creation, should either leave denominational work, or be fired. And this is also non-negotiable. Anything else is blatant Babylon [or confusion].

    Bill Sorensen




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  3. I still believe that the real meaningful purpose of Educate Truth is to show that anyone who does not hold the church’s position on creation, should either leave denominational work, or be fired.

    The Church’s official position is NOT that overwhelming evidence exists to support 6 days less than 6100 years ago, in large part because the belief is anchored in the Bible, not science). FB #6 makes no comment whatsoever on “evidence.” Yet many here have demanded that those who refuse to believe in this so-called overwhelming evidence must be fired.




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  4. From the copious posts herein and leitmotif thereof, and some of the more precious phrasings, the following draft of a manifesto of Postadventist academic doctrine has emerged, by legend Twittered from a corn field: Whereas there are no absolutes any more; and Whereas there is absolutely not a shredy-shred-shred-shred of evidence for what God said about Creation; and Whereas there is absolute evidence for what Darwin said about evolution; and Whereas Therefore there is absolutely no reason extrapolatable from anything logical or physical, ergo devolving only upon absolute loyalty to our culture, as legalistic and repressive as it is, or one-upsmanship, or simple cosmic desperation: We do hereby proclaim, in academic catalog, blog, and uTube, our absolute faith in a peer-reviewed God who created evil, if nothing else, anciently personified as Satan. Therefore Be It Known that the rest of you are absolute toxic and on a slippery slope, and we’re sorry for you, o ye of little faith.
    The above wording is not absolute, no wording is, especially Nobody’s. Nuance to taste.




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  5. @Professor Kent:

    The Church’s official position is NOT that overwhelming evidence exists to support 6 days less than 6100 years ago, in large part because the belief is anchored in the Bible, not science). FB #6 makes no comment whatsoever on “evidence.” Yet many here have demanded that those who refuse to believe in this so-called overwhelming evidence must be fired.

    We are talking about paid representation of a sub-organization within the SDA Church that was created and is maintained by the SDA Church for the express reason of finding and presenting physical empirical evidence to support the Church’s position on origins. A representative of such an organization cannot be maintained if that person cannot actually support the express purpose of said organization – at least not while keeping the organization in line with its stated purpose.

    Beyond this, the SDA Church, as an organization, does not promote your notions that the Christian faith needn’t have the support of empirical testable potentially falsifiable evidence. It is precisely because the SDA Church does believe in the need for an empirical basis to faith that the Church created the GRI…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  6. @Professor Kent:

    The Church’s official position is NOT that overwhelming evidence exists to support 6 days less than 6100 years ago, in large part because the belief is anchored in the Bible, not science). FB #6 makes no comment whatsoever on “evidence.” Yet many here have demanded that those who refuse to believe in this so-called overwhelming evidence must be fired. Professor Kent(Quote)

    This canard keeps coming back up as if it had a leg to stand on.

    At what point are the young life and young earth arguments posted here claiming that “we need science that proves 6 days of creation and not 8.5 days of creation”?? Or what post here has stated that some GRI member be rebuffed for coming up with science about 8.5 days of creation — but not 6 or 7?

    Why do you keep going to that silly straw man for help Kent?

    What is up with that?

    What we do see are science arguments in favor of young life and a young earth – but Kent keeps circling back to “science arguments” for 6 days of creation week vs 12 days or 28 days or … as if THAT is the part of the “science” that we demand from groups like GRI.

    Where do you come up with that stuff?

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  7. All the Bible believing Christians here affirm that the bible supports a 7 day Creation week – where all life on earth comes about in the first 6 days.

    All Bible believing Christians here have affirmed that according to the creation event for life on earth took place less than 10,000 years ago – probably 6000 year ago in fact.

    All have been focused on science evidence for young life and a young earth.

    Such science evidence is easily compatible with a 7 day creation week and creation of life taking place 6000 years ago but does not demand that specific timeline “from the science alone”.

    This is the easy part of the discussion – so not sure why confusion keeps getting inserted on that point.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  8. Sean Pitman says

    We are talking about paid representation of a sub-organization within the SDA Church that was created and is maintained by the SDA Church for the express reason of finding and presenting physical empirical evidence to support the Church’s position on origins.

    Very well, Sean. This, of course, is your description and it may not be too far off the mark. But “finding and presenting the physical empirical evidence supporting the Church’s position on origins” is very different from telling the Church, “we have good news, everyone: there is overwhelming physical scientific evidence that supports our belief in a 6-day creation 6000 years–so much so, in fact, that our faith is now more “useful” than that of the Pastafarians.”

    The Pastafarians, Sean? Do you really think we need to know that our faith is better than that of the Pastafarians who “believe” in the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Hundreds of posts on the internet to establish this? Hoorah! We’re ahead of the Pastafarians!!!

    Incidentally, the GRI website says

    Does the success of science in other areas force us to conclude that scientific evidence for an evolutionary theory is irrefutable? The Geoscience Research Institute, founded in 1958, was established to address this question by looking at the scientific evidence concerning origins. The Institute uses both science and revelation to study the question of origins because it considers the exclusive use of science as too narrow an approach. The Institute serves the Seventh-day Adventist church in two major areas: research and communication.

    I’m not reading anywhere that their official purpose is to reassure the Church that the evidence is overwhelming. Can you kindly point me to the source for your claim?




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  9. The Institute uses both science and revelation to study the question of origins because it considers the exclusive use of science as too narrow an approach.

    Seventh-day Adventists are a form of “Biblical Creationist.” This means that their scientific exploration of creation is influenced by an
    ‘a priori’ Biblical world-view, and is subject to prophetic revelation (Biblical and extra-biblical).

    The scientific revelation from God to the human race found in nature is always subject to the prophetic revelation. We are Sola-Scripturists, not Sola-Scientists (though some so-called Adventists have become such). Because creation as we observe it is significantly damaged and altered from its original God ordained form, it provides an imperfect reflection of the character and nature of God. We must turn to revelation for a more accurate and specific expression of God’s plan and person. The revelation from God in nature must always play a subservient and corroborating role in relation to the primary testimony of Scripture.

    There are some things that cannot be found currently through scientific investigation. For instance, no fossilized remains of 12 foot tall human beings contemporaneous with the dinosaurs have yet to be found. No pre-Noachians at all have been verified. Though there is ample evidence for a global water catastrophe destroying all life on earth, God has left this particular detail (for now at least) to be based on faith in the evidence of revelation alone.

    Nature gives us a general and imperfect evidence for a Creator. Revelation gives us a far more specific, detailed and saving record. This is why we are called to bring the ‘everlasting gospel’ revelation to the human race – rather than just wait for them to try and discover it on their own by observing the milky-way or a sunset. This is why we preach faith in the Word of God, not the Word of Science.




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  10. I’m going to say this knowing what it will evoke — academic hurumphs from both sides (having been, at one point, an academic, I know the academic mind and mode full well, and what to expect of it and from it); the guffaws; the sarcasms (as is my own wont); even the merriment over such a breach of debating decorum, and the gleeful declarations of “see – you’re all not just flat earthers but SILLY flat earthers,” and the apologies for me and embarrassment of me. Or maybe just nothing. Still, it must be said. I think an Adventist should say it. Of all people an Adventist can say it.

    There is proof for Creation. Not just from fossils, as Evoeans must settle for. Not just in data, of which there are rather more for Creation than the sadly fossilized and ossified scientific community acknowledges or peer-reviews except in jest. But it’s out there, here in the human soul and heart and mind, frontal as well as temporal lobes, there in the cosmos. Proof, call it evidence, call it data, don’t call it just faith — overwhelmingly convincing and overwhelmingly scoffable.

    The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmanent showeth His handiwork. Day upon day uttereth speech, and night upon night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard (reference: Ps 19), although academia is pretty deaf to it. Lost in the quantum quibbling and Hubble hubbub. Magnificently falsifiable.

    But the sheer beauty of it is deafening and is not falsifiable. It is proof. A backlit cloud, long shadows on a slow green hill, a September maple tree, a May apple tree; fragrance; what comes from a violin, or can; children; just the beauty sings out the proof. DNA may offer irreducible and falsifiable proof, but beauty is not false, is transcendent, just look. But evo cannot. There is no place in evo for beauty. It can only see, and gloat over, ugly, aka evil. Only Creation, being the image of God, is attuned to beauty. Beauty is truth – still, postmodernism be damned.

    Somehow, God calling it into existence in 6 days, and calling it good, and then telling us that he did so, there is beauty in that that is leached out by his taking 500,000,000 years (just when, at what point, would He call it good?), and Darwin, to do it. The only beauty in evolution, even with God somewhere in it, is the blank awesomeness of eons and eons and eons, distilled into gigabytes of peer-reviewed data.

    Knowing full well that this thread – The Credibility (not Credulity) of Faith thread — is the most vulnerable, yet the strongest, of all threads, I, with respect plus abandon, submit, gentlemen, beauty.

    Have a good day.




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  11. @wesley kime:

    Beautifully presented argument for beauty!
    The cold and clinical scientific mind-set is often insensible to the elephant in the room – ie. beauty. Why in the world would the world be filled with a plethora of aesthetic wonders, but to captivate and please the conscious mind? Therefore, the universe must have consciousness in mind.




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  12. @Victor Marshall: Thank you.

    May I assert, however, that I was not thinking in terms of presenting an argument for beauty per se, as a stand-alone dissertation, more appropriate for a seminar on aesthetics by the psychology or art department than a professorial blog-speak debate on creation, where it always is just a pretty little bouquet to add class to the ambiance, and the professors just march on by without a sniff, as is the professorial wont, to their loss. But that’s another matter. I see beauty mainly as an argument, no, proof, for creation, by God, thus as relevant to this discussion as it is, alas, strange.




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  13. @wesley kime:

    Not quite sure what you are trying to say Doc. Being an artist myself with finely honed aesthetic sensibilities, I can say that I particularly appreciate your work ‘Divine Sparkle.’

    If I’m not mistaken I think Jo Ann Davidson did her dissertation on the theology of aesthetics.




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  14. Thank you, Wesley, for your post; it was a refreshing reminder of whence we came. He bids us to “Be still and KNOW that I am God.” Eyes and ears He has given us, yet He does not force us to see or hear or know. We can choose, despite all the evidence, to be blind and deaf and lost in a maze of our own delusions.




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  15. There are some things that cannot be found currently through scientific investigation. For instance, no fossilized remains of 12 foot tall human beings contemporaneous with the dinosaurs have yet to be found. No pre-Noachians at all have been verified. Though there is ample evidence for a global water catastrophe destroying all life on earth, God has left this particular detail (for now at least) to be based on faith in the evidence of revelation alone.

    Thank you, Victor, for your germaine comments (including these) on faith. Nicely stated. I love your way with words.




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  16. GRI’s mission and work

    In addition to these full-time research personnel, the Institute sponsors a modest research grant program providing assistance to other qualified investigators. Over the past two decades, funding has been provided for nearly 100 research projects on questions related to Earth’s origin and history.

    GRI also has four branch offices in other parts of the world.

    Although not all the conflicts between scientific interpretations and the Bible have been resolved, the staff finds sufficient evidence from its research and from the scientific literature to reinforce faith in the biblical account of origins.

    Apparently GRI is pursuing the same goal that Kent claims they are not pursuing.

    Yet Kent’s straw man continues of the form

    Kent said:
    we have good news, everyone: there is overwhelming physical scientific evidence that supports our belief in a 6-day creation 6000 years

    Trying to “bend” the idea of GRI so that as they find evidence for young life and a young earth “they still fail” the Kent straw man.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  17. When we contrast the carping that we see at times by some who complain about every advance made in the research not designed to oppose the Bible doctrine on creation, we have some groups doing active research and study into this area – stepping forward with theory after theory.

    For example:
    Here is a short 5 minute clip on the hydroplate theory.
    http://www.thetaxpayerschannel.org/graphics/creation/fonte23.mov

    And here is a site that promotes that type of work rather than carping about its existence.
    http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/index.html

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  18. @Victor Marshall:

    There are some things that cannot be found currently through scientific investigation. For instance, no fossilized remains of 12 foot tall human beings contemporaneous with the dinosaurs have yet to be found. No pre-Noachians at all have been verified. Though there is ample evidence for a global water catastrophe destroying all life on earth, God has left this particular detail (for now at least) to be based on faith in the evidence of revelation alone.

    There are indeed many details regarding historical realities that can only be found in the Bible, not in nature. The same is true of certain other books of history that talk about things that no longer exist but which are believed to have existed because of the evidenced credibility of the history book regarding those things that can be tested and evaluated in a potentially falsifiable manner.

    The Book of Mormon, for example, makes many historical statements. However, those elements of these historical claims that can be tested have shown themselves to be obviously false… at least for most investigators of the claims of the Book of Mormon.

    If this same sort of falsification has taken place regarding the historical claims of the Bible then the Bible would be in the same untenable position as is the Book of Mormon. The reason why we (or at least why I) believe that the Bible is far more historically credible than the Book of Mormon is because it has shown itself true regarding those statements which are open to testing and potential falsification.

    Of course, the majority of mainstream scientists, and even theologians these days, disagree with me. They think that many of the testable historical statements of the Bible have in fact been overwhelmingly falsified – just as falsified as the Book of Mormon. If this is in fact one’s conviction, then where is the basis of holding one book as more credible than the other? The appeal to “faith” here, despite the empirical evidence, is entirely subjective and no more rational than the LDS appeal to the credibility of the Book of Mormon based on their deep internal feeling of the conviction of the Holy Spirit alone…

    The appeal to the credibility of the Bible must be backed up with more than an appeal to faith alone. It must be backed up with an appeal to the empirical support for the trustworthiness of the Bible. Without such empirical support, there really is no attraction for the intelligent candid mind for the Bible vs. any other book claiming similar historical or metaphysical credibility that is currently beyond the reach of scientific investigation…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  19. Apparently GRI is pursuing the same goal that Kent claims they are not pursuing. Yet Kent’s straw man continues of the form … trying to “bend” the idea of GRI so that as they find evidence for young life and a young earth “they still fail” the Kent straw man.

    Thank you, Bob, for your continuing valiant effort to twist everything I write into something that appears to be menacing. Apparently, you find me very frightening. Your loving Christian words would almost persuade me to become a Christian–if only I was not one already.

    So let’s suppose that the GRI sponsors a fossil whale dig in South America (LLU and GRI research). The researchers then succeed in showing that the whales were deposited in short order by a catastrophe. Would it disappoint you that most paleontologists would find this particular conclusion similar to that which they have reached from thousands of other fossil digs? And would you be flummoxed if the dating of the whale material itself, and of the Miocene/Pliocene mineral deposits, exceeded 10 million years ago? And would it upset you to learn that Adventist researchers discovered the whales in a highly bioturbated glauconitic sandstone unit?

    And let’s suppose that the GRI sponsors a fossil dig in Nebraska (Chadwick’s SWAU research). The researchers then map very precisely the precise position of thousands of fossils in the quarry. Would you be disappointed if a paleontologist asked, “How does this have anything to do with 6 days 6000 years ago?”

    Perhaps we should demand that all GRI scientists and projects succeed in proving that life forms could not have existed more than 6100 years ago and that a global flood deposited all fossils and fossil layers simultaneously approximately 4000 years. Doing so might make it a lot easier to fire these chaps who are detested and ridiculed by their own church members in the name of Christ.

    By the way, why do we even have fossil layers at all? And why is it that, consistently, we see only the simplest lifeforms in the lowest layers and a gradual increase in complexity as one moves up the layers? How did the flood do this?




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  20. Sean Pitman wrote

    The Book of Mormon, for example, makes many historical statements. However, those elements of these historical claims that can be tested have shown themselves to be obviously false… at least for most investigators of the claims of the Book of Mormon. If this same sort of falsification has taken place regarding the historical claims of the Bible then the Bible would be in the same untenable position as is the Book of Mormon. The reason why we (or at least why I) believe that the Bible is far more historically credible than the Book of Mormon is because it has shown itself true regarding those statements which are open to testing and potential falsification.

    Sean, just a hypothetical question:

    BIBLICAL CLAIM: Man can be formed from a lump of dirt.

    TEST: The Miller-Urey experiment suggests that amino acids, but not living cells, can be created from a prebiotic soup. No one has ever seen living cells, much less complex organs and systems emerge from dirt. (One caveat duly noted: absence of evidence does not constitute evidence of absence.)

    QUESTION: Does this constitute falsification of the Bible?




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  21. TEST: The Miller-Urey experiment suggests that amino acids, but not living cells, can be created from a prebiotic soup. No one has ever seen living cells, much less complex organs and systems emerge from dirt. (One caveat duly noted: absence of evidence does not constitute evidence of absence.)

    Although Miller and Urey set out to prove abiogenesis or Chemical evolution their experiments show something far different. Like leaving out oxygen because it would “largely inhibited” Chemical evolution. Of course an oxygen free environment would also not have an ozone layer which would stop abiogenesis. So rather then proving abiogenesis this experiment and others like it show how impossible abiogenesis is.
    If you would like to read more go here. http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v18/i2/abiogenesis.asp

    Question: Does this constitute falsification of evolution?




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  22. @Professor Kent:

    So let’s suppose that the GRI sponsors a fossil whale dig in South America (LLU and GRI research). The researchers then succeed in showing that the whales were deposited in short order by a catastrophe. Would it disappoint you that most paleontologists would find this particular conclusion similar to that which they have reached from thousands of other fossil digs? And would you be flummoxed if the dating of the whale material itself, and of the Miocene/Pliocene mineral deposits, exceeded 10 million years ago? And would it upset you to learn that Adventist researchers discovered the whales in a highly bioturbated glauconitic sandstone unit?

    The Miocene/Pliocene layers are Tertiary layers. These layers were deposited after the Flood, not during. While there are evidences of massive sudden catastrophes within the Tertiary, there is also evidence of longer periods of elapsed time – such as the more extensive bioturbation in certain areas that you’ve pointed out.

    And let’s suppose that the GRI sponsors a fossil dig in Nebraska (Chadwick’s SWAU research). The researchers then map very precisely the precise position of thousands of fossils in the quarry. Would you be disappointed if a paleontologist asked, “How does this have anything to do with 6 days 6000 years ago?”

    Yet again, this isn’t about proving a six-day creation week. This is about showing that this falsifiable historical statement has not been falsified (contrary to the claims of most modern scientists who claim that it has been very clearly falsified). Not only has the biblical position not be falsified, it is actually very consistent with the weight of available data.

    There is a big difference between absolutely proving a hypothesis vs. providing falsifying empirical evidence – between showing the evidence to be consistent with the hypothesis vs. providing an absolute demonstration. Demonstrating consistency and a lack of falsifying evidence is a big part of what science is all about…

    For example, let’s say that I was on trial for some crime and the judge asked me where I was on the night of the 29th of June, 2010. I tell the judge that I was at home with my family that night – that I only left my house once between 5pm and 6am the next morning for an hour, from 8-9 pm, to go do some work at my office. Let’s say the judge presents evidence that I was seen in London England on the night in question and that my photograph was taken by a security camera at a particular hotel. This evidence, if it convincing to the jury, would essentially falsify my own testimony that I only left my house in California for an hour. The two stories obviously can’t both be true. The evidence favoring one is falsifying the other at the same time.

    Now, if it could be shown that the photo in question was a fake, this would remove the weight of this falsifying evidence. Let’s also say that historically reliable witnesses could be found who would testify that they saw me in my car headed for the direction of my work the night in question. Let’s also say that evidence could be found to support my general trustworthiness within my community. Would this prove that I only left my house for an hour? Could I have been gone for 80 minutes instead? or just half an hour? Could I have gone somewhere else besides my work? Sure, but there is no evidence that is clearly inconsistent with my testimony, and the positive evidence that is available is consistent with my testimony.

    What then is the only rational conclusion supported by the currently available empirical evidence?

    In this same line, Chadwick’s data supports the catastrophic model for the origin of the geologic and fossil records – a model that is consistent with the biblical model of origins and opposed to the evolutionary model promoted by most mainstream scientists.

    Perhaps we should demand that all GRI scientists and projects succeed in proving that life forms could not have existed more than 6100 years ago and that a global flood deposited all fossils and fossil layers simultaneously approximately 4000 years. Doing so might make it a lot easier to fire these chaps who are detested and ridiculed by their own church members in the name of Christ.

    Just because someone would not make an effective SDA representative as a pastor or teacher, or effective represent the intended goals that the SDA Church has for the GRI does not mean that these people are “detested” or “ridiculed”. It just means that they do not share the opinions or goals of the SDA Church as an organization. Why try to make this something personal when it isn’t?

    By the way, why do we even have fossil layers at all? And why is it that, consistently, we see only the simplest lifeforms in the lowest layers and a gradual increase in complexity as one moves up the layers? How did the flood do this?

    There is no real increase in complexity as one moves up the layers. All the animal (metazoan) phyla with an adequate fossil record appear in the Cambrian.

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/fossilrecord.html#Simple_Complex

    Also, the first examples of many other types of living things keep being moves farther and farther down the column as more research is done. Even pollen, spores and fragments of vascular plants have been found in the Cambrian Salt Range beds in India.

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/fossilrecord.html#Spores

    There is, however, a certain order to the fossil record. Although not all features of this pattern can be explained via a catastrophic model, many features can be explained. At least a partial explanation might be found in the discovery that at least some of the nested hierarchical patterns of the distribution of different populations (both living and within the fossil record) seem to be strongly related to ecological and population-size factors.

    Sites that encompass a greater area tend to have more species (Rosenzweig, 1995). This is because large areas include a subset of species not found elsewhere. Therefore, the nested subset pattern of species distribution in space is thought to reflect the gradient in abundance among species (Gaston, 1996; Leitner and Rosenzweig, 1997; Maurer, 1999). . . [These features are consistent with the hypothesis of] “isolated habitat ‘islands’.”

    Elizabeth A. Hadly and Brian A. Maurer, Spatial and temporal patterns of species diversity in montane mammal communities of western North America, Evolutionary Ecology Research, 2001, 3: 477-486

    Using this line of reasoning, one might reasonable hypothesize that trilobites appear in the fossil record before crabs and lobsters at least party because of the relative abundance of trilobites compared to crabs and lobsters. This hypothesis is at least plausible given the author’s conclusion that, “Species identities and their relative abundances are non-random properties of communities that persist over long periods of ecological time and across geographic space. This is consistent with species abundance contributing heavily to evolutionary patterns.” After all, “It’s very rare to find fossils of lobsters”. General mobility, ability to survive catastrophic conditions, and other ecological/habitat factors could also reasonably contribute to the differential location of trilobites vs. lobsters and crabs in the fossil record.

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/fossilrecord.html#Simple_Complex

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  23. @Professor Kent:

    Sean, just a hypothetical question:

    BIBLICAL CLAIM: Man can be formed from a lump of dirt.

    TEST: The Miller-Urey experiment suggests that amino acids, but not living cells, can be created from a prebiotic soup. No one has ever seen living cells, much less complex organs and systems emerge from dirt. (One caveat duly noted: absence of evidence does not constitute evidence of absence.)

    QUESTION: Does this constitute falsification of the Bible?

    As already noted above, there is some debate over if the Miller-Urey experiment simulated the correct atmosphere of the prebiotic soup. Many scientists believe that the atmosphere of the pre-biotic Earth was an oxidizing atmosphere. Yet, the Miller-Urey experiment requires a reducing atmosphere. There are, of course, many fairly recent papers suggesting various ways to maintain the reducing quality of the atmosphere needed for the production of organic molecules.

    The problem, of course, is that this is all irrelevant. The generation of basic amino acid building blocks, building blocks that are on very very low levels of structural and functional complexity, says nothing about how these basic building blocks could self-assembling to produce the minimum structure necessary to sustain the simplest living thing (a much much higher level of specific structural and functional complexity)…

    As carefully explained by the likes of Stephen Meyer in his excellent new book, Signature in the Cell, the extreme fine tuning and precise arrangement needed to create the simplest living organism is far more in line with the hypothesis of deliberate design that it is with any known non-deliberate force of nature.

    Does such evidence for ID prove the need for instant formation? No. However, it is not at all inconsistent with instant or very rapid intelligent production.

    Again, you fail to see the difference between falsifying evidence and consistent evidence when it comes to evaluating a scientific hypothesis. Science isn’t about proving a hypothesis true, which can’t be done by science. Science can only disprove potentially falsifiable hypotheses. Those hypotheses that avoid being disproved by all the tests brought to bear thus far gain predictive value, but are never fully proved. There always remains the potential for future falsification – – though this potential is felt to be less and less likely with the passage of time and more and more successful testing.

    So, does the Miller-Urey experiment falsify the Bible’s claim that lumps of dirt can be turned into biological systems with very high levels of functional complexity? – with the use of very high level intelligent design? In a word, No! Of course not…

    If anything, the Miller-Urey experiment helps to highlights the limits of mindless self-organization of basic building blocks. That’s it. It doesn’t remotely challenge the falsifiable hypothesis that higher levels of functional complexity/information require the outside input of pre-existing higher-level information of at least the same quality or greater. In other words, the Miller-Urey experiment helped to support the scientific concept of meaningful/functional informational entropy (FIE). Like thermodynamic entropy, FIE always increases over time and it doesn’t flow uphill…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  24. Evolutionism (the big picture) insists that dirt gradually became single-celled organisms. Creationism (the Genesis account) insists that dirt instantly became a multicellular organism. I’ve always been amused that so many creationists believe the problems of abiogenesis (life from dirt) can be seen as falsifying evolutionism but not creationism.

    The song by Kansas, “Dust in the Wind,” comes to mind.




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  25. In this same line, Chadwick’s data supports the catastrophic model for the origin of the geologic and fossil records – a model that is consistent with the biblical model of origins and opposed to the evolutionary model promoted by most mainstream scientists.

    His fossil digs? What do his digs show that other digs do not? Are you suggesting that evolutionists don’t believe in catastrophes?

    There is no real increase in complexity as one moves up the layers. All the animal (metazoan) phyla with an adequate fossil record appear in the Cambrian.

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/fossilrecord.html#Simple_Complex

    Also, the first examples of many other types of living things keep being moves farther and farther down the column as more research is done. Even pollen, spores and fragments of vascular plants have been found in the Cambrian Salt Range beds in India.

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/fossilrecord.html#Spores

    There is, however, a certain order to the fossil record. Although not all features of this pattern can be explained via a catastrophic model, many features can be explained.

    And this is where I end my contributions to this topic. If you people seriously want to believe this stuff, go right ahead. Slaying a Flying Spaghetti Monster is much easier than skinning a road-killed Jackalope.




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  26. @Professor Kent: @<a

    TEST: The Miller-Urey experiment suggests that amino acids, but not living cells, can be created from a prebiotic soup. No one has ever seen living cells, much less complex organs and systems emerge from dirt. (One caveat duly noted: absence of evidence does not constitute evidence of absence.)

    QUESTION: Does this constitute falsification of the Bible?

    To be “more precise” the Urey-Miller experiment shows that amino acids produced in even the most contrived of circumstances – do NOT exist in the monochiral form that is REQUIRED of all amino-acid polypeptide chains used in living cells today.

    It proves that the natural racemization of amino acids is a physics and chemistry property observed in “real science” that totally blocks the alchemist’s abiogenesis storytelling before it ever gets off the ground!

    href=”http://www.educatetruth.com/theological/the-credibility-of-faith/comment-page-1/#comment-18593″>Dustin Galloway:

    Although Miller and Urey set out to prove abiogenesis or Chemical evolution their experiments show something far different. Like leaving out oxygen because it would “largely inhibited” Chemical evolution. Of course an oxygen free environment would also not have an ozone layer which would stop abiogenesis. So rather then proving abiogenesis this experiment and others like it show how impossible abiogenesis is.
    If you would like to read more go here. http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v18/i2/abiogenesis.asp

    Question: Does this constitute falsification of evolution?

    As you point out – the U-M experiment’s “conditions” are in fact contrived. But I think it is far more telling to point out that its results are even more devastating to the abiogenesis myth since it proves that even in the most contrived context – the resulting products are still not workable.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  27. @Professor Kent:

    Evolutionism (the big picture) insists that dirt gradually became single-celled organisms. Creationism (the Genesis account) insists that dirt instantly became a multicellular organism. I’ve always been amused that so many creationists believe the problems of abiogenesis (life from dirt) can be seen as falsifying evolutionism but not creationism.

    We’re talking about the most likely source of higher-level functional/meaningful information. There is a demonstrable exponential decline in the ability of basic building blocks to self-assemble into functional systems or even to evolve, via RM/NS additional qualitatively novel functional systems, with each step up the ladder of functional complexity. It is this exponential decay in what mindless processes can do, as compared to what intelligent design can do, that poses the most devastating problem for mindless naturalism.

    Given the data that is currently available, such higher level information only comes from outside sources of information on the same or higher levels – to include that of deliberate intelligent design. It is also known that intelligent designers can turn a collection of jumbled basic building blocks into a functional system with a very high level of functional complexity in very short order. Vast periods of time simply aren’t needed when ID is involved.

    Given this knowledge of how effective deliberate intelligence is at producing high levels of functional complexity in very short order, it is far more rational to conclude that the high level mechanical and functional complexity of a living cell was the result of the outside input of very intelligent design – a process that does not need vast periods of time to produce high levels of functional complexity.

    What is most interesting to me in this particular argument of yours is that you scoff at both evolutionists and creationists. You laugh at the idea of dirt slowing evolving into living things and you laugh at the idea of dirt being turned into a living thing by intelligent design in short order. What do you think the currently available evidence reasonably supports? What do you think is the most clearly supported scientific conclusion or interpretation for the data at hand?

    Are you suggesting that evolutionists don’t believe in catastrophes?

    On the contrary, evolutionists believe in far more numerous individual catastrophes than creationists believe in. It is just that evolutionists believe that all of their catastrophes happened over vast periods of time while creationists believe that most of them happen over a very very short period of time. Chadwick’s overall work, to include his work with mapping dinosaur bones, supports the rapid catastrophic model for the origin of most of the geologic column and fossil record – consistent with the idea of a massive global Noachian-style flood or very shortly-spaced series of massive watery catastrophes worldwide…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  28. It is emerging from the present thread within a thread that whereas to the eyes of some the instant creation of a man from dust remains refractorily problematic, even somehow funny, while assembly, if not creation, of amino acids over eons from primordial soup is oh-please-may-it-be probable, the creation of straw men all over the blogscape is a snap. But seriously, theistic folks, if in your vast though not blind faith you allow God to create man over millions of years, as evo says, from basic compounds now known as “dust” (which also happens to be the technical term for the stuff littering cosmic space, from which suns are fabricated, no question), why not let Him do it rather more quickly, should He want to, as His book says?




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  29. What is most interesting to me in this particular argument of yours is that you scoff at both evolutionists and creationists. You laugh at the idea of dirt slowing evolving into living things and you laugh at the idea of dirt being turned into a living thing by intelligent design in short order. What do you think the currently available evidence reasonably supports? What do you think is the most clearly supported scientific conclusion or interpretation for the data at hand?

    You’re absolutely right; I laugh at any claim that physical scientific evidence supports the belief of creationists that God formed all major life forms instantaneously or that physical scientific evidence supports the belief of evolutionists that all major life forms are descended from a single one-celled organism that formed autonomously. Neither notion can be falsified or verified. Surely you agree with this.

    If we go by your argument that if THEORY X is supported by physical evidence for claims A, B, C, and D, therefore claims E, F, G, and H must be valid, then I think there is more scientific evidence to support evolutionism over millions of years than creationism in 6 days 6000 years ago. That’s the way I personally interpret the physical evidence, as do many honest Christians, including YEC scientists like those at GRI. The problem both theories (evolutionism and creationism) have is in concluding that claims E, F, G, and H are valid when there are no empirical data to support them. And that’s the problem I have with your approach: you simply cannot assert that, just because there is physical evidence supporting claims A, B, C, and D, then claims E, F, G, and H which lack physical supporting data (which you yourself have labeled “metaphysical claims”) are true, valid, or “supported.”

    Sorry, but one can only accept 6 days 6000 years ago based on faith in God’s Word. Is there physical evidence to support the validity of God’s word? Some, yes. I believe it; you believe it. Is there physical evidence to accept 6 days 6000 years ago that cannot be interpreted differently? I don’t think so. And I’m glad you don’t believe I’m immoral if I disagree with you (not that I really care what you, Ron, Bob, and Bill believe about my morality).




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  30. @Professor Kent:

    You’re absolutely right; I laugh at any claim that physical scientific evidence supports the belief of creationists that God formed all major life forms instantaneously or that physical scientific evidence supports the belief of evolutionists that all major life forms are descended from a single one-celled organism that formed autonomously. Neither notion can be falsified or verified. Surely you agree with this.

    Your assertion that neither notion can be falsified is mistaken. Both notions can be falsified. The claims of evolutionists for the creative potential of various mindless mechanisms can be falsified, statistically, beyond very low levels of functional complexity. If its basic assumptions could not be falsified, even in theory, it would not be a valid scientific hypothesis. Since it can be subject to testing and potential falsification, at least statistically speaking, it remains within the realm of a valid scientific proposition, prediction or hypothesis – whatever word you like best.

    The same is true for the notion that high level intelligent design is required to explain the existence of these higher levels of functional complexity within living things. All one has to do to falsify the requirement for intelligent input is to actually show that a mindless mechanism is statistically likely to be able to do the job in a reasonable amount of time. Such a demonstration would falsify the hypothesis that ID is required. Don’t you see that?

    But what about verification of these hypotheses? Science is unable to absolutely verify hypotheses. Science can falsify hypotheses, or bring falsifying evidence against hypotheses, but it can never fully verify a hypothesis. That is a basic limitation of science. Passing a test isn’t the same thing as fully verifying a hypothesis. Additional tests could still prove the hypothesis wrong. If a hypothesis could ever be fully verified, science would no longer be needed at that point. Science is only useful when there is less than complete information and when there is still a potential for error or falsification with additional information.

    This is why science requires a “leap of faith” from limited data to conclusions that are always incompletely supported by the data. The question in play is, which competing hypothesis carries with it the greatest weight of available data? – the creation of life over vast periods of time via a mindless mechanism? – or the creation of life over a short period of time via intelligent design.

    I think the available evidence clearly supports the latter falsifiable hypothesis.

    If we go by your argument that if THEORY X is supported by physical evidence for claims A, B, C, and D, therefore claims E, F, G, and H must be valid, then I think there is more scientific evidence to support evolutionism over millions of years than creationism in 6 days 6000 years ago. That’s the way I personally interpret the physical evidence, as do many honest Christians, including YEC scientists like those at GRI. The problem both theories (evolutionism and creationism) have is in concluding that claims E, F, G, and H are valid when there are no empirical data to support them. And that’s the problem I have with your approach: you simply cannot assert that, just because there is physical evidence supporting claims A, B, C, and D, then claims E, F, G, and H which lack physical supporting data (which you yourself have labeled “metaphysical claims”) are true, valid, or “supported.”

    Do you not consider inductive reasoning, extrapolation beyond a limited data set, to be part of scientific reasoning?

    Again, science always takes leaps of faith beyond what can be absolutely known or demonstrated. Science is always based on limited data from which extrapolations or predictions are made that are not known and cannot be known to be 100% accurate. That’s the whole purpose of scientific methodologies – to make useful predictions or leaps of faith based on limited information. All that can be known via scientific reasoning is if A, B, C, and D have or have not been falsified by the weight of the currently available evidence. If they have been falsified, then the conclusions E, F, G, and H, which rest upon the validity of A, B, C, and D loose scientific credibility.

    Again, Jesus used this very same logic to support His metaphysical claim to be able to forgive sins. He connected this claim with an empirical demonstration to be able to heal a paralyzed man. In other words, if He had failed to heal the paralyzed man, His associated non-testable claim to be able to forgive sins would have failed as well.

    Sorry, but one can only accept 6 days 6000 years ago based on faith in God’s Word. Is there physical evidence to support the validity of God’s word? Some, yes.

    In other words, the validity of the very specific historical claim that creation only took 6 literal days within 6000 or so years is based on the credibility of the Bible which makes this claim. And, the credibility of the Bible is based on what should be very good empirical evidence – evidence which you yourself have proposed in the form of various historically fulfilled prophecies.

    The question is, does the empirical evidence in support of the credibility of the Bible trump the empirical evidence that opposes or seems to falsify the claims of the Bible? In other words, where is the total weight of available empirical evidence? Do we really believe the Bible to be historically credible in the same way the LDS believe the Book of Mormon to be historically credible? – Because we think the Holy Spirit has impressed us deep inside with the truth? – despite all the empirical evidence that may come against us? I would hope not!

    As Galileo once said, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

    I believe it; you believe it. Is there physical evidence to accept 6 days 6000 years ago that cannot be interpreted differently? I don’t think so.

    I don’t think so when it comes to evidence that is inconsistent with the 6-day 6000 years ago hypothesis – as is the notion that life has existed and evolved on this planet over the course of hundreds of millions of years. This hypothesis, if accepted as true, is completely inconsistent with the 6-day creation hypothesis.

    Fortunately the weight of empirical evidence is far more consistent with the 6-day hypothesis than it is with the hundreds of millions of years hypothesis (in my own opinion at least). If you really do think otherwise, you must have empirical evidence to support the credibility of the Bible’s claims that is at least as compelling, and then some, compared to the evidence that you consider to be in clear opposition to the Bible’s claims. Otherwise, you really are relying on a blind leap of faith beyond what the weight of available evidence can support. You are making, and have made in this forum, the very same argument that my LDS friends have presented to me – that the Holy Spirit gives privileged information to some people (like you and my LDS friends) that He hasn’t given to everyone who honestly wants to know the right answers to such questions (to include me).

    And I’m glad you don’t believe I’m immoral if I disagree with you (not that I really care what you, Ron, Bob, and Bill believe about my morality).

    Great! I really don’t care what you, Ron, Bob and Bill think about my morality either – so we’re in agreement on at least some things 😉

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  31. Just a few comments in response to Sean [sigh…]

    The claims of evolutionists for the creative potential of various mindless mechanisms can be falsified, statistically, beyond very low levels of functional complexity.

    I respectfully disagree.

    All one has to do to falsify the requirement for intelligent input is to actually show that a mindless mechanism is statistically likely to be able to do the job in a reasonable amount of time. Such a demonstration would falsify the hypothesis that ID is required. Don’t you see that?

    The hypothesis is not that ID is required; it’s that it happened in 6 days 6000 years ago. And even if it could have happened, we can’t falsify the hypothesis that it did happen. Don’t you see that?

    The question in play is, which competing hypothesis carries with it the greatest weight of available data? – the creation of life over vast periods of time via a mindless mechanism? – or the creation of life over a short period of time via intelligent design. I think the available evidence clearly supports the latter falsifiable hypothesis.

    I respectfully disagree, even though I believe in the latter, non-falsifiable hypothesis.

    Do you not consider inductive reasoning, extrapolation beyond a limited data set, to be part of scientific reasoning?

    Forecasting–extrapolating beyond the data–is fraught with problems. When you were a child, your parents probably gave you a lot of correct facts, so if they were like many parents (including mine) in relating “fun” stories, you probably assumed that their tales about Santa Claus were true. And today there are many people who are putting off their retirements because, leading up to the real estate, banking, and Wall Street collapses, they relied on exactly the reasoning you proposed. You call this scientific reasoning? I call it speculation. Risky speculation.




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  32. And more from Sean

    Fortunately the weight of empirical evidence is far more consistent with the 6-day hypothesis than it is with the hundreds of millions of years hypothesis (in my own opinion at least). If you really do think otherwise, you must have empirical evidence to support the credibility of the Bible’s claims that is at least as compelling, and then some, compared to the evidence that you consider to be in clear opposition to the Bible’s claims. Otherwise, you really are relying on a blind leap of faith beyond what the weight of available evidence can support. You are making, and have made in this forum, the very same argument that my LDS friends have presented to me – that the Holy Spirit gives privileged information to some people (like you and my LDS friends) that He hasn’t given to everyone who honestly wants to know the right answers to such questions (to include me).

    I feel sorry for all the poor souls of this planet who, up to now, had no access to http://www.detectingdesign.com so that they could make more than a blind leap of faith. I’m in the same boat as the millions of souls who watched the wicked cruelty of nature at play (thanks to sin), knew of no scientific evidence for 6 days 6000 years ago, but still believed nevertheless. I’m in the same boat as those described in Romans 1:20, who likewise observed the wicked cruelty of nature at play (thanks to sin), had conflicting evidence for a benevolent God, had no evidence whatsover of Jesus Christ, yet were “without excuse” and apparently “believed.” Maybe we’ll dock at the same destination as your boat, and maybe we won’t. But I don’t feel compelled to jump ship.




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  33. @Professor Kent:

    I’m in the same boat as those described in Romans 1:20, who likewise observed the wicked cruelty of nature at play (thanks to sin), had conflicting evidence for a benevolent God, had no evidence whatsover of Jesus Christ, yet were “without excuse” and apparently “believed.” Maybe we’ll dock at the same destination as your boat, and maybe we won’t. But I don’t feel compelled to jump ship.

    Yes, and the very same thing can be said for my honest and sincere LDS friends (even for my agnostic and atheistic friends). God will accept the honest sincerity of their belief if combined with the motive of selfless love and care for their neighbors. Given this motivation, even though they may be mistaken regarding various other doctrinal beliefs, they will still “dock at the same destination” as those who did know and live according to greater doctrinal “truth”. They will be in Heaven – as will you and I if we remain sincerely and earnestly devoted to the truth as best as we can see it (even if you or I happen to be wrong in what we think is the truth regarding origins).

    How much better though to have an intelligent basis for faith, belief and hope in the future here and now if we did have the backing of very solid empirical evidence? How much more confidence could be had in this life if one could appreciate the overwhelming evidence, the empirical evidence, for the credibility of God’s Word? Surely you recognize that there would be at least some benefit if discoveries of science did happen to clearly support the validity of the Bible’s claims? If not, what’s the point of any Church sponsoring the study of nature?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  34. @Professor Kent:

    I respectfully disagree, even though I believe in the latter, non-falsifiable hypothesis.

    Is it not uncharitable of you to argue that the vast majority of scientists are obviously wrong? wrong in their claim that the biblical notion of a recent creation of life on this planet has in fact been clearly falsified by the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence? I mean, every time I suggest that anyone might be mistaken you suggest that I’m being uncharitable. How about you then? Does the same argument apply to you?

    You see, you’re not just disagreeing with me here. You’re disagreeing with the majority of mainstream scientists who think that your claim to the non-falsifiability of the biblical short-age model of origins is obviously mistaken – that this model for the origin of life on this planet has clearly been falsified by the overwhelming weight of empirical evidence. The very fact that you yourself recognize that empirical evidence can indeed be brought to bear against the biblical position on origins should be enough to convince you of potentially falsifiable nature of the biblical account (in the same manner that many of the historical statements in the Book of Mormon are open to potential falsification and have in fact been falsified).

    The only basis that you have consistently forwarded to believe that the biblical claims are still correct despite all the falsifying empirical evidence is your “faith” in the Bible despite all the physical evidence to the contrary – faith that is largely supported by what you feel are the impressions of the Holy Spirit along with a few relatively weekly supporting empirical evidences in the form of fulfilled historical prophecies. That’s it. That’s all you’ve really argued for as far as I’ve been able to tell.

    From a rational basis, your claim that the biblical position on origins is not at all subject to empirical testing or the falsifying weight of empirical evidence simply doesn’t hold water for the vast majority of intelligent minds who have thought seriously about this issue…

    It is fine if you want to believe despite in the face of what you consider to be the overwhelming weight of empirical evidence to the contrary. Just don’t call your belief or faith anything other than blind faith – i.e., faith that isn’t based on the weight of empirical evidence. Faith that is based on something other than the empirical evidence is blind to that particular type of evidence since it doesn’t take it into serious account.

    The kind of faith that is independent of the weight of physical evidence may be helpful for the individual, but it really isn’t helpful when it comes to convincing minds that do not have access to whatever other type of non-empirical evidence you seem to have access to. I certainly do not have access to this other type of evidence that seems so convincing to you in the face of the overwhelming weight of empirical evidence to the contrary.

    I, personally, would have to go with what I saw as the weight of empirical evidence. This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  35. Just don’t call your belief or faith anything other than blind faith – i.e., faith that isn’t based on the weight of empirical evidence.

    Okay, whatever. I’ll live by faith, you can live by empirical evidence. I’m definitely finished with this go-nowhere conversation.

    I think I’ll take a blindfolded stroll in Westminster Abbey next week and see whose tomb I end up at. Mabye it will be that of King Henry VIII, or Rudyard Kipling, or Laurence Olivier, or Alfred Lord Tennyson, or Isaac Newton…or maybe even Charles Darwin! I’ll bet I can sense in my gut whose grave it is before I take off the blindfold. I think I’ll also bring some spaghetti with me in case I end up at Darwin’s tomb. I could then enjoy slaying the flying monster for lunch while in Darwin’s company to remind me how blind my faith really is. Yeah…poetic justice.




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  36. Point – Sean argues for ID (or in other cases, someone here argues the case for young life)

    Sean said:
    All one has to do to falsify the requirement for intelligent input is to actually show that a mindless mechanism is statistically likely to be able to do the job in a reasonable amount of time. Such a demonstration would falsify the hypothesis that ID is required. Don’t you see that?

    To which we get Kent’s non-stop straw man complaint.

    @Professor Kent:

    I respectfully disagree.

    The hypothesis is not that ID is required; it’s that it happened in 6 days 6000 years ago. And even if it could have happened, we can’t falsify the hypothesis that it did happen. Don’t you see that?

    Predictably – every time evidence for either I.D or Young-life is brought up – Kent circles back to the straw man that we should IGNORE such evidence UNTIL it is showing us a 7 DAY event and also showing that it happened exactly 6000 years ago.

    How does Kent ever hope to be taken seriously with that flawed logic?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  37. And here is the second leg of Kent’s transparently flawed tactics. In this case Kent no longer cares about the “literal 6 days or I don’t count the evidence” canard.

    In this case Kent jumps in directly in opposition to ANY argument for ANYTING like I.D or Young life — well… just on PRINCIPLE!

    The argument presented to Kent in this case – is simply to use scientific reasoning in deduction and extrapolation of data to come to a sound conclusion.

    Sean said:
    Do you not consider inductive reasoning, extrapolation beyond a limited data set, to be part of scientific reasoning?

    Thus we now have a GENERAL PRINCIPLE argument – that Kent’s “deny-all” tactic will now attack because … well “just because” it might be used in favor of I.D or Young Life!!?

    Forecasting–extrapolating beyond the data–is fraught with problems. When you were a child, your parents probably gave you a lot of correct facts, so if they were like many parents (including mine) in relating “fun” stories, you probably assumed that their tales about Santa Claus were true. And today there are many people who are putting off their retirements because, leading up to the real estate, banking, and Wall Street collapses, they relied on exactly the reasoning you proposed. You call this scientific reasoning? I call it speculation. Risky speculation.

    That meandering any-excuse-will-do response to the “first principles” when it comes to scientific deduction regarding data –> conclusion is astounding!

    Kent refuses to get his hands dirty to do any actual work in discovery, thinking, logic in support of I.D or young life… and then devotes all of his energy to either holding up a 6day vs 8 day “Canard” when evidence for I.D or Young Life is mentioned – or to simply go after “all of science” when it comes to deductive reasoning from data — if that reasoning risks being in support of I.D or young life.

    I do not post this with the idea of stopping Kent from going down that path – rather I post it because I think that Kent’s “I am a creationist but I oppose every effort to support that view with facts” mantra – is one that a number of Christians (yes even some SDAs) have unwittingly adopted for reasons yet to be explained.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  38. Bob Ryan wrote

    Predictably – every time evidence for either I.D or Young-life is brought up – Kent circles back to the straw man that we should IGNORE such evidence UNTIL it is showing us a 7 DAY event and also showing that it happened exactly 6000 years ago.

    Bob himself has pointed out hundreds of times that SDAs believe in 6 days 6000 years ago. I have pointed out that this is a Biblically-based belief, sustained by faith, and is not based on scientific evidence. We wouldn’t be having this discussion if the view of 6 days 6000 years didn’t originat from the Bible because one certainly could not derive it from science alone. Evidence for I.D. and Young-life, which I have never stated should be ignored (another Bob Ryan fabrication), do not provide the basis for or validate 6 days 6000 years ago.

    I’m not responding to the remainder of Bob’s psychodrivel.




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  39. I think I’ll take a blindfolded stroll in Westminster Abbey next week and see whose tomb I end up at. Mabye it will be that of King Henry VIII, or Rudyard Kipling, or Laurence Olivier, or Alfred Lord Tennyson, or Isaac Newton…or maybe even Charles Darwin.

    Yes, Darwin is buried in Westminster Abbey, as a “hero” to all the Brits, since he claimed they (whites) were so much more evolutionary advanced than the darker, more ape-like races. Something the Brits, Germans, and many other whites loved to hear!

    BTW, I am half English and half German, so I’m not knocking the whiteys, but simply stating Darwin was a major racist, and the Brits loved his “truth!” He was a major influence on other “racists” such as Hitler, Stalin, etc. They loved him!




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  40. BTW, Darwin also “prophesied” that the white, more evolutionary advanced races would someday wipe out the other darker, more apelike races. As we can see, he was SO correct!




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  41. Re Bob’s Quote

    “I do not post this with the idea of stopping Kent from going down that path – rather I post it because I think that Kent’s “I am a creationist but I oppose every effort to support that view with facts” mantra – is one that a number of Christians (yes even some SDAs) have unwittingly adopted for reasons yet to be explained.”

    Dear Bob

    Might one “reasons yet to be explained” be the objective weighing of all the evidence pro and con?

    Regards
    Ken




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  42. Hebrews 11:1–3 (ESV)
    11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

    The deepest students of science are constrained to recognize in nature the working of infinite power. But to man’s unaided reason, nature’s teaching cannot but be contradictory and disappointing. Only in the light of revelation can it be read aright. “Through faith we understand.” Hebrews 11:3. {Ed 134.1}

    The most difficult and humiliating lesson which man has to learn, if he is kept by the power of God, is his own inefficiency in depending upon human wisdom, and the sure failure of his own efforts to read nature correctly. Sin has obscured his vision, and he cannot interpret nature without placing it above God.–U. T., July 3, 1898.

    I don’t read all these threads every day. I must say reading this whole thread at once was a bit discouraging. Why do we all seem to feel such a great need to be “right?”

    Before proceeding I should make it clear that I believe the Bible’s version of origins. The dead horse this thread is beating is one’s reason(s) for belief. Is it only me, or does someone else see the possibility of having multiple reasons for believing something? The truth is that very little if anything that any of us believe can be proven (or disproven). We can’t even prove that the sun will come up tomorrow. The assumption that the laws of physics will be the same tomorrow as they are today is just that, an assumption. It is said that nothing is sure but death and taxes, but I personally know at least one tax evader, and I believe that Enoch and Elijah did not see death (but I can’t prove it).

    As I’ve stated before, I have no doubt that faith absolutely must be a component of my choice to believe in the Bible’s version of origins. The marks of sin so mar the creation that it cannot alone be seen as a safe guide to correct conclusions. However, it was God Himself who gave the invitation “come, let us reason together.” I don’t for even a second believe that God is calling us to faith without evidence.

    E.G. White said it best:
    God never asks us to believe, without giving sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith. His existence, His character, the truthfulness of His word, are all established by testimony that appeals to our reason; and this testimony is abundant. Yet God has never removed the possibility of doubt. Our faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration. Those who wish to doubt will have opportunity; while those who really desire to know the truth will find plenty of evidence on which to rest their faith. {CSA 46.1}

    How could it be more plainly stated? Our faith must rest on evidence, not demonstration. In this life we are not blessed with intellectual certainty on much of anything.

    When it comes to macro-evolution vs. special creation it is clear to me that there is tremendous difficulty with Darwin’s original conclusions. Nothing points more clearly to this than Francis Crick’s “directed panspermia” theory. Talk about pseudoscience! I have a PhD in Statistics. No way that I can look at the genome gives me any inkling that something so beautifully complex could have “just happened.” Apparently, the atheist Crick agrees with me at least on that!

    How then do I decide where to put my faith? For me the following points are crucial.

    Scripture presents the accurate view of the sinful nature of man.

    Scripture presents a considerable number of fulfilled prophecies.

    In those instances where archeological evidence exists at all, it corroberates the scriptural account.

    The complexity and beauty of nature, even in its degenerate state loudly speak to me of a Creator.

    By far the most important of all: I have known Jesus Christ personally for many years. He has been to me all that He claimed to be, including Creator and Redeemer. He confirmed the Genesis account while He lived on earth. He said He was there when Lucifer fell from heaven. He must have been there when the earth was created. Either He is God or a liar. I believe He is God. This is why I believe the specifics of history as presented in the book of Genesis.

    Of course I can’t prove any of this. The important thing is that while I can’t prove anything, I still have to believe something. And, even if I can’t prove it, I can believe it 100%. It is everyone else’s right to choose their own way of believing. I appeal to all participating in this forum to share your faith, and to share the evidences upon which your faith is based. But, at the same time, faith by its very nature does not rest on “demonstration” (read proof). Therefore, let us believe passionately and share our faith in the same spirit. And, let us expect nothing less than passionate faith from those who teach our children. But, let us not argue endlessly on subtle issues of epistomology.

    Blessings to all in Christ,

    Pastor George Hilton




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  43. @Professor Kent:

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

    If “faith trumps science and evidence”, as you suggest here, then what conclusion can one make except to see this as an argument for blind faith? – faith that is not based on any kind of scientific reasoning or evidence? – faith in a particular point of view that can stand even if all available evidence is pointing in a different direction?

    In short, how is your faith in the Bible, faith that is not based on science or evidence of any kind, superior to the same type of faith expressed my LDS or Hindu or Muslim believers in the superiority of their own sources of authority compared to your Bible? How are you so sure you’re right and they’re wrong? How do you know that your “faith” is superior to theirs? Upon what basis do you make such a bold assertion? – a basis that would have general appeal to candid minds beyond your own?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  44. @Sean Pitman:

    Sean,

    If we restrict our discussion to origins, we have little or nothing to disagree with Muslims about. Whatever evidence supports our beliefs supports theirs, and vice-versa. I do not for one millisecond take the position that I believe without evidence. However, a large amount of my evidence is not based on what most scientists would consider “scientific data.” My faith is based on a consortium of evidence. Some of it is scientific, some of it is metaphysical, some of it is prophetic, and some of it is experiential. The truth is, I have no proof whatsoever that my source of authority is superior to that of Muslims. There is plenty of reason in my mind to believe that there is, but that is unlikely to be sufficient to convince many of them.

    Frankly, I don’t think it is my job to convince them. I believe it is the Holy Spirit’s job. I have preached several evangelistic series where I gave all I had to convince listeners that they should share the passionate belief in Scripture that has led me to be a SDA. Many have been baptized, but never for one second should I allow myself to believe that I “convinced” them. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and it takes the Spirit to open them to those of us who spend most of our time fixated on the physical realm. Our understanding of origins is as much spiritual as it is physical.

    The truth is that there always have been and always will be a variety of persuasions all claiming to hear God’s voice. A maximum of one of the many contradictory viewpoints can be true. It is up to me to give everything I have by study and prayer to approach the true God. It is up to me to share what I’ve found as a profound gift, not as dominant dogma.

    I have had the profound privilege of a very good education. I have many friends who have not had that privilege. They are precluded from much of this discussion because they do not have the tools to understand it. Not for one moment am I willing to believe that their faith is inferior to mine because I understand critical thinking, mathematics (particularly probability theory), physics, and a bit of biology that they don’t. In fact, the best examples I know of faith are found in the childlike faith of simple believers. Christ referred to these when He said “of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Indeed, speaking of statistics, my personal observation is that some forms of learning appear to be negatively correlated with the quality of spiritual choices. How else do we account for the fact that these ideas always spin out from centers of learning?

    Your web site indicates that you are dedicated to the detection of design in nature. I heartily agree with this endeavor. It is a tribute to the success of materialist dogma that anyone still denies design. You also vigorously defend a young earth model. I heartily agree with this conclusion and see much evidence in its support. I don’t know of any scientific evidence that would nail down what “young” means even to an order of magnitude. But, when I see design, along with Scripture I find a compelling team. Scripture has behind it the weight of prophecy. Scripture is the only source that I know of that describes human nature accurately. Scripture records the words of a Man who was either God or history’s greatest imposter. All the evidence leads me to believe He was and is God. Having made this decision, I know with a high degree of precision what “young earth” means. Without Scripture I would have far fewer details. I don’t see this as blind faith. Neither do I see it as proof.

    Finally, I don’t think anything that you or anyone else can discover in the natural world will ever allow one to distinguish between the correctness of the Christian or the Muslim faiths. Since both faiths accept the Old Testament, they aren’t going to argue with Genesis either. In some sense I suppose there is a degree of “blindness” in both faiths from your point of view, since neither can be proven.

    The important thing for us to remember is that we agree on the important things. We believe in a recent creation that was perfect and then became flawed by sin. We believe that there is a Redeemer, and that “the heavens declare His glory.” We believe that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” We believe that “He spoke and it stood fast.” Let’s minimize the argument over why we both believe and recognize that our rest on faith supported, but not demonstrated, by several kinds of evidence.

    George Hilton




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  45. @George Hilton:

    I do not for one millisecond take the position that I believe without evidence. However, a large amount of my evidence is not based on what most scientists would consider “scientific data.” My faith is based on a consortium of evidence. Some of it is scientific, some of it is metaphysical, some of it is prophetic, and some of it is experiential. The truth is, I have no proof whatsoever that my source of authority is superior to that of Muslims. There is plenty of reason in my mind to believe that there is, but that is unlikely to be sufficient to convince many of them.

    Many people forget that science requires leaps of faith beyond which the data actually goes. That’s what science is all about – making educated leaps of faith that cannot be absolutely proven to be true. The same thing can be true of religion.

    I see all empirical data is “scientific data” and I think that science can be and must be done, ultimately, by the individual. Again, science isn’t about absolute “proof”. Science never proves a hypotheses or theory to be absolutely true. Science can falsify hypotheses or theories, but it can never fully prove them.

    As far as convincing someone else that your own hypothesis is the correct one among many options, that’s a different story. What seems favored by the weight of evidence from your particular perspective may not seem so conclusive from someone else’s perspective. As you point out, there are many factors involved when it comes to making decisions as to what is and is not most likely true – and not all of these factors are based on logical reasoning. There is also the factor of personal feeling or desire or motive.

    Since only God can accurate judge the motive or hearts of us humans, the best we can do is share what has been so convincing and helpful from our own perspective. The rest is up to God and the promptings of His Holy Spirit… as you also point out.

    My whole point here is to explain that one’s own personal choice as to what is and is not most likely true should be based on more than some sort of internal feeling or strong impression. It should be based on the weight of available empirical evidence. You list biblical prophecy as one of your evidences, for example. You suggest that the evidence of prophecy is not “scientific evidence”. Yet, scientific reasoning can indeed be employed in the evaluation of the hypothesis of fulfilled prophetic statements: Were they really fulfilled in actual history? Were they really made before they were fulfilled? What is the statistical value of the prophecy regarding the need for Divine or superhuman input vs. the alternate null hypothesis of random chance?

    These questions can be tested and potentially falsified via forms of scientific investigation and logical arguments based on the weight of empirical data. This sort of investigation is a form of scientific reasoning.

    Again, while such scientific reasoning may not reach the level of absolute proof, while it may not be able to convince everyone, “even if someone were raised from the dead some will not believe…” (Luke 16:31), it doesn’t mean it isn’t valid scientific reasoning from your own perspective… and potentially useful for other candid minds who sincerely come to you and ask you the reason for the hope that is within you… a reason that is something more than an internal impression that is only useful for you as a valid reason…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  46. My thoughts on Professor Kent’s comment.

    You said:

    Evolutionism (the big picture) insists that dirt gradually became single-celled organisms. Creationism (the Genesis account) insists that dirt instantly became a multicellular organism. I’ve always been amused that so many creationists believe the problems of abiogenesis (life from dirt) can be seen as falsifying evolutionism but not creationism.

    I guess I would think the difference is that with evolution time is the force that caused life to exist from dirt, while with creation an intelligent being (God) brought it into existence from dirt. That distinction is very significant (I think anyway), and leads to the falsification of one, and not the other.

    Even I, as puny and insignificant as I am can put the right reagents together under the right conditions of heat and pressure and make amino acids in about 12 hours. I have very few and insignificant powers, and yet I can do and have done this. Why is it such a stretch for me to believe that a being (God) with infinitely greater powers than mine couldn’t do that and more instantaneously?

    I think that is the big difference between the two: The one (evolution) requires time to be the motive force, while the other (creation) requires a being of infinite power (God) to be the motive force.

    One cannot falsify the existence of God, but statistics do seem to falsify the ability of evolutionary abiogenesis over great periods of time. Creationists don’t say life did not come from dirt. Creationists merely say there was an intervening motive force other than time to bring life into being, because time by itself is insufficient for the requirements needed to make life come into existence.

    An all-powerful God is sufficient to bring life into existence (even though I don’t know HOW He did it), which He did, in 6 days, “And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold,it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day…And on the seventh day God ended His work which he had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.” Genesis 1:31, Genesis 2:2.

    Creationists contend there could never be enough time for evolutionary abiogenesis from dirt.




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