Comment on Why those who hate the Bible love blind-faith Christians by Sean Pitman.
So, do i believe in the Bible by blind faith? Absolutely not! There is ample empirical evidence to believe that it is the Word of God.
I appreciate your appeal to the need for empirical evidence as a basis of the Christian faith. However, not all agree with you. There are many who see no need to appeal to any empirical evidence whatsoever as a basis for faith in the Bible as the true Word of God. They see empirical evidence as antithetical to faith. They see even the potential for opening themselves up to testing and falsification as something so hateful to think about that they reject such notions as evil or Satanic.
Here’s one such comment:
The â€œweight of empirical evidenceâ€ should have NO BEARING WHATSOEVER for the SDA Christian who accepts, on Godâ€™s Word, that an axe head can float on water, that Jesus was born of a virgin, and that Jesus bodily ascended to heaven. Likewise, it should have NO BEARING WHATSOEVER for the SDA Christian who accepts, on Godâ€™s Word, that He created the earth in 6 days.
You are denying Godâ€™s word when you insist that the â€œweight of empirical evidenceâ€ allows SDAs to believe the Bible… Surely you cannot be so devoted to and blinded by the superiority of human reason. Now is your chance. Tell the world that you believe scripture is sufficient and requires no external validationâ€“which is exactly what the official SDA Church teaches! ( Link )
Those who make such arguments are blind to the need to have a rational basis to even recognize the Bible as God’s Word to begin with – over all other competing options. It is easy to assume that the Bible is God’s Word, without the need for the weight of empirical evidence,
if one has grown up in a Bible-believing culture from childhood. However, it is not so easy to automatically take, as a given, that the Bible is God’s Word when one has grown up in a non-Christian culture. The Holy Spirit does not simply come to Buddhists or Hindus or Mormons and tell them, in an audible voice or some other supernatural manner, “Oh, by the way, the Bible is the true Word of God.” The Holy Spirit impresses the mind when we read or hear the truth, but God expects us to use our God-given brains; to be rational in our acceptance of the Bible and certain specific interpretations of the Bible as the true Word of God.
So, while we may indeed have our differences with regard to what is and what is not reasonable empirical evidence to use in support of the Christian faith (the SDA version in particular), we do seem to agree that some sort of basis in empirical evidence is needed. I think my main difference with you is that you see the need for absolute or near absolute evidence while I see science as able to be a bit more subtle than that. In fact science simply doesn’t deal in absolutes since absolute proof is not possible in science. It is predictive power and the overall weight of evidence, with the potential for falsification, that is important in science and all empirically-based positions or interpretations of the world in which we find ourselves…
The SDA Church organization recognizes the importance of empirical evidence as a basis of faith (as noted in the statements of the GC’s executive committee listed in the article above). That is why the SDA Church established the Geoscience Research Institute (GRI) – as an evangelistic tool in order to search out and present evidence in support of the fundamental SDA positions on origins in particular.
As there are those who very strongly and passionately disagree with your own interpretation of the available scientific evidence being in favor of the Intelligent Design position, there are, of course, those who strongly disagree that the weight of empirical evidence actually favors the SDA position on origins – to include a recent worldwide Noachian Flood. At some point, those Christians who believe in the Bible based on empirical evidence are going to find themselves in opposition to the vast majority of mainstream scientists. You’re not going to be considered rational if you assert, at any point, that the weight of scientific evidence favors the existence of God much less the Divine origin of the Bible.
I know you disagree with me when it comes to the importance of certain SDA fundamentals to the Christian faith. I also know you disagree with my view on the weight or meaning of certain evidences and features of the natural world. That’s fine. However, those who cannot, in good conscience, actively support the SDA position on origins would not be good representatives of the Church nor would they be most effective in advancing the Church’s primary goals and ideals.
This is nothing personal. It doesn’t mean that such individuals are bad or evil or unsavable or in any other way less than good and upright men and women. It just means that they wouldn’t effectively represent the SDA Church is all. It’s not the end of the world…
Sean Pitman Also Commented
To be rejected on theological grounds is this websiteâ€™s claim that teaching mainstream science in an Adventist university science class undermines belief in the Genesis account of creation, because science has no evidentiary basis in determining oneâ€™s interpretation of the sacred text or oneâ€™s belief in the truthfulness of the sacred text. See Phillip Brantley, â€œAn Open Letter to La Sierra Universityâ€, published on http://www.spectrummagazine.org, 10/24/10.
Thank you for nicely illustrating my point for me.
You, as a lawyer, strongly support the efforts of LSU science professors to not only present, but to actively promote, on the dime of the SDA Church, the modern theory of evolution as the true story of origins from the “scientific” perspective. You argue that this is perfectly fine since the SDA faith does not, or at least should not, have any basis in empirical “natural” evidence or in any form of scientific reasoning, investigation or support.
As far as I understand your position, the Bible must be internally interpreted and understood without reference to external empirical “natural” realities as interpreted by scientific methodologies. You even suggest, and this came as a real surprise to me, that the majority of SDA theologians and other leaders within the SDA Church would agree with you on this… to include your conclusion that most of the leadership of the SDA Church is actually in favor of the idea that LSU should continue on promoting the mainstream perspective on origins, in direct opposition to the SDA view on a literal creation week, in all science classes? that they are supportive of the idea that religion should be left to the theologians and science to the scientists? never the twain to meet?
If this is true, why has there been such a firestorm over this issue? Why has LSU repeatedly tried to cover up the fact that many of its upper division science professors have long been promoting mainstream theories of evolution as the true story of origins? – Why has LSU tried to deny that its professors have been telling students that the SDA position on origins is scientifically untenable? Why try to cover this up? Why not advertise it far and wide and be proud of it if this is truly what the SDA Church, as an organization, expects from its universities?
It is one thing to let the Bible be its own interpreter when it comes to understanding context and trying to grasp what the various authors were trying to say. It is quite another thing to argue that the Bible’s credibility is self-evident without any external points of reference.
You argue that the evidence in support of the Bible’s Divine origin is “supernatural evidence”; not “natural evidence”. Tell me, how can we, as natural subjective human beings, determine the supernatural from the natural? – without using a form of scientific reasoning?
For example, is a chocolate cake natural or supernatural? The creative process that is required to produce a chocolate cake cannot be explained by any scientific appeal to mindless natural laws. Yet, a form of scientific reasoning can be employed to suggest to the observer that at least human-level intelligence was required to produce the chocolate cake. The ultimate origin of this intelligence, or functional information needed to make the cake, cannot be explained by science. There are no experiments or calculations that can describe how to produce this level of informational complexity without appealing to pre-existing intelligence or informational complexity at or beyond the same level that one is trying to explain. So, is the origin of a chocolate cake natural or supernatural?
The same thing is true when it comes to detecting the need for a God or God-like powers to explain various phenomena that we see within the natural world – to include the functional information complexity to produce even the most simple of living things. It’s like explaining a chocolate cake, but on a higher level is all.
Explaining the origin of functionally complex information is a turtles all the way up problem – if you know what I mean…
Therefore, Science, or a form of scientific reasoning based on empirical evidence, is not the enemy of faith. Such reasoning forms the basis of a rational Biblical faith. The Biblical authors are constantly pointing toward empirical evidences as a basis of their own faith and of the faith of the various heroes of faith described in their stories. Faith is also required by science itself. Without the ability to make leaps of faith beyond what can be absolutely known, there would be no science and no scientists. In this sense, science has religious implications and religion can be, and I think should be, based on a form of scientific reasoning and higher cortical function that goes well beyond the mere emotion-based blind-faith religions of today.
Hello out there!!! Are there ANY readers who actually agree with SDA Fundamental Belief #10â€“besides me?
â€œThis faith which receives salvation COMES THROUGH THE DIVINE POWER OF THE WORD and IS THE GIFT OF GODâ€™S GRACEâ€
Everything is a gift of God’s grace – knowledge, intelligence, faith, trust, hope, love. All of it! All good things are gifts of God…
Now, just because faith is a gift of God does not mean that God turns off our brains when He gives us the ability to make leaps of faith. Science itself requires faith. Without faith, there is no science. And, without science, without the “weight of evidence”, there is no real faith that is able to provide a rational solid hope in the future. God has seen fit to make us an active part of our own faith – to base our faith on logical leaps from the weight of empirical evidence as we are given, by God, to properly comprehend and understand that evidence (a miracle in and of itself that is beyond ourselves).
Empirical evidence is not something to be shunned or feared. Empirical evidence and the ability to understand and rightly comprehend that evidence, is also a gift of God to be used to rationally appreciate Him for who He is and trust His Word when He speaks to us.
Why those who hate the Bible love blind-faith Christians
Phil composed several very nice responses that I would have to agree with. In particular, “Given that science limits itself to natural evidence, a subset of all evidence, our science teachers act appropriately in presenting material regarding evolution and according it factual validity to the degree warranted by the natural evidence.”
In other words, the SDA Church should be fine with scientists teaching modern evolutionary theories as the most likely story of origins to our young people? – “according to it factual validity to the degree warranted by the natural evidence”? – a degree which they strongly believe is very very high indeed…
In short, haven’t you just argued that because faith and science are separate enterprises, the promotion of The Theory of Evolution, in SDA schools, by professors of science, shouldn’t really be a big deal at all? After all, the SDA faith shouldn’t be at all affected by empirical/scientific evidence, modern or otherwise… right? Since rational faith can withstand the weight of empirical evidence, the more contrary empirical evidence the better! – right? Why does the Church even bother with trying to support is position with the use of any kind of empirical evidence whatsoever? If the Bible is its own basis for authority, if it cannot be wrong, even in theory, why subject it to any kind of empirical test at all?
Again, you seem to speak out of both sides of your mouth. You appeal to the modern sciences of archeology and history as a basis for the validity of Biblical prophecy and its Divine origin (i.e., with the use of modern empirical evidence), but then claim that such empirical evidence really isn’t needed as a basis of faith nor is the weight of empirical evidence, as often referenced by Mrs. White, a basis faith in the Divine origin of the Bible?
Why do you also challenge nearly every single empirical basis brought forward in support of the SDA view on creation and the Noachian Flood? – if you’re such a big supporter of the actual historical truth of such positions? You’ve been foremost among those trying to undermine the credibility of all or nearly all arguments for intelligent design in nature and the Biblical model of origins on this website – rivaling some of those ardent evolutionists who most strongly opposed me on TalkOrigins.com and elsewhere. And you think you and those of like mind are doing the Church a service by telling everyone that the great weight of scientific evidence is in clear opposition to the beliefs of the SDA Church? – but that this doesn’t matter to those who have true “faith”? This is what you want our science teachers to teach in our schools?
What does the SDA Church really want for it’s young people? Do you really think that the SDA President, Elder Ted Wilson, supports your view? How about the organized SDA Church at large?
We call on all boards and educators at Seventh-day Adventist institutions at all levels to continue upholding and advocating the church’s position on origins. We, along with Seventh-day Adventist parents, expect students to receive a thorough, balanced, and scientifically rigorous exposure to and affirmation of our historic belief in a literal, recent six-day creation, even as they are educated to understand and assess competing philosophies of origins that dominate scientific discussion in the contemporary world.
As a response to the “An Affirmation of Creation–Report”, this document was accepted and voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church Executive Committee at the Annual Council in Silver Spring, Maryland, October 13, 2004.
These aren’t my words or my opinion. This is the request of the Church as an organized body… a “scientifically rigorous exposure to and affirmation of our historic belief in a literal, recent six-day creation…”
Can you honestly say that you are presenting a “scientifically rigorous affirmation of the SDA position on a literal, recent six-day creation”? Or, are you claiming that there really is no need for a scientifically rigorous support of any SDA fundamental belief since true faith needs no such empirical support?
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
“Essentially all the administrators, staff and faculty on our campus, including the pastors on our campus already know where I stand. I have never kept any secrets. I have to laugh when I see you say that I am upset because you ‘blew my cover.’ There was no cover to blow.” – Bryan Ness
You’re not the main problem here. I’d have no problem with you personally and what you personally believe at all except that you are a professor in an Adventist school – Pacific Union College.
It’s this school who presents itself as being in line with the primary goals and ideals of the Adventist Church, when it really isn’t. I have friends of mine who have gone to PUC and talked to the leadership about sending their children to PUC. They’ve specifically asked about the situation at La Sierra University and asked the PUC leadership and heads of departments what their position is on teaching the theory of evolution as “the truth” – and if the teachers at PUC support the SDA position on origins and other issues? They were told that PUC does not condone what happened at LSU and that the professors at PUC are fully in line with the SDA position on origins and all of the other fundamental positions of the church.
Of course, you know and I know that this just isn’t true. You, for one, publically speak and teach against the church’s position on origins as well as human sexuality. This reality is not being presented by the leadership of PUC to the parents of potential PUC students. This reality simply isn’t being advertised to the general church membership at all. What PUC should be advertizing to parents and the church membership at large is,
“Yes, we do maintain professors who teach our students that the church’s position on various fundamental doctrinal issues is in fact wrong and should be changed to reflect the more popular secular position on these topics.”
That’s what it should be telling everyone, but this just isn’t what is being done.
I am attacking no one… Since when is a difference of views an attack on the church?
Since it was placed as one of the church’s “fundamental beliefs” by the church (Link). When you publically publish an article stating that the Church’s position is clearly mistaken and should be changed, that’s an attack on the church’s position.
And of all the issues facing the church, same-sex marriage hardly rises to the level of a “primary goal and ideal.”
The SDA Church has chosen to describe the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman as one of the “fundamental” messages to spread to the world – as one of the fundamental reasons for its very existence…
Now, you call what you’re doing, not an “attack”, but a “plea for compassion”. However, your plea for compassion is presented as a clear statement that the church’s position is absolutely mistaken – that the church’s position is not at all “compassionate” or even biblical. Now, you may be very honest and sincere in your views here, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not attacking the church’s position in a very real and fundamental way. The fact is that you are making a very clear attack on the church’s position while accepting money from the church as a representative who is supposed to be supporting the church as a paid employee.
Why do you want to cause such people so much pain?
That’s not my goal. However, if a person wants to know what the Bible has to say about what they are doing, I’m not going to pretend that the Bible has nothing to say when the Bible does in fact have something to say. If what the Bible says “causes pain” to a person living in what the Bible says is a “sinful” lifestyle, that’s between them and God. The very same thing is true of me and my own sinful tendencies. If what the Bible says about what I’m doing causes me pain, I can either respond to that by ignoring what the Bible has to say, or I can ask God for help in changing my ways.
Jesus himself said that He did not come to bring peace to those who are living in rebellion against God’s ideals for humanity, but a “sword” (Matthew 10:34). The denial of self and what we naturally want to do given our fallen condition, in order to follow God and what He calls us to do, is often quite painful indeed. That doesn’t mean it’s not the best path to follow. There simply can be no peace between God and those who wish to hang onto what God has said to give up. God does not condemn the sinner for being born broken, but He does warn those who refuse to accept His offer of help to escape their broken condition that, eventually, such refusals of help will not end well for those who are determined to follow their own way.
Yet, these professors get very upset when their actions are made public – when they can no longer hide what they are doing from the church at large. – Sean Pitman
Uh, I have never hidden my support and affirmation for LGBTQ+ individuals, and any parent who wanted to know my views on the subject could easily look up what I’ve written, or they could just plain ask me. I openly acknowledge where I stand on these issues on social media too. Essentially all the administrators, staff and faculty on our campus, including the pastors on our campus already know where I stand. I have never kept any secrets. I have to laugh when I see you say that I am upset because you “blew my cover.” There was no cover to blow.
You have not simply let people know what I advocate, you have attacked me personally and impugned my motives and personal spiritual path. You are causing pain not just to me, but to the very people I am trying to comfort and encourage. Your words are not just being seen by the legalistic and judgmental people like yourself, but by parents of LGBTQ+ children and those LGBTQ+ individuals themselves, many of whom are likely already heavily weighed down with self revulsion and depression. And you are doing this for who’s good?
And you wonder why I might be angry and upset? As hard as it is for me to do, I have daily decided to pray for you and those like you that God would soften your heart and show you the grave wounds you are inflicting on God’s beloved. I pray God will help you find compassion and clearer spiritual insight.
Do you really think it’s a “little thing” when our own professors are attacking the primary goals and ideals of the church from the inside? – Sean Pitman
I am attacking no one. You act as if you have not even read my article. I did suggest in there that I think it is time for the church to change and affirm same-sex marriage, but that is not an attack, that is a plea for compassion, a plea that the church return and study this topic again, and I laid out the reasons I think it is fully warranted that we do so. Since when is a difference of views an attack on the church? And of all the issues facing the church, same-sex marriage hardly rises to the level of a “primary goal and ideal.” You are inflating the importance of this topic. the only place where same-sex marriage really rises to a high level of importance is when you are an LGBTQ+ person contemplating marriage, or are the parent, relative or friend of an LGBTQ+ person. Why do you want to cause such people so much pain?
The purpose of the H.E. is not to wall people off by modifying curriculum of every subject to fit dogma. The dogma itself has to be enhanced with broader understanding of how to relate various perspectives to these fields of human enterprise.
Certainly, Adventist schools should by no means isolate students from popular ideas that are prevalent within secular culture. If anything, students educated in our schools should have a much better understanding of ideas like neoDarwinism or homosexuality than students educated in secular institutions. However, the education of students within Adventist schools shouldn’t stop here. Adventist education should also give students a reasonable explanation as to why the Adventist perspective on these ideas is actually supported by the Church – by professors who actually personally hold to the Church’s positions on these topics (like the topics of origins or homosexuality, etc).
Again, it is simply counterproductive to have a church school if professors in that school teach that the church’s position is not only wrong, but downright ludicrous, outdated, and completely opposed to the overwhelming weight of “scientific evidence”. Such teaching, by professors that are respected by the students, will strongly influence most students to be naturally opposed to the church’s position on these topics. Clearly then, this would not be in the church’s best interest. It would be far better, from the church’s perspective, not to form church schools at all than to have professors within their own schools attack the church organization from the inside.
But there is world of difference between presenting it as fact that the teacher believes, and a theory with problems. – @ajshep (Allen Shepherd)
I’m in total agreement here. Again, it is one thing to teach about a particular concept that opposes the teachings of the church. It is a far far different thing to then support this particular concept as “true” as compared to showing the students why you, as their teacher, don’t find it convincing.
That is why a teacher, employed by the church, is actually stealing from the church when they attack the church’s position on a given topic from within their own classroom or via a public forum. Such activity simply goes against what a teacher is being paid to do by his/her employer.
Your presumption and hubris are exactly what Jesus pointed out to those who brought the women caught in adultery. Have you learned nothing from the examples of what it means to be a Christian that you would indulge in such harshness and judgemental words and pronouncements.
Consider that while Jesus most certainly was very kind and gentle and forgiving to the woman caught in adultery (certainly one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible), that He did in fact tell her to “go and sin no more”.
I would say that the very same action and recommendation should be given to all who find themselves part of the LBGTQ+ community. God loves sinners and came to save all of us who find ourselves caught in the web of fallen and sinful lives. He doesn’t condemn us for being broken, but He does offer us a way out and tells us to “go and sin no more”.
In light of this, my problem with the efforts of Dr. Ness is that he is making the claim that there is no brokenness or moral problem with committed monogamous homosexual lifestyles – that the Bible says absolutely nothing in this regard and therefore there is nothing for God to forgive here. There is simply no need to say, “I love you, now go and sin no more”.
I’m also not quite sure why Dr. Ness draws the line with monogamy since he doesn’t accept the Biblical statements, often within the same passages as those discussing monogamy, that speak against homosexual activities? This seems inconsistent to me since it seems quite reasonable, given the arguments presented by Dr. Ness, that polygamy could also be argued as being even more consistent with God’s will and natural genetic mutations that God Himself designed. Upon what “scientific” or “religious” or “philosophical” basis does Dr. Ness draw the line at monogamy as being the clear Biblical standard where God draws the line? – when many have very strong and very “natural” polygamous tendencies?
Of course, I also have a problem with a paid representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who is responsible for teaching our youth in support of the primary goals and ideals of the Church, publicly arguing that these goals and ideals are completely wrong – on the church’s dime. Such activity, even if one is totally convinced as to the error of one’s employer, is unethical since it is a form of stealing from one’s employer.
At the very least, parents who are paying a great deal of money to send their children to one of our church schools should be very well informed as to what they can expect their children to be taught at our schools and what positions the teachers at the school are publicly promoting. Providing this information to such parents is my primary purpose in responding to Dr. Ness’s publicly published article in public forum.
Do you not understand what it is like in academia? Differences of opinion among scholars is not only tolerated, it is valued. I have nothing more to say concerning your accusations. Our church has no “official” stand on this issue, if by that you mean I am disavowing my membership in the church by simply believing that gays should allow ro get married to one another. That is not even how our church operates. I can point to many other church employees who openly disagree about certain issues of belief, including this one, and congregations that are fully affirming of same-sex marriage. They are a part of the SDA church just as I am.
My concern still is more about the tone and stance of your attacks. You are attacking fellow SDAs, some of them being the most vulnerable members of our church, and you seem to have no sense of the damage you are potentially doing to these individuals. By attacking me in the fashion you are you are also attacking all those for whom I am standing up. You may want to take Jesus’ words to heart:
But whoso shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea. Matt. 18:6
I know very well what it’s like to be involved in leadership positions within the church and within academia. My own father is a retired pastor and teacher. It’s one thing to publicly present and even promote various opinions that do not directly undermine the church or school one is working for. However, it is another thing entirely to directly attack the fundamental positions of the church while being a paid representative of the church. Such activity is not at all encouraged and is, in fact, unethical – a form of theft from your employer. Sure, there are many pastors and teachers who think to do such things anyway. That doesn’t make such activities morally right. It’s still wrong to do what you are doing.