@OTNT_Believer: So, do i believe in the Bible by blind …

Comment on Why those who hate the Bible love blind-faith Christians by Sean Pitman.

@OTNT_Believer:

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 “weight of empirical evidence” should have NO BEARING WHATSOEVER for the SDA Christian who accepts, on God’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 God’s Word, that He created the earth in 6 days.

You are denying God’s word when you insist that the “weight of empirical evidence” 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 validation–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
www.DetectingDesign.com

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Why those who hate the Bible love blind-faith Christians
@Phillip Brantley:

To be rejected on theological grounds is this website’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 one’s interpretation of the sacred text or one’s belief in the truthfulness of the sacred text. See Phillip Brantley, “An Open Letter to La Sierra University”, published on http://www.spectrummagazine.org, 10/24/10.

http://www.spectrummagazine.org/blog/2010/10/24/open-letter-la-sierra-university

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.

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Why those who hate the Bible love blind-faith Christians
@Professor Kent:

Hello out there!!! Are there ANY readers who actually agree with SDA Fundamental Belief #10–besides me?

“This faith which receives salvation COMES THROUGH THE DIVINE POWER OF THE WORD and IS THE GIFT OF GOD’S GRACE”

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.

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Why those who hate the Bible love blind-faith Christians
Professor Kent,

You wrote:

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.”

http://www.atoday.com/content/%E2%80%9Ctelling-lies-god%E2%80%9D-cokepepsi-analogy

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?

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

The Sabbath and the Covenants (Old vs. New)
Response to a comment of a friend of mine posted in another forum:

    “Before the way of FAITH IN CHRIST was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, UNTIL the way of faith was revealed. The law was our guardian UNTIL Christ came; it protected us UNTIL we could be made right with God through FAITH. And now that the way of FAITH has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.” Gal3:23-26

Faith is certainly what saves. This has always been true since the very beginning. Even those righteous persons who lived before Jesus was born into this world as a human being, even Moses or David for instance, were not saved by the works of the Law, but by Faith. The purpose of the Law was never to save, but to convict the sinner of a need of a Savior – since all have sinned against the “Royal Law.” It is faith in the Savior that saves. The work of the Law, carefully considered, is to lead us to know that our only hope of salvation is faith in what Jesus, our Savior, did for us and is doing for us. Yet, this faith does not nullify the Law or make the Law pointless when it comes to its job to constantly remind us of our need of a Savior – a saving Power outside of ourselves. Rather, the Power realized through this faith actually enables us to keep the Spirit of the Law as it was originally intended to be kept – through selfless love for God and for our neighbors.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, makes this point particularly clear:

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:31

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts… If a man who is not circumcised keeps the requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? – Romans 2:13-15, 26

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! – Romans 6:15

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” … So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good… For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. – Romans 7:7, 11, 22-25

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. – Romans 8:3-4, 7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:8-10


Christians and the Sabbath
Response to a comment of a friend of mine posted in another forum:

    “Before the way of FAITH IN CHRIST was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, UNTIL the way of faith was revealed. The law was our guardian UNTIL Christ came; it protected us UNTIL we could be made right with God through FAITH. And now that the way of FAITH has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.” Gal3:23-26

Faith is certainly what saves. This has always been true since the very beginning. Even those righteous persons who lived before Jesus was born into this world as a human being, even Moses or David for instance, were not saved by the works of the Law, but by Faith. The purpose of the Law was never to save, but to convict the sinner of a need of a Savior – since all have sinned against the “Royal Law.” It is faith in the Savior that saves. The work of the Law, carefully considered, is to lead us to know that our only hope of salvation is faith in what Jesus, our Savior, did for us and is doing for us. Yet, this faith does not nullify the Law or make the Law pointless when it comes to its job to constantly remind us of our need of a Savior – a saving Power outside of ourselves. Rather, the Power realized through this faith actually enables us to keep the Spirit of the Law as it was originally intended to be kept – through selfless love for God and for our neighbors.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, makes this point particularly clear:

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:31

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts… If a man who is not circumcised keeps the requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? – Romans 2:13-15, 26

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! – Romans 6:15

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” … So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good… For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. – Romans 7:7, 11, 22-25

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. – Romans 8:3-4, 7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:8-10


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Again, most people, including most non-Christians, consider late-term abortions (abortions within the third trimester of otherwise healthy viable babies) to be murder. There is relatively little argument about this. One doesn’t have to know the “precise point” to know that, after a certain point, abortion is clearly murder. The argument that a baby isn’t alive or really human until the moment that it is born is nonsense in my opinion.

Of course, before the third trimester, things start to get a bit more grey and unclear. Some define the beginnings of human life with the full activity of the brain’s cortex. Others define it with the earliest activity of the brain stem. Others define it as the beginnings of fetal movement or the fetal heartbeat. I might have my own opinions here, but the question I ask myself is at what point would I be willing to convict someone else of murder? – and be willing to put them in prison for it? For me, I wouldn’t be willing to do this until things are overwhelmingly clear that the baby is functioning as a full human being and is viable (which would include full brain activity).

As far as rape or incest is concerned, the resulting pregnancy should be terminated as soon as possible within the first trimester. Waiting for the third trimester is simply not an option because, at this point, it would still be murder to kill a fully-formed baby regardless of its origin…


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
I agree with you up until your last sentence. It seems very very clear to me that a baby becomes human before it takes its first breath. A baby born at 40 weeks gestation is not somehow inherently “more human” than a baby that is still inside its mother at 39 weeks gestation. At 39 weeks, such a baby is indistinguishable from a baby that has already been born. The location inside or outside of the mother makes absolutely no difference at this point in time and development.

I think, therefore, that we as Christians should avoid both obvious extremes here in this discussion. There are two very clear ditches on both sides of the road here. We should avoid claiming that a baby is not really human until it is actually born at full term, and, at the same time, we should also avoid claiming that full humanity and moral worth is instantly realized at the moment of conception…


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Most would agree with you that the baby John the Baptist, before he was born, was, at some point, a real human being who could “leap for joy” (Luke 1:44). Even most non-Christians would agree that a third-trimester abortion is murder. However, this isn’t the real problem here. We are talking about if a single cell or a simple ball of cells is fully “human” and if ending a pregnancy at such an early stage of development is truly a “murder” of a real human being. After all, when conception first takes place a single cell cannot “leap for joy” – or for any other reason. It’s just a single fertilized cell that cannot think or feel or move and has no brain or mind or intelligence of any kind. The same is true of an embryo that consists of no more than an unformed ball of cells for quite some time. Upon what basis, then, is it “murder” to end a pregnancy at this early point in embryological development?