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

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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, 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.

Sean Pitman

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?


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

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.”

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 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

Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

Complex Organisms are Degenerating – Rapidly
As far as the current article is concerned, I know of no “outdated” information. The information is current as far as I’m aware. The detrimental mutation rate is far too high for complex organisms to avoid an inevitable downhill devolutionary path. There is simply no way to rationally avoid this conclusion as far as I’m aware.

So, perhaps your friend could be more specific regarding his particular objections to the information presented?

Complex Organisms are Degenerating – Rapidly
Look again. I did reference the 2018 paper of Basener and Sanford (which was the motivation for me writing this particular article). Of course, as you’ve mentioned, Sanford has also written an interesting book on this topic entitled, “Genetic Entropy” – which I’ve previously referenced before in this blog (along with a YouTube video of a lecture he gave on the topic at Loma Linda University: (Link). For those who haven’t read it or seen Sanford’s lecture on this topic, it’s certainly worth your time…

Evolution from Space?
I will try to do it someday, but lately I’ve been swamped by speaking appointments, my real job, and my two young boys 😉

However, 300-400 people do visit and read articles on my websites per day – which isn’t bad for now. I also get very encouraging E-mails on a regular basis from those who have been helped by these postings. Some of these are teachers and professors who use this information in their own classrooms throughout the country – but often without giving the source for their material in order to avoid the automatic bias that comes with it.

Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species
You wrote:

The reason that no competent scientist will date the “soft tissue” of dinosaur bones is probably because the techniques used to extract that material seriously contaminate the extract from a 14C perspective. I am checking on that with several biochemists, but I suspect that this is true.

If that’s the case, then how can radiocarbon dating be relied upon to date the remains of mammoths or other late Pleistocene animals? How can you have your cake and eat it too?

Beyond this, aren’t there supposed to be ways to detect and eliminate contamination and to harvest material without causing significant 14C contamination? – especially when it comes to very well preserved collagen and other original soft tissues (as well as bioapatite)? After all, we’re talking about a lot of contamination here – up to 10% of the total carbon within the dinosaur bone. What kind of source could explain such a high degree of contamination? Also, as an expert in radiocarbon dating, isn’t it basic procedure for those in your profession to be able to detect if not remove 14C contamination from specimens? – as part of the AMS testing process?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but if collagen and bioapatite fractions show concordant radiocarbon dating, then isn’t this taken as a valid radiocarbon date? free of significant contamination?

If so, this is what was done with the dating of some dinosaur bone specimens as well: “Collagen and bone bioapatite and/or total bone organics gave concordant C-14 dates after careful extraction and purification of those fractions.” (Link)

Is this not the proper procedure? Is this not what is also done when dating ice-age megafauna such as Siberian mammoths, saber tooth tigers, sloth dung, and giant bison?

All of the evidence presented by you and those who agree with you have been dealt with so many times by so many competent scientists that a reasonable individual would almost certainly say something like: Well, anyone who continues to dispute the scientific evidence on this point apparently just can’t bring themselves to admit the truth of the matter for some religious reason.

An argument from authority already? That’s the best you have? As long as it’s popular among the experts in a given field of science, even if one doesn’t personally understand it and suspects that something isn’t quite right, you’d recommend just going with the flow without question? – trusting that someone else must know the answers?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’d be the first to admit that the popular opinion of experts in a particular field of study should be taken into careful consideration. However, such “expert opinion” isn’t the end-all of science and has often turned out to not only to be wrong, but painfully wrong. I guess it’s Ok if I’m too lazy or don’t care enough about a particular topic to investigate it for myself to simply trust in the expert opinion of the day. However, let’s not confuse that with conclusive “science” or a valid scientific explanation. Such blind appeals to the authority of “experts” or the status quo within the scientific community, by themselves, are not at all helpful when it comes to answering valid questions in that they have no explanatory power in a discussion like this one. After all, don’t you realize that this is the very same tactic often used by those promoting some religious agenda? – who don’t have anything else beyond an appeal to authority to fall back on? – no reasonably understandable argument besides, “My holy book says so”? – or “most theologians agree”? I believe it was Carl Sagan who once said:

One of the great commandments of science is, “Mistrust arguments from authority.” … Too many such arguments have proved too painfully wrong. Authorities must prove their contentions like everybody else. – Sagan (July 6, 2011)

Consider also this humerus exchange between Socrates and Meno:

    Meno: Is this true about yourself, Socrates, that you don’t even know what virtue is? Is this the report that we are to take home about you?

    Socrates: Not only that, you may also say that, to the best of my belief, I have never met anyone else who did know.

    Meno: What! Didn’t you meet Gorgias when he was here?

    Socrates: Yes.

    Meno: And you still didn’t think he knew?

    Socrates: I’m a forgetful sort of person, and I can’t say just now what I thought at the time. Probably he did know, and I expect you know what he used to say about it. So remind me what it was, or tell me yourself if you will. No doubt you agree with him.

    Meno: Yes, I do.

    Socrates: Then let’s leave him out of it, since after all he isn’t here. What do you yourself say virtue is?

      – Plato, Meno, 71c, W. Guthrie, trans., Collected Dialogs (1961), p. 354

So, I ask you again: In your own words, please do explain to me where, exactly, mainstream scientists have so clearly and reasonably dealt with some of the fundamental problems of Darwinian-style evolution that seem so difficult to me? You don’t even appear to understand the difference between Mendelian variation and the mechanism of Darwinian evolution (random mutations in the underlying gene pool combined with natural selection). You don’t seem to understand that animal breeding is based on phenotypic selection alone, as is natural selection, or that Darwin himself used animal breeding as an illustration of how natural selection is supposed to work. Where can any reasonable explanation be found as to how novel genetic information can enter a given gene pool, via the Darwinian mechanism, beyond the very lowest levels of functional complexity this side of a practical eternity of time? Also, where has any scientist produced a reasonable explanation as to how very well-preserved soft tissues, proteins, and antigenic fragments of DNA can be preserved for even 100k years? – at ambient temperatures? These are honest and sincere questions for which I have found no reasonable answers from anyone – scientists or otherwise. If you know the answers, if they are so obvious to you, why not share them with me here?

I’m sorry, but it seems to me, at this point in my own search, that you, and scientists in general, are not immune from personal bias or from philosophical/religious motivations – or from peer pressure (the fear of being unpopular in your community). In short, you’re human just like the rest of us. 😉

One more thing, your notion that religion and science do not and cannot mix is fundamentally at odds with the existence of a personal God who created the universe and died on the cross for the salvation of humanity. If such a God actually exists, He is the Creator of science and scientific thinking as well as everything else and His Signature can therefore be rationally detected in the things that He has made (Psalms 19:1-3). If this cannot be achieved, then your notion of “God” is essentially the same as atheism – for all practical purposes.

I’m sorry, but William Provine, late professor of biological sciences at Cornell University, makes much more sense here (in a speech he gave for a 1998 Darwin Day keynote address):

Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly.

    No gods worth having exist;
    No life after death exists;
    No ultimate foundation for ethics exists;
    No ultimate meaning in life exists; and
    Human free will is nonexistent.

Provine, William B. [Professor of Biological Sciences, Cornell University], “Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life”, Abstract of Will Provine’s 1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address.

Provine also wrote, “In other words, religion is compatible with modern evolutionary biology (and indeed all of modern science) if the religion is effectively indistinguishable from atheism.” – Academe January 1987, pp.51-52

It seems to me that Provine was right and was most consistent with the implications of accepting neo-Darwinian claims. Darwinian-style evolution is just one more argument for the philosophical position of “Philosophical Naturalism” – a position that suggests that everything within the physical world, everything that we can see, touch, hear, taste, or smell, is ultimately the result of non-deliberate mindless forces of nature. And, you yourself can’t tell the difference since, as you once said, you wouldn’t be able to give your own granddaughter any good evidence for the existence of God if she were to ask you for such evidence. Why then do you even pretend? – why even give lip service to Christianity?

Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species

I have checked with the director of the lab which was supposed to have dated a “soft tissue” extract and he wrote back almost immediately that what they had been given was a whole bone, not a “soft tissue” extract and the bone was badly degraded from the point of view of any organic carbon. The date they obtained was obviously contamination and they reported that fact to the submitter.

That’s hard to believe given that many dates on many different specimens where reported by The Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia, and others, without any mention of contamination – using the same procedures that they would for a portion of mammoth or mastodon bone (and no one claimed here to have submitted a “soft tissue extract”). After all, the youngest radiocarbon date for a mammoth fossil (3685 ± 60 yr BP) comes from the remains of one discovered on Wrangel Island off the north-eastern Siberian coast (Vartanyan et al. 2008). Yet, no one cites “contamination” when discussing such dates for mammoths. Also, great care was taken to prevent contamination when obtaining the dinosaur bone specimens that were dated. It’s hard to imagine, then, how these dinosaur bones could have been contaminated to the degree that you suggest – which would have had to be between from 1% (40kyr BP) to up to 10% (20kyr BP) of the total carbon within the bone (Plaisted, 2017).

AMS labs know this. You see, it wasn’t until the AMS lab at the University of Georgia discovered that the bone specimens they were analyzing were actually dinosaur bones that they recanted their own results and refused to do any additional 14C testing. Up until this point, they never suspected such a degree of contamination… a mechanism for which is quite difficult to imagine.

Note that both the whole bone and bioapatite in the dinosaur bone was dated. The bioapatite was C14 dated at 41,010 ± 220 years BP, having 0.61 ± 0.02 pMC (percent modern carbon). No mention of “contamination” is listed here. The very fact that they separated out the whole bone date from the bioapatite date is what makes me think they really thought they had original bioapatite from the bone sample.

A couple years later this was followed by:

Consider also that the triceratops horn was well preserved and had well preserved soft tissue within it, to include blood vessels and cellular structures (Link). The fossil’s bioapatite was dated (not the well-preserved soft tissue, which is interesting). According to a 2009 report in the journal Radiocarbon, bioapatite is actually preferable to soft tissue in many cases. Yet, it was also 14C dated by AMS at 33,570 ± 120 years. How is that explained?

Then, there is this report from John Fischer (2014):

Triceratops and Hadrosaur femur bones in excellent condition were discovered in Glendive Montana, and our group received permission to saw them in half and collect samples for Carbon-14 testing. Both bones were tested by a licensed lab for presence of collagen. Both bones did in fact contain some collagen. The best process (Accelerator Mass Spectrometry) was used to date them. Total organic carbon and dinosaur bioapatite was extracted and pretreated to remove potential contaminants, and concordant radiocarbon dates were obtained. They were similar to radiocarbon dates for ice-age megafauna such as Siberian mammoths, saber tooth tigers of the Los Angeles LaBrea Tarpits, sloth dung, and giant bison. (Link)

Notice here that both the bioapatite and the collagen within the bone was 14C dated by AMS with resulting “concordant radiocarbon dates” – which is usually used to support the argument that the dates obtained where not the result of contamination.

Now, is this conclusive evidence that dinosaur remains are not millions of years old? I wouldn’t say that this data is conclusive in and of itself – taken one test at a time. After all, a particular lab might not have been able to completely isolate a particular fossil’s original bioapatite – so a particular result may have contamination in it as you suggest. However, I do think that after a certain point of consistent results from multiple tests by multiple labs the weight of evidence starts to add up – adding credibility to the idea that perhaps dinosaurs are not millions of years old after all. When you also consider the fact that pretty much all dinosaur bones with residual organic material in them (and other things that are supposed to be millions of years old – like coal and oil and other “ancient” organic remains) have been consistently dated as only being 15k-40k years old, you have to at least conclude that there is something wrong somewhere. Either the 14C dating system is not as robust as some want to believe, or the fossils are not as old as some want to believe. This is particularly relevant given the existence of very finely preserved original dinosaur soft tissues, proteins, and DNA fragments that simply shouldn’t be there according to all known data on the decay rates of such things.

Here’s an interesting presentation 15-minute presentation (Link) that was given by Dr. Thomas Seiler, a German physicist. In it, he reports on the carbon dating of dinosaur bones, other megafauna (such as mammoths), and plants. In all cases, these materials are supposed to be millions of years old, but they all have detectable levels of carbon-14 in them. Of course, one possible explanation for these results is, yet again, contamination. It is possible that “modern” carbon has infiltrated into all these samples, and that’s what is being detected. However, Dr. Seiler presents several arguments that tend to cast doubt on the contamination explanation. First, all the standard treatment used to make a fossil ready for carbon dating was done, which is supposed to get rid of contamination. Second, in some cases, they were examining actual proteins, such as collagen. If “modern” carbon contaminated these fossils, how did it become incorporated into the original collagen? Third, there are some chemicals (like humic acid) that are common contaminants, and it was confirmed that the treatment done on the samples removed those contaminants. Fourth, the amount of carbon in the vicinity of the fossil decreased as you moved away from the fossil. This indicates carbon was “leaking out” of the fossil, not moving into it.

Here’s another interesting article on this topic written by Dr. Jay Wile (2012): Link

So anyway, again I ask you, why not run your own tests? Or why doesn’t Jack Horner or Mary Schweitzer do it with pure finely-preserved dinosaur soft tissues?


As far as breeding vs. natural selection, what’s the real difference if both select based on phenotype alone? You wrote:

It was clear to Alfred Russell Wallace, who, with Darwin, first came up with the idea of natural selection, that you could not use animal breeding experiments to simulate natural evolution.

Please do explain this to me. After all, as far as I can tell, there’s nothing special about the selective breeding of animals in this regard. Even a human breeder could never get one “kind” of animal to evolve into another “kind” of animal (where novel functional genetic options are produced within the gene pool) using breeding techniques with very high selection pressures alone. Why not? Because, selective animal breeding produces no novel information within the gene pool of the animal population in question. Breeding is based on a simple selection of pre-existing information as it is expressed in the various phenotypes of the offspring over time. Exactly the same thing is true of natural selection – which can also produce very rapid phenotypic changes, in the wild, in response to rapidly changing environments or the sudden realization of entirely new environments based on the very same underlying static gene pool of options (no genetic mutations required).

By the way, it was Darwin himself who coined the term ‘selective breeding’; he was interested in the process as an illustration of his proposed wider process of natural selection. Charles Darwin discussed how selective breeding had been successful in producing change over time in his 1859 book, On the Origin of Species. Its first chapter he actually discusses selective breeding and domestication of such animals as pigeons, cats, cattle, and dogs. (Link)

Wallace, on the other hand, argued that the development of the human mind and some bodily attributes were guided by spiritual beings rather than natural selection… (Link)

But please, do explain my mistake here regarding the fundamental differences between the selective breeding of animals vs. natural selection. I’d be most interested, because this concept is fundamental to my own understanding of the clear limits of Darwinian-style evolution via random mutations and natural selection.