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 “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 Also Commented
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?
And then this abominable thing about deriding the faith of believers?!? Come on, guys, nobody here–I repeat, NOBODY–believes in blind faith or blind empiricism.
The point in play here is over the notion that science and religion are inherently separate enterprises. The argument is, therefore, “Leave religion to theologians and science to scientists.” Based on this argument many are contending that the SDA Church hired science professors to teach science, not religion. Therefore, why is anyone all worked up when they are doing what they were told to do? After all, the modern theory of evolution is science while creationism is religion! – right?!
It is also because of the popular view that science (or empirical reality) and religion are completely separate from each other that lots of people believe in a form of faith that is impervious to the weight of empirical evidence against their chosen faith position. Many mainstream scientists are in this camp as are many Christians and many within other faith communities.
It seems to me though that Jesus fought against this blind-faith idea in His own day – noting that even if overwhelming empirical evidence were provided by God, such as raising someone from the dead in front of their very eyes, those who opposed Him would not change their minds and believe.
Therefore, I think it is important to point out that we, as Seventh-day Adventist Christians, should not fall into this same trap of “reasoning” from a blind-faith position – as some in this forum have done. The idea that science and religion are separate is simply not true. They are intertwined with each other – both requiring empirical evidence and leaps of faith as a basis for rational belief.
Sean’s beliefs are clearly based on both faith and empiricism, whether he admits it or not.
Absolutely. It is impossible for anyone to come to any conclusion as to the truth of the world that exists outside of the mind without taking at least some kind of leap of faith that cannot be known with absolute certainty. The point is that we all should admit the inherent subjectivity of the human ability to discern truth from error. Even our claims for the credibility of the Bible as the true Word of God (and/or the SDA interpretation of the Bible), should be tempered with a realization that this strongly held belief of some of us, myself included, is still a subjective belief that is based on a leap of faith that cannot be known to be true with absolute perfection…
And so are those of the supposed “badventists”–even some who claim to be YLCs or YECs. You guys need to stop slamming each other. This isn’t the sort of thing that Jesus would ever approve of. Let’s be more respectful of each other’s views. “Come now, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18).
Not even the work or teachings of Jesus were immune from attacks and controversy. Whenever one presents the truth in this world the attacks will come in many and diverse forms. Being willing to meet these attacks will also be mischaracterized as “loving debate” or “loving to argue” or in some other way “un-Christ-like”. Yet, Jesus did not shrink from defending the Gospel or His mission or the character and creative power of God. The SDA Church needs apologetics and those who are willing and skilled to lead out in spreading the reasons, the empirically-rational reasons, for the hope that is within us. Ravi Zacharias is doing an excellent job in this respect and we need many more like him. The SDA Church should be foremost in producing more Clifford Goldsteins, Arthur Chadwicks, Ariel Roths, David Asschericks, Nathan Renners, and the like who are not intimidated to share the reasons, the empirical reasons, why they are in the Seventh-day Adventist Church today.
We should all, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15
The last part, “doing this with gentleness and respect” is often the most difficult part for many of us. The right motive may be there, but the delivery is ineffective or not received in the spirit it was intended. The most ideal words were not used. This is where the wisdom of the Spirit is most needed – especially for someone like me who is not naturally gifted in this area. In this line I covet and thank you for your prayers for improvement…
Also, when one factors in the time sloths spend sleeping in a day (15 to 18 hours a day), the idea that they could have traveled 12 miles a year is a stretch. And that goes without mentioning that they almost never get out of the trees. That begs the question of how far they were willing to walk over treeless territory until they would find more trees.
Consider that right after the Flood the entire planet was warm and lush for several hundred years before the first ice age rapidly set in. There were no vast deserts or frozen tundras during this time. Also, there were many other land bridges as the continents had not yet completely separated for some time. For example, South America and Africa were still connected at their southern tips for a while… perhaps long enough for many different kinds of animals to migrate from one to the other? At the very least, global migration under ideal conditions, even of sloths, seems plausible (and I think unavoidable given the doubling time for sloth populations under ideal circumstances) – certainly not “impossible” as you’re trying to suggest. After all, even sloths can move up to a mile in less than four hours when they want to…
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Science and Methodological Naturalism
Very interesting passage. After all, if scientists are honest with themselves, scientific methodologies are well-able to detect the existence of intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. It’s just the personal philosophy of scientists that makes them put living things and the origin of the fine-tuned universe “out of bounds” when it comes to the detection of intelligent design. This conclusion simply isn’t dictated by science itself, but by a philosophical position, a type of religion actually, that strives to block the Divine Foot from getting into the door…
Why is it that creationists are afraid to acknowledge the validity of Darwinism in these settings? I don’t see that these threaten a belief in God in any way whatsoever.
The threat is when you see no limitations to natural mindless mechanisms – where you attribute everything to the creative power of nature instead of to the God of nature.
God has created natural laws that can do some pretty amazing things. However, these natural laws are not infinite in creative potential. Their abilities are finite while only God is truly infinite.
The detection of these limitations allows us to recognize the need for the input of higher-level intelligence and creative power that goes well beyond what nature alone can achieve. It is here that the Signature of God is detectable.
For those who only hold a naturalistic view of the universe, everything is attributed to the mindless laws of nature… so that the Signature of God is obscured. Nothing is left that tells them, “Only God or some God-like intelligent mind could have done this.”
That’s the problem when you do not recognize any specific limitations to the tools that God has created – when you do not recognize the limits of nature and what natural laws can achieve all by themselves.
Since the fall of Adam, Sean, all babies are born in sin and they are sinners. God created them. Even if it was by way of cooperation of natural law as human beings also participated in the creation process.
God did not create the broken condition of any human baby – neither the physical or moral brokenness of any human being. God is responsible for every good thing, to include the spark or breath of life within each one of us. However, He did not and does not create those things within us that are broken or bad.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'” Matthew 13:27-28
Of course, all humans are indeed born broken and are in a natural state of rebellion against God. However, God is not the one who created this condition nor is God responsible for any baby being born with any kind of defect in character, personality, moral tendency, or physical or genetic abnormality. God did not create anyone with such brokenness. Such were the natural result of rebellion against God and heading the temptations of the “enemy”… the natural result of a separation from God with the inevitable decay in physical, mental, and moral strength.
Of course, the ones who are born broken are not responsible for their broken condition either. However, all of us are morally responsible for choosing to reject the gift of Divine Grace once it is appreciated… and for choosing to go against what we all have been given to know, internally, of moral truth. In other words, we are responsible for rebelling against the Royal Law written on the hearts of all mankind.
This is because God has maintained in us the power to be truly free moral agents in that we maintain the Power to choose, as a gift of God (Genesis 3:15). We can choose to accept or reject the call of the Royal Law, as the Holy Spirit speaks to all of our hearts…
Remember the statement by Mrs. White that God is in no wise responsible for sin in anyone at any time. God is working to fix our broken condition. He did not and does not create our broken condition. Just as He does not cause Babies to be born with painful and lethal genetic defects, such as those that result in childhood leukemia, He does not cause Babies to be born with defects of moral character either. God is only directly responsible for the good, never the evil, of this life.
Again, your all-or-nothing approach to the claims of scientists isn’t very scientific. Even the best and most famous of scientists has had numerous hair-brained ideas that were completely off base. This fact does not undermine the good discoveries and inventions that were produced.
Scientific credibility isn’t based on the person making the argument, but upon the merits of the argument itself – the ability of the hypothesis to gain predictive value when tested. That’s it.
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Don’t be so obtuse here. We’re not talking about publishing just anything in mainstream journals. I’ve published several articles myself. We’re talking about publishing the conclusion that intelligent design was clearly involved with the origin of various artifactual features of living things on this planet. Try getting a paper that mentions such a conclusion published…