Comment on 2013 Annual Council Votes to Change Wording of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6 by Jared.
I agree with the church’s position on FB#6 but I am very concerned about the efforts to change it. Especially because, the effort is clearly designed as a test of fellowship in the church. Frankly I think the wording could create more problems than it solves.
Here is the proposed new wording:
“In a recent six-day creation the Lord made “the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them” and rested on the seventh day. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of His creative work performed and completed during six literal days that together with the Sabbath constituted a week as we experience it today.”
This wording quotes Ex 20:11 and makes an explicit assumption that the words “For in six days the Lord made” are literal. However most SDAs including Sean and others here DO NOT BELIEVE the next words are literal: “the heavens and the earth”. While some could argue what “the heavens” refer to, there is no question that the “earth” is our planet. Young earth creationists (YEC’s) certainly accept the wording to be literal (the earth itself being created about 6000 years ago) but young life creationists (YLC’s) absolutely reject it (the earth was here previously but life on the earth was created about 6000 years ago).
Clearly there is a dilemma: if some of these words from Ex 20:11 are literal and we require acceptance of them to be literal then all of the words must be literal and we must require all to accept them as literal. In other words there is no room for a gap theory and those who sympathize with it (the overwhelming majority of SDAs) including this website would all become heretics. Church employees who insist, the earth itself was created more than 6000 or so years ago would be undermining a fundamental SDA belief and would need to be fired. Especially if the new wording of FB#6 is going to serve its intended purpose to expunge heretics.
I’m concerned that those who advocate for change, and these are primarily YLC’s have set a trap for themselves that would, with no small amount of irony, put them outside of the church.
Jared Also Commented
That’s a long-winded reply!
I never suggested the evenings and mornings were not literal (they are not in Exodus 20 or in the new FB#6 wording), that the Biblical authors were mistaken, or that pastors and teachers should be free to teach as they please. I simply suggested that the proposed wording may not help all that much.
I don’t understand why a belief articulated 33 years ago is so misleading that it must be revised to save the church. The current wording has clearly articulated the church’s position for decades. Those who insist on changing it will themselves one day be criticized for poor word choice.
That’s my opinion. Apparently my opinion is offensive to those who disagree. I now regret having shared it.
You wrote: “Actually, the word earth can also be translated land.”
You’re making my point: if we are going to be literal in interpreting words, we need to be consistent. The Hebrew word for “days” (yowm) can have multiple meanings, as can the Hebrew word for “earth” (‘erets). It’s easy to look up the various ways in which these two terms have been translated differently throughout scripture. In essence, you are defending a literal reading of one phrase (“in six days the Lord made”) and choosing a more figurative meaning of another phrase (“the heavens and the earth”).
Again, the bigger problem is that the proposed change to the wording of FB#6 could be interpreted by many as supporting a narrow view of how long it took for the Lord to make “the heavens and the earth,” and used forcefully to punish those who advocate young life creationism (the earth made many thousands or millions of years ago) instead of young earth creationism (the earth made about 6,000 years ago). The motivation to revise the wording–to punish those who interpret things differently–serves well such an unintended consequence. I think it’s a mistake.
Recent Comments by Jared
“I never argued that God created everything or that God is required to explain all phenomena. That’s simply not true. God did not create the computer I’m typing on nor what I’m typing. These are the result of human design and therefore do not require omnipotence to explain their origin.”
If A created B and B created C, then A is not required to explain C? Right.
“Again, your argument removes the statistical basis for making such determinations – from using science itself.”
Oh really? So if scientists show there are “tens of billions of earth-like planets,” I am being unscientific in my use of their statistics? How does my argument differ from your use of someone else’s statistics to conjure the “trillions upon trillions of years” impossibility that you insist is the only valid scientific conclusion regarding the probability of life’s origin on this planet?
Again, I don’t think we should rely on statistics, logic, and human reason to convince others that God created us, that Jesus was real, and that God has a plan to restore us to his original creation. The Holy Spirit does not depend on human argumentation to accomplish His purpose.
You wrote this: “arguing that if many universes exist our universe isn’t so special, undermines all of science since this argument can explain anything an everything – and therefore nothing.”
You’ve trotted out this silly argument several times now. Yet you insist that God created everything, which of course can explain everything–every single bit of evidence–and therefore undermines all of science (according to you) and explains nothing.
I totally agree with you that God created everything, but your dismissive style and boastful arguments betray your misplaced dependence on human logic and reason.
You also wrote: “True humility is realized when one considers and recognizes the evidence for the Divine Hand behind the origin of the natural world and the written Word.”
Sorry, but I don’t believe that human logic and reason form the basis of true humility.
Science, Methodological Naturalism, and Faith
I came across this remarkable story
The endless discussion of statistical probabilities associated with limits to change takes on a new dimension when one considers multiplying anything that COULD happen on this earth by the tens of billions of earth-like (life-compatible) planets in just one galaxy of this universe. (I recall growing up in Adventism the many arguments about the probability that our planet would be precisely positioned relative to the sun in a manner that would make life sustainable.)
The three big problems with arguments from probability relate to incomplete knowledge, assuming we have a correct understanding of boundaries, and the failure to recognize that extremely improbable events happen.
Humility can be a scarce commodity. Especially at this website. Here’s a quote that bears repeating: “In the end life’s feasibility depends on chemistry and biochemistry that we are still studying, not coin flipping.”
Science, Methodological Naturalism, and Faith
The original wording implied that anyone believing in theistic evolution lacked intelligence. That’s not appropriate language in dealing with one’s opponents.
You’re getting yourself confused, Sean. You’ve asked me not to be so sensitive and personally attached to my ideas. I actually share your conviction that theistic evolution is wrong. Should I now poke fun at your intelligence for your wrong a priori assumption about me?
Lecturing others seems to come natural for you.
The Basis of Biblical Credibility
Sean Pitman wrote this:
“Are you saying that you simply accept the claims of experts without a personal understanding of how the Darwinian mechanism actually works at higher levels of functional complexity? – therefore it must work even if you personally do not understand how?”
Sean, I think you’re being a bit hypocritical. You insist that evolutionists must have firm evidence for a mechanism in hand to explain their interpretation of how life has become as we see it today. Yet you cannot explain yourself the mechanisms by which your own interpretation works.
It’s really not okay to say, in essence, “God created the various life forms that are largely similar to what they are today. He saved all the land-dwelling ones in an ark, and only their descendents are with us to this day. We don’t know how God assembled these multifunctional machines in the first place, how fossils became layered in ways that correspond to complexity rather than ecology (e.g., mangroves only high up in the geological column), or how the land-dwelling organisms dispersed in ways that clearly contradict the hypothesis that all departed from a single place (Mt. Ararat). But the mechanisms do not matter; the evidence clearly shows that God did all of this, and therefore it is scientific, even if I personally do not understand how. Evolutionists, on the other hand, cannot explain the mechanism by which evolution assembled multifunctional machines (never mind the other stuff), and therefore their explanation is non-scientific. End of story.”
100 years ago we had no clue that genes could promote cancer. Lacking a mechanism, we could have argued that cancer had nothing to do with our genes. The flaw in any such argument should be obvious to an intelligent mind.
Your argument that evolution cannot work because Paul Cameron or anyone else lacks a precise mechanism to overcome your declared barrier (1000 fairly specified amino acid residues) is based on the fallacy of ignorance.