It’s not “all or nothing” Paul. Of course God …

Comment on Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution? by Sean Pitman.

It’s not “all or nothing” Paul. Of course God has created natural “processes” that act over time according to the pre-established laws of nature. However, God is also able to act to manipulate these natural laws. Such manipulations can be detected as true “artifacts” of deliberate design. Your mistake is that you think everything can be explained as a process beginning with the same set of original natural laws. That’s simply wrong. Many things cannot be explained as an inevitable process resulting from these original natural laws. The origin of the universe itself cannot be explained as a natural process. It literally screams intelligent design – as you yourself have occasionally admitted. Likewise, the origin of life cannot rationally be explained as a process based on natural laws. The mechanical complexity of the most simple of living things precludes this and therefore demands the additional input of creative intelligence to manipulate basic materials beyond what natural laws and processes along could achieve this side of eternity. Also, the diversity of life with the existence novel mechanically-complex systems cannot be tenably explained by the original natural laws and processes beyond extremely low levels of functional complexity. Again the additional input of high level creative intelligence is required to explain the existence of such functionally complex diversity.

You see then, arguing for the existence of God without any ability to recognize His hand in anything beyond what can be explained by natural laws and processes leaves one with nothing more solid than wishful thinking when it comes to believing in God. Such fideistic wishful thinking cannot form the basis of useful religion that is able to establish a rational hope any anyone else beyond yourself in a better reality beyond this life and place.

That is why both the Bible and Ellen White describe Heaven and the New Earth as a real physical place – not a metaphysical idea or something off in some other dimension completely different from what we experience here in this world. There will be plants and animals. There will be mountains and hills, valleys and rivers. We will eat and drink. We will plant gardens and build houses. We will walk on streets and live in physical structures. Yes, the city of Heaven is a physical place with a physical location in a physical universe.

Beyond this, Ellen White did seem to understand the concept of a massive universe that had a beginning – as did the Biblical authors. After all, Genesis starts out with a description of “the beginning” of the universe (Genesis 1:1). The idea that the universe had a finite beginning and was not always popular in science (since a universe with a finite beginning is much more difficult to explain without an appeal to a Designer to explain its origin out of nothing). Also, the Bible appears to even speak of an “expanding universe”. For example, Isaiah 40:22 says that God “stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.” This would suggest that the universe has actually increased in size or “spread out” since its original creation. Ellen White also specifically speaks about the Plan of Salvation being in existence “prior to the beginning of time” (Signs of the Times, Nov. 21, 1892). In fact, the idea that the universe and time itself had a beginning is a very Christian idea. The idea of a “Big Bang” actually supports the idea of a need for a Designer of the universe – a Designer who is able to make something out of nothing and exist outside of our time and place. Also, as far as the size of the universe, Ellen White describes the Earth as the tiniest speck, the tiniest “atom” in comparison to the rest of the universe which “circles the throne of God”.

All the treasures of the universe will be open to God’s redeemed. Not limited by mortality, they fly tirelessly to far-off worlds. The children of earth enter into the joy and wisdom of unfallen beings and share treasures of knowledge that these have gained through ages upon ages. With undimmed vision they gaze on the glory of creation—suns and stars and systems, all in their appointed order circling the throne of God. (EGW, LF, p. 273)

And, what do you know, physicists have suggested that the entire universe might indeed be rotating or spinning after all (Longo, 2011, Shamir, 2012, Sivaram, 2012, Seshavatharam, 2014)

It seems then that Ellen White did have a reasonable understanding of the universe – given her limited background and education. Did she understand everything that we know today about the universe? Of course not. But, what she did seem to know is not inconsistent with what we know today…

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?
I think she was most likely trying to address the idea that God couldn’t make something out of absolutely nothing… that God had to start with something. I don’t think she was addressing Wilcox’s ideas at all. I think she was simply explaining that God doesn’t have to start with anything – that He can and did in fact ultimately make everything out of absolutely nothing – by the speaking things into existence.

The entire universe seems to be, ultimately, based on information from the Mind of God – i.e., “The Word”. What we see, feel, touch, smell, and taste really has no independent existence outside of the Mind of God and His constant care so that everything exists and moves and has its being “in Him.” – like a mental projection.

Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?
@Mike Manea:

It matters to me too, and I wish you all the best in your own efforts along these lines…

Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?
Because, “as they read” must be interpreted by all that the Bible has to say about creation week. It is never wise to take any Biblical statement out of context. And, in this case, I think the context clearly supports a pre-existing universe (despite the “stars” not being mentioned until Day 4 of creation) and does not clearly exclude the possibility of pre-existing basic material for the Earth. Even Peter appears to argue that water pre-existed the creation week since he says that the Earth was made or brought “out of water” (2 Peter 3:5). Taking everything into account, I just don’t think it possible to be dogmatic against the possibility of pre-exiting basic material prior to the creation week.

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…

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull

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.

Sean Pitman

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
@Bill Sorensen:

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.

Sean Pitman

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull

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.

Sean Pitman

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…

Sean Pitman