@Bill Sorensen: Even your angel in heaven illustration will not …

Comment on Biblical Interpretation and Credibility by Sean Pitman.

@Bill Sorensen:

Even your angel in heaven illustration will not support the idea that Gabriel is innocent and/or not guilty. It just means forgiveness is a natural result of ignorance. It is a spiritual faux pau. Not unlike a simular incident in this world where you might bump into someone by accident and say, “Oh, excuse me, I didn’t see you there.”

Oh, but are such errors sinful? – in the same sense that they would require the blood of Jesus for atonement? Why wouldn’t such errors be classified in the same manner with the sin of eating the forbidden fruit? – which did require the blood of Jesus for atonement?

The issue is pardon, or no pardon. Not, guilty or not guilty. People are pardoned because they are guilty, and we don’t plead innocence before God just because we didn’t know better.

You’re mistaken. People have successfully used the argument of ignorance with God many times. – Gen. 20:3-7 NIV.

Ignorance means that one has not sinned against one’s conscience. A deliberate sin against one’s own conscience, against what one knew to be right, is what demanded the blood of Jesus for atonement.

According to your view, sin will always continue in Heaven for ever and ever. As long as we are subject to imperfect knowledge, accidents will happen – even in Heaven. While we will no doubt apologize for these accidence, they will not be classified as moral “sins”.

Note that Mrs. White and the Bible both point out that moral sin will not arise a second time in God’s universe.

Never will evil again be manifest. Says the word of God: “Affliction shall not rise up the second time.” Nahum 1:9.

EGW, GC, p. 504

This situation would be impossible given your view of sin and your misunderstanding as to what makes sin so evil.

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Biblical Interpretation and Credibility
@Bill Sorensen:

Inherent in her self defense, she is blaming God for not giving her enough “evidence” to make an intelligent decision. So, she claimed she was innocent of any rebellion.

This is like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar blaming his parents for leaving the jar where he could reach it.

Eve’s excuse was of the same character. She knew that she had been given plenty of evidence and warning. She really had no valid excuse – and she knew it. She was simply desperate at this point to point the finger anywhere but at herself where she knew the blame really belonged.

Let me repeat, it was God who had provided the significant weight of evidence in this case – not the Serpent. Consider, the comments of Mrs. White in this regard:

Our first parents chose to believe the words, as they thought, of a serpent; yet he had given them no tokens of his love. He had done nothing for their happiness and benefit, while God had given them everything that was good for food and pleasant to the sight. Everywhere the eye might rest was abundance and beauty; yet Eve was deceived by the serpent, to think that there was something withheld which would make them wise, even as God. Instead of believing and confiding in God, she basely distrusted His goodness and cherished the words of Satan.

EGW, SR, p. 37-38.

Note again that Eve’s trust of the words of the Serpent over those of God was sinful precisely because she was rejecting the one who had shown her real evidence of his love for her. If God had not done all of these things for her, she would not be guilty of deliberately severing a loving relationship that had been built on abundant evidence.

Again, if any valid excuse or reason for sin could be presented, it would cease to be sin. It would no longer be a form of insanity – of deliberate rebellion against known truth.

Did she have “adequate” evidence? As Christians, we say “yes”. Did she have absolute evidence? The answer is “no”.

There is always room for a free moral agent to claim that he/she has honest doubts if he/she so chooses – however crazy that choice may be. That’s the very definition of moral freedom. However, only God knows if those doubts really are truly honest – if one has or has not deliberately rejected known truth or has deliberately turned down the opportunity to know the truth. God knows, with absolute perfection, what a person knows and to what degree.

It is for this reason, of course, that only God can perfectly judge the heart of a person – their true moral character. You and I cannot judge in this manner because we do not know if another person is or is not being sincere with the same degree of perfection that God uses.

The only question to be decided is if created being have “adequate” evidence to make a decision in God’s favor.

Those who are saved at last all say, “yes”. And the lost all say “no”.

You’re mistaken. The lost are not lost because they don’t have adequate evidence. Even they will readily admit, at the end of time, that all the evidence is in God’s favor and that they fully recognize the justice in God’s actions and in their exclusion from Heaven. They will all bow the knee before God, even Satan, and fully admit their own errors and God’s goodness. If it were just a matter of evidence, God would provide it. The problem is that it isn’t a matter of evidence, but of motive. That’s why the case of those who will be eternally lost is hopeless. There really is nothing God could have done to save them – to change their minds. It is also for this reason that sin is a form of insanity. It makes no rational sense. If it were just a matter of information or evidence, it would make rational sense. There would be a rational reason for its existence – i.e., a lack of enough evidence.

Consider again the words of Mrs. White in this regard:

In the day of final judgment, every lost soul will understand the nature of his own rejection of truth. The cross will be presented, and its real bearing will be seen by every mind that has been blinded by transgression. Before the vision of Calvary with its mysterious Victim, sinners will stand condemned. Every lying excuse will be swept away. Human apostasy will appear in its heinous character. Men will see what their choice has been. Every question of truth and error in the long-standing controversy will then have been made plain. In the judgment of the universe, God will stand clear of blame for the existence or continuance of evil. It will be demonstrated that the divine decrees are not accessory to sin. There was no defect in God’s government, no cause for disaffection. When the thoughts of all hearts shall be revealed, both the loyal and the rebellious will unite in declaring, “Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? . . . for Thy judgments are made manifest.” Rev. 15:3, 4.

EGW, DA, p. 58

The only difference between the righteous and the wicked will be motive. Both will fully know and understand the truth and recognize it as the truth before God. However, the wicked will hate what they know is true while the righteous will love what they know is true.

He claimed if God had always given them clear light, there never would be any rebellion and there never could be.

This is also not true. Lucifer knew from the beginning that he was in the wrong. Yet, because of his pride, he refused to admit the error of his ways and come back into a loving relationship with God. It is for this reason that he is eternally lost.

So, he concludes with all his followers, that God alone is responsible for sin.

Nope. He concludes, as do his followers, that God was right all along. It is just that this conclusion of truth does not change their hearts to love the truth.

Yes, there is evidence. But it is in the scriptural revelation. And I suggest that nothing transcends prophecy which is more than adequate to build a viable Christian faith.

As I’ve already explained to you many times, even prophecy is dependent upon empirical evidence (i.e., empirical science) for its rational validity.

Sean Pitman

Biblical Interpretation and Credibility
@David Read:

Sean, I think people ultimately have to accept Scripture on faith.

Ultimately people who come to any conclusion about the truth of anything that exists outside of their own imaginations must use some degree of faith. This includes the conclusions of scientists as to what is and is not most likely true.

In short, one can’t avoid making leaps of faith when coming to conclusions as to what claims, among many competing claims and potential options, are most likely true.

This isn’t to say, however, that leaps of faith must be entirely blind, without a basis in solid evidence. Without any evidentiary basis, blind leaps of faith are simply no more helpful than is wishful thinking.

For me, the Christian faith can be so much more than mere wishful thinking or fanciful speculation. We aren’t simply peddling “cunningly devised fables” here… – 2 Peter 1:16

But ultimately these arguments are not sufficient to coerce the skeptic; ultimately one must make a faith decision to believe that Scripture is the inspired word of God.

No evidence is sufficient to force belief in anything. We are talking about what it would take to convince someone with a rational candid mind who really did want to know and follow the truth. We are not talking about those who will not accept the truth because they don’t want to accept the truth. These kinds of people are the ones Jesus talked about who wouldn’t believe “Even if someone were raised from the dead.” – Luke 16:31 NIV

So faith can never be replaced by sight. Faith is a necessary ingredient in the Christian walk, without which it is impossible to be saved.

The faith of all true seekers for truth is always increased by additional information in favor of the truth. It is not blind and cannot increase without evidence. It is for this reason that the faith of the disciples of Jesus increased when they were given empirical evidence by Jesus.

I’m also a little unclear about whether you regard the recent creation and the Genesis Flood as being verifiable or falsifiable. I don’t think they are of that character. The data that bear on these things are subject to interpretation, and how one interprets the data determines how one feels about the historicity of these events.

All data are subject to interpretation. No human ideas about the truth of anything that exists outside of the mind are absolutely or can be known with perfection.

This doesn’t mean that the best available empirical evidence cannot be said to clearly favor the Biblical model of origins. I think that such a claim is perfectly valid – and true in my opinion.

For example, the data of the geological column and the fossil record can be interpreted as evidence of the Genesis Flood, or as evidence of the long, slow development of life across immense ages of time.

Indeed, but not with equal predictive power. The Biblical model of a universal Flood and the recent formation of life has significantly greater explanatory power and is more consistent with the totality of the evidence that is currently available.

The common genetic language can be interpreted as evidence of common descent or as evidence of common design. One can choose to interpret them either way, and the choice of interpretive filters is essentially a religious choice.

The choice for design isn’t just a religious choice, but the best scientific choice for the origin of various genetic features given the totality of genetic evidence – not just one particular feature that can easily be interpreted either way with equal rationality. While the nested pattern can be explained by either deliberate or mindless processes, the associated functionality cannot be equally explained – not even close. The hypothesis of intelligent design is far far superior when it comes to explaining such features.

Obviously, the faith choice comes before the interpretation of the data.

Not true for many many people who have been converted to Christianity, sometimes against their natural choice, because of the overwhelming nature of the evidence in its favor.

The same thing can be said for the disciples of Jesus who were naturally skeptical people. They didn’t choose Jesus before they had good evidence that he was someone special and they didn’t become bold in faith until they saw the resurrection.

Again, a useful faith doesn’t decrease with evidence, but is based on evidence and increases as the evidence in support of one’s faith increases.

Sean Pitman

Biblical Interpretation and Credibility
@Bill Sorensen:

Science is a “means of grace” only after the fact. It can tell you what was created but not who did it.

There’s quite a lot one can learn from the works of an author about that author. The same is true about the works of God. Consider all the things that Paul describes about the power of nature to reveal God’s power and Divine nature.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. – Romans 1:20 NIV

Now, this isn’t to say, of course, that the Bible isn’t a clearer revelation of God’s character than is God’s “Second Book” of nature. The Bible most certainly is a clearer revelation of God. If it weren’t we wouldn’t have needed it in addition to God’s creative works of nature.

This also isn’t to say that if the Bible happened to be completely inconsistent with empirical reality that it would still maintain credibility with rational candid minds. It is the fact that the Bible is empirically credible that I personally accept it’s claim to Divine origin and authority as valid; far superior to all others who make such a fantastic claim.

In this sense, the Bible is dependent upon the quality of the match between its testable claims and the generally available empirical evidence to support the believability of its mataphysical claims to Divine origin and authority.

Sean Pitman

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