Dr. Pitman, Your heterodox theology undermines the crystal clear statements from …

Comment on Biblical Interpretation and Credibility by Professor Kent.

Dr. Pitman,

Your heterodox theology undermines the crystal clear statements from Ellen White (Great Controversy, p. 595), the corporate Seventh-day Adventist Church (the 1986 “Rio” document approved by the GC in session), and SDA Biblical Research Institute scholars (Richard Davidson, Edward Zinke), all of whom leave no room for doubt: the Church rejects higher criticism of Scripture and accepts only Sola Scriptura–God’s word at face value. You insist that we can rely on our reason and empirical evidence to judge the validity of God’s word, but we do so at the same peril that befell Eve and Adam. Satan exploited their reliance on reason and empirical evidence; after all, he (the speaking serpent) had eaten the forbidden fruit, could talk, appeared to be wise, and didn’t die. The test Adam and Eve failed was a very simple one: Could God’s word be trusted?

You insist that credibility of the Bible regarding its metaphysical claims is dependent upon the established credibility of those claims regarding the empirical world that can actually be investigated and tested in a potentially falsifiable manner. If an honest person followed through with your approach, they would reject Scripture. Sure, Scripture does not claim the earth is flat, or that a circle is actually a square; these do fail the test of naturalistic reality, as you frequently point out. However, we also know from naturalistic reality that living humans cannot be manufactured from dirt; that a stick tossed in water cannot make an axe head float to the surface; that a virgin cannot give birth to a baby; and that a corpse several days old cannot be revived. Do we reject Scripture because its claims actually fail your test of empirical reality? NO! According to your test, the reliability of Scripture succeeds no better than a historical novel. Just because some portions of the book are true does not mean all parts are true.

Your distinction between epistemiology and hermeneutics has little relevance to Seventh-day Adventist education and the controversy of teaching origins for one simple reason: Seventh-day Adventists, by profession, have already accepted Scripture to be valid. The issue of origins for Seventh-day Adventists is one of hermeneutics. Again, the official Church position is that Genesis must be interpreted on the basis of sola scriptura, although external sources, including science, may be used to better understand our position. Nevertheless, when the claims of Scripture and science depart, Seventh-day Adventists reject science and follow God’s word–which is why we believe that Jesus’ body truly was restored to life and science dismisses the account as folklore. Science rejects miracles; Seventh-day Adventists accept miracles.

Many of us–conservatives and liberals alike–are disturbed that you elevate Ravi Zacharias’ theology ahead of that of our leading SDA scholars, including Richard Davidson, Ed Zinke, Leonard Brand, David Read, the Geoscience Research Institution scientists, Clifford Goldstein, and Mark Finley, all of whom encourage and applaud faith, rather than bash it.

Professor Kent Also Commented

Biblical Interpretation and Credibility
Sean Pitman wrote:

“I, personally, would have to go with what I saw as the weight of empirical evidence. This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well…” [http://www.educatetruth.com/theological/the-credibility-of-faith/]

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Biblical Interpretation and Credibility
@ Holly Pham: Surely the Church could use its money in better ways than distributing millions of hard copies of The Great Controversy to landfills (via mailboxes). The project would have been more successful about five decades ago, in my estimation. My question for you: what specific prophecy has the discussion at Spectrum fulfilled?

Biblical Interpretation and Credibility

Bill&#032Sorensen: [Hilde said] “If I ever became convinced the biblical creation was not true… Shane’s comment does not base his decision on science. It was simply a generic statement concerning the bible and what it teaches.

You think?

Recent Comments by Professor Kent

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Nic&#032Samojluk: No wonder most creationist writers do not even try to submit their papers to such organizations.
Who wants to waste his/her time trying to enter through a door that is closed to him/her a priori?

You have no idea what you’re writing about, Nic. As it turns out, there are in fact many of us Adventists who “waste” our time publishing articles through doors that open to us a priori. Even Leonard Brand at Loma Linda, a widely recognized creationist, has published in the top geology journals. I mean the top journals in the discipline.

The myth that creationists cannot publish in mainstream science is perpetuated by people who simply do not understand the culture of science–and will remain clueless that they do not understand it even when confronted with their misunderstandings. Such is human nature.

Southern Adventist University opens Origins Exhibit

Your questions about conservation genetics are very insightful. I don’t understand how all these life forms were able to greatly increase in genetic diversity while simultaneously winding down and losing genetic information to mutations. Sean seems to insist that both processes happen simultaneously. I had the impression he has insisted all along that the former cannot overcome the latter. But I think you must be right: God had to intervene to alter the course of nature. However, we can probably test this empirically because there must be a signature of evidence available in the DNA. I’ll bet Sean can find the evidence for this.

I’m also glad the predators (just 2 of most such species) in the ark had enough clean animals (14 of each such species) to eat during the deluge and in the months and years after they emerged from the ark that they didn’t wipe out the vast majority of animal species through predation. Maybe they all consumed manna while in the ark and during the first few months or years afterward. Perhaps Sean can find in the literature a gene for a single digestive enzyme that is common to all predatory animals, from the lowest invertebrate to the highest vertebrate. Now that would be amazing.

Wait a minute–I remember once being told that SDA biologists like Art Chadwick believe that some animals survived on floating vegetation outside the ark. Now that would solve some of these very real problems! I wonder whether readers here would allow for this possibility. Multiple arks without walls, roof, and human caretakers.

Southern Adventist University opens Origins Exhibit

Ellen White said, “In the days of Noah, men…many times larger than now exist, were buried, and thus preserved as an evidence to later generations that the antediluvians [presumably referring to humans] perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things should establish faith in inspired history…”

Sean Pitman said, “All human fossils discovered so far are Tertiary or post-Flood fossils. There are no known antediluvian human fossils.”

Ellen White tells us that humans and dinosaurs (presumably referred to in the statement, “a class of very large animals which perished at the flood… mammoth animals”) lived together before the flood. Evolutionary biologists tell us that dinosaurs and humans never lived together. You’re telling us, Sean, that the fossil record supports the conclusion of evolutionists rather than that of Ellen White and the SDA Church. Many of the “very large animals which perished at the flood” are found only in fossil deposits prior to or attributed to the flood, whereas hunans occur in fossil deposits only after the flood (when their numbers were most scarce).

Should the SDA biologists, who are supposed to teach “creation science,” be fired if they teach what you have just conceded?

La Sierra Univeristy Fires Dr. Lee Greer; Signs anti-Creation Bond
For those aghast about the LSU situation and wondering what other SDA institutions have taken out bonds, hold on to your britches. You’ll be stunned when you learn (soon) how many of our other schools, and which ones in particular, have taken out these bonds. You will be amazed to learn just how many other administrators have deliberately secularized their institutions besides Randal Wisbey, presumably because they too hate the SDA Church (as David Read has put it so tactfully).

Be sure to protest equally loudly.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
@Sean Pitman:

So clearly you believe that science can explain supernatural events. Congratulations on that.