Comment on Creeds and Fundamental Beliefs by Sean Pitman.
I agree with the quotes above. But there as nothing like that going on at La Sierra. There were no teachers who have “claimed that they were right, that God has especially taught, impressed, and led them.” or taught that they had “special light from God”. No one was trying to undermine the foundations of the church. No one was claiming to “have a stronger foundation than was laid”. These are simply Biology teachers trying to teach basic science the best they can with the best information they have. They weren’t even teaching anything new! They certainly weren’t trying to disrupt church organization.
So, telling one’s students that life has clearly existed and evolved, via Darwinian mechanisms, on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, that the concept of a literal 6-day creation week, not to mention a worldwide Noachian Flood, is logically and scientifically untenable, is not really an act of undermining any of the primary goals or ideals of the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Where have you been?
Did you miss the fact that the General Conference Executive Committee, at the 2004 Annual Council, asked all professors in SDA schools to also present the SDA perspective on origins in all classrooms?
“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.” (Link)
How is LSU supporting this request of the Adventist Church? How is LSU not directly undermining the Church’s position on a literal 6-day creation week as the true story of the origin of life on this planet?
I could possibly credit your concerns if the church had a clear understanding and could reconcile the Bible with the Science, but the church doesn’t and can’t. No one can, and it seems unreasonable to expect a single biology teacher to be able to do what NO ONE has been able to do in the last 150 years.
Beyond the fact that this statement isn’t true on its face (there is in fact a great deal of scientific evidence in support of the Biblical claims on origins), it is irrelevant to the question of church order and government. The church has every right to expect that those who are hired to represent its interests will actually do so. It also has the right to release those from employment who cannot support the church’s goals and ideals from pulpit or classroom.
Sean Pitman: “This is not a moral issue.”
Actually this is a moral issue. It is categorically immoral for anyone, let alone the church to use coercion and persecution to enforce anyone’s belief against reason and conscience.
Of course you are right here, but only with regard to those who do not claim to be representatives of the church. Your problem is that you think it is the right of all people, regardless of one’s individual views or ideas, to become paid representatives of the Adventist Church. It is not a basic human right to be paid by the SDA Church for promoting one’s own individual views independent of the views of the church who employs you. To be hired by the Church as an official representative from pulpit or classroom is a privilege, not a right, for which not everyone qualifies. Therefore, it is not persecution, in any meaningful sense of the word, for the church to refuse to hire or continue to pay those who do not accurately reflect the goals and ideals of the church as an organization.
The church has not taken on civil authority here. You can do as you wish with respect to your own religious preferences in this free society of ours – thank God. You can leave or join any church at will without any fear of civil reprisals. And, that’s a very very good thing. However, the church, like all viable organizations, must also be free to hire only those who actually do represent the goals and ideals of the church.
How is this not common sense? What you are arguing for here is chaos and anarchy within the church, not order and government for the Church.
Is religious freedom within the church any less moral?
There should always be freedom of religion in society at large. However, for a particular organization to remain viable, there must be selectivity when it comes to hiring official paid representatives. Freedom of religion in society at large does not mean that you can expect payment from any particular organization within that society for doing whatever you want independent of the goals and ideals of the organization that you hope will support your efforts financially.
For example, if you like to wear Reebok shoes, you think they are the best, don’t expect to be hired by Nike for promoting the superiority of Reebok. In the same way, why should the SDA Church pay someone who thinks that Catholicism is better? – or who openly promotes anything that counters the basic goals and ideals of the SDA Church as an organization?
What you are suggesting here is, again, not “freedom”, but chaos and anarchy. It was tried in the early formation of the Adventist Church. It didn’t work then, for obvious reason detailed above, and it will not work now.
Sean Pitman Also Commented
You are confused yet again. The ability to adapt to new environments beyond very low levels of functional complexity requries pre-programmed information to exist within the gene pool. Without such pre-programmed information, there is no ability for adaptation beyond very low levels of functional complexity.
Darwinian-style evolution is based on the notion that high level information can be created within that gene pool which was never there before. This isn’t the same thing as breeding or Mendelian variation – both of which are based on pre-existent genes or alleles which allow for such high-level variation in form and function.
In short, you don’t seem to appreciate the difference between something like Mendelian variation (based on pre-existent genetic information) and Darwinian-style evolution (based on the generation of novel genetic information). They really aren’t the same thing.
So, explain to me the difference in mechanism between Darwinian-style evolution and something that requires intelligent design to produce? In your opinion, is it possible to produce all things via truly mindless evolutionary mechanisms? How can I tell if something did or did not require the input of an intelligent designer?
Again, there was no option during the Catholic Inquisitions of the Middle Ages since the Church controlled civil government as well its own internal government. No one was really free to leave the Catholic Church during this time without fear of severe civil penalties.
This is not the case today since there is still a separation between church and state in this country (thank God). All are free to leave the SDA Church at will – free of any civil reprisals of any kind.
However, this does not therefore mean that all are free to expect a paycheck from the SDA Church for teaching or preaching whatever they want. The Church is also free to hire only those whom it feels would most effectively represent its primary goals and ideals – to include its efforts to promote its most fundamental doctrinal ideas to the world…
In no meaningful sense of the word can this sort of expectation be called a “persecution” of those who cannot or will not represent the church as the church sees fit – on the church’s dime.
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
COVID-19 and Vaccines – Update
I hesitate to respond to your latest E-mail (since I’ve already responded extensively to ____ on this topic). I must say, however, that both of you are sharing a great deal of misinformation. For example, you claim that the mRNA vaccines done in animal trials were a failure. While it is true that prior research on mRNA vaccines, starting some decades ago, did have trouble overcoming an effect called, “antibody-dependent enhancement” (ADE), this problem was actually overcome for the mRNA vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus (Link). These modern mRNA vaccines underwent double-blinded placebo-controlled trials in both humans and animals with great success. There simply were no ADE problems – or any other high-risk problem. In fact, the mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 proved themselves to be far more effective than anticipated, and very safe – far far safer than exposing one’s self to the actual SARS-CoV-2 viral infection.
Yet, you cite the VAERS database as listing a host of vaccine injuries (co-managed by CDC and FDA by the way). Why is it, do you think, that the CDC and FDA make public the VAERS database? – if they are truly out to injure people with vaccines? You would think that, if these government organizations are truly evil, that they would want to hide this information – right? The problem with VAERS is that many people who promote conspiracy theories don’t understand how it works or its real purpose. Anyone can post pretty much anything to the VAERS database without any demonstration of a causal relationship between their symptoms and the vaccine they took – or anything else. So, what’s the point of VAERS? Well, it’s used to detect unusual patterns in large populations that should be investigated further (Link).
As far as the mRNA vaccines being “experimental”, that’s also not true. These vaccines have been studied for over 30 years now. Sure, they weren’t rolled out for general public use until a few months ago, but this doesn’t make them “experimental” in nature. They underwent extensive human and animal trials with great success. Over 70,000 human volunteers participated in these trials. And, since they have been rolled out to the general public, their success, and their safety, have been even further supported after observing hundreds of millions of vaccines given. As far as the FDA only issuing an “emergency use authorization” rather than full approval of the mRNA vaccines, this is because of the 6-month rule where a vaccine or medication must be observed during a trial period for at least 6 months before being considered for full approval. This is because the odds that something new or unexpected will be discovered beyond the six months of observation during trials are extremely low (given our extensive past experience with vaccines). Of course, now that these 6 months of observation have been met, Pfizer is planning on filing for full FDA approval by the end of this month (May 2021).
But what about the risk of blood clots that have been discovered? First off, this risk is quite rare and is associated with the DNA vaccines, not the mRNA vaccines. So, if one has the option, I would favor the mRNA vaccines over the DNA vaccines (Link).
By comparison, the smallpox vaccine that William White took, with his mother’s full knowledge and support by the way, along with his associates, was far far more risky. In fact, the smallpox vaccine is probably the riskiest vaccine ever made. In her day, about 1 person for every 1000 people vaccinated for smallpox for the first time experienced serious reactions/complications. Even by 1969 studies showed that out of every one million people vaccinated at least one will die due to vaccine complications. It is for this reason that:
“Scientists call it [the smallpox vaccine] the most dangerous vaccine known to man.” (David Kohn, The Most Dangerous Vaccine, CBS News, 2002)
Yet, she still approved of her own son William getting the smallpox vaccine even though he had been injured by a vaccine as a child. Why? Because, the risk of getting infected by smallpox was much much higher than the risk of the smallpox vaccine – even for those following the Health Message given to Mrs. White. Clearly, then, Mrs. White was not at all opposed to vaccines since she had her own children vaccinated and even supported them getting vaccinated as adults – despite having experienced a bad outcome with vaccines. Given all of this, I believe D. E. Robinson, the personal secretary for Mrs. White for 13 years, when he said that she was also vaccinated for smallpox at one point – and encouraged her own staff to be vaccinated as well. The common response that Robinson either lied or couldn’t remember the facts correctly (Link) seems like a desperate argument given all of the information we have of Mrs. White supporting the best of modern medical care and treatments of her day. She even supported the use of quinine to treat malaria (Link) and she recognized the advantages of anesthesia during surgery and the use of medicines to relieve the intense pain and suffering of the injured or sick (Link). She recommended blood transfusions when needed, despite the risks involved (Link) – and even had radiation therapy to resolve a skin lesion on her face (Link).
You yourself say that “there may be a place for a drug in an emergency situation”. Well, what do you call this pandemic we’re in if not an emergency situation? The conspiratorial claim that this pandemic is nothing but another “flu season” is nonsense. Well over 500k people died in this country alone within just one year because of this pandemic. The situation is the same worldwide. India is really suffering right now with many thousands dying every day of COVID-19. And, even for those who don’t die, up to 1/3 will develop long-term injuries called “Long-Hauler’s Syndrome”. This is true even for children (Link). Your own brother-in-law, Dr. Roger Seheult, has personally seen dozens and dozens of people die from this – the MICUs where he works packed with very sick people. I’ve seen it myself. People suffocate to death and their blood turns to jello. It isn’t an easy way to go. I’ve seen my local MICU filled with COVID-19 patients on ventilators. Over a dozen friends of my own family have died from this. This pandemic just isn’t “another flu season”. It just isn’t. I’d say that if there ever was an emergency situation, this is it! And, for those who say, “Well, I’m healthy and my personal risk from this pandemic is very low.” – what about your risk of transmitting the virus to someone else who isn’t as resistant as you may be? Are you Ok with the possibility of contributing to the injury or death of someone else? – when you had the opportunity to significantly reduce your own risk of being able to transmit this virus to others? For me, this played a big part in my own decision to get the mRNA vaccine against COVID-19 as soon as it was available to me. I considered it to be my Christian responsibility to my neighbors…
As far as citing Revelation 18:23 where the Greek word “pharmakia” is used, the best translation of this word is “sorcery”. It has nothing to do with the use of modern medicine. What, are you opposed to the judicial use of antibiotics for those who have a serious bacterial infection? – or the use of insulin for those suffering from Type I diabetes? As Ellen White once said regarding such things, “We are expected to do the best we can” (Link). Interpreting the Bible in the way that you’re suggesting here only makes Christianity appear sensational and irrational. This sort of thing simply doesn’t present the Gospel Message in an attractive light. Therefore, I strongly advise you to steer clear of such sensational conspiracy theories. Their promotion simply doesn’t help to effectively expand the Kingdom of Heaven.
All the best to you and yours,
COVID-19 and Vaccines – Update
“The Bible was inspired by God…. This isn’t so with the current antigovernment and anti-Vaxx conspiracy theories.” – Sean Pitman
AB: “Brother Revelation 18:23 mentions the pharmakeia that Babylon would employ to deceive the world at the end of time. The Bible and history are symbiotically linked. Prophecy is constantly pointing us to look at history for the fulfillment of its symbols.”
I think you make very shaky Biblical interpretations that aren’t what you claim them to be – certainly not with regard to some worldwide government conspiracy behind the COVID-19 pandemic. You’re making medical claims that are opposed to the significant weight of empirical evidence that we have in hand. Again, why ignore the significant increase in the all-cause death rate, starting in March of 2020, for almost every country around the world? – accusing governmental and even medical providers of collectively and consistently falsifying data? In reality, the evidence in hand isn’t just politically motivated here. It’s coming in from all over the place. Do you also not believe that India is having a huge problem right now with COVID-19? – with many thousands dying daily from this pandemic? Is that also some political conspiracy?
I’m sorry, but you’re being deceived here and it is harming your credibility when you promote such weak anti-government conspiracy theories. Don’t try to bring on the Time of Trouble before it’s actually here…
Regarding Revelation 18:23, in particular, the term “pharmakeia” is best translated as “sorcery” here. There is no intended advice at all against modern medicine in this passage. What, are you suggesting that medications like antibiotics to treat bacterial infections or insulin to treat diabetes are evil “sorceries”? Again, such arguments only make the Christians who say such things look sensational and irrational – which puts the Gospel Message itself into a bad light for those who are considering following Christ.
COVID-19 and Vaccines – Update
Responding to a review:
AB: I reviewed the presentation in detail and I don’t feel like what you shared levels with evidence. please allow me to share some evidence. I don’t have the degree that you have but I feel that what I’m going to share with you is very plain for anyone medical degreed or not to understand. Five case examples follow below.
1. First, I have a friend who works in a hospital emergency room locally. Her daughter is also a nurse who is dedicated to a whole ward for Covid. They are constantly being pressured to diagnose persons upon death as having died from Covid, when it is actually cancer or a stroke or in one case related to a bicycle accident. Additionally, the news reports that the hospital morgue is overflowing, yet my friend’s daughter tells us that the morgue has only two compartments. so an exaggeration is taking place at least locally here in New Mexico. I don’t believe that what is being reported is accurate to the true death toll for Covid. Covid’s mortality rate is akin to the flu not the plague.
Nurses don’t determine the “causes of death” for a person who dies in the hospital. That’s just not their job. And, while most morgues in smaller towns and cities aren’t “overflowing” with the dead, this doesn’t mean that the COVID-19 pandemic is “akin to the flu”. It just isn’t. The primary reason why I know this is illustrated in “Slide 3” of my presentation above – that is the overall all-cause death rate (Link). It’s way way higher than previous years, with a sudden increase beginning in March of 2020, in this country, when COVID-19 first came here. This isn’t a result of doctors overdiagnosing COVID since it is an all-cause death rate. What is killing hundreds of thousands of extra people? – if not for COVID-19? In fact, so many more people have died, and are dying, that the official number of COVID-19 deaths is actually a significant underestimate of the true death toll.
2. Here is a CDC publication from early April 2020. notice statements like this:
“Based on death certificate data, the percentage of deaths attributed to COVID-19 increased from 4.0% during week 13 to 6.9% during week 14. The percentage of deaths due to pneumonia (excluding COVID-19 or influenza) decreased from 7.5% during week 13 to 7.2% during week 14.” Interesting pneumonia decreased as Covid suddenly increased. Others are listed as decreasing as compared to Covid as well. It is not conclusive but it raises a big question mark. Isn’t it peculiar that several ailments listed here have decreased at a similar rate that Covid has suddenly increased in diagnosis?
Here is that report: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/pdf/covidview-04-10-2020.pdf
This is a report of a single week during the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States. A lot more is known about COVID-19 now and the overall death rate that has resulted is markedly higher than can be explained by the flu or all-cause pneumonia or anything else. Again, this was/is a real pandemic and it is a serious pandemic. It simply isn’t “just another flu season” as various conspiracy websites are claiming.
3. Sean, as a third example, here is Dr Fauci in late March of last year. Covid had already been taking its toll for several months and yet Fauci described it in terms of nothing more severe than the flu.
“If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.”
Here is the source:
This was during the supposed “war zone” time period. but he must not have shared the correct narrative because he had to suddenly change that story shortly thereafter even though Covid was still only taking flu-level casualties.
Dr. Fauci made this particular statement in March of 2020 – before the true nature of the COVID-19 had a chance to reveal itself. And, he was wrong. Unfortunately, COVID-19 hasn’t been “just another flu season” – as Fauci himself realized soon thereafter.
Sure, while the overall death rate has been around 1% (not the 10% or 30+% associated with SARS or MERS, thank God), a 1% overall fatality rate is still way higher than a normal flu season and the death rates are exponentially higher for older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions (also mentioned in my talk – Slide 4)
4. Also this — According to the WHO, influenza deaths per year were upwards of 650K in Nov 2019. This is higher than the number that you present for Covid in your PowerPoint presentation. Why weren’t political powers trying to quarantine the world from the flu? that’s a much higher death toll than Covid and it qualifies as a pandemic. why wait until Trump’s presidency?
Here is my source: https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal)
The 650k deaths from the flu for the 2019-2020 flu season is a worldwide death toll. The numbers I presented in my talk, on the other hand, were only for the United States alone. The death toll for the flu in the US for the 2019-2020 flu season was ~22k (Slide 3). Compare this to the death toll for COVID-19 for a single year of well over 500k in the US alone (and likely over 700k based on the all-cause death rate increase in this country alone).
5. Here is another piece of info that I found interesting — during the height of the “war zone” for hospitals in late March and April of last year, I did some research around the actual count of entered Covid patients in New York City. check this out:
An averaged five Covid deaths per hospital during the reported war zone time frame in New York. That’s right. Sources:
FIRST SOURCE: NY state Department of Health
FACT: 214 hospitals in New York state (Link).
SECOND SOURCE: NY Times, 3/29
FACT: 1,000 COVID-19 deaths in New York state.
This is why people like Todd Starnes and others have camera footage, showing cameras set up outside of the biggest hospitals in New York’s burroughs day after day and there are few or no ambulance is coming or going. Although the news reports they are dealing with “war zone” patient levels.
Different hospitals saw different levels of COVID-19 patients – even in NY. Regardless, the fact is that many people in NY, and throughout our country, have been killed by COVID-19. There have been over 2.1 million cases in NY alone with 53,200 deaths due to COVID-19 (Link) – which is, again, an underestimate, not an exaggeration, of the true death rate.
The data from these case examples I’m sharing with you — they follow a pattern. The pattern construes data, downplays one virus (influenza), magnifies another virus (coronavirus strain), and attaches the cause to a political party. It has been hyped up as a way to mask the population and create a topic that a conspiracy group (a bona fide conspiracy group, I make no apologies) can use to rally the world behind them. It is the early building blocks of the Babylon we read about in Revelation chapter 18.
And even if my Babylon-related conclusion is not correct (The evidence I shared as well as some of Ellen White’s statements lead me to believe I am correct), the data and the response to Covid has been hyped up. That concerns me, because it has led to a system of control and misconstruing of evidence that should never happen in a free country.
I’m interested to hear your thoughts on any of these five points or others that I have shared. and thanks for taking a moment to consider what I have shared.
I appreciate your thoughts and your concern, but the points you’ve presented seem to me to be mistaken on a number of levels. Sometimes the data itself isn’t understood (as in the mistaken comparison of a worldwide death rate to the US death rate for a given flu season). The fact remains, however, that the overall death all-cause death rate is much much higher than historical averages for any kind of flu season. This just isn’t another flu season – it just isn’t. And, we haven’t even started talking about the long-term side effects and health damage caused by COVID-19 on up to 1/3 of people who get infected but who don’t die – even young otherwise healthy people. Again, this doesn’t happen during a normal flu season.
I’ve personally seen people die from COVID-19. Over a dozen family friends of mine have been killed by COVID-19 so far – in just one year. My brother-in-law, Dr. Roger Seheult, is a pulmonologist in S. California. He has seen dozens of people die in his hospital every week for month after month. None of this happens during a normal flu season and the way people die of COVID-19 just isn’t an easy way to go. The vessels in their lungs get clotted off and they basically suffocate to death.
Anyway, I advise you to avoid getting your information from conspiracy-based websites. They’re just lying to you or are giving you only part of the story that is a significant distortion from the reality of the situation we’re in. Sure, the “Time of Trouble” is coming, but this isn’t it. And, when it does come, it won’t be some kind of government conspiracy. It will be out in the open for all to clearly see. So, steer clear of anti-government conspiracy theories. They will only end up hurting your credibility when it comes to spreading the actual Gospel Message to the world as we’ve been commissioned to do as Christians.
Dr. Walter Veith and the anti-vaccine arguments of Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche
If you understood how these vaccines actually work, you would understand that they are part of helping to preserve life and health – part of ending all the death and suffering that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is causing on this planet.
Not all science is bad. Most of the discoveries of science are actually good – especially when it can be tested and observed in real-time. True scientific knowledge and medical advancements are a gift of God to ease the pain of humanity in this fallen world…
Dr. Walter Veith and the anti-vaccine arguments of Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche
I don’t know when Novavax will be approved? Here’s the latest on their clinical trials: Link