Comment on Creeds and Fundamental Beliefs by Ron.
@ Henry: OK. (except for this)
@ Bob: “former Adventist”? Hmmm. . . What kind of a spirit would prompt a comment like that? You may wish it was that easy. No, I am still an Adventist in good standing.
@ O Nelson:
Actually, I don’t have any trouble with the “Fundamental Beliefs” as they are currently articulated. I think they are Biblical. They just, aren’t Scientific. As an accurate description of how Adventists interpret the Divine story, they are great. As a description of modern genetics, they are not.
The problem is when you insist that the “Fundamental Beliefs” are the ONLY way to interpret scripture, then you cut yourself off from the power and mystery of the Divine Story which reinterprets itself to every human heart in every unique situation. You also cut yourself off from the further revelation of Present Truth.
As long as the “Fundamental Beliefs” remain beliefs, i.e. a position statement from the theology department, I am OK with them. It is when they become a creed trying to pose as science in the science department, enforced by sanctions, that we have a problem.
The other problem is that there are some in the church who want to reformulate the “Fundamental Beliefs”, to tighten them up so to speak. They want to introduce an extra biblical interpretation into them. The Bible says God is the creator. It says nothing about evolution. To say that God could not, and did not, create animals with the capacity to evolve is to add something extra Biblical to the creed which might not stand the test of time. In fact, as I read Genesis, it STRONGLY implies post creation evolution, even though it doesn’t spell it out explicitly.
With all due respect to Usher, the Bible also doesn’t give a time frame. All Adventist theologians that I know of think that Genesis 1 is ambiguous. The ancient Hebrew cosmology is so different from our modern cosmology, that it is hard to say exactly how much of the Universe is encompassed by the term “In the beginning . . .” So, to say that creation happened in exactly 6 literal days, 6000 years ago is to add something extra Biblical to the Fundamental Beliefs. It isn’t really what the Bible says, it is what some of us think the Bible says. In my mind there is an infinite difference between the two.
Now, to say that something is extra Biblical is not to say that it isn’t true, or that there isn’t a good reason to make the statement, certainly Mrs. White thought the earth was created about 6,000 years ago, but I think we are on thin ice to put something into our “Fundamental Belief” statement based on Mrs. White. She always deferred to scripture, and she never claimed to be infallible, and at least as I read her, she had great respect for science. In fact in one place she said that the reason to teach science in our schools is to correct errors in theology. To me, that just raises a caution flag. This is an area where I think we need to not be dogmatic. Just because Bob can’t see how evolution and Genesis are compatible doesn’t mean that I can’t. And if I can see it, then maybe, over time, others will see it too. I guess it really comes down to what are you afraid of. Bob seems to be afraid that God isn’t big enough to save evolutionists, I am afraid of being too small, and trying to make God stay in my box.
Ron Also Commented
BobRyan: If this attribute of design, as observed in nature, is so blatantly obvious that even our evolutionist friends cannot help themselves when speaking about it – who are Bible believing Creationists to deny Intelligent Design?
So Bob, am I to conclude from your comment that you are becoming a theistic evolutionist, since you seem to equate evolution and ID?
Sean Pitman: In no meaningful sense of the word can this sort of expectation be called a “persecution”
I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this point. I think that threatening one’s employment is pretty coercive. As far as I am aware, none of the teachers took the position that the churches theology was wrong. It seems the church is persecuting them for simply teaching science to the best of their ability.
I don’t think it is an individual teacher’s responsibility to reconcile the whole churches theology to the science. I think that leadership really needs to come from the theology department. It probably makes more sense to fire the theology department for negligence.
BobRyan: Instead of that Darwin, Provine, Meyers and Dawkins all claim that evolution is what destroys christian faith.
At this point – I only state the obvious.
I think that is one of the problems. Both sides in the debate have jumped to the obvious conclusions which just happen to be wrong. They are then so invested in defending themselves that they refuse to see the obvious truth that there is no inherent conflict. There is no rational reason why God can’t create organisms with the capacity to adapt to new environments (another way to say “evolve”).
Bob, I know you will deny it, but I think you really are a theistic evolutionist, you are just afraid to acknowledge your own reason.
Recent Comments by Ron
Sean Pitman: No one is demanding that they “get out of the church”. . . . . anti-Adventist views on such a fundamental level.
You don’t see how characterizing a dedicated believer’s understanding of truth as “fundamentally anti-Adventist” would drive them out of the church?
I guess that explains why you don’t see that what you are doing here is fundamentally wrong.
Professor Kent: Nothing saddens me more than the droves who leave the Church when they learn that many of their cherished beliefs regarding this evidence don’t hold up so well to scrutiny.
I agree. I am sure that Sean and Bob don’t mean to undermine faith in God, but every time they say that it is impossible to believe in God and in science at the same time, I feel like they are telling me that any rational person must give up their belief in God, because belief in God and rationality can’t exist in the same space. Who would want to belong to that kind of a church?
Sean Pitman: and have little if anything to do with the main point of their prophetic claims
And by analogy, this appears to be a weak point in the creation argument. Who is to decide what the main point is?
It seems entirely possible that in trying to make Gen. 1 too literal, that we are missing the whole point of the story.
Changing the Wording of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6 on Creation
Regarding falsifying the existence of God through the miraculous:
While it is true that one can’t falsify the existance of God and the Biblical miracles at a philosophical level, it seems to me that it is possible to falsify it at a practical level. For instance prayer for healing. How many families who pray for a miracle for a loved one in the Intensive Care Unit receive a miracle?
While the answer to that question doesn’t answer the question of the existence of God at a philosophical level, it does answer the question at a practical level. After 36 years of medical practice I can say definitively that at a practical level when it comes to miracles in the ICU, God does not exist. Even if a miracle happens latter today, it wouldn’t be enough to establish an expectation for the future. So at a practicle level it seems it is possible level to falsify the existence od God, or at least prove His nonintervention which seems to me to be pretty much the same thing at a functional level.
Changing the Wording of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6 on Creation
Sean, what is your definition of “Neo-darwinism” as opposed to “Darwinism” as opposed to “evolution”?