Do you really know what you are signing on for …

Comment on Science, Methodological Naturalism, and Faith by Sean Pitman.

Do you really know what you are signing on for with your acceptance or acquiescence to Seans views on scientific evidence or data which I described as non-sense?

GEORGE “Query: where is the specific evidence that supports a 6 day creation that you absolutely believe in?”

SEAN “As I’ve explained to you several times before, the weight of evidence for a literal creation week rests on the credibility of the Bible”

So according to this any scientific evidence for the reality of a 6 day creation is based on the credibility of the Bible.

The same is true of the credibility for any historical claim by anyone. A rational belief that something happened in history as described by some historian, such as Josephus for instance, is entirely based on the established credibility of the author (given that the event itself cannot be directly evaluated). How then is credibility established?


“…and those elements that can be subjected to testing and potential falsification. Such elements include a recent creation of all life on this planet and a worldwide Noachian-style Flood.”

I am now confused – don’t the evidences for these evidences rest on the credibility of the Bible?

No. These Biblical claims are open to testing and potential falsification by comparing these claims with the evidences we have in the natural world. In other words, is there actual evidence of a recent world-wide Noachian-style Flood? Is there evidence of mass worldwide extinctions as a result of this Flood? Is there evidence for a recent arrival of all life on this planet? If the evidences are consistent with the Biblical claims, the Bible gains credibility. If they are inconsistent with the Biblical claims, the Bible loses credibility. It’s quite a simple and rational concept and it is used all the time.

As an example, consider the claims of the Book of Mormon regarding the origin of the American Indians as being one of the “lost tribes of Israel”. This claim can be tested, genetically, to see if it’s true. Clearly, this claim is effectively falsified. And therefore, for the rational person, this falsification of a key claim from the Book of Mormon significantly undermines its credibility with regard to those claims that cannot be directly tested.

What exactly are the testing procedure for the credibility of the bible if no historical criticism can be allowed?

Who said no historical criticism can be allowed? Historical criticism is perfectly fine – as long as it can be empirically supported with the weight of evidence. So far, however, Biblical critics have been on the losing end so many times its hardly worth counting. The Bible has be vindicated over and over and over again in the face of the “higher critics”… only adding further to its credibility.

Beyond that there are no cogent models of either the young life or the flood. Both of these have been rejected by the conventional science because there is no objective evidence for them short of religious assertion. Simple things like the Grand canyon as an evidence of a universal flood are rejected by geology. It is hard to conceive of how large eolian sandstone deposits (Coconino) could be placed within layers of clearly sedimentary deposits within a single flood.

The Grand Canyon wasn’t formed by the Flood. It was formed after the Flood by the catastrophic failure of a large inland lake and then subsequently by catastrophic failures of lava dams that suddenly released huge volumes of water.

As far as the Coconino sandstone is concerned, there is good evidence that it was catastrophically deposited by water. It simply does not represent a desert or “eolian” environment at all.

“These claims can be tested in a potentially falsifiable manner.”

How exactly without critiquing the Bible which is viewed a source of scientific evidence or of proposing testable hypotheses?

The Bible should be critiqued in a critical manner before accepting it as credible regarding anything it has to say about history or God or other metaphysical “truths”. Fideistic faith, without any ability for testing or potential falsification, is worthless if one wishes to move beyond wishful thinking and a personal fantasy world.

“And, in my opinion, the Bible’s claims are supported by the significant weight of evidence that strongly suggests a very recent arrival of all life on this planet and a truly world wide Noachian Flood that produced much of the fossil record/geologic column.”

Now we get to it. Opinion can now be part of the “weight of evidence” which fits entirely with the Pitman model of science where personal anecdote is equivalent to the literature of science if it is based on some scientific process of personal hypothesis testing and conviction based on that method independent of any repository of knowledge, expertise or consensus.

Again, you defined “science” as the consensus of experts. That means, does it not, that it is impossible for anyone to come to any rational conclusion, via scientific methodologies of any kind, which are opposed to the consensus of mainstream scientists? If this really is your position, you just removed many famous scientists, who personally opposed the consensus of experts of their own day, from the realm of science.

Consensus means nothing if it is opposed to the clear weight of evidence – evidence which can be and often has been discovered by a single individual.

“Given this evidence, the Bible’s claim that God made it all in just one week of time is far more consistent and credible than are the neo-Darwinian claims for hundreds of millions of years of life existing and evolving from simple to complex on this planet.”

So now we have the completion of the circular argument. The evidence for the features of nature that support the fiat creation and the flood is the bible account and this evidence shows the credibility of the Bible and its account of the events.

The argument is not “circular” at all. Credibility is established by independent evidence, outside of the source itself. Once established, it is perfectly reasonable to cite the source as being most likely accurate with regard to those claims that cannot be directly tested. Tell me, why do you believe in the truth of the historical claim for the what happened during the Battle of Issus between Alexander the Great and Darius III in 333 B.C.?

Bob you have stated earlier;

“I believe that its sciences classes should ground students in an understanding of Neo-Darwinian evolution and the arguments for it. However, I believe that the arguments for ID/creationism should also be presented, and that the students should be taught how data can fit into this paradigm.”

If you accept the Pitman doctrine of science you will not only have to teach students about ID/creation and how “data can fit into this paradigm” but you will have to revise you ideas about data and will have to teach an entirely new way of understanding “weight of evidence” or data as being not just the peer reviewed literature of science but every hypothesis testing analysis, anecdote and piece of religious writing based on the Bible. Some in ID have accepted that as you will find if you look at what S Schiller has written in the thread on the blindingly obvious”. You will need to teach both theistic science; the science which is required to sustain ID arguments as Sean has done here and conventional science as it has been done for many many years which assumes only natural process a particular method of science and an accepted repository of scientific knowledge. The repository of knowledge that is the basis of modern western technology and medicine beloved and embrace by almost all students.

Do you want students to be taught these 2 methods of science and allowed to arbitrary choose what they would like according to their preconceived prejudices?

If you do not teach the rational basis for why the church disagrees with mainstream scientists, you undermine the very reason for having a church school – rather than yet another secular university promoting the philosophical Darwinian dogma.

Again, Darwinism isn’t science, but philosophy. The weight of actual empirical evidence in hand is completely opposed to the notion that random mutations and natural selection can create anything beyond very low levels of functional complexity – even if trillions of years of time were available. Your argument that some future discovery will come along to explain how it all happened via some mindless mechanism isn’t scientific either – it is a religious or philosophical argument that is based on wishful thinking, not the current weight of evidence that is actually in hand.

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Science, Methodological Naturalism, and Faith
Again, even using concepts common to methodological naturalism alone, one cannot but help to discover “blindingly obvious” artefacts of intelligent design within various features of the natural world. Using the very same MN arguments SETI uses to search for artificial radio signals or anthropologists use to discover true artefacts within fragments of stone, one can discover clear artefacts of deliberate design within living things.

Therefore, it isn’t methodological naturalism that causes you to fail to recognize these artefacts for what they really are. It is the secular philosophy held by most scientists that prevents you from these discoveries – for fear that any admission of intelligent design or creative intelligence at all, even on a natural level, will lead some to suggest that God might be responsible for even low-level artefacts of design. It is also your own inability to move beyond the status quo and take on your own ideas regardless of what may or may not be popular among most scientists that limits your ability to recognize the signature of God, or even some form of “natural intelligence,” in nature. You refuse to even consider the idea that God is perfectly capable of creating artefacts that we humans could also create, thereby making them detectable as true artefacts of creative intelligence via the use of even methodological naturalism.

Sean Pitman

Science, Methodological Naturalism, and Faith
I certainly agree. The notion that liquid water alone is all that it takes for life to simply self-assemble is nonsense and is certainly not backed up by the scientific evidence that we currently have in hand.

Science, Methodological Naturalism, and Faith
You must be feeling quite fatigued indeed 😉

Since when is the evolution of anything beyond very low levels of functional complexity or a Noachian style Flood or the formation of the fossil record “everyday events”? And, how is your own appeal to discoveries at some unknown time in the future to explain complex biomachines, by some as yet unknown mindless mechanism, somehow rational or “scientific” by any definition of the term? You place a lot of emphasis on the ability of living things to reproduce, but fail to explain how natural selection can actually act as a creative force beyond very low levels of functional complexity – but you’re sure that it, or some other miraculous “emergent” mindless mechanism, is still responsible for all that we see in living things?

Of course the claims of the Bible go beyond what can be supported by a study of nature alone. That much should be “blindingly obvious.” However, the claims of the Bible are not inconsistent with the evidence coming from the empirical world. True science and Scripture are complementary, not contradictory. They walk hand-in-hand, shedding light upon each other as both are studied – since they both have the same primary Author. If all the details described in the Bible could be determined through a study of nature alone, the Bible wouldn’t be needed as an additional revelation of historical events, the natural world, or God’s character and how he deals with mankind. However, the discovery that the weight of empirical evidence is consistent with the claims of the Bible adds credibility to the Bible and makes it rationally believable with regard to those elements or details that cannot be directly tested and verified. After all, why else would you give the Bible more credibility than the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an? – or any other such religious text claiming to have a Divine origin?

This seems to me to be the difference between your fideistic faith, which you claim cannot be affected by the weight of empirical evidence, vs. the faith of the writers of the Bible itself who claimed that their faith stood upon the solid weight of empirical evidence.

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