@David Read: Now, while I’m no fan of Pres. Wisbey, …

Comment on NCSE Report: Adventist Education in the Midst of a Sea of Science by Sean Pitman.

@David Read:

Now, while I’m no fan of Pres. Wisbey, and while I agree that Wisbey has not been friendly to the SDA position on origins while president at LSU, I am not aware of the factual evidence that he was actually part of the conspiracy of the “four” who recorded themselves planning on how to separate LSU from the church.

In short, where is this factual evidence that Wisbey, in particular, is trying to use WASC accreditation to separate LSU from the church? I would think that such evidence, if real, would be grounds for asking him to resign?

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com

Sean Pitman Also Commented

NCSE Report: Adventist Education in the Midst of a Sea of Science
@MiddleGround:

Again, I agree that the public confrontation of this website is not the most ideal method given any other more private method that would have actually worked. However, what else would you have done that has not already been tried to substantively address the long-standing and entrenched problem at LSU? I’d really like to hear some other reasonable approach to this problem that has not already been tried without any effect…

I’m sorry, but you guys seem to me to be more concerned about the reputation of teachers and institutions than you seem to be over the undermining of the faith of the youth of our church or the very long standing and determined attacks on various fundamental goals and ideals of the SDA Church – the SDA position on origins in particular.

Again, I ask you, why is it such a problem to publicly declare, in no uncertain terms, what parents and students can expect from our own schools? – especially given the great personal cost involved for most parents who send their children to our schools? Shouldn’t our primary concern be for them? How can such an effort to inform parents, students, and the church membership at large rationally be referred to as a “scorched earth policy”?

If our schools cannot proudly and publicly proclaim the honest truth of what they are teaching our young people, we obviously have a real problem. I don’t think it is right for individuals or institutions to hide behind arguments for Adventist privacy over what we actually teach in our schools while they attack the very fundamentals of Adventism, on the Church’s dime, for decades. It’s time for this sort of thing to stop.

If you have a better idea on how to get this done, I’m all ears…

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


NCSE Report: Adventist Education in the Midst of a Sea of Science
@Sterling:

As I’ve explained many times before, the maintenance of church order and government (i.e., only hiring those paid representatives who will actually represent what they are being paid to represent) has nothing to do with salvation.

These are not moral judgments. These are practical judgments regarding the maintenance of church order and government. One does not have to be SDA to be saved you know. However, one does need to be SDA to be an effective leader or paid representative of the SDA Church.

If you don’t believe in the SDA message, that Ok, just don’t expect to get a paycheck from the SDA Church while you go about undermining the basic goals and ideals of the church. Try working for an employer who has goals and ideals more in line with your own.

Also, no one is arguing for the exclusion of anyone from basic attendance and worship with us in our churches. Anyone who actually wants to fellowship with us is welcome. Many of my best friends are not members of the SDA Church, a number are even agnostic and a few are pretty ardent atheists. Yet, we get along just fine and occasionally these same friends of mine come to my church with me to support something I’m doing.

You see, the problem here isn’t over basic socialization or diversity in worship. The problem is over paid representatives of our church attacking the church on the church’s dime. That’s the main issue here. No organization of any kind can long tolerate such subversive activity coming from within…

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


NCSE Report: Adventist Education in the Midst of a Sea of Science
@Christina:

I actually agree with you on one level. I most certainly agree that a public forum is not the most ideal place to air any form of the church’s dirty laundry. However, at some point for certain important issues one is left with little choice but to use less than ideal methods to address very important issues within the church. For example, I’m sure Martin Luther wished there were some less public way to effectively address the significant problems of the church of his day rather than to nail his 95 Theses to the most public forum available – the front door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg. Likewise, I very much wish there were some much more private and inconspicuous way to effectively address the active and long-standing attack on the church from within one of our own universities. Unfortunately, I was unable to think of any other way (which had not already been tried).

If you know of another way, by all means do share it with me…

You’ll have your reward one day.

You certainly sound gracious and Christlike to me 😉

How about at least giving me the benefit of the doubt as far as my motive and possible ignorance is concerned before passing moral judgment? How about at least pardoning me as far as Jesus did when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”? – Luke 23:34

But, perhaps, I’m beyond all hope? My doom is sealed? – for trying to protect Adventist young people in our own schools from the unending attacks on Adventism from within – from our own hired professors?

Oh, and by the way, while I get many anonymous E-mails and even hand written letters on occasion (which I do not read unless they are signed) I’ve only been privately contacted by a handful of individuals who’ve identified themselves and who’ve expressed concerns about the effect of this website. As far as the one’s who’ve actually identified themselves, all have been male (as far as I recall). So, I assume your private message must have been anonymous?

Also, you should know as well as anyone (and should explain to your friend in case she is not aware) that public comments to the articles posted to any discussion website like this do not necessarily represent the perspective and/or goals of the managers/owners of this website. The attitudes of many commenters certainly do not reflect my own positions or attitudes. What then should I do? – block all comments with which I personally disagree? – including yours?

Also, you’ve failed to respond to my most sincere question as to how the issue at LSU should have been dealt with? How would you have dealt with the problem? What, specifically, would you have done? I’m really interested in any useful advice along these lines…

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

Natural Immunity vs. Vaccines vs. the Delta Variant

I’m glad you reached the conclusion that the immune system God designed into our bodies gives better protection against infection than vaccines do.

God didn’t “design” COVID-19 derived immunity any more than vaccine-derived immunity. What God designed was an immune system that could learn from past infections (or exposure to foreign antigens) in order to prevent future infections by the same type of invader more effectively.

You see, I’m not sure that we have the same definition of “natural immunity” in the context of COVID-19 here. The human body was designed with two different types of immune systems known as the “innate” and “adaptive” immune systems. Consider, now, that I’m not talking about generalized immunity that isn’t specific or targeted against COVID-19 in particular. In other words, I’m not talking about the “innate” immune system. What I am talking about is the “adaptive” immune system – a type of immunity that can be gained by surviving a “natural infection” to COVID-19 – which then produces “natural immunity” or “naturally-derived immunity” within the adaptive immune system that is specifically targeted against future COVID-19 infections. And, as already mentioned, while this “natural” method of gaining targeted adaptive immunity can be superior to the immunity gained by vaccines, for some people, it is far riskier and is not nearly as consistent as vaccine-derived adaptive immunity.

But, you counter with the argument that vaccines are also not consistent since there are “breakthrough infections”. However, the consistency I’m talking about is in regard to the reduction of and deaths – not just breakthrough nasopharyngeal infections (which aren’t the real problem). As noted in my McCullough article (Link), a fairly new study showed that the “percentage of variant cross-binding memory B cells was higher in vaccinees than individuals who recovered from mild COVID-19.” (Goel, et al., August 23, 2021). In this regard, it seems as though those who were vaccinated have an advantage in that the resulting immunity is more consistent and predictable as compared to natural immunity. These higher levels of memory B-cells within vaccinated people may also be the reason for the long-term protection against hospitalizations and deaths – despite the waining levels of antibody levels against the virus over time. Memory T- and B-cells produced in response to the vaccine can be “awakened” when an infection hits the body, a pre-formed arm that is ready to fight off the repeat offender. This is all right in line with a recent Lancet study:

Researchers in the United Kingdom analyzed data from a project called the ZOE Covid Study, where users report symptoms, vaccination status and other demographic information daily via an app. The researchers looked at data collected on more than 1 million people from December 2020 through July 2021, a period that spanned both the alpha and delta variant waves in the U.K. Participants received two doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccine. Overall, less than 0.2 percent of the participants reported a breakthrough infection, with such cases more likely in people already considered to be vulnerable, including older adults or people with underlying illnesses. When breakthrough infections did occur, most were mild — just 6 percent of people with breakthrough infections reported symptoms. What’s more, vaccination was shown to cut the risk of hospitalization by more than two-thirds. The study also found that the chances of developing long Covid were cut in half in fully-vaccinated people. Long Covid refers to when people experience symptoms of the illness, such as brain fog, exhaustion and a racing heart, for at least a month after infection, and sometimes much longer. (Link)

Those are AMAZING results – for the vaccinated.

For the unvaccinated, on the other hand, there is also the problem that up to a third of people who were previously infected by COVID-19 don’t develop antibodies against it (Liu et al., September 2021). Ultimately, 36% of those who were infected by COVID-19 remained seronegative, meaning that they never developed detectable levels of such antibodies in their blood, even when multiple blood samples were checked for each person. The study also revealed that people who had lower SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in their respiratory tract were less like to subsequently have antibodies in their blood. This means, of course, that the adaptive immune system was never educated enough to effectively combat future infections by COVID-19.

So, you see, the vaccine may not reach as high a level of immunity as is gained by some who survived a prior infection by COVID-19. However, the level of immunity gained, when it comes to reducing hospitalizations and death, is more consistent for the vaccinated. This is the reason why there are so many stories of those who thought that they were safe, because of some previous mild COVID-19 infection, but then got infected again with COVID-19 and got very sick, particularly with the Delta Variant, with many dying as a result.

As far as your “alternative views” being more hopeful and less scary, that would be the case if they were actually true. The problem is that the conspiracy theorists that you consistently follow paint the vaccines as much more risky and scary than they truly are and the COVID-19 pandemic as much less serious and much less scary than it really is. They also create far more confidence in alternative drugs and therapies, like ivermectin for instance, than is actually supported by the weight of scientific evidence. That’s the problem. They create fear where there shouldn’t be fear and they create confidence where there shouldn’t be so much confidence. They get things exactly backward.

This is not to say that I think things were handled by the government very well at all. I don’t think it was necessary to shut down the government, for one thing. However, this is all 20/20 hindsight of course.

As far as the “miraculous recoveries” you mention, these are far too few. There are far far too many hospitalizations, serious long-term injuries, and deaths to be very comforted by miraculous recoveries. Clearly, these miraculous recoveries aren’t remotely common enough nor are they associated with drugs like ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine which have, so far, not shown a consistently detectable benefit in the best and largest RCTs.

Sure, ivermectin has relatively few side effects (unless you overdose) and a low mortality rate. However, it’s not as though the mortality risk is zero. “Between the years 2003 and 2017, the total average population treated [with Ivermectin] was around 15,552,588 among which 945 cases of SAE [severe adverse effects] were registered in DR Congo, i.e. 6 cases of SAE for 100,000 persons treated per year. 55 deaths related to post-CDTI SAE were recorded, which represents 5.8% of all cases of SAE.” (Link). Still, the point here is that even if the risks for ivermectin were actually zero, there’s still no good evidence that it provides much of a useful benefit – certainly nothing close to the benefits provided by the vaccines against COVID-19.

Yet, you write:

If an alternative drug is safer than aspirin and there are thousands of claimed recoveries resulting from the drug, isn’t it worth a trial, no matter what the “studies” say, considering the alternative is often death after being on a ventilator?

It might be worth a try if that was your only option. However, it isn’t your only option. Now that we have vaccines that provide a very clear and very substantial benefit, it is far far more reasonable to take the vaccines than to trust that ivermectin will save you – when the best scientific studies have yet to detect much of a benefit, even with early treatment, at reducing severe COVID-19 infections or death.

But it’s okay. We each can choose a path that is consistent with the best evidence as we understand it. For that matter, it seems to me that vaccination is the best course for many but not for others. Most don’t bother to understand just what these COVID vaccines do, much less do a benefit-risk analysis. But some of us do, and some of us find that avoiding the COVID vaccine, boosting our immune system and preparing for a possible infection is the best path for us.

You’re certainly free to choose. However, your choice could impact others – in a negative way. If the vaccines really do significantly reduce the odds of transmitting the virus to others (as several studies have shown), the choice of a person not to get vaccinated increases the odds of viral transmission to others who might not do as well against a COVID-19 infection. We aren’t islands here. Our choices have the potential to affect other people.

But, you think you can “boost your immune system” some other way. I wish this were true, but there just isn’t any other way that is as effective as the vaccines at the moment. The problem is that as humans age, our immune systems deteriorate at an almost exponential rate. Diet and healthful living do help, to be sure, but this does not negate the need to take advantage of the additional substantial advantages offered by vaccines – and this becomes more and more true the older and older we get. Add as many layers of protection as you can. Do it all. Be as healthy as you can be – AND take the vaccine.

Consider also that even a very healthy young person, who personally might have a very low risk of serious sickness or death, can still get infected and transmit the virus to others who might not do so well with an infection.

I suspect everyone will be exposed to this corona virus sooner or later, just as we have been to other corona viruses.

Indeed. However, the faster we can achieve herd immunity, as a community, the more those who are most vulnerable among us will be protected. And, the fastest and safest way to do this is via vaccines.

What concerns me most is the lack of respect among Christians for those with opposing views. While I don’t see vaccination as a salvation matter, an attitude of forcing others into agreement with our views is not an attitude born of the Spirit of God but of the enemy. I believe we can agree on that.

Love and respect never go out of style. However, there are times when the most loving thing to do is to protect those who are most vulnerable from those who are unwilling to act in a way that best protects the most vulnerable – particularly, say, in a hospital or nursing home setting. This isn’t to say that I’m a fan of government mandates for the general population. I’m not. I think that such mandates are largely counterproductive. Given that the vaccines are generally available for those who want them now, it seems best to me to limit mandates to those who work in settings where people are sick or old or otherwise vulnerable.


Natural Immunity vs. Vaccines vs. the Delta Variant
You’re commenting on an older post regarding natural immunity. Since then, additional evidence has indeed come to light showing that natural immunity goes well beyond antibody production and is therefore generally superior to vaccine-based immunity. Of course, vaccine-based immunity does have a couple of advantages over natural immunity. The most obvious advantage, of course, is that vaccine-based immunity is gained without having to take on the significant risks associated with getting infected by COVID-19. The additional advantage of vaccine-based immunity is that it seems to offer more consistent immunity compared to natural immunity (i.e., some who were infected don’t gain significant immunity following infection).

I discuss all of this in much more detail here: Link

As far as being more critical of evolutionists, look, I’ve reviewed a great many conspiracy claims. I usually get several sent to me every day. It’s not like I haven’t reviewed these claims you’re sending my way. It’s just that they almost always turn out to be completely false or misleading. It’s the same thing as with the evolutionary arguments I get – except it’s now on the other foot. What you believe regarding COVID-19 and vaccines simply doesn’t have the weight of empirical evidence to back it up. I know the claims of conspiracy theorists can be scary and worrisome. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re true. They just aren’t true. The minority opinion isn’t always true. In fact, the majority of experts are usually right – as in this case.


COVID Vaccine Myths, Questions, and Rumors with Drs. Rhonda Patrick and Roger Seheult
There are always rogue doctors around selling snake oil remedies and forwarding a host of conspiracy theories. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a strong consensus in the medical community regarding COVID-19 and the efficacy and relative safety of the vaccines. A handful of doctors spreading conspiracy theories shouldn’t overcome one’s ability to see that the significant weight of empirical scientific evidence strongly supports the consensus conclusion in this case. After all, over 98% of medical doctors in this country are now vaccinated – particularly those working in ICUs who see that the unvaccinated are by far more likely to end up in the ICU and die with COVID compared to the vaccinated – by a ratio of more than 10:1 for any given age category.


COVID Vaccine Myths, Questions, and Rumors with Drs. Rhonda Patrick and Roger Seheult
While I agree, part of the problem is that people, in general in this country, simply don’t want to live healthful lives despite actually knowing that what they are doing isn’t healthy or good for them. When I was doing primary care, this was a constant frustration. You could tell people all day long what they should be doing, and they would usually even agree, but they just wouldn’t actually do what they knew they should be doing…


COVID Vaccine Myths, Questions, and Rumors with Drs. Rhonda Patrick and Roger Seheult
Sure, it’s very unfortunate that this pandemic has been so politicized. However, just because we know the final outcome doesn’t mean that this is it. We shouldn’t bring on the “Time of Trouble” before it’s actually here. During this particular pandemic we, particularly as Christians, should strive to separate medical science from politics. Merging them will only cause more harm. Many people really are suffering and dying due to COVID-19 and the mRNA vaccines have proven themselves to be very effective at preventing serious sickness and death.