Pauluc, thanks for taking the time to read my book …

Comment on The End of “Junk DNA”? by David Read.

Pauluc, thanks for taking the time to read my book “Dinosaurs: An Adventist View,” and review it on Amazon (and also Sean’s book, “Turtles All the Way Down”).

Sean, I would appreciate it greatly if you would indulge me by allowing me to address Paul U. Cameron’s review of my book here, rather than at Amazon, which seems rather a public place to be hashing out an intramural dispute among Adventists (I assume that Paul Cameron purports to be some sort of Adventist).

Paul I do take issue with some of your statements, so I will address them here as has become Sean’s habit of addressing them, by first quoting your statement, then responding to it below.

“This book is appropriately subtitled since the “Adventist View” given will only be comprehensible by a subset of Seventh Day Adventists [sic] who believe in the inerrency [sic] of both the canon and the writing of the Adventist prophet Ellen G White.”

Yes, Paul, I cleverly used the title of the book to describe its contents. Yes, the book is written for believing Seventh-day Adventists, and for those who want to know what we believing Adventists believe. No, Adventists do not believe in the verbal inspiration or inerrancy of Scripture or Ellen White, but we do believe these writings to be inspired by God and to hence contain divine wisdom and otherwise unavailable truth.

“This book is apologetic [sic], written for a lay audience and lacks the documentations [sic] expected of a work of scholarship.”

Yes, Paul, it is an exercise in apologetics and it is written for the lay audience. No, it does not lack scholarly documentation; it has almost eleven hundred footnotes (1,096, to be exact).

“There is not the portrayal of the 2 positions expected in a scholarly work. It is written in a “they say, but I tell you” style with alternating chapters where the scientific consensus is given, superficially but mostly accurately, and then the “Adventist” view is given with partisan recouching and trivializing of the scientific view.”

Paul, don’t you see that your second sentence contradicts your first one? Yes, I do accurately give the mainstream scientific consensus before critiquing it and giving the Adventist view. Yes, I argue for the correctness of the Adventist view, but if I have been inaccurate in my description of the Darwinian view, tell me where.

“Most the references are to books biased to the creationist literature which forms a vanishingly small fraction of the primary literature on dinosaurs.”

Most of my citations are to mainstream sources; the bibliography lists 103 works that were the main sources for the book, and about 42 of them could be characterized as creationist or design-oriented. Since the book is not only about dinosaurs, but about many other things as well, there was no reason to concentrate on the primary literature on vertebrate paleontology.

“Where original scientific literature is cited it is mostly through the citation of others who have cited the original. Hearsay.”

Most of the secondary sources I cite (things like dinosaur encyclopedias) were written and edited by experts with impeccable credentials in their fields. To try to track down primary sources in the scientific literature for all citations in a work of this nature would have been completely impractical and would not have added value commensurate with the effort involved.

“In chapter 6 on the the ability of a Christian to accept Darwinian mechanisms and in chapter 26 on choice of paradigms a case is made for choosing divine revelation over the scientific process of explanation of the natural world on the basis of natural process and law.”

As I’ve explained to you many times, Paul, I do not reject science or the scientific method. I reject philosophical atheism (and methodological naturalism applied to origins is essentially philosophical atheism). But, yes, I do accept God’s word regarding origins over human speculations about origins.

“Further the premise of this book is not at all nuanced and assumes you must either believe in divine revelation alone or accept naturalistic understandings and logically reject God. The evidentiary basis for his fideist position is never adequately established and it remains “God said it I believe it” without examining the basis or mechanism for knowing how God said it. One is expected to accept this as an axiom.”

Rubbish. If I were a fideist, I wouldn’t have bothered to write the book; in fact, it would have offended my principles to write such a book. You correctly termed the book a work of apologetics, and if you actually understood what that term means (other than as a buzz word that your Darwinists friends will take to be a pejorative), you’d know that I’m not a fideist, because fideism (insisting on faith without reason or evidence) is obviously inconsistent with apologetics (providing evidence and rational argument in support of faith).

“There are some peculiar views that almost all Adventist scientists would now likely reject. The ultimate explanation for the dinosaurs, and such intermediate forms or “missing links” as Read seems able to recognize, is that they are the product of a process of amalgamation. This is based on some particularly enigmatic statements from the prophet EG White from 1864. Read is dismissive of the contention that this likely reflects a popular 19th century view that saw blacks as the product of mating of man and beast. Interestingly EG White wisely did not subsequently write of this amalgamation but Read has seized on this and built a whole edifice that he sees as being a viable alternative to conventional models.”

As I point out, most of the Mesozoic vertebrate fossil forms, while having mixed-class characteristics, are NOT “missing links” or transitional forms, nor do Darwinists even argue that they are. The two main exceptions–the purported dinosaur-to-bird transition and the mammal like reptiles—are extensively discussed in the book.

As to amalgamation, Ellen White never said that mating between man and beast was the origin of the black race; that is something her critics argue that she must have meant, as a way to impeach her prophetic authority. That idea is inconsistent with everything else Ellen White ever wrote on the topic of race; it is without context in her entire voluminous corpus of writing, which is why I am dismissive of it.

“Rather than seeing this amalgamation as natural process of interbreeding he sees it as the product of genetic engineering by the great minds of the antediluvian world. Again as evidence he takes EG White statements about the advanced intellect and understanding of men before the Noachian flood and extrapolates from the neolithic understanding of astronomy to argue that they had recombinant DNA technology.”

Paul, if you do not believe in the prophetic authority of Ellen White then of course you would find my book frustrating. But, in fairness, your issue is with Ellen White, not with my book. As to the extreme sophistication evidenced in the neolithic monuments, it is not predicted in a Darwinian worldview, it is well documented in mainstream scientific sources, and it does provide some evidentiary support for Ellen White’s statements regarding the extreme sophistication of the antediluvians, and hence of early post-Flood humanity.

“The authors naivity [sic] about the nature of genetics and necessary infrastructure for use of recombinant DNA technology is unlikely to be of concern to the likely audience for the book but if you do have basic high school understanding of biology it will rankle.”

I do discuss this issue in the book, Paul. The fact is that we don’t know what sort of infrastructure the antediluvians had, nor what they would have needed given that their superior minds and bodies.

“This book was not a good investment. It cost me $60 and a week of train journeys to read. Overall I would suggest spend you money elsewhere on Amazon books.”

The book is well worth $35.00 American dollars; it is not my fault that you live in Australia, Paul.

David Read Also Commented

The End of “Junk DNA”?
Pauluc, the Encyclopedia Britannic definition you are using would expand the meaning of fideism such that it essentially means the same thing as “faith”; any Christian believer would be classified as at least a “moderate fideist.” That definition is eccentric. The commonly accepted definition of a fideist is one who believes that religious propositions must be accepted by faith alone, without any attempt to support them with reason or evidence (i.e., without any attempt to support them with apologetics). Fideism is not, and never has been, a mainstream Christian position, as even Paul said that Christians should always be prepared to give a defense (“apologian”) of our faith. 1 Peter 3:15. Certainly, no one who has spent as much time as I have on apologetics could ever remotely be called a fideist.

Regarding the scientific method, modern science was started by Christian, mostly creationist, Western men. If there were any contradiction between biblical Christianity and true science, the enterprise would not have gotten underway when and where it did. The engrafting of philosophical atheism onto science is a perversion of science, not a requirement of science.

You may be a Christian, but you are not a believing Seventh-day Adventist Christian if you reject the prophetic authority of Ellen White and reject the basis for the Sabbath doctrine, which is the creation in a literal week, with God resting on the Sabbath day and hallowing it. You may be a cultural Adventist–that is, you may have come from an Adventist background, had Adventist parents, perhaps even been educated at Adventist schools–but you are not a believing Seventh-day Adventist. You may be offended to hear that, but it is the truth. Adventism is primarily a religious faith, a system of doctrines and beliefs, and only secondarily a subculture.

The End of “Junk DNA”?

“Did god directly create biological species? You seem to indicate a belief in creation of kinds and then evolution of species by natural mechanisms ie macroevolution this is at least a belief of progressive creationism and is denied by YEC.”

Pauluc, the idea that God created basic kinds of animals that then diversified, giving us the large number of “species” that we have today, is a young-earth creationist (YEC) model. It has not been denied by knowledgeable young earth creationists for a century. Kurt Wise writes, “In perhaps as few as three centuries, scores of new species arose within most mammal baramins, and thousands of species arose within many of the insect and plant baramins.” Leonard Brand writes, “According to the theory presented here, much of our current taxonomic diversity has been the result of limited evolutionary change after a worldwide catastrophe. The original groups of plants and animals have diversified into multitudes of species as they adapted to fill specific niches in the changed conditions after the catastrophe.” These scientists are both young earth creationists. So this concept has been YEC orthodoxy for a very long time.

“Of course you do know that people like David Read, Bill Sorenson or Kevin Paulsen might consider you a heretic since you do depart from the YEC of GMP.”

I assume GMP is George McCready Price. Price did not deny a rapid post-Flood speciation. To the contrary, he promoted this concept in his writings. He wrote:

“If the Seventh-day Adventist people will all get behind these two ideas, Flood geology and plenty of species-making since the Flood, . . . I believe it would not be long before the scientific world would sit up and take notice.”

The main area where modern YEC theorists disagree with Price is that Price denied order in the fossil record, whereas modern exponents of YEC typically explain the order in the fossil record as the result of ecological zonation or biome succession. I disagree with Price in his insistence that there is no order in the fossil record. His examples were all from orogenous zones and reflected post-Flood (or at least post-original deposition) mountain-building activity. Another area where modern YECers disagree with Price is that Price denied the post-Flood glaciation, whereas most modern YECers acknowledge that there was a relatively short post-Flood Ice Age.

But these geological issues have little connection to the biological issues you are debating with Sean. The astonishing complexity of life at the cellular and molecular level was unknown in Price’s day, so I’m not sure that there would be any disagreement between Price and Pitman.

Recent Comments by David Read

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@Pauluc: I do not agree that science must be naturalistic, but if that is your bottom line, it will not trouble me much where it concerns most day-to-day science–the study of current, repeating phenomena. But a rigid naturalism applied to origins morphs into philosophical atheism. Hence, mainstream origins science is not science but atheistic apologetics. This is what should not be done at an Adventist school, but sadly what has been the rule at La Sierra.

Dr. Paul Cameron and the God of the Gaps
@Pauluc: The Adventist doctrine of creation is that God created the world in six days and rested on the Seventh day and hallowed it. (Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 20:11) Do you believe that doctrine? It won’t do to say that you accept some vague “Christian doctrine of creation.” The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a very specific mission to call people back to the worship of the creator God, on the day that He hallowed at the creation.

You say you believe that the “core doctrine of Christianity is the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ,” but what was Jesus Christ incarnated to do? Wasn’t his mission to redeem fallen humanity, to be the second Adam who succeeded where the first Adam failed? And doesn’t your view of origins make nonsense of a perfect creation, a literal Adam who fell, and the need for redemption because of Adam’s sin? You seem to want to gloss over all the very profound differences you have not only with Seventh-day Adventist dcotrine, but with the most basic reasons that Seventh-day Adventism exists.

The syncretistic hodgepodge religion you’ve created for yourself, combining elements of a biblical world view (the incarnation) and elements of a pagan worldview (a self-created creation) is not Adventism. It is anti-Seventh-day Adventism.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@Holly Pham: Holly, I will try, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@Pauluc: Since no creationist could land a job as chairman of a biology department at a public university, it seems entirely appropriate that no Darwinist should be given the chairmanship of a biology department of a Seventh-day Adventist college.

The SDA educational system doesn’t exist to expensively duplicate the public university system. It exists to provide a uniquely biblical and Seventh-day Adventist education to interested young people. If mainstream origins science is correct in its assumptions and conclusions about our origins, the entire enterprise of Seventh-day Adventism is an utterly foolish waste of time. So at Adventist institutions, our professors should assume that Darwinistic science is false, and that creationistic science is true (just the reverse of how it is done at public universities), and proceed accordingly.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@gene fortner: What I like about your list of topics, Gene, is that it points out that many disciplines are implicated in the necessary change of worldview. It isn’t just biology and geology, although those are the main ones. History, archeology, anthropology and other disciplines should also be approached from a biblical worldview. The biblical worldview should pervade the entire curriculum.