Comment on The End of “Junk DNA”? by pauluc.
Sean I think you manifest some significant lack of self awareness in your characterization of yourself as so difference to mainstream Christianity in the position you take on the role of faith.
You tout reason as trumping faith but do not appear to see that the enlightenment enterprise took precisely the position you think desirable. The logical and consistent end of that road is nihlism. That people like Richard Dawkins and the new atheists unlike the old atheists arrived at a faith position of meaningfulness in humanism rather than meaningless nihlism I think reflects the essential desire in all man for meaning and some higher meaning or faith. In that you have not reached the point of nihlism or recognized that is indeed the end of your disparaging of faith seems to me a lack of insight, logic or reasoning.
What can the reasonable man conclude? Most all agree that the anthropic principle gives indication that there is some meaning to the universe and to the process of life whatever its precise origin. Deism is the logic and reasonable position. To go beyond that to theism is not supported by the data and is a faith position.
At the other end in biology species diversity has arisen from some common ancestors both you and I would agree by a process of natural selection. How far back do you go in allowing for commonality of ancestors? I would agree with the consensus view of biologists and say the compelling evidence is that all life has arisen from a common ancestor. You would take a faith position and say that it did not and have at best a rationale that there is some 1000fsaar limit at some arbitrary level of kind, a position for which evidence is scant or nonexistent as is clear from your expositions on this topic on this site and in your book.
When did life arise? You take a position contrary to most practitioners of science and say that it is very recent and that life is very young. I cannot see that this is anything but a faith position. It is not at all a conclusion based on data but is a position first assumed and then bolstered by any evidence you can eek out of the published literature.
Where did life come from? Conventional science would say there are plausible mechanisms but no compelling data but given the success of naturalism and natural law as the basis for all other areas of science there is no compelling reason to use a God of the gaps argument here. You in contrast say by faith that God created life and that it is impossible except that God or some great designer did so. You privilege some statistical inferences against real observations on this point failing to recognize that post hoc statistical analyses are meaningless.
Where does a personal God come into this? I as a Christian in the neo-orthodox and Adventist tradition would say that by faith I beleive that the supernatural personal God is seen in the person of Jesus who is indeed the incarnation of God. My faith in him is orthagonal to my reasoned positions on scientific evidence. On the personhood of Jesus Christ we cannot at all establish this by mechanisms of reason. It can only be a position of faith. I joyfully embrace that realization.
If you take the position of rational and reasonable investigation of the basis for our faith and start searching for the historical Jesus as the basis for your faith you will find like Schweitzer that you end up with nothing but a vague premise of respect for all life, valuable though that may be. It is ironic that you should think that you privilege reason over faith and yet be so unwilling to subject your religious position to rational examination. What if you take the origins of our church and faith and subject it to the blowtorch of reason. What do you make of for example Walter Rea and Ron Numbers examination of EG White? What of higher criticisms examination of our sacred text? You cannot rationally say that the human endeavour of science is fair game for vigorous critique but the human endeavour of theology or religious reasoning is not.
Why am I a Christian? What is the reason and logic of that? I am a Christian because having heard of the good news of the God revealed in the life of Jesus Christ, in the writings of his followers and exemplified in the church the body of Christ I accept that the message of Grace gives meaning, an ethic and a call to be part of that body of Christ.
The reason for that faith if you must have one is that I choose meaning over nihlism I choose a life of discipleship and grace over a life of selfish regard for me alone. To me sociopathy is the antithesis of Grace. Is Grace and self sacrifice personally rewarding and therefore completely rational and reasoned? Maybe not, but it is the life of discipleship to which I am called and compelled. In that discipline and connection with the Divine I find a spiritual life that gives meaning. I practice the Christian disciplines of reading the sacred texts, prayer, fellowship within the body of Christ because it is through these that I do have communion with the divine. Is that rational and reasoned? It may indeed be so in a utilitarian and sociological way but it is primarily because it is the way of Faith to which I am called by the revelation of God not by some rational attempt to climb up to God through my own strength or brainpower.
pauluc Also Commented
The End of “Junk DNA”?
There is a great gulf between You and I. Where does one start in trying to find common ground and responding to your very concrete thought structure. Its as if the last 200 years have not happened. Your view of natural theology may have been accepted by William Paley but is not an approach to God thought valid by most modern theologians with any acquaintance with science. It is not the 19th century and we are called to preach the grace of God to a secular world. Your vision shows no imagination or understanding of spirituality or the reality and value of vision, myth and abstract concepts that may have no correspondence in concrete realities. Do you agree with Martin Luther in his statement about scripture trumping observation;
“People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool [or ‘man’] wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.”
– Martin Luther, Table Talk
If you truly privilege scripture over science you should really revamp this web site to be consistent with the supremacy of scripture along the lines of the site http://www.fixedearth.com/ A site that is at least absolutely consistent with biblical literalism as Luther saw it.
The reality however is that both you and I interpret the scriptures. As I have said before you appear to practice naturalistic evidence based medicine contrary to the biblical description of healing but then pretend that you are following the plain text of scripture when reject entirely naturalism when it comes to origins. You claim;
“You pick and choose what elements you will use to build your own image of “christianity”… which is quite different from the Biblical claims.”
But do not at all seem able to see that you are in fact doing exactly what you project in accepting evidence based medicine contrary to a plain reading of scripture but claiming origin by divine fiat and miracle on the basis of one particular reading of scripture.
You continue to misconstrue the point of my discussion of Santa Claus and Christmas. Children can and do grow in their understanding of reality and are able to see beyond the concrete events of Christmas to see it as a representation of a worthy abstraction that is not invalidated by rejecting a fictitious Santa Claus. You seem unable to move from the concrete to the abstract and yet again claim you will reject Christ if your biblical interpretation is found not to be consistent with a simplistic reality. As though your superior mind trumps any non-rational revelation of God. Your arrogance is unceasingly amazing.
“And, so far, the organized Adventist Church agrees with me. Of course, you can call yourself whatever you want. But, again, that doesn’t mean that the church is going to recognize your claims as actually representing the church’s view of reality. So, why would you expect anyone holding views that undermine the fundamental goals and ideals of the church, the “fundamental beliefs”, to be paid by the church?”
You are of course right if you think the church that is being rebuilt by Ted Wilson and Clifford Goldstein with their militant fundamentalism and unsavoury and ungracious political manouvering is the legitimate heir of traditional Adventism but I do not.
So what you said on 3ABN about genetic engineering and amalgamation could be best described as just so stories? Lacking completely any evidentiary basis?
This statement raises serious question as to whether you understand the primary goals of the Adventist Church. At least in Australia, the vision is expressed on the web site http://adventist.org.au/about-us as;
“Our vision is to be a church that knows, experiences and shares our hope in Jesus Christ. This vision expresses the collective feelings of our church members and leaders.
The vision statement has three parts:
The head knowledge (studying the Bible)
The heart experience (unconditional commitment to Jesus Christ and to one another)
The call to action (sharing our faith) ”
It does not at all couch it in terms of being an attack vehicle against the integrity or capability of science and scientists nor of fellow believers. Nor does it suggest a primary purpose of attacking people who through a heart experience (unconditional commitment to Jesus Christ and to one another) might be labelled practitioners of blind faith. Your inability to unconditionally commit to Jesus and your completely objectionable committment to leave Adventism and Christianity if the empirical evidence for your supposed model of reality fails to reach some arbitrary misapplied criteria of “weight of evidence” stands in stark contrast to the Church’s vision of people unconditionally committed to Jesus Christ and the church and would certainly fall under the rubric of an effort to “fundamentally undermine” the Church.
Recent Comments by pauluc
Bob Helm: With that said, I find your views to be spiritually dangerous and often scientifically weak. I detect a lot of smoke in your posts, but very little light. I hope you will continue to ponder these issues and try to have an open mind.
You are most welcome to your opinion and I know you would like nothing better than that anyone who takes Christianity and the Bible seriously but not literally to just go away. It is much better not to know of any possible problems with one current views. It very hard to get to the science when we cannot even agree on what is science. What passes as science on this site is so completely dismissive of its methodological basis and history and is entrained in a specific supernatural world view that allows arbitrary acceptance of any observation as miraculous. I think Roger’s paper may well be relevant to Adventist that believe that Christianity has and must respond to a careful study of physical reality by reconsidering its interpretations of the word of the Lord, but as Sean has indicated you are exception to that characterization. I still do not really understand why you should be interested at all in any science. It seems a bit messy to worry about facts. It really seems an unnecessary bother to argue whether the precambrian/cambrian boundary or the upper cenzoic (is that really what you meant?) as the evidence of a divine intervention.
Dont worry I do have an open mind which is why I still peruse this site to see how more knowledgable fundamentalist Adventists think. I wont worry you further.
Sean Pitman: So, you do see the need for a police force and a military to maintain civil society, but somehow Christians should not provide what is an otherwise necessary part of that civil society? I’m with Abraham Lincoln on this one when he noted the inconsistency of such a position – like Orthodox Jews paying others to turn their lights on for them on Sabbath
On that logic you should not have any issue with working on Sabbath in any profession serving 24/7. Be that computer support, utilities firefighters. Those giving up those jobs because of inability to have sabbath observance were all deluded. They as Christians should be prepared to “provide what is otherwise a necessary part of civil society”
You cant have it both ways. You cant because of a moral postion claim that Adventists should have exception from working on Sabbath and at the same time deny me the right to consider immoral some occupations that may be very utilitarian in a world full of selfishness and the human acts of evil that comes from that.
Lets for a moment step back from lala land. Where are we and where did we come from on this thread?
1] You posted a rehash of all your usual arguments in response to an article about the more mainstream Adventist positions that may impact the way Adventism reacts to conventional science. All very straight forward.
2] The contention was that Adventism has accepted process for the orgin and evolution of the inanimate world. The birth and death of galaxys and stars and planets in black holes supernova and impacts of spiralling planets. This is where it gets really strange.
3] You contend that Adventism has always accepted the conclusions of that process but then expand on your view of the process which involves a little bit of order and natural law but large amounts of magic. God waited a few billions years until the interstellar material generated by the big band condensed into planets onto which God created life mature and complete. This included Heaven the place of his throne-room which he populated with physical being angels which it is implied have both mass and composition and metabolism.
4] When it was suggested that the same processes and natural law resulted in life on this planet this was claimed inconceivable and would never be done by any process involving life and death. Instead the life we see now is in reality designed to live for ever and has be chemically changed because it is deprived of a particular form of nutrient from a tree that existed on the Earth some 6000 years ago.
5] The inconguity of practicing medicine by the principles of process of natural law and the technology resulting from both the processes of the innanimate and the animate world rather than accepting the much more important process of divine intervention seems to be completely obsure.
6] When someone says that the process of life and death that gave us the physical substance of our universe is also the basis of the creation of life here he must be animal hating sadistic psychopath who cannot belieive in a God of love and grace and is lying when he says that non-violence characterizes the children of the heavenly father for one must always recognize that peace and freedom are only obtained over the bodies of 1/3 of the angels of heaven and the eternal physical and violent struggle against those who would practice violence.
I really cannot understand you Sean. Your ways are way beyond me. I am just sorry that Bob seems to be drawn into your twighlight zone.
Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?
@Sean Pitman: sorry but your curious amalgam of magic and biology is not really comprehensible to me as a biologist or as a Christian . it. is neither logical or biologically feasible
Sean Pitman: However, according to the Bible and Ellen White, before the Fall God specifically directed nature so that all sentient life was protected in a manner that there was no suffering or death. By eating from the “Tree of Life” God provided constant renewal and regeneration that worked against what would otherwise be inevitable entropic changes, decay, and death. It was by deliberately stepping away from the true Source of eternal life that mankind stepped away from God and into the full workings of mindless natural law alone – which does in fact inevitably lead to suffering and death.
And this interpretation is precisely why you need a theodicy. Where is the justice in killing all for the sake of the sins of one woman+man? It makes no sense logically. If they were conditionally immortal because of eating of the tree of life then did all the animals in all the world congregate around this tree like beasts around a water hole on the serengeti. how exactly do you as you are wont to do translate the account into a literal reality. And which beast had to come and eat. Or was it symbolic? Oh now that’s a thought.
Sean Pitman: Come on now. Even I can imagine limitations to reproduction or the turnover of sentient carbon-based life. Surely you can at least imagine something similar? I know God can since such a world is described in the Bible and in the writings of Ellen White. Think about it…
Of course I have. This is not simply about reproduction. That is trivial. This is about metabolic process. Show me a carbon based life form that does not grow or metabolize anything and I will show you an organism in stasis as a spore “living” millions of year in amber. That is; effectively dead.
Real life cannot exist without metabolic process in a carbon based world and God has sanctified all this by a process of making good out of evil from the death of one comes life for others. Just as in the biological world so in the spiritual. By his death we have life. Just as God sanctified the practice of sacrifice of appeasement practiced by most cultures for thousands of years before and showed that in the Judeo-Christian tradition these same acts of sacrifice were emblematic of a monotheistic God that would become incarnate and bring life from death. So also he took the preceding accounts of creation derived as they were of the mesopotamian valley and recast it as an account of the monotheistic God who is above all but comes and dwells among us to become one of us. Participating in our life and death but showing us the importance of the transcendent life of the spirit that supercedes carbon based life and its inherent death. It is no fairy tale of 6 impossible things before breakfast. It is not pie in the sky by and by. It is rooted in a real world and it is about the transcendence of love and grace that is acted out in a real physical world by the incarnate God and us as we follow as His disciples.
That is the message I get from the images and visions of the Canon and EG White. But of course I read it for the message that it conveys not as a scientific text. That is where we fundamentally differ.