Comment on The End of “Junk DNA”? by Sean Pitman.
What concerns me is if you really hold to your earlier claim that you have carefully avoided mentioning in your response.
“This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well” Educate truth 19 Aug 2011 “Biblical Interpretation” by Sean Pitman”
You failed to address my question regard the faith of Jesus’ disciples: Did they have more or less faith after they saw His Resurrection?
I don’t know how much more clear I can be? Neo-Darwinism is, in my view, fundamentally antithetical to Adventism as well as Christianity at large. If Neo-Darwinism is in fact true, then Christianity is false and the Bible is nothing more than an interesting collection of nice moral fables. There simply is no point subscribing to both as such would be completely irrational. The empirical evidence itself dictates which one is more likely true as both cannot be true at the same time.
The same thing happened to Jesus’ disciples. The empirical evidence of His resurrection was, for them, the nail in the coffin when it came to any possible doubts regarding their understanding of who He really was/is. This evidence is what held them steady through the rest of their difficult lives and through martyr’s deaths. Without this evidence, they would never have been able to stand as they did.
That is why faith increases with increasing evidence. They walk hand-in-hand.
If so then I do think that you think the message of Christianity reported as it has been by mortal fallible man is only ever of secondary value to your own thoughts and rationalizations. This is the fragile acceptance of Grace that I find most curious and is the core of the argument I have with your philosophy and its denigration of the faith of a person who would choose God in the face of the compelling arguments and overwhelming evidence for meaninglessness when approached by reason alone. It is not at all about whether I believe and accept the methodological naturalism that is the basis of science. It is about how I value the message of Christ about the present and future Kingdom of Heaven.
If your notions of reality have no potential for fragility, no potential of being wrong, then what you have isn’t really all that useful. Wishful thinking isn’t fragile at all because it isn’t based in reality or rational thought. It is precisely because of its ability to cling to the irrational in the face of all evidence that it is so robust – and so worthless when it comes to establishing any kind of solid hope in a very real future. It is also for this reason that scientific hypotheses that are proposed in a non-testable non-falsifiable manner aren’t really scientific or rational or in any other way useful outside of science fiction.
So, the question is why you place “value” on the message of Christ or anything else in the Bible beyond what you would place on any other good moral fable? There’s a difference between those who appreciate the inherent goodness of the values promoted by Christ and those who actually believe in the miraculous stories told about Christ as being literally true. Many have thought to remove all the miracles from the Bible and only accept the moral message of Christ. However, to remove the historical reality of the virgin birth, the miracles performed by Christ to include His power to raise the dead, and finally to undermine the claim to His own resurrection from the dead, is to undermine the key claims of Jesus to be the very Son of God and the One who will give all who accept Him eternal life.
You seem to have “faith” only in the moral message of the Bible, which is fine, but you have no real faith in many of the miraculous claims of the Bible regarding fantastic historical events – to include those that Jesus Himself is said to have recognized and performed. What you have, then, is a very limited faith that is in no way a rational basis for hope or faith in all that Jesus claimed to be or do.
You consider it wishful thinking to accept a Christian perspective and have faith in a spiritual encounter with God in the face of overwhelming evidence in the physical world for long ages, common ancestry and a natural process for origins.
If the very basis of Christianity resides in the claims of the Bible, and the Bible is shown to be fundamentally unreliable in those claims that can be tested and potentially falsified, then upon what rational basis can anyone accept the metaphysical claims of the Bible? vs. the claims of any other competing option? Why the Bible and Jesus? Why not the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an or any other book claiming to speak for God?
You really cannot respond to these questions in a meaningful manner when you yourself claim that your position is not a rational position. You can’t have it both ways. That is why it really isn’t worth your time even trying to argue in a rational way when you admittedly have no rational basis for discussion.
In claiming the mantle of orthodox Adventism I think your writing lacks a long term perspective on Adventism and its growth in understanding and practice. It arose from a message that was in most respects wrong. If I am to believe your statement about rationalism and monolithic structure of belief as an orthodoxy you would among the majority that left the Advent movement after 1844. Would you have also left later when the closed door theory was discarded. When the church after much divergence of opinion became trinitarian, at 1888 when the church moved from a catholic to a protestant position on righteousness by faith? When EG White embraced the Sanatoriums and largely discarded the reliance on the water cure of her vision of 1864 for the evidence based approach championed by her protege Kellog? In 1919 when the church reconsidered the role of EG White. When it became a church and published QOD? When at Glacier View it largely accepted Des Ford’s views on the sanctuary in Hebrews? We have changed our orthodoxy in the past and the preamble to the fundamental beliefs recognizes that we are likely to again.
The understanding of truth is not monolithic. Truth itself is monolithic and does not change. However, our understanding or approximation of it can grow over time as more of it is discovered. As our understanding grows over time prior errors may be corrected as the “weight of evidence” changes. Again, however, a rational change in belief or faith is based on a change in the perceived weight of evidence. You are immune from even the potential of such changes in faith or belief because your faith is not based on the weight of evidence, but upon some mystical knowledge that is beyond the realm of evidence and rational thought.
You also mistake the nature of truly privileged communication with God – such as the Biblical prophets and Ellen White claimed to experience. There was no vision from God suggesting His coming in 1844. This error was entirely based on a human misreading of the Biblical prophecies and were in direct conflict with the warning of Jesus that no one knows the time of His coming except for the Father (Mark 13:32). This mistake was realized when overwhelming empirical evidence falsified prior assumptions. Again, evidence played a key role in changing the beliefs and faith of the church founders. Also, you misunderstand the whole “closed door” and “Trinitarian” issues (Mrs. White was never a Unitarian and it was because of her visions that the founding fathers eventually accepted the Trinitarian view), as well as the debates over “righteousness by faith” (which Mrs. White ardently supported) and Mrs. Whites visions on health (which were never abandoned).
Sure, prophets are human and are therefore subject to error and mistakes. However, the messages they receive from God are not in error if they are truly from God. In fact, the Bible proposes a test along these lines to determine the true from the false prophet. If what a prophet claims he/she was told by God doesn’t come true or is shown to be false, that is a “prophet” through whom God has not spoken. Deuteronomy 18:22
In other words, you can’t have it both ways. A prophet cannot claim to represent God and yet be shown to be fundamentally wrong regarding the very statements that supposedly came from God.
As you know the Church both Protestant and Catholic has been wrong on the science before [You should read what Luther thought of science]. Do you not think it may be wrong now? Do we reject Christianity when we find that our “biblical” views on astronomy and a geocentric universe were wrong. Are we to do it yet again when we find that we were perhaps mistaken in our beliefs in the area of origins.
Again, what does the Bible itself say about science? where what is said is quoted as coming directly from God? There are views of empirical reality within the Bible that are not entirely accurate. But, such views are clearly those coming from a limited human perspective and are not being attributed to a Divine origin or Inspiration. This is not true with regard to the literal nature of the 7-day Creation Week or of the world-wide nature of the Noachian Flood, etc. Such are described as historical realities by the Biblical authors as being revealed by God Himself. And, from the Adventist perspective, Mrs. White also claims to have been shown, directly by God, the literal nature of the 7-day Creation Week within recent human history.
Such claims cannot be overturned without completely undermining the credibility of both the writers of Bible and Mrs. White as having any kind of privileged communication with God.
Do we turn tail and run when we find that the evidence is actually overwhelmingly against us or do we like the believers in 1844 say perhaps we are fallible and have misinterpreted the Word of God and say; for this pearl of great price; the Logos, the Grace of God I can endure a little cognitive discomfort and uncertainty for by faith I trust in His salvation.
Not when it comes to such direct forms of claimed Divine revelation. One cannot easily misinterpret a descriptor of “evenings and mornings” without concluding that God simply doesn’t know how to communicate in any kind of human language system – especially when He reiterates, to a modern prophet, the very same claims for the literal nature of the 7-day creation week and Noachian Flood.
You further denigrate this concept with your statement equating a mature faith with simply wishful thinking since it is beyond your own mind. I know you think you have an outstanding analytical mind and indeed that may be true but I’m not sure I can accept it reaching to heaven itself.
You’re the one telling me that your faith is beyond rational thought or even the potential of testing or falsification – reaching up to heaven itself? That’s quite a claim. And, I’m happy for you. However, what does such a mystical faith experience have to offer anyone else besides yourself? anyone who exists outside of your own mind? Where is the rational basis upon which you can suggest that anyone else should consider your own ideas regarding the existence and nature of God superior to any other competing ideas regarding the same?
P.S. I really hope you don’t truly subscribe to the notion that those who serve in the military or the police force cannot be good Christians. I have never met better people than during my time serving in the US Army. You do realize that the freedoms this country (and yours) enjoy are very expensive? Governments “do not bear the sword for nothing” (Romans 13:4). If there were no standing army or police force, how long do you think the relative peace of civil society would last in your country? Hmmmm?
Sean Pitman Also Commented
Lots of non-Adventist individuals and organizations are committed to Jesus Christ – like the Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Mormons, etc. However, the simple criteria of being committed to one’s own personal view of Jesus Christ does not qualify one as being a paid representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Now, this isn’t to say that being committed to Jesus Christ and His example, as detailed in the Bible, isn’t a good thing. It’s a very very good thing and the motive of love behind such a decision is the very basis of salvation. However, even being in a saving relationship with Jesus is not enough to qualify an individual to be an effective representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in particular.
The Adventist Church takes on basic Christianity as well as an additional mission – a mission which includes upholding before the world some 28 doctrinal beliefs which the church considers “fundamental” or crucial to its primary goals and mission during the last days of Earth’s history.
Now, one may be saved without being a part of the Adventist mission or church – thank God! In fact, the vast majority of people who will be saved in Heaven one day will never have even heard of Seventh-day Adventists. So, this isn’t an issue of salvation. It is an issue of appropriately representing the primary goals and mission of an organization as that organization defines itself.
You, weather you like it or not, are not in line with many of the primary goals and ideals of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. That doesn’t make you good or bad or outside of the saving love and grace of God. It just means that you cannot adequately represent the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a paid representative. Your representation would be counterproductive to the stated goals and missions of the church as an organization.
That is why it would be much better for you, and for more honest, if you were to take on a label that more accurately represents your current world views…
When empirical evidence and God’s word go different directions, you will choose the evidence, whereas the SDA Church always has and always will prioritize God’s word.
During the founding of the Seventh-day Adventist Church the founding fathers took on the position that the Bible prophesied that Jesus would return in 1844. The empirical evidence proved this notion wrong. And, these founding fathers were forced, by the empirical evidence, to admit that their faith in what they thought the Bible said was mistaken.
You see, the SDA Church, from its very beginnings, has been forced to recognize the interplay between faith and evidence for the rational mind. One cannot rationally argue that one’s faith in what one thinks the Bible says, or even the origin of the Bible, is entirely independent of the weight of empirical evidence.
It is for this reason that the modern Seventh-day Adventist Church is actually concerned over what is being taught at La Sierra University regarding the topic of origins. If all that mattered was a fideistic faith in the Bible and our own special interpretation of the Bible, the church wouldn’t care what people thought of the empirical evidence. It wouldn’t care what was being taught in science classes within its own schools. This simply isn’t the case.
You are delusional to believe that the SDA Church will agree to disembody and disavow itself of God if the accumulated evidence goes against its present interpretation of scripture.
But the church has changed its mind before regarding its views of the Bible based on the weight of empirical evidence (as noted above).
Again, God does not ask us to believe or have faith without the weight of evidence. He does not expect us to believe in something that has no more evidential backing than the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. That simply wouldn’t be reasonable on the part of God nor would it be fair for Him to act in such a manner…
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.
One of the problems I personally have with your perspective, and that of many modern theologians, is that it seems to me to be inconsistent with itself. You yourself describe your own position as “irrational”! You reject the authority of the Scriptures when the Biblical authors describe the miracle of God creating life on this planet in just six literal days (clearly what the author of the Genesis account was trying to convey to his readers)… because of what you view as the contrary evidence of modern science. Yet, at the very same time, you accept the claims of the Biblical authors when they describe the miraculous virgin birth, life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus. You accept this portion of the Scriptures contrary to the claims of the vast majority of modern scientists who claim that such things are impossible.
Does this not then mean that your internally derived “faith” allows you to pick and choose what you will and will not believe independent of the influence of anything else? It isn’t a matter of consistent Biblical interpretation for you because you simply aren’t consistent in how you interpret the Bible or determine what is or isn’t true. You pick and choose based on your own individual desires for what you want to be true. That is why your faith is inconsistent with itself and is, as you yourself explain, completely irrational to the point of overt fideism. You take on a form of fideism that is its own evidence independent of any influence outside of your own mind and your own feelings and desires – to include any consistent influence from the Bible itself.
What argument can you or any modern theologian present to make what you yourself claim is an irrational position appear remotely attractive to those who appreciate rational thought and careful consistent investigation of fantastic claims?
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.
But I do find value in various myths, legends, allegories, and fairytales. Even Jesus used such stories to teach various truths about the existence of realities that are not yet seen. However, it makes a great deal of difference if one believes that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is a good moral fable vs. true empirical historical reality. If the disciples of Jesus had believed His claims to be the Son of God simply allegorical, rather than empirical reality, they would not have put their own lives on the line. No rational person, who is naturally prone to avoid a martyr’s death, is going to put his life on the line for stories that he believes are mythical or allegorical – devoid of any “correspondence with concrete realities”.
They key point here is that if Jesus had not been raised from the dead and His disciples had not personally witnessed the empirical reality of this event, there would be no Christian Church of any kind today. All of Christian faith hinges on the literal reality of the Resurrection. Without this reality, there is no mystical experience with God that can rationally support the claims of Christianity.
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.
Even though we who live in this modern age know that the Earth does in fact revolve around the Sun, we still speak in everyday terms as the Sun “rising in the east” and “setting in the west” or the “Sun going down”. Such are terms of perspective. In context, therefore, no further interpretation is necessitated in the Bible’s description of Joshua speaking from his own Earth-bound perspective. Surely you can understand the difference between such passages and passages in Genesis where it would be very very difficult to misinterpret the observation of “evenings and mornings” separating the “days” of creation – regardless of perspective. In such passages the author is clearly claiming that God showed him that the days of creation were separated by what clearly appeared to be “evenings and mornings” from his Earth-bound perspective. There’s a big difference here.
As far as Martin Luther is concerned, he was a great reformer and he did advance important truths for his time. However, he was no prophet and received no privileged revelation regarding such things. He forwarded and acted upon a great many points of misunderstanding regarding the meaning of many Scriptural truths which the Seventh-day Adventist Church has since realized – to include those truths revealed to us by God speaking in a very privileged manner through Ellen White.
Now, you can either accept or reject the Adventist perspective on such things, but it is very difficult to call yourself an Adventist or a true representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church when you are actually fighting against numerous doctrinal ideals that the Adventist Church, as an organization, still holds to be fundamentally important. It would be much better and far more honest for you to describe yourself in terms that more accurately reflect your true beliefs.
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.
There is actually good support for evidence-based medicine in Scripture. Just because the Scriptures also point out the power of prayer and God’s willingness to supernaturally intervene, on occasion, in our lives does not mean that the Scriptures are opposed to evidence-based medicine. Such a notion is completely contrary to the position of the Bible, Mrs. White, and the Adventist Church on the topics of health and medicine in general where the laws of nature, set in place by God, are to be dealt with on a routine basis in the practice of medicine and healthful living.
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.
A non-rational revelation of God would not, by definition, make rational sense – right? (any more than a desire to believe in the reality of existence of Santa Claus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster?) Why then should I believe in any irrational “revelation” that makes no sense to me? Can you provide any rational answer to this question? Wouldn’t any response you might submit be irrational by definition? That’s why your position makes no sense to me. Why even try to argue for what you yourself are arguing has no rational explanation?
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.
Where did Ted Wilson or Clifford Goldstein set up the fundamental doctrinal ideals of the Seventh-day Adventist Church? You give them far too much credit! These fundamentals were set up well before they came on the scene…
At the very least, you must admit that you are strongly opposed to many of the clearly stated doctrinal positions that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has long held, and currently holds, to be “fundamental” to its very existence. You fundamentally disagree with both the founders and the current leaders of the church on many key points of doctrine. You disagree with many of the modern and historical doctrinal positions of the SDA Church as an organization.
You are really more of a “social Adventist” who was raised in the Adventist Church but who really doesn’t subscribe to many of the doctrinal positions of the church as an organization. Why then do you wish to continue to take on the title of “Seventh-day Adventist” when this title doesn’t really do you justice? – when it doesn’t truly represent who you really are and what you really believe? And, why on Earth would you expect anyone who holds similar views to your own to be hired by any organization who claims to be fundamentally opposed to what you actually believe and are willing to teach/preach?
Wouldn’t it be far more honest and ethical for you and those of like mind to more clearly present yourselves and what you stand for and then go and work for those who are more than willing to pay to have such ideas taught in their schools and preached from their pulpits? Why the aversion to completely open and honest transparency here?
And, if the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as an organization, really has no problem with those from your perspective preaching and teaching on the church’s dime, why then hasn’t the Adventist Church come out in open support of such efforts? Why has the Adventist Church, as an organization, gotten so worked up over Neo-Darwinism being so openly promoted as La Sierra University? – if the church really is as supportive of your position as you seem to suggest?
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Scott Ritsema, Dr. Lela Lewis, Pastor Wyatt Allen an Dr. Peter McCullough on COVID-19 Vaccines
Yeah, well, it might help to actually understand the primary data one is looking at before one makes up his/her mind… which Dr. McCullough clearly doesn’t understand – particularly when it comes to the meaning of the VAERS data.
Scott Ritsema, Dr. Lela Lewis, Pastor Wyatt Allen an Dr. Peter McCullough on COVID-19 Vaccines
If you’re going to just present one side of an issue, just do that. Don’t bother citing your “academic” credentials and history of “always” trying to present a balanced perspective. And, don’t complain about others, like the mainstream media, doing the very same thing that you’re doing – presenting only one side of an issue.
Beyond this minor point, have you nothing of real substance or interest to say about the actual primary claims being made? about all the scientific data that appears to strongly counter the sensational claims that Dr. McCullough’s presented in this video?
Scott Ritsema, Dr. Lela Lewis, Pastor Wyatt Allen an Dr. Peter McCullough on COVID-19 Vaccines
Then don’t complain about others doing exactly what you’re doing…
Anyway, the real issue with the video is that the main claims are almost all completely false and those that are true are presented in a very misleading manner – which has the potential to harm or even kill people. That’s the real problem.
Now, I know that you’re a registered nurse and lifestyle director of the Eden Valley Institute of Wellness in Loveland, Colorado. And, that’s great! I would suggest to you, however, that excellent health would also help someone do very well with the mRNA vaccines. But why not just rely on excellent health alone? Doesn’t the Adventist Health Message completely negate the need for vaccines? Well, no, it doesn’t. I know of several very healthy vegans who have been seriously sicked by COVID-19 with some having sustained permanent and progressive injuries – and some have even died. So, I would suggest to do both – to follow the Health Message as carefully as possible and to take the mRNA vaccines. This will provide the greatest level of protection possible to our Adventist brothers and sisters. It’s certainly what Mrs. White advocated in her own day when smallpox was killing many people. She certainly wasn’t opposed to the smallpox vaccine and supported her own son William White getting vaccinated, along with his staff and associates (Link). And, her own secretary (D. E. Robinson) wrote that Mrs. White was also vaccinated for smallpox (Link).
Scott Ritsema, Dr. Lela Lewis, Pastor Wyatt Allen an Dr. Peter McCullough on COVID-19 Vaccines
That’s just it. Scott didn’t claim to “be providing a neutral platform”. He just complained about others not doing so, and then didn’t do so himself. He said that,
“I believe that everybody needs to hear both sides. My background in academics was in history, I was a history teacher. I got into ministry later in life… but I come from that academic background of dialogue and inquiry. And, as a history teacher, whenever I notice that maybe one side was getting a little more play and imbalance, and the other side had some valid and interesting things to bring to the table, whether I agreed with them or not, I would always want to give air to that other side – to let people think and evaluate for themselves and grant people that they are capable, that they are individuals with a mind, and can evaluate the evidence for themselves.”
Yet, immediately after saying all this about being all even-handed with presenting a topic, he immediately says that in this particular video, he’s “Looking forward to hearing another side of this discussion” – without actually evenhandedly presenting and/or discussing both sides for his audience to “evaluate the evidence for themselves”.
Again, I don’t mind if someone wants to present one particular side of a discussion. However, when someone states, upfront, that they are an “academic” who is all into presenting data on both sides of an issue so that people can make up their own minds, it comes across as a bit non-academic when only one side is then presented without any time given for anyone on the other side to address and give their own take on the claims being made.
COVID-19 and Vaccines – Update
As I’ve asked others, why do you think that the overall “all-cause” death rate in the United States, and around the world, suddenly spiked in March of 2020 if this pandemic we’re in is really no big deal? – if the death rates have been so exaggerated as you claim? If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, what else has killed off more than 600,000 people so far in this country alone (3.9 million worldwide)? – beyond what would usually be expected? (Link)
I’m sorry, but Dr. McCullough is basing his position off of a false interpretation of the VAERS data (maintained by the FDA and CDC by the way) and false interpretations of a few other papers as well, which he evidently doesn’t understand.