Comment on The End of “Junk DNA”? by Sean Pitman.
“In other words, finding the truth is more dependent upon motive than upon intelligence or prior knowledge. God will supply the weight of evidence needed for the true seeker for truth to rationally appreciate God.” – Sean Pitman
which may well be correct but the real question is what do you do when there is some apparent conflict as I see between the scientific evidence and the YEC model you support.
To be clear, I do not support the YEC model of origins. As already noted several times, I’m a young-life creationist, not a young-Earth creationist. There’s a difference.
1] pretend, like the CMI at least seems to do, that the data cannot exist or be valid by definition
Data is data. Facts are facts. Obviously data/facts exist and are neither valid nor invalid. Interpretations of the data/facts, on the other hand, may be valid or invalid. That is why scientific hypotheses and theories are always open to the potential for falsification – because they go beyond the mere facts in an effort to try to predict things that are not absolutely knowable based on what little factual information is known. That is also why science is dependent upon the ability to take “leaps of faith” into that which is not absolutely knowable.
2] Accept the data but assume a position of faith that says the evidences from non-scientific sources compel me to a position of faith that I can hold in the face of the acknowledged overwhelming scientific data
I accept the data, but I do not interpret the data as most mainstream scientists interpret it. I think that mainstream scientists ignore the weight of data against their preferred world view and personal philosophies.
3] Accept the scientific data and reject all faith in Adventism and Christianity as wishful thinking.
If I did in fact view the data as effectively falsifying the Adventist position, or Christianity in general, then yes, it would be irrational to for me to continue to put my faith in the claims of these religious groups.
4] Accept the scientific data as compelling and likely true and say I accept a faith position but ask could I be mistaken in my interpretation of the scriptures and need to review my understanding of the biblical position just as we as a proto-church did in 1844.
The possibility of error is ever present. However, if after I consider the data to the best of my ability, and find that the weight of evidence is clearly opposed to the Adventist position, then I would be forced to abandon Adventism as irrational. I would have to do this even if I personally wished the Adventist position to be true. This is because I cannot base my faith on what I personally wish were true. I have to base my faith on what I recognize as the clear weight of evidence at the present time (which is also the basis of the concept of “present truth” proposed by the founders of Adventism). Wishful thinking isn’t faith. It’s, well, wishful thinking…
We are arguing which of these options follows the logically consistent path that balances integrity and faith. I would clearly choose 4 for the many reasons of consistency and elegance that I have stated, Jeff Kent seems to prefer 2, and I am not sure if you would use 1 or stick with 3 which fits with your fragile attachment to a faithful religion.
This is something new. Where have you been arguing for a “balance” between integrity, with regard to empirical evidence, and faith? Have you not been claiming that faith must exist entirely independent from any kind of basis in or influence of the weight of empirical evidence? I’m the one who has been arguing for a “balanced” view here – where the weight of empirical evidence most certainly influences one’s faith and faith influences one’s view of empirical evidence. Have I not been the one arguing that faith and evidence should walk hand-in-hand without one trumping the other? I’ve been the one pointing out that one cannot exist without the other. You’ve been the one arguing from and all-or-nothing position here, not me. Have you changed your mind?
If you do in fact still cling to the fideist position that faith entirely trumps evidence, your position is not “balanced” between faith and evidence. The fideistic approach cannot be falsified – even in theory. That is why the faith of the fideist is more like wishful thinking since wishful thinking, being entirely subjective, cannot be wrong either. No empirical evidence could be brought to bear which would change the fidest’s mind because his faith is not dependent in any way upon what the evidence does or does not seem to tell him about reality. His faith allows him to pick and choose what he personally wants to believe as “truth”.
For me, that’s the very definition of an irrational position. If I can’t be wrong, even in theory, what good is my faith when it comes to establishing a solid hope, in my own mind, in the future? If I know that I am the source of my own faith, generating faith in my own preferences, I would have no real confidence that what I claim to believe really is likely to be true or not . . .
This is why Mrs. White uses all kinds of external evidences as a basis for a rational faith in the claims of the Bible – because she believed that a rational faith in the credibility of the Bible requires a basis in the “weight of evidence”. In speaking about the basis of faith in the claims of the Bible, she wrote: “God has given sufficient evidence upon which to base faith if he wishes to believe. In the last days the earth will be almost destitute of true faith. Upon the merest pretense, the Word of God will be considered unreliable…” (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, pp. 94-96). This is despite the “sufficient evidence” provided by God for those who are honestly seeking to know the truth to recognize the Bible as having a Divine origin.
Sean Pitman Also Commented
It does seem like this feature would probably have an effect on the odds, but I’m not sure what additional significance this would bring to the table since the odds of evolving anything qualitatively novel that requires a minimum of more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues would require trillions upon trillions of years of time.
You tout reason as trumping faith but do not appear to see that the enlightenment enterprise took precisely the position you think desirable.
I didn’t say that reason trumps faith. What I said was that faith does not trump reason. There’s a difference. What I’ve also said many times in this forum is that a useful or rational faith must go hand in hand with reason. One cannot exist in any kind of meaningful or useful way without the other. Even science itself is dependent upon making leaps of faith into that which is not absolutely known or knowable. Faith and reason are equals in my mind, both created by God. I believe that God gave us our reasoning minds for a reason and He does not expect us to then forgo its use (to paraphrase Galileo).
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.
There is no doubt that all mankind desires meaning. However, a desire for meaning is just wishful thinking if desire isn’t backed up by evidence. The same is true for faith. Faith, without the backing of evidence-based reasoning is nothing but wishful thinking.
Also, if God is the God of reason as well as faith, the honest and sincere use of the Divine gift of reason will lead one toward the God of reason; not nihilism.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13 NIV
Motivation is vital, but given the sincere motivation of the heart, the Divine miracle is that God steps in and interacts with Human reasoning capabilities to guide the mind, based on evidences He has provided, toward Himself. God never asks for acts of faith without first providing evidence as a rational basis for the act or leap of faith. We are even asked to test various claims, to “test the spirits” to see what is and what isn’t from God. (1 John 4:1 NIV) Throughout the Bible God is constantly providing evidence as a basis for His claims and a reason to follow, serve, and worship Him. Nowhere is God portrayed as expecting blind faith in any naked claim coming from His mouth. The claims are always backed up by some form of evidence or prior experience with God and evidence of who He claims to be.
God understands the importance of evidence and the natural human desire for evidence. After all, He’s the one who made us this way.
“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them.” – Galileo Galilei
What is clearly not acceptable is that there is generation of any new “information” as that would clearly play into the hands of the evolutionists. As we discussed in detail concerning the vast predominance of allelic variation in canids and man that must have arisen de novo from the breeding pair or breeding 5 do you or do you not think that new allelic variation contains new “information”?
The vast majority of allelic mutational changes do and did not produce qualitatively new information – only changes to the degree of expression of pre-existing systems (i.e., more or less of the same thing). More or less of the same thing isn’t what I would call “new” information.
However, there are relatively rare examples of truly new information that is qualitatively unique entering the gene pool. The problem, of course, is that all such examples are at very very low levels of functional complexity (i.e., requiring less than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues).
So, its relatively easy to evolve a novel beneficial system that is based on a specified 3-character sequence. It’s exponentially harder to evolve a truly novel system that is based on a minimum of 20 specified characters. And, it is effectively impossible to evolve a qualitatively novel system that requires at least 1000 specifically arranged characters (regardless of the type of information system you’re dealing with).
If you say yes then you are certainly outside the current YEC convention. If you say no then you are suggesting that species with very different phenotypes can evolve without any new information. A position that most biologist would find surprising.
I have been invited to speak in numerous venues, to include those largely populated by YECs and YLCs – as you can imagine. Yet, after I present evidence for low-level evolution the vast majority of creationists I’ve spoken to respond very favorably – even enthusiastically. After all, it simply makes good sense that the random discovery of novel beneficial sequences within sequence spaces would be exponentially easier to achieve when you’re dealing with 3-character sequences vs. 20 character sequences. It just makes sense to most people – including well-educated creationists.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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…