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
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…