Charles, If you are supporting Educate Truth’s and Bob Ryan’s position …

Comment on The Reptile King by Professor Kent.


If you are supporting Educate Truth’s and Bob Ryan’s position that we must have evidence to believe the Bible’s claim of fiat creation, then you simply do not understand the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s official position. Don’t be misled by Bob “I know spin” Ryan’s unceasing ad hominen attacks. What part(s) of the following do you disagree with?

In 1986, the SDA Church in its Annual Council approved the “Rio” statement on Bible Study. The official position of the SDA Church, which Educate Truth has repeatedly denigrated, is “Human reason is subject to the Bible, NOT EQUAL TO OR ABOVE IT. Presuppositions regarding the Scriptures must be in harmony with the claims of the Scriptures and subject to correction by them (1 Cor. 2:1-6). God intends that human reason be used to its fullest extent, but within the context and under the authority of His Word rather than independent of it (emphasis added).”

This document goes on to state that it IS appropriate “…to explore the historical and cultural factors. Archaeology, anthropology, and history may contribute to UNDERSTANDING THE MEANING of the text (emphasis supplied).” However, science and human reason are NOT to be used to assess the VALIDITY of the scriptures.

Richard Davidson of Andrews University, a BRI board member and scholar, wrote Humankind’s mental and emotional faculties have also become depraved since the Fall; but even before the Fall, neither human reason nor experience could safely be trusted apart from or superior to God’s Word. This was the very point upon which Eve fell – trusting her own reason and emotions over the Word of God (Gen 3:1-6). The wisest man in history (who ultimately failed to heed his own warning) perceptively observed: ‘There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death’ (Prov 14:12)”.

Davidson made explicity clear the following contrasts:

HISTORICAL-CRITICAL METHOD (Educate Truth’s preferred hermeneutic)

Definition: The attempt to VERIFY THE TRUTHFULNESS and understand the meaning of biblical data on the basis of the principles and procedures of humanistic historical science. (emphasis supplied)

Basic Presuppositions: Secularism norm: The principles and procedures of humanistic historical science constitute the external norm and proper method for evaluating the truthfulness and interpreting the meaning of biblical data. Principle of criticism (methodological doubt): the autonomy of the human investigator to interrogate and evaluate on his own apart from the specific declarations of the biblical text.

HISTORICAL-GRAMMATICAL METHOD (the official SDA Church hermeneutic)

Definition: The attempt to understand the meaning of biblical data by means of methodological considerations arising from Scripture alone.

Basic Presuppositions: Sola Scriptura: The authority and unity of Scripture are such that Scripture is the final norm with regard to content and method of interpretation. (Isaiah 8:20). The Bible is the ultimate authority and is not amendable to the principle of criticism: biblical data are accepted AT FACE VALUE and not subjected to an EXTERNAL NORM to determine truthfulness, adequacy, validity, intelligibility, etc. (Isaiah 66:2). (emphasis supplied)

Ms. White wrote, “The opinions of learned men, the DEDUCTIONS OF SCIENCE, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority–not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence FOR OR AGAINST any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in its support.” GC 595 (emphasis added).

Professor Kent Also Commented

The Reptile King
I meant to write regarding salvation science, “showing how the body and spirit can escape both DEATH and the confines of this planet.”

The Reptile King

David Read: The line of questioning I’ve engaged in since you mentioned Matthew 18 was to lead you to the idea that, in the abstract, in principle, one who believes in the historicity of Gen. 1-11 ought to do origins science using a model or paradigm that assumes the truth of that history. Was I mistaken in assuming that you would be able to reason in principle, beyond the concrete realities of your personal situation?

Right. And by your reasoning, one who believes in the historicity of the Gospels ought to do resurrection science, showing that a human body after three days of decomposition can return to life. One should also pursue salvation science, showing how the body and spirit can escape both science and the confines of this planet. Sadly, those in your camp are obsessed with origins science to the neglect of resurrection and salvation science. Why is that?

Some of us prefer to look ahead rather than behind, and for that we become the target of insults, scorned for the way we think and reason.

The Reptile King

David Read: So, if you did science that related to origins, you would do it pursuant to the biblical paradigm, that is pursuant to the assumption that Genesis 1-11 is true history, correct?

David, I don’t know how to answer your question. I have no interest in paleontological research. I have no interest in microbiology (to explore origins), limited interest in systematics (to explore ancestor-descendent relationships), and while I find biogeography fascinating, the evidence overwhelmingly rejects the hypothesis that contemporary life forms dispersed from a single location (Noah’s ark).

I would love to produce evidence to support the veracity of Genesis, but most claims involved supernatural acts that cannot be tested by science. And what is the point? At best, I might discover something that I already believe in. At worst, I might discover something that goes against my faith, and if I go with the evidence as Sean Pitman states he would, then what have I done for myself?

I’m sorry if this is not what you wish to hear. I will simply take God at his word…and if I understand you correctly, you apparently do the same.

By the way, I saw your remark at Spectrum in which you referred to me as your friend. I appreciated that. (Some here probably think of me as their enema ;p ). We are, first and foremost, brothers in Christ.

Recent Comments by Professor Kent

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes

Sean Pitman: Science isn’t about “cold hard facts.” Science is about interpreting the “facts” as best as one can given limited background experiences and information. Such interpretations can be wrong and when shown to be wrong, the honest will in fact change to follow where the “weight of evidence” seems to be leading.

Much of science is based on highly technical data that few other than those who generate it can understand. For most questions, science yields data insufficient to support a single interpretation. And much of science leads to contradictory interpretations. Honest individuals will admit that they have a limited understanding of the science, and base their opinions on an extremely limited subset of information which they happen to find compelling whether or not the overall body of science backs it up.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes

Sean Pitman: The process of detecting artefacts as true artefacts is a real science based on prior experience, experimentation, and testing with the potential of future falsification. Oh, and I do happen to own a bona fide polished granite cube.

Not from Mars. Finding the cube on Mars is the basis of your cubical caricature of science, not some artefact under your roof.

Sean Pitman:
Professor Kent: If you think my brother-in-law who loves to fish in the Sea of Cortez is a scientist because he is trying to catch a wee little fish in a big vast sea, then I guess I need to view fishermen in a different light. I thought they were hobbyists.

The question is not if one will catch a fish, but if one will recognize a fish as a fish if one ever did catch a fish. That’s the scientific question here. And, yet again, the clear answer to this question is – Yes.

I think I’m going to spend the afternoon with my favorite scientist–my 8-year-old nephew. We’re going to go fishing at Lake Elsinore. He wants to know if we might catch a shark there. Brilliant scientist, that lad. He already grasps the importance of potentially falsifiable empirical evidence. I’m doubtful we’ll catch a fish, but I think he’ll recognize a fish if we do catch one.

While fishing, we’ll be scanning the skies to catch a glimpse of archaeopteryx flying by. He believes they might exist, and why not? Like the SETI scientist, he’s doing science to find the elusive evidence.

He scratched himself with a fish hook the other day and asked whether he was going to bleed. A few moments later, some blood emerged from the scratched. Talk about potentilly falsifiable data derived from a brilliant experiment. I’m telling you, the kid’s a brilliant scientist.

What’s really cool about science is that he doesn’t have to publish his observations (or lack thereof) to be doing very meaningful science. He doesn’t even need formal training or a brilliant mind. Did I mention he’s the only autistic scientist I’ve ever met?

As most everyone here knows, I have a poor understanding of science. But I’m pretty sure this nephew of mine will never lecture me or Pauluc on what constitutes science. He’s the most humble, polite, and soft-spoken scientist I’ve ever met.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes

Sean Pitman: I don’t think you understand the science or rational arguments behind the detection of an artefact as a true artefact. In fact, I don’t think you understand the basis of science in general.

I’m amused by this response. I don’t think you understand the limits of a philosophical argument based on a hypothetical situation, which is all that your convoluted cube story comprises, and nothing more. Whether the artefact is an artefact is immaterial to an argument that is philosophical and does not even consider an actual, bona fide artefact.

Sean Pitman: You argue that such conclusions aren’t “scientific”. If true, you’ve just removed forensic science, anthropology, history in general, and even SETI science from the realm of true fields of scientific study and investigation.

Forensic science, anthropology, and history in general all assume that humans exist and are responsible for the phenomenon examined. Authorities in these disciplines can devise hypotheses to explain the phenomenon they observe and can test them.

SETI assumes there might be non-human life elsewhere in the universe and is nothing more than an expensive fishing expedition. If you think my brother-in-law who loves to fish in the Sea of Cortez is a scientist because he is trying to catch a wee little fish in a big vast sea, then I guess I need to view fishermen in a different light. I thought they were hobbyists.

The search for a granite cube on Mars is nothing more than an exercise in hypotheticals. Call it science if you insist; I don’t see how it is different than a child waiting breathlessly all night beside the fireplace hoping to find Santa coming down the chimney.

I guess the number of science colleagues I acknowledge needs to grow exponentially. I apologize to those I have failed to recognize before as scientists.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes

Sean Pitman: The observation alone, of the granite cube on an alien planet, informs us that the creator of the cube was intelligent on at least the human level of intelligence – that’s it. You are correct that this observation, alone, would not inform us as to the identity or anything else about the creator beyond the fact that the creator of this particular granite cube was intelligent and deliberate in the creation of the cube.

Your frank admission concedes that the creator of the cube could itself be an evolved being, and therefore you’re back to square one. Thus, your hypothetical argument offers no support for either evolutionism or creationism, and cannot distinguish between them.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
I have taken much abuse by pointing out the simple fact that SDAs have specific interpretations of origins that originate from scripture and cannot be supported by science (if science is “potentially falsifiable empirical evidence”). The beliefs include:

o fiat creation by voice command from a supernatural being
o all major life forms created in a 6-day period
o original creation of major life forms approximately 6,000 years ago

None of these can be falsified by experimental evidence, and therefore are accepted on faith.

Sean Pitman’s responses to this are predictably all over the place. They include:

[This] is a request for absolute demonstration. That’s not what science does.” [totally agreed; science can’t examine these beliefs]

The Biblical account of origins can in fact be supported by strong empirical evidence.” [not any of these three major interpretations of Genesis 1]

Does real science require leaps of faith? Absolutely!

I think it’s fair to say from Pitman’s perspective that faith derived from science is laudable, whereas faith derived from scripture–God’s word–is useless.

Don’t fret, Dr. Pitman. I won’t lure you into further pointless discussion. While I am greatly amused by all of this nonsense and deliberation (hardly angry, as you often suggest) for a small handful of largely disinterested readers, I am finished. I won’t be responding to any further remarks or questions.