It is our God-given ability to think and reason, together …

Comment on What does it take to be a true Seventh-day Adventist? by Sean Pitman.

It is our God-given ability to think and reason, together with an honest desire to know the truth, that brings honest hearts toward God. God does not act in a manner to trump our ability to think and reason. Rather, He acts in a manner calculated to appeal to our intelligent minds and our reasoning capabilities. Otherwise, He could simply overwhelm us and turn us into robots incapable of thinking or reasoning outside of His direct control.

The problem here is that God doesn’t want robots who follow the dictates of blind faith without the need for rational thought and understanding – without conscious intelligent consent to follow what is intellectually known to be true out of a love of truth. Those who act blindly or from emotion alone cannot truly love. Those who act without an intelligent rational basis in real knowledge cannot truly love. True love requires an intelligent understanding of the other shared between lovers and freedom to choose between options. True love is not based on empirically-blind faith, but exists in the light of the weight of empirical evidence.

In short, God does not expect us to love Him without first revealing Himself to us in the form of the weight of empirical evidences – evidences that demonstrate His love for us. Otherwise, it would be just as rational for us to place our ultimate faith and love in anyone and everyone who happened to come along… including Satan himself.

Why pick God over Satan? Because of the weight of evidence in God’s favor. That’s why. And, that’s what the “Great Controversy” is all about…

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman Also Commented

What does it take to be a true Seventh-day Adventist?
Let me try to summarize here. You freely admit that no one really knows how the Darwinian mechanism of RM/NS really works beyond very low levels of functional complexity. You then go on to praise this as a strength of the Darwinian position and science at large – that, “In celebrating our ignorance we are celebrating the way science is a process for pushing forward the frontier of questions, of discovering new questions. Defining the scope of ignorance helps define the direction of science.”

I’m sorry, but after looking for an adequate mechanism for so long, and not finding one, perhaps you Darwinists should at least consider the possibility that there just isn’t one – that no mindless naturalistic mechanism exists to explain highly complex biomachines arising without the input of intelligent design. It’s like being determined to find a mindless naturalistic process that can explain the origin of a supercomputer or the space shuttle or even just a simple highly symmetrical granite cube that measures one meter no each side.

As with all sciences involved with the detection of ID (like anthropology, forensics, and even SETI), you deal with the information in hand regarding the potential and limits of naturalistic mechanisms vs. what intelligent agents are known to be able to create. It simply isn’t scientific to sit back and say, “Well, someday we’re bound to discover a mindless mechanism that could do the job.” That’s wishful thinking my man. That’s not science. It’s not testable in a potentially falsifiable manner…

We feel sympathy that you do not wish to join this endeavour but sit on the sidelines carping about things we of course recognize as not adequately addressed. Scientists do not sit there and lament we do not have answers, we do experiments and publish the results. Why else were there in 2012, 6642 papers recovered with a pubmed search on “evolution AND mutation AND mammal AND genome”

As I’ve mentioned to you before, don’t just list off a bunch of irrelevant references and links. Present one paper, just one, which deals specifically with evolution beyond very low levels of functional complexity and show me where, in that paper (a specific quote) any novel system of function, requiring more than 1000 specifically arranged residues, has been shown to either 1) evolve in real time or 2) could have evolved in a reasonable amount of time based on relevant statistical calculations and extrapolations based on a real understanding of the odds involved of moving around in the vastness of sequence space via random mutations.

On the first page of the 333 pages there are at least 4 of the 20 publications that are relevant to your question. Look at this neat paper that looks at sequencing total genomic DNA from a single cell and comparing genomes between individual cancer cells.

All using a new amplification technique. Wouldnt this be neat for archaic DNA?

Tell me, how is this at all relevant to my hypothesis? It doesn’t show the evolution of anything beyond very low levels of functional complexity and it doesn’t deal with the statistical problems of evolving something new in high level sequence space.

Look at this comparison of 1092 human genomes.

It is freely available so you can read it in its entirety including the 15 supplementary figures and 15 supplementary tables. I admit I do not have time to read it all and accept the conclusions of the abstract and the scrutiny of the peer reviewers and the conclusions about the SNPs and local restricted vs more frequent and increasingly generic variations.

Again, this is all based on sequence similarities. As with all other papers in literature on this topic, none deal with the minimum required differences to reach higher levels of functional complexity via RM/NS.

Look at this paper on selection and biased gene conversion in mammals

It suggests there is a complexity in selection and mutation not captured in your naive question on the adequacy of RM/NS

Oh really? Please do detail the particular argument listed in the paper that explains how RM/NS is statistically likely to find any qualitatively novel system of function in higher level sequence space this side of a practical eternity of time. It’s just not there… sorry.

And, as far as your arguments for Matthew 5, they’re completely misplaced. Gandhi and all of his followers would have been sent to the gas chambers if he had been dealing with someone truly evil – like Hitler or Stalin. Even you, I dare say, have or would call on the police for protection in certain scenarios (like someone threatening the lives of your wife and children, or someone trying to shoot up a grade school). And, if you actually read your Bible, there was a war in heaven and Satan and his angels were physically thrown out of heaven (Revelation 12:7-12). Jesus himself describes this war and noted that He witnessed Satan fall from heaven like lightening (Luke 10:18).

I know you don’t think that Jesus would ever use force to restrict the actions of anyone, but this isn’t a Biblical concept. The wicked will, according to the Bible, be forever barred from entrance into heaven – by force. Of course, you don’t really believe what the Bible says beyond what you want it to say…

Sean Pitman

What does it take to be a true Seventh-day Adventist?

No, I do not believe in feelings versus what EGW calls “living faith”. Even the devils believe and tremble. And they have the greatest imperical evidence but it does them no good. Why, because it is not mixed with faith. And I would suggest that there are more scientists, biologists, geologists, etc. who lack living faith and are essentially non-believers. I had a teacher once who taught that “believing is seeing” not “seeing is believing”.

The difference between belief and faith is that faith includes a desire for what one knows is true. Faith includes motive – a love of the truth. That is why the devils believe but do not have faith. They know the truth, but they do not love the truth.

The problem with the notion of “believing is seeing” is that anything can be believed regardless of the presence or lack of evidence. This isn’t faith either. This is wishful thinking. A solid Biblical type of faith must be based on the weight of evidence and one’s God-given ability to think and reason based on the evidence provided.

“Those who desire to doubt will have plenty of room. God does not propose to remove all occasion for unbelief. He gives evidence, which must be carefully investigated with a humble mind and a teachable spirit, and all should decide from the weight of evidence.”—Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 255. 2

“But there are some things that are not explained.” Well, what if everything is not explained? Where is the weight of evidence? God will balance the mind if it is susceptible to the influence of the Spirit of God; if it is not, then it will decide on the other side. 1SAT 145.3

God never asks us to believe anything without giving sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith. His existence, His character, the truthfulness of His word, are all established by testimony that appeals to our reason; and this testimony is abundant. Yet God has never removed the possibility of doubt. Our faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration. Those who wish to doubt will have opportunity; while those who really desire to know the truth will find plenty of evidence on which to rest their faith. – Ellen White, SC, p. 105

Do not seek to redefine words as some have tried to do in this forum – arguing that Mrs. White and even the Biblical authors were really just talking about belief when they used the word “faith”.

@Professor Kent:
Sean Pitman: So, there you have it. According to Ellen White, the discovery of empirical evidences, outside of the Bible itself, was designed, by God, to establish the faith of those considering these evidences in the credibility of the Scriptures…

Obviously, she is referring to “belief” when she writes of faith. Again, faith has several meanings that you seem unwilling to acknowledge.

The fact is that the Bible is consistent in this regard. Biblical faith is always backed up by the weight of evidence in its favor…

Consider also that, “perfect assurance . . . is not compatible with faith. Faith rests not on certainty, but upon evidence.” – Ellen White, Letter 19d, 1892, cited in The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, pp. 1029, 1030.

Sean Pitman

What does it take to be a true Seventh-day Adventist?
@Bill Sorensen:

First off, yet again, you did not respond to my question about why animals are not morally responsible while humans are? Until you respond to this question, which I’ve asked you many times now, we have no discussion here.

As far as the rest of your argument, we are in agreement that Adam’s original sin resulted in an tendency toward sin and inherently selfish natures in all of his descendents that, without the interposition of God’s power and grace, would inevitably result in the personal guilt of sin – of deliberate rebellion against known truth.

We also agree that all are born with an inherently selfish or evil nature (as David points out in the Bible). However, being born evil isn’t quite the same thing as being born guilty of being evil or being guilty of sin itself. The inevitability of evil actions or the inherently selfish nature we all are born with outside of God’s grace isn’t the same thing as being morally responsible for “evil actions” before one is able to make a free moral choice to rebel against what is known to be right (as with a robot programmed to be evil not being personally responsible or guilty for being evil).

Without freewill choice involved, what you have are robots, not free moral agents who can be “guilty” of anything on a moral level – even if they are evil. Being evil isn’t the same thing as being guilty of being evil. In fact, this is the reason why no one, not even Satan, can completely escape or exist outside of God’s grace. It is by God’s grace that all free moral agents are given the ability to freely choose to do good or evil. This ability, in and of itself, is a gift – a gift that is even now extended to Satan and all of his rebellious angels (they are still free moral agents responsible for all of their actions).

So, again, this brings us back to the difference between humans and animals or robots when it comes to moral responsibility and/or the basis for moral culpability. We humans, unlike animals or robots, are all personally guilty of being sinners because we have deliberately chosen to do what we know is wrong (for whatever reason) – not because Adam sinned, not because we were born selfish or evil, but because we have used our God-given freedom to choose between right and wrong to deliberately sin – by our own choice (at the age of accountability).

In short, you take the concept of “original sin” too far, as does the Catholic Church. There is certainly a great deal of truth to the concept of Adam’s original sin and its devastating results on the entire world that followed – the cause of the existence of evil entering every person from the earliest moments of conscious life. However, it is not true that freewill choices are no longer The basis of the guilt of sin on an individual basis. Freedom of will is what makes it possible to be personally responsible for sin or the evil that we do from childhood. Without freedom of will, without a deliberate choice being made against known truth, there is no personal guilt for sin. There may be error or mistakes or even actions that would be classified by all as evil, but there is no personal moral responsibility without the freedom of choice (since even a robot can be programmed to be “evil”, but would not itself be morally responsible for its own evil actions). – Deuteronomy 24:16 and Jeremiah 31:30.

Again, you need to address my original question as to why humans are free moral agents while animals or robots are not? Otherwise, you’re not going to understand my main problem with the Catholic concept of “original sin”.

Sean Pitman

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…

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull

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.

Sean Pitman

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
@Bill Sorensen:

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.

Sean Pitman

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull

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.

Sean Pitman

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…

Sean Pitman