WASC Reviews LSU’s Accreditation

On July 19, 2011 La Sierra University issued a press release regarding an “action letter” from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) in which WASC noted several points of concern over LSU’s handling of the recent resignation of four members of LSU’s board ( Link ).  WASC was especially concerned over the “divisions on the board concerning the controversy over the teaching of science” and the actions of the board chair (Elder Ricardo Graham) that were largely independent of the board.  WASC suggested that Graham “acted in his capacity as a church leader” rather than as part of an independent board – undermining “institutional autonomy.”  Therefore, WASC issued a “Formal Notice of Concern” to LSU with a scheduled visit to LSU in the Spring of 2012 to evaluate the steps taken by LSU to address the concerns raised by WASC.

The following is an excerpt from the WASC letter:

Based on the bylaws and the statements of the board chair himself, it appears that he did not have independent authority as La Sierra’s board chair to take these actions and was not acting at the instruction of the board. The board chair reported that he consulted only with a few of the Church-designated trustees, members of national Church leadership, and university counsel before asking for the resignations of the four individuals involved. The Commission could infer from these facts that the board chair acted in his capacity as a Church leader, which would be a clear violation of WASC standards on institutional autonomy.

Here is La Sierra’s response to the WASC letter:

Though the University’s eight-year regional accreditation is not affected, WASC has identified concerns regarding the role and composition of the La Sierra University Board of Trustees and issues related to institutional autonomy. Those findings have led WASC to issue a Notice of Concern.

The WASC Commission has requested a meeting between WASC leadership and the university president, provost, and full governing board within the coming 90 days to offer further information as to the reasons for their actions and to discuss the University’s response plan.  WASC has also indicated that they will return for a follow-up visit to La Sierra in Spring 2012 to determine whether appropriate progress is being made in addressing their concerns.

The La Sierra Board of Trustees, which met on July 18 to review the letter, stated that it “takes WASC’s findings seriously,” has reconvened the Articles and Bylaws Committee “in response to concerns noted by WASC”, and plans to meet again in August.

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576 thoughts on “WASC Reviews LSU’s Accreditation

  1. Sean Pitman: No. Slowly reproducing creatures have been degenerating all along since Eden.

    Where do the scriptures require this view? Where has the SDA Church stated this is its official view? Are you suggesting that SDA biologists who fail to teach this view are unqualified to teach within the system?

    Sean Pitman: The argument in play is if the effects of detrimental mutations can be overcome fast enough to avoid a gradual but steady decline in the gene pools of slowly reproducing creatures?

    Sean, you stated, and I quote, “What is not published in literature is any viable mechanism whereby the overwhelming load of detrimental mutations might be removed from the gene pools of slowly reproducing creatures (like all mammals for example) nearly as fast as they are entering it. While there have been some feeble attempts in literature to try to explain how this might happen, these attempts all have fundamental flaws that do not substantively address the problem…

    Pauluc offered an example in nematodes for which natural selection overcame the detrimental mutations, but you insisted it could not happen in slowly-reproducing species. The abstracts I posted very clearly demonstrated how critical traits in slowly-reproducing species can indeed be selected for at rates that exceed the detrimental mutations. To dismiss the abstracts outright is to move the goalposts.

    If your thesis is correct, Sean, it becomes very difficult to explain how slowly reproducing creatures–including many but not all fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals–have successfully colonized islands and remote regions of the planet subsequent to the flood. How do YOU suggest they became adapted to live in their unique environments if, as you say, they are all succombing to degeneration faster than natural selection can ensure the origin and refinement of new traits that ensure survival in new and continually changing environments? Can you elucidate your personal model to explain how thousands of new species managed to evolve during the past 4,000+ years after departing the ark?(We’ll call this “microevolution” for the sake of those disturbed by any such notion.) It seems to me your model would suggest a gradual or even rapid declines in the genetic diversity of populations and in global species diversity.

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  2. @Sean Pitman:
    You suggest I have not read the paper and offer a proof text. I make a living reading and writing papers in the research literature so I think I have developed some skill. Let me give you some pointers on approaching scientific literature. First lets see what you have read into this paper. You seem to have skipped the statement that encapsulates the basis of this paper;

    “Population size was extremely efficient in ameliorating fitness decline, its effect highly significant across all
    traits and population-size treatments in both assays.”

    pg 1272 in the first section of the results with its accompanying figures 1, 2 and 3 that plot the data supporting this statement. Instead you fixate on the statement in the results on pg 1274 which says as you have correctly indicated

    “Notably, no lines in the long-term natural MA experiment have ever been observed to significantly improve beyond the control with respect to the typically measured fitness-related characters.”

    You seem to not understand what is the control in this experiment. In context this simply says that the worms with homozygous defect in the Msh2 DNA repair enzyme were never phenotypically fitter than the control N2 worms with normal Msh2 DNA repair. This may seem so blindingly obvious that you might say why did they even say that? The explanation lies in the next section “Observed vs. expected fitness decline in populations of different size:” and in their figure 4 data. Here they compare their results with the predictions based on the Bateman-Mukai method that “relates changes in the mean and among line variance of a character experiencing mutation to the genome-wide mutation rate and average mutation effect”. The prediction being that ” ..under a model of constant, large mutation effects, our calculations (see materials and methods) indicate that no decline in productivity or r due to fixations of new mutations would be expected in these larger populations”

    As figure4 shows there is a residual effect asymptotic to the x axis that indicated an effect that persists despite increasing population size. Hence their statement that it was never better than control. They further explain this in the discussion

    “The decline in fitness with decreasing population size suggests that the majority of the mutational variance discernible in the benign environment of the lab is due to mutations producing large, negative effects as population sizes of three were able to maintain fairly high fitness levels relative to the control over the course of the study. This result is congruent with our estimates of average mutational effects (Table 1). (The fact that the msh2 strain began the experiment with fitness well below the N2 control may place a bound on how large a population-size effect could be detected in this experiment.)”

    “However, even the largest population-size treatments show a slight trend toward reduced fitness compared to the control. Our comparisons of observed vs. expected declines in fitness correlates (Figure 4) show that fitness reduction observed in the larger-population-size treatments was greater than that expected on the basis of our B-M estimates of average mutation effect, while the decline observed in smaller population sizes closely matched the expectations. There are at least two possible explanations for this observation: (1) a fraction of small-effect mutations managed to reach fixation in the large population lines or (2) the reduced fitness at the larger population sizes is due to still-segregating mutations that arose during the experiment.” pg1276-1277

    I did expect better of you and though they would teach you how to read a research paper as a medical student? You cannot approach research with the proof text approach. You have to ask what is the theme of this paper, What does the data show? You will learn little if you come to a paper to selectively pick out the conclusions that you have already arrived at as seems to be what you have done here.

    Though some might think you are being deceptive in quoting out of context but I do not think you are at all dishonest, simply subject to mortons demon selectively reading and accepting data unconsciously so that certainty remains. We all tend to do this.

    Why have I spent so much time on this process which I am sure has bored some of your readers from the first sentence. I do it because I value honestly and truth. I worry that I could extrapolate and find similar selective reading of almost any piece of primary peer reviewed literature that you might cite. I think when it comes to faith we should forget about trying to prove the science and simply accept the revelation of God through Jesus Christ and the community of faith that communicates that to us. You can call it blind faith if you will but that is the basis of salvation.

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  3. @pauluc:

    You suggest I have not read the paper and offer a proof text. I make a living reading and writing papers in the research literature so I think I have developed some skill. Let me give you some pointers on approaching scientific literature. First lets see what you have read into this paper. You seem to have skipped the statement that encapsulates the basis of this paper;

    “Population size was extremely efficient in ameliorating fitness decline, its effect highly significant across all
    traits and population-size treatments in both assays.”

    Of course population size affects fitness since a larger population gives natural selection more to work with. Where in anything I said did I come across as suggesting otherwise?

    You seem to not understand what is the control in this experiment. In context this simply says that the worms with homozygous defect in the Msh2 DNA repair enzyme were never phenotypically fitter than the control N2 worms with normal Msh2 DNA repair.

    That’s quite obvious. It would be very difficult to repair a defect in such a functionally complex structure within even a very large population. It is for this reason that natural selection acts as a preserving force in nature, not a creative force beyond very very low levels of functional complexity.

    What is interesting in this particular experiment, however is the following prediction (which you cited):

    “The prediction being that ” ..under a model of constant, large mutation effects, our calculations (see materials and methods) indicate that no decline in productivity or r due to fixations of new mutations would be expected in these larger populations.”

    The question is, was this prediction actually supported by the experiment? Evidently not entirely as predicted. Why not? You write:

    As figure4 shows there is a residual effect asymptotic to the x axis that indicated an effect that persists despite increasing population size. Hence their statement that it was never better than control. They further explain this in the discussion…
    “The fact that the msh2 strain began the experiment with fitness well below the N2 control may place a bound on how large a population-size effect could be detected in this experiment…

    However, even the largest population-size treatments show a slight trend toward reduced fitness compared to the control. Our comparisons of observed vs. expected declines in fitness correlates (Figure 4) show that fitness reduction observed in the larger-population-size treatments was greater than that expected on the basis of our B-M estimates of average mutation effect, while the decline observed in smaller population sizes closely matched the expectations. There are at least two possible explanations for this observation: (1) a fraction of small-effect mutations managed to reach fixation in the large population lines or (2) the reduced fitness at the larger population sizes is due to still-segregating mutations that arose during the experiment.” pg1276-1277″

    In other words, there was in fact reduced fitness beyond what was predicted before the experiment. The authors suggest that this discrepancy was perhaps due to “small-effect mutations” managing to reach fixation in the larger population lines or perhaps to “still-segregating mutations that arose during the experiment.”

    Regardless, the point that larger populations play a role in compensating for detrimental mutations is quite clear and was never in question in my discussion with you. My point from the beginning, which you have yet to even address as far as I can tell, is that population size is not enough to compensate for the detrimental mutation rate experienced by slowly reproducing creatures. Do you not understand that the reproductive rate also comes into play? – not just population size? Nematode worms like C. elegans are capable of extremely high rates of reproduction. This is not true for humans or other slowly reproducing animals that cannot sustain such a high mortality rate. And, I fail to see how increasing the population size is going to do anything to solve this problem for slowly reproducing creatures? If you can explain this to me, I’d be most grateful.

    I did expect better of you and though they would teach you how to read a research paper as a medical student? You cannot approach research with the proof text approach. You have to ask what is the theme of this paper, What does the data show? You will learn little if you come to a paper to selectively pick out the conclusions that you have already arrived at as seems to be what you have done here.

    I’ve read many and written a few papers myself as primary author. That doesn’t mean I’m immune from misinterpreting what I read on occasion. If I have missed where the papers you cite explain how the detrimental mutation rate can be solved by increasing the population sizes for slowly reproducing creatures in particular, by all means do show me my error.

    Though some might think you are being deceptive in quoting out of context but I do not think you are at all dishonest, simply subject to mortons demon selectively reading and accepting data unconsciously so that certainty remains. We all tend to do this.

    Why have I spent so much time on this process which I am sure has bored some of your readers from the first sentence. I do it because I value honestly and truth. I worry that I could extrapolate and find similar selective reading of almost any piece of primary peer reviewed literature that you might cite. I think when it comes to faith we should forget about trying to prove the science and simply accept the revelation of God through Jesus Christ and the community of faith that communicates that to us. You can call it blind faith if you will but that is the basis of salvation.

    I don’t see how I’ve been deceptive or quoted out of context. I also value honesty and truth and I think it somewhat uncharitable of you to apply the blinders of “Mortons demon” to me and not to yourself.

    I also appreciate the fact that you consider faith without empirical backing to be “the basis of salvation”, but I don’t agree. Salvation has very little to do with empirical knowledge. Salvation has everything to do with the motive of love. Even those who are completely mistaken in how they interpret the empirical evidence can be saved based on how they expressed unselfish love toward their fellow man.

    So, while empirical knowledge does not have the power to save a person, it is still important in that it has the power to provide a solid basis for hope in the metaphysical realities described in the Bible. While many people will be saved who never had a conscious hope of salvation in this life, how much more tolerable would this life have been for them if they had been given the knowledge of the Gospel message of hope?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  4. Sean is clearly well-versed in using the language of a scientist to speak the thoughts of a layman. He can use the proper terminology, but his conclusions are flawed, his grasp of the research is tenuous, and his obsession with proving his theory in complete ignorance of any scientific search for truth renders him unqualified to discourse on this topic. Yet, discourse he does, and with his pablum he seeks to bring down an entire university (and, potentially, the entire denomination, were he and his friends truly successful in their stated mission) because of his self-centered, egotistical crusade.

    Simply put, Sean et al. believe that creation, as per the Bible and reiterated by EGW and our official church position, is the only possible explanation, and any deviation from the literal account is false. In the presence of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, all he can do is manufacture, misquote, or wrench from context “scientific” evidence not to support his position, but rather to destroy the opposing view. His defensive position is, rhetorically, an easy one, given the phalanx of similarly-ignorant foot soldiers he has arrayed around him. Logically and scientifically, however, his chrome-plated babbling is no more scientifically sound than Faith’s emotional aspersions. (And don’t me started on Bob’s unsupported “junk science” claims and personal attacks – we could be here for hours. I don’t claim to be a stellar example of what LSU can provide, but if my intellect and spirituality were to be judged against that of those here who claim superior SDA-ness, I would not fear for the conclusion).

    The significantly better educated (and equally well-spoken) contributors to this thread have provided reams of evidence to counter Sean’s laughably narrow and woefully insufficient evidence, yet the rabble continue to be roused. Evidence does NOT support the view that genetic mutation is necessarily degenerative, regardless of population size or generational frequency. While you quibble over contemporary research that fails to conclusively uncover evolution’s “smoking gun,” you ignore the gestalt of a century of research and millions of studies that all point in the same general direction. According to both history (and consistent with evolutionary theory), humanity has frequently faced extinction, and many other species of similar complexity have succumbed. Variants of “humanity” have, in fact, become extinct. As we have also observed scientifically, the term “detrimental mutation” can be falsely proscriptive, as it may take generations for a mortality-increasing mutation to demonstrate a species-saving purpose. There are, too, somewhat unique qualities demonstrated by homo sapiens and other long-gestation, long-generation, low-offspring species that counteract some of these potentially terminal genetic mutations (advanced and abstract concepts of socialization and division of labor, for instance), and some of the genes we carry today would have likely been the end of our species in another organism or at a different point in our own evolution. Is this an argument for God’s hand in observable evolution, or simply blind chance? There within lies an opportunity for theological discussion. Against the argument that evolution has shaped each and every organisms on this planet, however, there is no theological counter that should be given the weight of science in our curriculum.

    It’s as if we have a 1000-piece puzzle, and on its cover we can see a beautiful scene of nature. Some maintain that we should never open the box, simply believing that the pieces are there, and be content to enjoy the cover alone (given my personal facility with puzzle-making, perhaps I should consider this approach). Others believe we should put a few of the pieces in place, but if we find something we cannot understand, we take scissors and cut apart the box lid, and try to fit those clippings into the empty spaces to see something approximating the full picture and consider our job finished. Some of us, however, upon putting 800 or so of the pieces in place, come to see a pattern, and continue to search for the remaining pieces-all the while referring to the cover for guidance. The picture on the cover, however, which is smaller and is partially obscured by labels and cropping and a price tag, is not a literal account of what the puzzle will look like when it is complete.

    The 800 pieces we’ve found say “evolution.” We might occasionally put a piece in the wrong spot, and we will probably never find all of the pieces – but we know enough to know we’re on the right track, and most of the pieces don’t go together any other way. Are we not supposed to show this puzzle to our students? Are we supposed to feel guilty for understanding this much? Are we supposed to disregard the evidence in front of our own eyes simply because it doesn’t look like the cover? (“but the wildebeast is SUPPOSED to say “$12.99″ on it because that’s what it looks like on the cover!”)

    The Bible does not even possess logical internal consistency; it is only through dedicated effort that we can reconcile the entire work in a consistent document. Must we also be forced to jump through these hoops to bring it our current interpretation of the Bible into alignment with our observable world, and if so, must we grant this particular interpretation of the Bible inviolable primacy? EGW never required this – why should we today?
    Sean seems to think we need to work on the puzzle, but he seems to feel that we need to trim the pieces to make them fit, instead of accepting we’ve got them wrong. Sometimes, though, we simply need to accept that we are wrong – that is the nature of science, and should also be the hallmark of any valuable religious community.

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  5. pauluc: I think when it comes to faith we should forget about trying to prove the science and simply accept the revelation of God through Jesus Christ and the community of faith that communicates that to us. You can call it blind faith if you will but that is the basis of salvation.

    Amen, brother Pauluc. I think it’s hilarious that the most ardent defenders of our faith–EducateTruthers–are the ones who insist faith is feeble and must be buttressed by scientific evidence (cherry-picked, of course). They actually denigrate faith and call those of us who accept God’s word at face value liars. What a hoot!

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  6. Sean Pitman: I’ve read many and written a few papers myself as primary author.

    Your papers are case studies that lack an experimental approach. No randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies with statistics (the gold standard in medicine); just anecdotal cases. None involving non-human subjects. None involving fossils or rocks. None involving dating methods. None involving genetics and molecular methods. And that’s okay.

    Most young life creationists do not have a strong empirical background, and those who do are generally assumed to be dishonest, sold-out-for-science, all-for-evolutionism, ardent reptiles-to-birds believers who ignore 3SG 90-91 (and the guy who stutters it by day and in his sleep). Most young life creationists who claim to rely on empirical evidence ahead of faith (in my experience, only EducateTruthers) have no background to interpret the appropriateness of an experimental design and the statistical anlayses. They simply rely on the word of those they place their faith in–rather than in the word of God. Shameful.

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  7. @Sean Pitman:
    In another twist and turn you say:

    Regardless, the point that larger populations play a role in compensating for detrimental mutations is quite clear and was never in question in my discussion with you. My point from the beginning, which you have yet to even address as far as I can tell, is that population size is not enough to compensate for the detrimental mutation rate experienced by slowly reproducing creatures.

    That was not the point. You said there was no viable mechanisms to remove mutations and I responded with a clear model albeit artificial which showed that natural selection removed mutations. I never at any point tried to pretend it would remove all. You now concede this point but narrow the goal post to large slowly reproducing animals.

    I would as Galileo in the face of certainty based on religious approach to science and just such predictions respond with “and yet they move”

    Let me give you an assignment and see if you really can read and interpret the papers properly as I am beginning to doubt.

    I will let you Look up the literature on animals moving into the high radiation exclusion zones around Chernobyl. The prediction from your model of impossibility of removal of the high mutation rate associated with radiation would be that there would be a genetic meltdown.

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  8. @pauluc:

    That was not the point. You said there was no viable mechanisms to remove mutations and I responded with a clear model albeit artificial which showed that natural selection removed mutations. I never at any point tried to pretend it would remove all. You now concede this point but narrow the goal post to large slowly reproducing animals.

    Your memory seems to be failing you. I ask you, what did I originally say in my post of August 6 at 8:49 am? Here, let me help you:

    Sean Pitman – “What is not published in literature is any viable mechanism whereby the overwhelming load of detrimental mutations might be removed from the gene pools of slowly reproducing creatures (like all mammals for example) nearly as fast as they are entering it.” [emphasis added]

    Note that I never “narrowed the goal posts” beyond their original position. I specifically included the caveat of “slowly reproducing creatures” at the very beginning of this discussion. You even quoted this particular “goal post” statement of mine in your own comments. How then could you claim that I’ve moved the goalposts during the course of this discussion when they remain where I first put them?

    The problem here is that you don’t like the original goal posts. You and your friends in this forum (like Prof. Kent and our young LSU graduate) still do not seem to grasp the significance of such a fundamental problem for the ToE – a problem which you yourself evidently have no idea how to substantively address much less explain (even less so for Prof. Kent and LSU-Alum-96 who don’t seem to understand the very basics of the problem). I can only surmise that it is for this reason that you are now trying to backpedal and claim that I’m the one moving goalposts. I mean really, what else can you say?

    It remains, therefore, as I originally claimed – that there is no known viable mechanism for removing detrimental mutations from such slowly reproducing creatures nearly as fast as they are entering these gene pools.

    I would as Galileo in the face of certainty based on religious approach to science and just such predictions respond with “and yet they move”

    Not for long. The known detrimental mutation rate (which is much greater than U=3 as previously noted) is far greater than what slowly reproducing humans can cope with without an eventual meltdown of our genome. Just because we have yet to reach the tipping point does not therefore mean we aren’t headed downhill at a rather rapid rate (relatively speaking). The currently known genetic evidence points strongly in this direction.

    Again, it seems to me as though you really have no real solution to this problem besides your bold and bald claim that, “We know evolution has happened and that slowly reproducing creatures are hundreds of millions of years old.” It’s nice to know when a theory is wrong without really knowing why. I’m sorry, but such a reply is simply not a substantive response to the question posed to you.

    Let me give you an assignment and see if you really can read and interpret the papers properly as I am beginning to doubt.

    I will let you Look up the literature on animals moving into the high radiation exclusion zones around Chernobyl. The prediction from your model of impossibility of removal of the high mutation rate associated with radiation would be that there would be a genetic meltdown.

    A greater mutation rate would indeed result in a more rapid genetic decline. However, how rapid this decline may be before the tipping point is reached depends upon how high the mutation rate actually is. As I’m sure you must know, the real problem for detrimental mutations are not those mutations that result in the most detrimental effects right away. Natural selection is most effective in eliminating such functionally significant mutations rather quickly from the gene pool without having to resort to a huge death rate. The real problem is for those mutations that are “near neutral”, having only a very slight detrimental effect.

    Such near-neutral mutations are the most common among those that have a functional impact. And, of course, such near-neutral mutations fly far under the radar of natural selection and therefore build up over time in the gene pools without being effectively eliminated. The death rate required to eliminate such near-neutral mutations would be far beyond what humans and other slowly reproducing creatures could tolerate.

    The decline in the functionality of the gene pool is therefore gradual, but is headed downward toward eventual and inevitable meltdown just the same.

    Now, for your assignment, if you wish to actually address the real problem in play here:

    Please explain how slowly reproducing creatures (like humans, apes, elephants, etc.) can effectively compensate for the constant influx of detrimental mutations (most of them only slightly detrimental) without them building up faster than they can be neutralized over time?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  9. Sean Pitman: It remains, therefore, as I originally claimed – that there is no known viable mechanism for removing detrimental mutations from such slowly reproducing creatures nearly as fast as they are entering these gene pools.

    You’re a total, complete fraud, Sean!

    We can show you science in which adaptive mutations keep slowly reproducing creatures (like sheep and wolves) ahead of the deleterious mutations, and you dismiss them by simply saying, “Yet you and your friends in this forum (like Prof. Kent and our young LSU graduate) still do not seem to grasp the significance of such a fundamental problem for the ToE – a problem which you yourself evidently have no idea how to substantively address much less explain (even less so for Prof. Kent and LSU-Alum-96 who don’t seem to understand the very basics of the problem.”

    It is YOU who fails to understand the very basics of the problem. There are tens of thousands of species, and millions of populations of these species, that have become uniquely and exquisitely adapted to their environments. They have occupied environments that were destroyed at the flood, having done so from a gene pool of only two to seven individuals. They are FAR more genetically diverse today than they were immediately after the flood, yet you insist they are all winding down, and will eventually die off from their degenerative mutations! What a crock!!! If this evidence alone does not falsify your stupid hypothesis, what will?

    If you want to quibble with the mechanism being natural selection, then you’d better be prepared to explain how slowly reproducing creatures not only thrive for thousands of generations, but diversify. That, or you could simply acknowledge that your hypothesis of the accumulation of deleterious mutations is meaningless, but organisms thrive quite well despite them. Why don’t you try getting real instead of simply dismissing the arguments against your stupid hypothesis with a lazy, disingenuous, “you don’t even understand the problem.”

    Frankly, you aren’t the least bit open to falsification of your hypothesis. You play the numbers game by citing what you think we understand about mutation rates and/or rates of selection for the very limited number of genes we have data on, but you can’t address the most basic and fundamental flaw in your argument: POPULATIONS AND SPECIES NOT ONLY PERSIST, BUT THEY DIVERSIFY AND BECOME REMARKABLY ADAPTED TO THEIR ENVIRONMENTS. Are you denying this?

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  10. Sean Pitman: Please explain how slowly reproducing creatures (like humans, apes, elephants, etc.) can effectively compensate for the constant influx of detrimental mutations (most of them only slightly detrimental) without them building up faster than they can be neutralized over time?

    What’s the point of this stupid exercise? It’s like challenging the effectiveness of straterra (atomoxetine) for Attention–Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by asking, “what’s the mechanism of action?” In reality, the answer is “unknown” (you can read the FDA label for yourself), but it’s completely irrelevant. Clinical studies demonstrate efficacy of the medication for treating ADHD.

    Humans and many other slowly-reproducing animals have had more than ample opportunities to experience “a decline in the functionality of the gene pool” and the “inevitable meltdown” you have described. And yet…they carry on, beautifully and exquisitely capable of not only reproducing, surviving, and diversifying, but thriving in the exact manner God prescribed: “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Where did God say, “be fruitful…and die off in spite of your fruitfulness?”

    There is NOTHING Biblical or SDA in your silly argument. Nothing. It’s simply an exercise in rhetoric and trivia that you think makes you look superior in knowledge and reason. If anything, your petty argument directly contradicts scripture(Gen 1:28, Gen 5:2, Gen 8:17, Gen 9:1, Gen 9:7, Lev 26:9). The last verse in particular is relevant: “I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.” Sorry, but humans as a species are not “winding down” as you claim.

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  11. Let’s see now…sin entered the earth. Non-human primates, assuming they were created (I certainly believe they were), began accumulating degenerative mutations that immediately fated them for extinction because, after all, the “decline in the functionality of the gene pool” (Pitman’s words) is inevitable.

    How many species existed before or immediately after the flood is unknown. However, a handful of individuals of each species emerged one morning from the ark on Mt. Ararat, and soon began to multiply and disperse, as God commanded. Over a few thousand generations (no more, since constrained by the roughly 4,000 years after the flood), they multiplied to millions, and somehow walked, swam, hitched rides with eagles, rode the shoulders of humans…whatever…to find their way to the most remote regions of the earth.

    Today, we have more than 430 species of non-human primates (lemurs, lorises, galagos, tarsiers, monkeys, and apes) represented by 16 families scattered across most of the tropical and subtropical regions of the earth. Some 294 species representing 8 families presently occur only in the New World. How every individual of each species within each family arrived in the New World, without leaving any of their descendents in the Old World where they emerged from the ark, remains a mystery that only God and possibly Sean Pitman can explain. We can assume one of two most likely scenarios: that most of the species evolved in situ in the New World, or all of the individuals of each species made a pact that they would all migrate together to the New World, leaving none behind.

    Considering only the New World monkeys, they somehow managed to acquire diverse adaptations that allowed them to persist in novel environments that, Sean Pitman assures us, were very different from the pre-flood environments (yes, the flood dramatica lly changed the earth’s environments…with RAIN forests being but one that could not have existed prior to the flood). Some species are big, others are small. Some rely on fruit, others folivory (leaves). Some are territorial, others are highly social. All recognize local food items and predators (in some cases having a demonstrated genetic basis), but are vulnerable to unfamiliar invasive species (exotic toxic plants and predators). All have aquired some genetic resistance to disease, but remain vulnerable to exotic diseases. Curiously, the New World species form monogamous pair bonds, and show substantial paternal care of their young, unlike most of their Old World counterparts.

    So how DID all these primates manage to overcome the inevitable accumulation of deleterious mutations? Wow!!! And Sean tells us that HE is right–they cannot overcome such a genetic load–because WE cannot explain a mechanism for explaining how, in fact, they have actually done what he says cannot be done.

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  12. @Professor Kent:

    You’re a total, complete fraud, Sean!

    What? For asking a simple question that you seem unable to answer in a meaningful way?

    We can show you science in which adaptive mutations keep slowly reproducing creatures (like sheep and wolves) ahead of the deleterious mutations, and you dismiss them…

    That is because they are irrelevant to the question. Most adaptations are the result of Mendelian-style variation or sexual recombination of pre-existing alleles, not functionally novel mutations within the vast gene pool of pre-established phenotypic options. Those adaptations that are the result of functionally novel mutations are most often due to a quantitative change in a pre-existing system of function. And, most of these are the result of a loss, not a gain in functionality. For example, cave fish without eyes or flightless birds on windy islands gain a reproductive advantage through functionally novel mutations that block pre-existing functional systems from being expressed. Such adaptations happen very quickly because there are so many ways mutations can stop a system from working. Those adaptations that are based on truly novel systems of function (qualitatively speaking) evolving into the gene pool are much much less common and never go beyond very low levels of functional complexity.

    This is a problem because detrimental mutations build up faster than reversion or compensatory mutations can compensate for their buildup in slowly reproducing creatures – especially when you’re talking about near-neutral mutations. Sexual recombination and natural selection can compensate to a certain extent, but not fast enough to keep up with the gradual decline of the genomes of such creatures. This decline in genomic quality does not necessarily express itself in a corresponding reduction in reproductive rate or reproductive potential until a certain threshold level of detrimental mutations is reached. At this point, reproduction is affected and the population itself declines.

    In the meantime, gene pools that are slowing declining in quality will continue to function to adapt to new environments as they were originally designed to do. This continued ability for very rapid adaptation to new environments has nothing to do with the fact that the underlying gene pool is slowly devolving.

    It is YOU who fails to understand the very basics of the problem. There are tens of thousands of species, and millions of populations of these species, that have become uniquely and exquisitely adapted to their environments. They have occupied environments that were destroyed at the flood, having done so from a gene pool of only two to seven individuals. They are FAR more genetically diverse today than they were immediately after the flood, yet you insist they are all winding down, and will eventually die off from their degenerative mutations! What a crock!!! If this evidence alone does not falsify your stupid hypothesis, what will?

    You seem to be ignorant of certain key features of population genetics, the basis of adaptation, and of the problem of near-neutral mutations. The potential for diversity is not enhanced by phenotypic/genetic isolation. It is reduced. For example, the original “kind” of “wild type” dog had much greater potential for diversity than any given modern breed of dog. It is for this reason that essentially all modern breeds of dogs were rapidly produced within the last 300 years or so – because of the pre-established potential of the original gene pool for phenotypic diversity. The fact that novel breeds and even “species” can still be produced over time has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that detrimental mutations are building up in all slowly reproducing gene pools faster than they can be eliminated – i.e., that they are in fact headed for eventual extinction.

    If you want to quibble with the mechanism being natural selection, then you’d better be prepared to explain how slowly reproducing creatures not only thrive for thousands of generations, but diversify. That, or you could simply acknowledge that your hypothesis of the accumulation of deleterious mutations is meaningless, but organisms thrive quite well despite them. Why don’t you try getting real instead of simply dismissing the arguments against your stupid hypothesis with a lazy, disingenuous, “you don’t even understand the problem.”

    Because everyone who is actually familiar with the problem knows that you don’t grasp the very basics of the problem. You also assume that we humans have really been on this planet for “thousands of generations” when the Bible suggests that we have been here for less than 500 generations (given an average generation time of 20 years). The Bible also strongly suggests a decline in genetic quality… consistent with the observed detrimental mutation rate that is uncompensated for by any known natural mechanism.

    Frankly, you aren’t the least bit open to falsification of your hypothesis. You play the numbers game by citing what you think we understand about mutation rates and/or rates of selection for the very limited number of genes we have data on, but you can’t address the most basic and fundamental flaw in your argument: POPULATIONS AND SPECIES NOT ONLY PERSIST, BUT THEY DIVERSIFY AND BECOME REMARKABLY ADAPTED TO THEIR ENVIRONMENTS. Are you denying this?

    Of course I’m not denying this! What you don’t understand is that the ability to adapt and diversify has absolutely nothing to do with the gradual buildup of detrimental mutations within slowly reproducing gene pools – nothing!. Once you understand this you’ll begin to understand the significance of this problem for the overall ToE.

    What’s the point of this stupid exercise? It’s like challenging the effectiveness of straterra (atomoxetine) for Attention–Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by asking, “what’s the mechanism of action?” In reality, the answer is “unknown” (you can read the FDA label for yourself), but it’s completely irrelevant. Clinical studies demonstrate efficacy of the medication for treating ADHD.

    Humans and many other slowly-reproducing animals have had more than ample opportunities to experience “a decline in the functionality of the gene pool” and the “inevitable meltdown” you have described. And yet…they carry on, beautifully and exquisitely capable of not only reproducing, surviving, and diversifying, but thriving in the exact manner God prescribed: “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Where did God say, “be fruitful…and die off in spite of your fruitfulness?”

    There is NOTHING Biblical or SDA in your silly argument. Nothing. It’s simply an exercise in rhetoric and trivia that you think makes you look superior in knowledge and reason. If anything, your petty argument directly contradicts scripture(Gen 1:28, Gen 5:2, Gen 8:17, Gen 9:1, Gen 9:7, Lev 26:9). The last verse in particular is relevant: “I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.” Sorry, but humans as a species are not “winding down” as you claim.

    So, you readily admit that the answer to my question is “unknown”? – but you believe it is a non-issue anyway because slowly reproducing animals can still reproduce quite rapidly and adapt to new environments? Well, at least you admit that you don’t know how to answer my questions. You simply have faith that it isn’t an issue because of your misunderstanding of genetics.

    You simply don’t get it. Reproductive rates and the potential for adaptability can be maintained at a fairly constant level until the near-neutral mutations build up to a threshold level that actually starts to affect these abilities. Until then, everything goes on in an apparently normal fashion, masking the slow rot that is taking place in the underlying gene pool.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  13. @Sean Pitman:

    Is it only coincidence that your claim that humanity, as a species, is on a genetic decline echoes so closely that posed by EGW herself? From Testimonies:

    “The present enfeebled condition of the human family was presented before me. Every generation has been growing weaker, and disease of every form afflicts the race. Thousands of poor mortals with deformed, sickly bodies, shattered nerves, and gloomy minds are dragging out a miserable existence. Satan’s power upon the human family increases. If the Lord should not soon come and destroy his power, the earth would erelong be depopulated.”

    Contrary to your offhanded and unsupported insult to myself and Professor Kent, I understand well the point you are making – you were proposing a straw man argument (“prove to me that you understand how the detrimental mutations are removed in slowly-reproducing species”) without conclusively proving that the detrimental mutations occur in slowly-reproducing species at a rate that requires compensation, or that understanding of the mechanism by which those mutations are eliminated is a prerequisite to acceptance of the overarching theory. As countless studies (not to mention the anecdotal research in which you specialize) demonstrate, we slowly-reproducing mammals demonstrate observable mutations of functional value without any evidence of genetic decline. It wasn’t true when EGW said it, and it’s not true today.

    Of course, you have shifted the goal posts yet again, since your original thesis was disproven handily. Namely, your focus is now on “near-neutral mutations.” Your claim is that we are amassing genetic mutations that don’t result in quantifiable (or at least fatal) expression until they reach some threshold, or mix in some genetically toxic cocktail that will spell the end of the species. It is your turn to reference some respectable, refereed academic journals that have conducted scientific studies to support this hypothesis. You propose a genetic time bomb ticking in each of God’s creations – and the existence of this time bomb nullifies the theory of evolution as currently and generally understood. Sadly for you, you are in a no-win situation here: if you can “prove” this hypothesis, science will not be offended and will instead take this knowledge to further refine the theory – but you will have failed to prove the theory wrong. If you cannot “prove” this hypothesis, you will be forced to find another “smoking gun” on which to hang the entirety of your argument against evolution. Pushing the boulder up that hill is really a tireless, unrewarding job, isn’t it?

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  14. Sean Pitman: That is because they are irrelevant to the question. Most adaptations are the result of Mendelian-style variation or sexual recombination of pre-existing alleles, not functionally novel mutations within the vast gene pool of pre-established phenotypic options.

    This is a faith-based assertion. You simply cannot establish precisely what was present or absent in an original gene pool with “pre-established phenotypic options,” so you are operating on assumptions of what “was there,” not actual data. How is your position any better than that of evolutionists?

    Sean Pitman: This continued ability for very rapid adaptation to new environments has nothing to do with the fact that the underlying gene pool is slowly devolving.

    Can you spell o-x-y-m-o-r-o-n?

    Sean Pitman: The potential for diversity is not enhanced by phenotypic/genetic isolation. It is reduced.

    Did you take a course in General Biology? Let me guess: your course at Southern Adventist University (your alma mater) actually skipped the chapters on evolution.

    Sean Pitman: The fact that novel breeds and even “species” can still be produced over time has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that detrimental mutations are building up in all slowly reproducing gene pools faster than they can be eliminated – i.e., that they are in fact headed for eventual extinction.

    A remarkable assertion. Was this God’s screw-up, that life–or at least “slowly-reproducing” life–is not sustainable?

    Sean Pitman: What you don’t understand is that the ability to adapt and diversify has absolutely nothing to do with the gradual buildup of detrimental mutations within slowly reproducing gene pools – nothing!. Once you understand this you’ll begin to understand the significance of this problem for the overall ToE.

    So, you argue that we have extremely rapid adaptive changes that promote extremely rapid divergence (as in dog breeds), which you argue occurs most rapidly in sympatry (living together) rather than in allopatry (living isolated from each other). Moreover, the buildup of detrimental mutations does not impair adaptive divergence. Amazing. Are you able to calculate when all these continually evolving races and species are scheduled to crash because of the deleterious mutations they are accumulating? Have many species already succombed due to deleterious mutations rather than other causes of extinctions (e.g., environmental change)? Can you name some examples?

    “Overall ToE” concerns all life forms, so if the accumulation of deleterious mutations is a problem only for slowly-reproducing species, then why is this a problem for “overall ToE?” Don’t you think you’re overstating your claims?

    Sean Pitman: You also assume that we humans have really been on this planet for “thousands of generations” when the Bible suggests that we have been here for less than 500 generations (given an average generation time of 20 years).

    Who said anything about humans? My entire post was about non-human primates.

    Sean Pitman: You simply don’t get it. Reproductive rates and the potential for adaptability can be maintained at a fairly constant level until the near-neutral mutations build up to a threshold level that actually starts to affect these abilities. Until then, everything goes on in an apparently normal fashion, masking the slow rot that is taking place in the underlying gene pool.

    So what does your “model” predict: a gradual decline in population fitness followed by extinction, or something that functions perfectly well with a sudden, precipitous extinction over one or several generations? Having such detailed knowledge with your population genetic models (which I have yet to see), surely you could tell us WHERE some specific species are in this factual “decline” that you insist exists. Dogs, for example: how close are their genomes to extinction? A few generations? Hundreds of generations? Thousands of generations?

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  15. @LSU Alumnus 1996:

    As countless studies (not to mention the anecdotal research in which you specialize) demonstrate, we slowly-reproducing mammals demonstrate observable mutations of functional value without any evidence of genetic decline.

    You seem to be unaware of certain relevant facts. The majority of functional mutations do not have large detrimental effects, but are “nearly-neutral”. Those mutations with a large functional effect are relatively rare. These are fairly well-established observations.

    Of those near-neutral mutations, the vast majority are slightly detrimental with relatively rare near-neutral mutations being beneficial. This concept is supported by various lines of evidence, to include direct experimental results on near-neutral mutations which showed that the significant majority of such mutations are detrimental:

    For the most part, models that included beneficial mutations (red lines in Figure 1) were deemed biologically unrealistic. In particular, three of four of the detected beneficial mutations occurred within one or two bottlenecks of a deleterious mutation (lineages A, B, and J), suggesting that these steps resulted from noise in the data rather than actual beneficial mutations. Therefore, it seemed biologically more plausible to assume that our data set did not contain any beneficial mutations…

    In general, we expect nonsynonymous mutations to have deleterious effects and synonymous and noncoding mutations to be essentially neutral. The close match between the number of deleterious mutations predicted by the maximumlikelihood analysis (nDEL ¼ 33.4) and the number of accumulated nonsynonymous mutations (32) supports this view.

    http://www.unc.edu/~haipeng/publication/virus.pdf

    Such near-neutral detrimental mutations are realized at a rate of greater than 3 (most likely greater than 10) per person per generation (given an overall mutation rate of ~50 per person per generation). There is very little argument in literature regarding these numbers. They have a very good basis in currently known empirical observations.

    At this point your argument seems to be that because you don’t see a detrimental effect that you can readily recognize from one generation to the next that something must be wrong with these numbers.

    What you evidently don’t understand is the concept of a threshold level of detrimental mutations. There will be no significant decline in population size or reproductive rates until the surplus potential of the pre-established reproductive potential of the gene pool is exhausted to a level where the average individual cannot reproduce fast enough to replace his/her own loss from the population. At this point, there will be what is called a “mutational meltdown” – but not before.

    Before this detrimental mutation threshold is reached within the gene pool as a whole, population sizes and observed reproductive rates will not change to any significant degree.

    As deleterious mutations accumulate by fixation, there is a gradual decline in the mean viability of individuals. Once the mean viability declines below l/R, the net reproductive rate is less than one (individuals can no longer replace themselves), and the population size begins to decline. This precipitates a synergistic interaction between random genetic drift and mutation accumulation, which we refer to as a mutational meltdown.

    M. Lynch, J. Conery, and R. Burger. 1995. Mutation accumulation and the extinction of small populations. The American Naturalist: 146:489-518

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  16. @Professor Kent:

    You simply cannot establish precisely what was present or absent in an original gene pool with “pre-established phenotypic options,” so you are operating on assumptions of what “was there,” not actual data. How is your position any better than that of evolutionists?

    Let’s consider dog breeds as an example. We know that essentially all modern breeds of dog (~400 of them) were created within the last 300 years or so. We also know that much of this variation was not the result of novel allelic mutations that were not already present in the recent ancestors of all modern breeds. As with the case where human siblings can look quite different from each other based on genetic recombination of pre-established trait options, the same is/was obviously true for dogs. These trait options are selectable either by nature or by artificial/human selection for desired trait expression.

    Of course, there are several well characterized traits that are the result of truly novel mutations within dogs. For example, mutations are responsible for the stubby, curved legs of dachshunds, corgis, basset hounds, and 16 other breeds of dog. This particular feature is known to be the result of a mutation of a single gene. This mutant gene causes the overproduction of the growth-promoting protein, which turns on key growth receptors at the wrong times during fetal development. In other words, this mutation results in a loss of a pre-established genetic function. The odds that a random mutation would be able to disrupt such functionality are actually very good. If such a disruption in functionality is preferentially selected, it can be realized in a gene pool very quickly.

    As would be suspected, therefore, most known nonsynonymous mutations in dogs are thought to be detrimental.

    “The excess nonsynonymous changes in dogs are likely to be mainly slightly deleterious…”

    http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/25/11/2331.full.pdf

    It is therefore quite reasonable to assume that the same thing is true for human ancestry – that we, as slowly reproducing creatures, have suffered a significant number of near-neutral detrimental mutations for each individual in each generation at a rate well beyond what can reasonably have been compensated for by natural selection.

    The potential for diversity is not enhanced by phenotypic/genetic isolation. It is reduced. – Sean Pitman

    Did you take a course in General Biology? Let me guess: your course at Southern Adventist University (your alma mater) actually skipped the chapters on evolution.

    Isolating a breed of dog from interbreeding with other breeds of dog does not enhance the future potential for phenotypic diversity of the isolated breed. The genetic potential for variability is reduced. The isolated breed is less adaptable compared to the original ancestral wild-type gene pool. If you take part of a gene pool and remove it from the larger pool of options, what you have is a reduced number of genetic options – i.e., less potential for future variability.

    The fact that novel breeds and even “species” can still be produced over time has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that detrimental mutations are building up in all slowly reproducing gene pools faster than they can be eliminated – i.e., that they are in fact headed for eventual extinction. – Sean Pitman

    A remarkable assertion. Was this God’s screw-up, that life–or at least “slowly-reproducing” life–is not sustainable?

    Does a car the wears out without constant repairs mean that the designer of the car screwed up? Without access to the tree of life, to God tuning us up on a regular basis, we all get old and die. Is this a “screw-up” on God’s part? – that our own lives, and our individual genomes, are not sustainable for very long without his input? The same is true for the overall gene pool of the human race and for all slowly-reproducing creatures.

    So, you argue that we have extremely rapid adaptive changes that promote extremely rapid divergence (as in dog breeds), which you argue occurs most rapidly in sympatry (living together) rather than in allopatry (living isolated from each other). Moreover, the buildup of detrimental mutations does not impair adaptive divergence. Amazing. Are you able to calculate when all these continually evolving races and species are scheduled to crash because of the deleterious mutations they are accumulating? Have many species already succombed due to deleterious mutations rather than other causes of extinctions (e.g., environmental change)? Can you name some examples?

    Potential variability is greater for the original wild-type vs. the pure-breed. That’s a well-established observation. The wild-type is simply better able to adapt to new environments and is less prone to disease/sickness. The buildup of near-neutral mutations need not have a significant effect on the ability to reproduce or adapt to new environments until a threshold level of detrimental change is realized.

    As far as a population appearing healthy and fully functional, but in fact being on a genomic death march, consider the following statement published by Higgins and Lynch (2000):

    “Here we have shown that accumulation of deleterious mutations may be a significant threat to large metapopulations and would be expected to exacerbate the effect of habitat loss or fragmentation on metapopulation viability… Because the decline is sudden but extinction itself still takes a while to occur, the metapopulation may be completely inviable on intermediate or long time scales, although appearing healthy on short time scales.”

    http://www.pnas.org/content/98/5/2928.full.pdf

    Predicting the time of the actual genetic “crash” is rather difficult since it is hard to known the actual level of “fitness” of a population and how long it will take near-neutral detrimental mutations to reach a threshold level which irrevocably undermines a minimum level of fitness. Some, like Sandford, generously suggest an upper limit of less than a million years. Based only on detrimental mutations in mtDNA, Loewe (2006) set a generous limit of 20 million years till human extinction. At this point, however, the only thing that can be known with a very high degree of confidence is the direction slowly reproducing species are headed… downhill.

    “Overall ToE” concerns all life forms, so if the accumulation of deleterious mutations is a problem only for slowly-reproducing species, then why is this a problem for “overall ToE?” Don’t you think you’re overstating your claims?

    If slowly reproducing creatures are headed downhill, not able to survive the proposed evolutionary time frames for their evolution, this would undermine the entire mainstream theory of evolution. This is not an overstatement by any means. A great deal would collapse for the ToE if the problem of deleterious mutations building up in slowly reproducing genomes were generally recognized.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  17. Sean Pitman: The potential for diversity is not enhanced by phenotypic/genetic isolation.

    When I read “Educated Truth” like this, I have much difficulty swallowing anything that Dr. Pitman writes. This comment shows little understanding of the most important mechanism of diversification: allopatric speciation. Some readers will recognize it as high school material.

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  18. @Professor Kent: Professor Kent: To discredit devolution of the gene pool you ask, “Was this God’s screw-up?”

    You have established that you take by faith a literal Genesis 1 in the face of evidence 100% dead against it. But is your faith stretched too far by Genesis 3, which informs of sin, death, the Fall of Man — and thus his DNA? Wouldn’t a preponderance of detrimental mutations and deterioration of the gene pool be the pivotal mechanism? Don’t Adventists blame Satan and not a screw-up by God? Yes, and don’t we have faith that man, and his DNA, shall be redeemed, and rejuvenated, by God and not screwed up? Keep the faith!

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  19. @Sean Pitman:

    Mea Culpa. I apologize, You are right. I seem to have misread your original statement as a broad questioning of the process of darwinian natural selection. I assumed incorrectly that you could envisage a mechanism to be applicable beyond the confines of its initial demonstration.

    You are absolutely correct that you have been consistent in your claim.

    “It remains, therefore, as I originally claimed – that there is no known viable mechanism for removing detrimental mutations from such slowly reproducing creatures nearly as fast as they are entering these gene pools.”

    That you are consistent however does not add to the virtue of your claim.

    “It remains, therefore, as I originally claimed – that there is no known viable mechanism for removing detrimental mutations from such slowly reproducing creatures nearly as fast as they are entering these gene pools.”

    I do not know of a mechanism beyond that of selection shown in model systems for the removal of large slowly reproducing species. I am not arrogant enough to say there is no mechanism fulfilling the criteria you have selected but I am prepared to consider it unknown.

    If you show me data that genetically all life is degenerating I will accept it but I will examine that data critically and I will compare against the other data I know on genetic evidences for a history within the genome and see it is cogent.

    I am sceptical of mathematical predictions and models which is really the basis of your and Sandfords predictions.

    To convince me you will have to provide some data. You will also need to have a model.

    Do you believe that it was only after the flood that mutations began to accumulate? Was there a mantle over the earth that protected the antedeluvians. If you assume that the mutations present in the human genome described in the 1000 genome project were not present in 2349-2348 BC all must have accumulated over the last 4360 years.

    “Each individual had 50-100 variants implicated in inherited disorders and 250-300 loss of function variants”

    This makes it likely that there are 300-400 loss of function or genetic defects. At a generation time of 20 years we should have 1.4-1.8 new mutations per generation.

    What do you predict from an egyptian mummy or a sample of tissue from 1000 years ago. You would expect essentially no defect in any open reading frames for the mummy and around 100 defective genes for the 1000 year old sample.

    Sandford has a heap of money I would have thought you could persuade him to test this.

    On of the characteristics of Mortons Demon is that it does not allow you to openly search for new information so I suspect that both you and he would not be keen on doing the science. It easier and safer to do the modelling complete with all it assumptions about the proper variables.

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  20. @Professor Kent:

    Sean Pitman: The potential for diversity is not enhanced by phenotypic/genetic isolation.

    When I read “Educated Truth” like this, I have much difficulty swallowing anything that Dr. Pitman writes. This comment shows little understanding of the most important mechanism of diversification: allopatric speciation. Some readers will recognize it as high school material.

    I’m not talking about the method of diversification, but the results of diversification. The method(s) are quite clear and are not the topic of this particular discussion. The results, on the other hand, do not result in an improvement of the offspring compared to the original parent population. Rather, such the phenotypic/genetic isolation of sub-populations (when the sub-population does not contain all the genetic/phenotypic variables available to the original parent population) reduces the future ability of these sub-populations to adapt to new environmental changes. This very simple concept should be self-evident to all but the most obtuse.

    Your noted mechanism of speciation, allopatric speciation in particular, occurs when biological populations of the same species become isolated due to geographical and/or other changes that may isolate sub-populations from each other. Clearly, such isolation allows for the isolated groups to genetically diverge from each other over time.

    This form of “speciation” may involve a situation where the exact same gene pool options are divided into two isolated groups, which then mutate independently at that point over time. Of course, I’m not talking about this type of genetic isolation. I’m talking about isolating certain specific phenotypes (and their unique underlying genotypes of course) from the original gene pool of phenotypic options – as in the isolation of various unique breeds of dog using selective breeding out from the original parental gene pool (a gene pool which has more numerous phenotypic options that does the particular selection of options that comprise a particular breed of dog).

    Such selective breeding, isolating out certain phenotypic features from the original gene pool of options, may eventually result in “speciation” according to various definitions. However, this form of “speciation” does not enhance the abilities of either population to adapt to new environments compared to the original parent population which had access to greater genetic options and therefore had the potential for greater adaptability to changing environments.

    In other words, breeding for certain traits does not improve the informational quality or adaptability of the isolated gene pool of phenotypic/genetic options. The resulting breed and/or species is less adaptable to additional environmental changes than was the original parental population.

    It is quite clear that pure-breeds of dog or cattle or potato or whatever are less adaptable and more prone to sickness and disease compared to the original parent population. It is also for this reason that the phenomenon of “hybrid vitality” or “hybrid vigor” is commonly observed (where the hybrid offspring of parents from different gene pools are more fit than either parent).

    If you would get beyond your high-school textbook, perhaps you’d pick up on a few of these concepts?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  21. @pauluc:

    Mea Culpa. I apologize, You are right. I seem to have misread your original statement as a broad questioning of the process of darwinian natural selection. You are absolutely correct that you have been consistent in your claim.

    It’s Ok. We all misread or forget what we read from time to time.

    I assumed incorrectly that you could envisage a mechanism to be applicable beyond the confines of its initial demonstration.

    Ouch! Gatta try to save face somehow I guess…

    The problem here is that not all extrapolations are reasonable if certain variables, which are very different in different situations, are not carefully considered.

    Your mistake, in this particular discussion, is in your assumption that the effects of natural selection in populations of nematode worms could be directly extrapolated to human populations (and other slowly reproducing populations). The problem with this notion is that nematode populations have key features that are dramatically different from human populations, preventing straightforward extrapolation. For example, as previously noted for you, nematode worms have a reproductive potential of several thousand offspring per individual worm. This is not true for humans or other slowly reproducing creatures. This means, of course, that nematode worms can suffer a much higher death rate (i.e., death before reproduction) compared to humans – as high as 99.5% death before reproduction. This means, of course, that natural selection can act in a much stronger manner with nematode populations compared to human populations where the surplus number of offspring that natural selection can work with is very limited in comparison.

    It is for this particular reason that human and other slowly reproducing populations are much much more sensitive to the detrimental mutation rate within the gene pool. When you’re talking about more than 5 (likely more than 10) near-neutral detrimental mutations per individual per generation within the germline, mutations that are essentially invisible to natural selection anyway, you have a huge problem to explain. Even if the mutations were visable to natural selection where natural selection could immediately eliminate each one as it was realized, there would be a huge problem. Why? Because, elimination of such mutations requires the death of the individual before the individual is able to reproduce and pass on the detrimental mutation load. The death rate required if U=5 would be greater than 99% per generation – way beyond the powers of slowly reproducing creatures to keep up.

    You see, either any way you look at it, the required death rate needed for natural selection to keep up with the detrimental mutation rate is beyond the abilities of humans and other slowly reproducing creatures to keep up. For such species, eventual genetic meltdown is inevitable.

    That you are consistent however does not add to the virtue of your claim.

    “It remains, therefore, as I originally claimed – that there is no known viable mechanism for removing detrimental mutations from such slowly reproducing creatures nearly as fast as they are entering these gene pools.” – Sean Pitman

    I do not know of a mechanism beyond that of selection shown in model systems for the removal of large slowly reproducing species. I am not arrogant enough to say there is no mechanism fulfilling the criteria you have selected but I am prepared to consider it unknown.

    Science isn’t based on what is unknown or what might be known in the future. Science is based on what little is known right now. Based on what is actually known right now, the best empirical evidence we have strongly suggests that slowly reproducing creatures are gaining detrimental mutations far far faster than they can be removed from these gene pools by natural selection. That’s the best scientific conclusion that is currently available.

    Will future observations undermine this scientific hypothesis? Perhaps. The potential for falsification is always there for any useful scientific theory. However, until that time, the evidence that is currently available remains very strong.

    If you show me data that genetically all life is degenerating I will accept it but I will examine that data critically and I will compare against the other data I know on genetic evidences for a history within the genome and see it is cogent.

    The data doesn’t show that all life is degenerating. Only those forms of life that are not reproducing fast enough to allow for natural selection to effectively eliminate the detrimental mutation load per generation are degenerating.

    I am sceptical of mathematical predictions and models which is really the basis of your and Sandfords predictions.

    That’s what science is. Science is all about the statistical predictive power of the hypothesis. If you cannot demonstrate the statistical odds of your prediction being useful at predicting the future, based on past successes of your hypothesis at predicting the future, you don’t have a scientific hypothesis.

    To convince me you will have to provide some data. You will also need to have a model.

    The data and the model have already been presented to you. What more do you want? You know the detrimental mutation rate and you know the required death rate in order for natural selection to be effective at eliminating these detrimental mutations from the gene pool. You also know that every human being has thousands of detrimental mutations within his/her genome. As a recent example, it has just been discovered that 20% of men have, not just one, but two defective copies of a gene called, “DEFB126”. This gene is responsible for producing the protective protein coating on sperm cells so that they can more effectively penetrate cervical mucus to reach the egg. The defective sperm look and behave perfectly normally otherwise. Yet, it is thought that this particular defective gene may explain why some 70% of male infertility cases are “unexplained”.

    There are hundreds of thousands of mutations like this in existence in the human population as a whole and we each individually have thousands of detrimental mutations in our own genomes. And, it is only going to get worse over time given the data currently in hand.

    What else do you need to know?

    Do you believe that it was only after the flood that mutations began to accumulate?

    Did you not read where I said that the genetic decline started after Eden? For being such an expert in reviewing and understanding scientific papers, you don’t seem to me to have a very good memory for what you read.

    Was there a mantle over the earth that protected the antedeluvians?

    How is this question relevant? While I’m sure the pre-Flood world was very different than ours, much of the germ line mutation rate is based on copying errors which are independent of radiation or any other potential outside influence on somatic genetic mutations.

    If you assume that the mutations present in the human genome described in the 1000 genome project were not present in 2349-2348 BC all must have accumulated over the last 4360 years.

    I’m sure Noah and his sons had many mutations in their genomes that Adam did not originally have in Eden.

    “Each individual had 50-100 variants implicated in inherited disorders and 250-300 loss of function variants”. This makes it likely that there are 300-400 loss of function or genetic defects. At a generation time of 20 years we should have 1.4-1.8 new mutations per generation.

    This reference does not take into account “near-neutral” detrimental mutations, which would be a great deal more than 300 or so. This reference only deals with major detrimental mutations that are known to be involved with known inherited disorders. There are many many more inherited disorders which are unknown or which have such a slight deleterious effect that they have yet to be identified.

    What do you predict from an egyptian mummy or a sample of tissue from 1000 years ago. You would expect essentially no defect in any open reading frames for the mummy and around 100 defective genes for the 1000 year old sample. Sandford has a heap of money I would have thought you could persuade him to test this.

    There would be less detrimental mutations, but determining how many then vs. now would be impossible given current technology since we are currently unable to identify very many near-neutral mutations in humans… even though we know they exist by other means.

    On of the characteristics of Mortons Demon is that it does not allow you to openly search for new information so I suspect that both you and he would not be keen on doing the science. It easier and safer to do the modelling complete with all it assumptions about the proper variables.

    Oh please. You have your own Morton’s Demon that blinds you to the implications of very relevant data due to your own pre-existing paradigm. We all have our own blinders on. It is best when we can at least acknowledge the fact that those who disagree with us or question our ideas aren’t the only one’s subject to personal bias and the potential to be blind to evidence.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  22. Sean Pitman: This form of “speciation” may involve a situation where the exact same gene pool options are divided into two isolated groups, which then mutate independently at that point over time. Of course, I’m not talking about this type of genetic isolation. I’m talking about isolating certain specific phenotypes (and their unique underlying genotypes of course) from the original gene pool of phenotypic options – as in the isolation of various unique breeds of dog using selective breeding out from the original parental gene pool (a gene pool which has more numerous phenotypic options that does the particular selection of options that comprise a particular breed of dog). [more commentary on artificial selection in dogs followed this…]

    I don’t need a primer on allopatric speciation (I’ve taught general biology for umpteen years), but I’m pleased to see you’re up to speed on it. You can dismiss it for your purposes, but in doing so you completely ignore the key driver of diversification: natural selection. And your example of dog breeds illustrates your neglect further: there is no natural selection to balance the acculumulation of deleterious mutations.

    If you would get beyond your high-school textbook, perhaps you’d pick up on a few of these concepts?

    Couldn’t resist, could you?

    At the tertiary level, we deal with organisms subject to natural selection rather than hand-feeding, heavy petting, protective fencing, grooming, leashes, and capricious decisions about who gets to breed and who does not.

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  23. Pauluc: [@ Sean Pitman] I am sceptical of mathematical predictions and models which is really the basis of your and Sandfords predictions.

    I heartily agree, Pauluc. Sean has a penchant for finding simplified models to support his notions and then goes over the top in applying them to real life. Mathematical models of the real world have three ideal properties: they can be simple, general, and realistic. As you surely recognize, any given model can, at best, satisfy only two of these three properties.

    As you also recognize, the effects of mutations often depend on the presence or absence of other mutations; the environment; the size and structure of the population, which can severely limit the ability of selection to discriminate among the “good,” “bad,” and “indifferent” mutations; and the fate of other mutations that have more pronounced effects and are in close proximity on the same chromosome. To help us get a better grasp on this complexity, theoreticians generally divide the parameter space of their models into smaller regions, and rely on simplifying assumptions that narrow applicability. Sean’s selective use of models from the literature does not and cannot encompass all of this complexity. The biggest unknowns, of course, are going to be the epistatic interactions across the entire genome and the specific dynamics of the environment (the exact nature of selective forces). The models Sean has latched on to do not and cannot at this point accommodate such complexity.

    Of course, none of this really matters because, for Sean, the conclusion drives his interpretation of science. Nothing productive is going to come out of this conversation we are having with the guy, but I do appreciate your suggestions past and recent about actually doing some prospective research using ancient DNA. If creationists (a camp I put myself within, but freely acknowledge our limited understanding) are serious about gaining respect, they need to stop investing inordinate–and I mean inordinate–hours rehashing and arguing and debating old data and actually go out and generate new data.

    I admire the very few creationists who do real science, particularly those at Loma Linda University who actually generate and publish real data (kudos to them). However, I suspect that those who fail to engage all aspects of the scientific method (i.e. conduct original research) on a regular basis, which should always invoke careful introspection as to how one’s views affect one’s analyses and interpretations, are going to be those most prone to Morton’s Demon.

    God Bless,
    Professor Kent
    Professing Christ until the whole world hears

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  24. @Professor Kent:

    At the tertiary level, we deal with organisms subject to natural selection rather than hand-feeding, heavy petting, protective fencing, grooming, leashes, and capricious decisions about who gets to breed and who does not.

    Of course. Natural selection is only worried about reproductive fitness; not how cute a lapdog may look to his/her owner. Obviously many breeds of dog would not survive very long in the wild. Because of the limits humans have put on natural selection during the course of dog breeding, there is no doubt that detrimental mutations have increased as a result in the gene pools of many breeds. The same thing is true of modern medicine and our ability to keep people alive who would otherwise have died before being able to reproduce.

    The fact remains, however, that even when natural selection is given full powers of selection, without intelligent interference with the natural course of things, creatures like humans and apes and elephants, etc., reproduce far too slowly for natural selection to keep up with the very rapid rate that detrimental mutations enter the gene pools of such slowly reproducing creatures in every generation. There really is no currently known way to explain this problem from the perspective of the modern synthetic theory of evolution. However, this problem is explained rather neatly by the Biblical model of origins.

    I know you don’t like the fact that empirical evidence exists to support a rational faith in the credibility of the Bible, but the fact remains that such evidence, powerful evidence that appeals to rational intelligent candid scientific minds, does in fact exist.

    The effects of mutations often depend on the presence or absence of other mutations; the environment; the size and structure of the population, which can severely limit the ability of selection to discriminate among the “good,” “bad,” and “indifferent” mutations; and the fate of other mutations that have more pronounced effects and are in close proximity on the same chromosome. To help us get a better grasp on this complexity, theoreticians generally divide the parameter space of their models into smaller regions, and rely on simplifying assumptions that narrow applicability. Sean’s selective use of models from the literature does not and cannot encompass all of this complexity. The biggest unknowns, of course, are going to be the epistatic interactions across the entire genome and the specific dynamics of the environment (the exact nature of selective forces). The models Sean has latched on to do not and cannot at this point accommodate such complexity.

    Epistatic interactions (the effects of a given mutation modified by other mutations) are irrelevant to the problem at hand – as are your arguments as to the nature of the environment and the presence of other mutations.

    The minimum possible detrimental mutation rate remains essentially the same regardless of environment or environmental changes over time. In other words, the detrimental mutation rate cannot be reduced to zero nor can the number of prior detrimental mutations be reversed to any significant degree regardless of any kind of environmental change. Of course, a change in the environment might result in a previously detrimental mutation becoming beneficial. However, the same is true of previously beneficial mutations becoming detrimental. Statistically, these possibilities cancel each other out so that there is no net effect one way or the other.

    Epistatic interactions or non-interactions also have little effect on the basic problem. If there is positive epistasis so that the effects of multiple detrimental mutations are multiplicative instead of additive, all that happens is that the threshold of genetic meltdown is reached sooner rather than later. The fact that a slowly reproducing gene pool is still headed downhill is not affected by various forms of epistasis. Extinction will still be realized sooner or later either way. Also, the notion that multiple detrimental mutations will cancel each other out isn’t a valid assumption. There are of course rare examples (I published a paper detailing how two normally detrimental mutations did in fact cancel each other out), but this is the very rare exception, not the rule.

    The fact that mutations with more pronounced effects can be more easily detected and eliminated by natural selection does not solve the problem either since even if all individuals with strong or weakly detrimental mutations were immediately eliminated before reproduction, the death rate needed to achieve this feat would be far greater than the human reproductive rate is able to achieve.

    So, we’re back to square one since none of your counters work individually or collectively to substantively address the problem. This really isn’t very complicated. The data is clear and the implications are straightforward. The standard arguments of evolutionists fall flat in that they don’t actually solve this particular problem by a long shot – a problem that is fundamental to the entire modern theory of evolution.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  25. Are you in the “Lion’s den”, Sean?

    Daniel had his own problems, but not unlike yours, it is with those who would destroy a knowledge of the true God.

    Remember the Lion is Satan, “seeking whom he may devour.” But he uses human instrumentalities today just as he has in the past.

    Even if we were able to present the truth in its perfection and purity, we could not persuade everyone of its validity. Jesus couldn’t, neither can we. But like Paul, we can “by all means, save some.”

    Bill Sorensen

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  26. @Bill Sorensen:

    Are you in the “Lion’s den”, Sean?

    It’s more like a den of kittens who think they are lions 😉

    I’m sure we all hope we are on God’s side. This isn’t at all personal for me. I’m just hoping to share the good news as a small part of an organization that is devoted to spreading the Gospel Message of hope. We all have a lot to learn and God will make the truth of his Word clear in His own way and time to those who are open to hear Him.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  27. @ Sean Pitman,

    Your term, “slowly-reproducing,” is ambiguous, since the relevant time frame is with respect to generation time. Assuming you are speaking of relatively few offspring produced in an individual’s lifetime (k-selected as opposed to r-selected species), you could examine your theory by comparing species having similar progeny-per-generation but highly disparate longevities. Surely you could compare, for example, the genetic load of mutations between a “slowly-reproducing” bat or rodent with a short lifespan versus a much larger mammal mammal with a long lifespan. Since you claim that one can actually measure the detrimental mutation load well enough to identify when it is near or approaching complete meltdown, you could use this approach to test the hypothesis that species with the short lifespan are much closer to suffering extinction than those that have a long lifespan. Have some chutzpah. Put your theory to a test.

    This is just a suggestion; I’m not engaging this further.

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  28. Sean Pitman: Epistatic interactions (the effects of a given mutation modified by other mutations) are irrelevant to the problem at hand – as are your arguments as to the nature of the environment and the presence of other mutations.

    If you don’t think the environment or epistatic interactions are relevant, then you’ll have much difficulty deciding whether a given mutation is deleterious, neutral, or beneficial, and you won’t have a clue how strong selection is on it. I suggest you read the April 2010 issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Don’t bother if your mind is already made up.

    Sean Pitman: “This problem is explained rather neatly by the Biblical model of origins.”

    Where does the Bible tell us that animals accumulate deleterious mutations faster than selection, recombination, and other mechanisms can overcome them? Where does the Bible tell us that lineages have a finite lifetime limited by their genes?

    Sean Pitman: The data is clear and the implications are straightforward. The standard arguments of evolutionists fall flat in that they don’t actually solve this particular problem by a long shot – a problem that is fundamental to the entire modern theory of evolution.

    There’s no point in arguing further with established fact, so I’ll desist. Congratulations, Sean, on elucidating and solving yet one more riddle that 99.5% of the world’s scientists have completely overlooked or denied. I’m gaining a clearer understanding why you are unwilling to take God at his word and prefer to rely, instead, on your own extraordinary reason and intellect. Clearly, God needs you to save the world from disbelief.

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  29. Sean Pitman: I know you don’t like the fact that empirical evidence exists to support a rational faith in the credibility of the Bible.

    This is a bizarre and completely misguided attribution, but it does raise an interesting contrast and an important question germane to how the Church relates to origins:

    Sean Pitman: “I, personally, would have to go with what I saw as the weight of empirical evidence. 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…”

    God: “Be still, and know that I am God.

    My question: Does God want us to “know” Him by finding physical evidence to prove his existence, or through a personal relationship? Is either one alone sufficient for salvation?

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  30. Bill Sorensen: Are you in the “Lion’s den”, Sean?

    It’s more like a den of kittens who think they are lions.

    I’m sure we all hope we are on God’s side. This isn’t at all personal for me. I’m just hoping to share the good news as a small part of an organization that is devoted to spreading the Gospel Message of hope. We all have a lot to learn and God will make the truth of his Word clear in His own way and time to those who are open to hear Him.

    Sean Pitman

    Sean, I guess I am not much for “bickering” about the scientific issues like some are. I also know that God gives “evidence” to support His word that helps us build faith in the bible.

    None the less, I think you know all the scientific “evidence” we can produce will not “prove” that the God of the bible created “the heavens and the earth.”

    In the end, we may even persuade people of ID. But that is not necessarily the God of the bible. So, how can we “prove” the God of the bible is the creator?

    You know I have opted for the compelling evidence of prophecy. If the God of the bible can predict so accurately so many details of the future, and then claim He is the creator, we would do well to listen carefully what He says about many things.

    The new testament writers especially appeal to prophetic utterances as their main support concerning all their testimonies. So Peter tells us of his experience with Christ, and then concludes, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed…….”

    So, his personal testimony is valid, but he puts forth as the ultimate validity the prophecies of scripture. And all the other bible writers do the same, even Jesus Himself. “If they believe not Moses and the prophets, then neither will they believe though one rose from the dead.”

    What a statement! That is why in this context, the bible is self validating and needs no outside validation. Even if some physical realities can be shown to be in harmony with the biblical affirmations.

    When Jesus healed the crippled man, he walked. Is this validation of Jesus power to heal? Of course it is. Does this in and of itself “prove” Jesus is the Messiah?

    NO. Miracles can be emulated and even performed by Satan. But when Jesus predicts the future with certainty and accuracy, no one can gain say what has happened nor undo the facts.

    I have learned in giving bible studies that you can “over prove” your point beyond a necessity. Often times, the obvious needs no added commentary. The bible speaks for itself.

    At the present time, much of Adventism is falling all over themselves to affirm the biblical creation account. The new president, 3ABN, Amazing Facts, Amazing Discoveries, and a host of evangelists feel called to spend a great deal of time defending creation and the SDA position.

    As the saying goes, “Me thinks you protest too much.” After all, the biblical account of creation is obvious is needs little or no explanation. Either you believe it, or, you don’t. And this goes for the whole bible, doesn’t it? And it goes for bible Adventism too, doesn’t it? Either you believe it, or you don’t?

    Well, I am not against evidence. But I think honest discussion can eventually turn into “bickering” that is less than productive.

    Bill Sorensen

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  31. @Bill Sorensen:

    So, his personal testimony is valid, but he puts forth as the ultimate validity the prophecies of scripture. And all the other bible writers do the same, even Jesus Himself. “If they believe not Moses and the prophets, then neither will they believe though one rose from the dead.”

    I’m a big fan of pointing to fulfilled prophecy as empirically-verifiable evidence of the Divine origin of the Bible. All such evidences should be used as a basis for “the reason for the hope that is in us”. After all, we are told to “Be prepaired to give a reason for the hope that is in you.” I think such evidences are very good reasons.

    What a statement! That is why in this context, the bible is self validating and needs no outside validation. Even if some physical realities can be shown to be in harmony with the biblical affirmations.

    The Bible is not “self-validating” since nothing can validate itself. Fulfilled prophecy is based on external empirical realities that can be investigated and determine to match the historical claims of the Bible. Other books make prophetic claims as well. The only problem here is that when one investigates these claims against empirical reality, these prophecies are largely falsified. The superior credibility of the Bible is based on the realization that the Bible’s prophetic claims actually match up very well with external empirical reality.

    It is for this reason that your claim of “self-authentication” is not a rational argument. The claims of any text about empirical reality must be compared against actual empirical reality that exists outside of the claims of the text itself to see if the text accurately reflects reality. If it does, it gains credibility. If it does not, it loses credibility.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  32. @Professor Kent:

    My question: Does God want us to “know” Him by finding physical evidence to prove his existence, or through a personal relationship? Is either one alone sufficient for salvation?

    How can you have a real “relationship” with someone who never interacts in a detectable way with the empirical world outside of your own mind? – or with someone who says things about the empirical world that are apparently false according to everything God has given us to determine fiction from reality? How is your God better than an imaginary friend that you just made up in your own mind to make you feel better about things? How do you know your God exists outside of your own mind or has any practical value to anyone besides yourself?

    Every time I ask you this question, and you actually respond, you list off several empirically-based evidences of God’s existence… evidence that exist independent of your own mind in the empirical world.

    You see, it simply makes no sense to argue that one can have a real relationship with God that gives a solid hope in the reality of a bright future without any appeal to God’s detectable interaction with you through your physical senses – without any effect on the empirical world.

    At least that’s true for me. If it’s not true for you, that’s great for you. But, how do you share a God that only speaks to you in your own mind with others who have not experienced what you’ve experienced?

    There needs to be some universal source where all who are honest and have access to intelligent minds can recognize the voice of God. That source is empirical reality which is the same for all of us and which clearly shows the fingerprints of God in nature and in the written Word.

    Now, I’m not saying a personal experience with God, to include a personal prayer life and personal answers to prayer are not important. These evidences are very important, but they are also supported by empirical reality as is the case for any real relationship that humans may enjoy.

    For example, if your wife never did anything in response to your conversations or requests which changed your empirical reality in a detectable way, how would she be different than an imaginary friend? The same is true for a true relationship with God.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  33. @Professor Kent:

    If you don’t think the environment or epistatic interactions are relevant, then you’ll have much difficulty deciding whether a given mutation is deleterious, neutral, or beneficial, and you won’t have a clue how strong selection is on it.

    As I’ve already explained to you, when it comes to addressing the downhill direction of a slowly reproducing population over time, it doesn’t matter how strong selection is or isn’t on a given detrimental mutation or if multiple mutations have addative or multiplicative effects. The downhill slope angle for the decline of genomic quality may be modified, but the fact that all the various potential epistatic possibilities still end up with a gene pool that is going downhill remains true.

    You see, statistically, the direction of all forms of epistatic interactions is still a downhill trend for the quality of the gene pool as a whole. The only difference various forms of epistatis make for slowly reproducing creatures is in the time till extinction. That’s it. The fact that extinction is eventually inevitable for slowly reproducing creatures is not affected regardless of the epistatic effects in play.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  34. @Professor Kent:

    Your term, “slowly-reproducing,” is ambiguous, since the relevant time frame is with respect to generation time.

    Relevant to what? The generation time is essentially irrelevant when it comes to the effect that the powers of natural selection may have on the formation of a gene pool. How is the generation time going to matter if the reproductive rate of an individual is very low? How is the generation time going to change anything for natural selection?

    You see, the powers of natural selection are based on the ability to preferentially cause the premature death of less fit individuals in a population before they are able to reproduce. Therefore, in order for natural selection to be effective at all, the reproductive rate has to be greater than the replacement rate in a given population.

    In other words, if two parents have children, they will need to produce at least two offsrping to maintain the population. However, if all parents in the population only produce two offspring, there is nothing with which natural selection can work since all of the offspring will be needed to reproduce the next generation. None are left over for natural selection to eliminate before they are able to reproduce. So, in order for natural selection to come into play at all, the parent generation must produce more than two offspring per couple on average.

    Of course, in real life, there are various ways that an individual may die before reproduction that are unrelated to the individuals genetic “fitness” – such as a random car accident. This means, of course, that if natural selection is to have any part to play in the shaping of a gene pool that the average individual reproductive rate must be substantially greater than the replacement reproductive rate… and that’s just for natural selection to have any role to play at all.

    Now, if you want natural selection to also be able to deal with the detrimental mutation rate so that the genomic quality does not go downhill over time, you have to dramatically increase the average individual reproductive rate to match the death rate that would be needed to effectively remove all of the detrimental mutations as fast as they are entering the gene pool. And, this minimum required reproductive rate can be mathematically determined.

    You see, the minimum required reproductive rate needed to avoid eventual genetic meltdown isn’t “ambiguous” at all.

    Assuming you are speaking of relatively few offspring produced in an individual’s lifetime (k-selected as opposed to r-selected species), you could examine your theory by comparing species having similar progeny-per-generation but highly disparate longevities. Surely you could compare, for example, the genetic load of mutations between a “slowly-reproducing” bat or rodent with a short lifespan versus a much larger mammal with a long lifespan.

    How would this be relevant since one doesn’t know what the starting life span was for different types of animals? Also, the actual life span is not necessarily related to the build-up of near neutral detrimental mutations until a threshold level is reached.

    So, again, I fail to see how this suggestion is of any practical value?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  35. Sean Pitman: The generation time is essentially irrelevant when it comes to the effect that the powers of natural selection may have on the formation of a gene pool. How is the generation time going to matter if the reproductive rate of an individual is very low? How is the generation time going to change anything for natural selection?

    Which of the following two species “reproduces” faster? Which will yield a larger population after 100 years? And which will be able to respond faster to a changing environment?

    Species A – produces 3 progeny per generation and has a mean generation time of 2 years. (You get a minimum of 50 generations in 100 years; the exact number depends on the extent, if any, that generations overlap.)

    Species B – produces 3 progeny per generation and has a mean generation time of 20 years. (You get a minimum of 5 generations in 100 years; again, the exact number depends on the extent, if any, that generations overlap.)

    Obviously, species B has “slower” reproduction over a finite period of time (say, 100 years), but as I suggested, what you are probably referring to as “slowly reproducing” is number of progeny per individual or generation, which would make species A and B equal. Again, your usage of “slowly reproducing” is ambiguous.

    Now which gene pool do you think can respond more quickly to a changing environment? A or B? If you have a 10 year drought, which gene pool is likely to be hit harder and which is more likely to emerge with a changed gene pool? Do you seriously believe generation time is irrelevant to natural selection?

    Research on deleterious mutations has FAR outpaced research on beneficial mutations, and we have MUCH to learn about the latter. Again, your simplistic mathematical models focussed on deleterious mutations do not take into consideration a realistic understanding of how natural selection works. The more you write, the more I question your overall understanding of natural selection.

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  36. @Professor Kent:

    Obviously, species B has “slower” reproduction over a finite period of time (say, 100 years), but as I suggested, what you are probably referring to as “slowly reproducing” is number of progeny per individual or generation, which would make species A and B equal. Again, your usage of “slowly reproducing” is ambiguous.

    I’ve not been ambiguous at all. I’ve specifically defined the reproductive rate I’m talking about several times in this thread as the number of offspring an individual can produce per generation.

    The generation time itself is largely irrelevant to the problem of natural selection effectively removing detrimental mutations from the gene pool – as already explained above. The same is true for various forms of epistasis that you’ve also suggested as a potential solution to this problem (as noted in the illustration below):

    Epistasis

    Now which gene pool do you think can respond more quickly to a changing environment? A or B? If you have a 10 year drought, which gene pool is likely to be hit harder and which is more likely to emerge with a changed gene pool? Do you seriously believe generation time is irrelevant to natural selection?

    You’re not understanding the problem in play here. Your scenario has nothing to do with dealing with an increasing detrimental mutation load with each generation. It doesn’t matter what the generation time is or what environmental factors are in play. The detrimental mutation rate will increase faster than the load of detrimental mutations can be eliminated by natural selection as long as the individual reproductive rate, per generation, is too slow to keep up with the death rate that is required by natural selection to effectively eliminate the detrimental mutation load for that generation.

    Research on deleterious mutations has FAR outpaced research on beneficial mutations, and we have MUCH to learn about the latter.

    Now this is interesting – and would solve the problem nicely if it were actually true that the beneficial mutations occur rapidly enough to offset the detrimental mutations that enter a gene pool. But, do you have any evidence that the beneficial mutation rate is remotely able to compensate for the detrimental mutation rate? As far as I’m aware it is quite clear that the detrimental mutation rate so far outpaces the beneficial mutation rate that there really is no comparison. If you know better, by all means present your evidence. Otherwise, you’re just blowing smoke.

    Aruging that future discoveries my falsify my hypothesis is certainly possible, but it isn’t science until you actually have such data in hand.

    Again, your simplistic mathematical models focussed on deleterious mutations do not take into consideration a realistic understanding of how natural selection works. The more you write, the more I question your overall understanding of natural selection.

    Please do explain to me how natural selection works contrary to anything I’ve said? – using actual data that is currently known. How do any of your arguments actually address the problem of the detrimental mutatation rate in creatures that only produce a handful of offspring per generation?

    So why can’t you show me some evidence that species similar to species A are closer to approaching genetic meltdown than species similar to species B?

    How does the generation time have anything at all to do with the load of near-neutral detrimental mutations in a gene pool? – or how close or how far away a gene pool is from the threshold level of detrimental mutations necessary to trigger genetic meltdown? I fail to see any significant relationship…

    The amount of time a particular species lives before reproducing has little to do with how effective natural selection may or may not be at removing detrimental mutations from that particular gene pool over a given number of generations. What really matters is the death rate that is required to keep up with the detrimental mutation rate over an extended period of time (regardless of if the environment changes or not). Surviving a sudden change in the environment is essentially irrelevant to how many near-neutral detrimental mutations also survived as well.

    Sure, in your scenario “Species A”, having a shorter generation time, will be more likely able to quickly adapt to a new environment. But what does this have to do with the elimination of the genomic load of detrimental mutations? Nothing! Nothing at all.

    You do realize also that the detrimental mutation rate is largely independent of the generation time? – that the essentially the same number of mutations hit creatures with long generation times as they do those with short generation times? In other words, creatures with shorter generation times have correspondingly higher mutation rates over a given span of time. That means that the per generation mutation rates are fairly similar between species with both long and short generation times (at least similar enough for the purposes of this particular discussion).

    http://www.tempoandmode.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/thomasgtinvertmbe10.pdf

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  37. Sean, I guess it depends on what you would define as “self validating”.

    If a man has a thousand employees who don’t know who their boss is, and he comes into the room and says, “I’m the owner and boss of this company.”

    Someone might say, “I don’t believe it.”

    So the boss says, “You’re fired.”

    When the individual does not get a check the next pay period, he can be sure by the evidence of no check, that he is truly fired and the man who said so, is so.

    For me, this is “self validating.” Is there any evidence? Yes. He gets no check. But the boss validated himself when he claimed the authority for the action.

    In fact, the evidence only proves the point. Just so, God claims who He is in the bible and then gives evidence to affirm His declaration.

    I call this self validation. No one can declare who God is or His authority except God Himself. And when He reveals Himself to prophets and spokes persons, they can only point out what He has said about Himself and what He can and will do.

    Thus, we agree with EGW who rightly said, “The only religion that can lead to God, is the one that comes from God.”

    To you, the evidence God reveals, does not agree with the idea of self validation. But I say, “If God is the one who gives the evidence, then it is most certainly self validation.”

    And in my opinion, this applies equally to the principle of the bible and its authority and self affirmation of the same. In the end, in some areas at least, God can and will say, “It is so, because I said so.”

    So I am not against evidence, as long as it is not used to deny God’s self validation of Himself, who He is, and all that pretains to the biblical revelation.

    Hopefully, we are not simply into “word games” as seems apparent in some of the ongoing dialogue.

    Bill Sorensen

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  38. Sean Pitman: I know you don’t like the
    fact that empirical evidence exists to support a rational faith in the credibility of the Bible.

    Thus – believe in evolutionism would totally destroy Christian faith for the individual – as Darwin points out, as Dawkins and Provine and Meyer point out – and as Ellen White points out in 3SG 90-91.

    Essentially “stating the obvious”.

    But then we get this story in the form of facade from Kent –

    Professor Kent:
    This is a bizarre and completely misguided attribution, but it does raise an interesting contrast and an important question germane to how the Church relates to origins:
    Sean Pitman: “I, personally, would have to go with what I saw as the weight of empirical evidence. 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…”

    God: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
    My question: Does God want us to “know” Him by finding physical evidence to prove his existence, or through a personal relationship? Is either one alone sufficient for salvation?

    And of course that nice story above works just fine until you recall just how far Kent was willing to state his case “in absentia” when it comes to the Romans 1 argument in favor of Intelligent Design.

    In Romans 1 we are told that “they are without excuse” (even among the pagans) who “pretend” not to see the “invisible attributes of God” clearly seen “in the things that have been made”.

    Where was Kent when it was time to stand behind the Bible on the subject of ID – when his friends and associates over at the big-left-tent chose to assail that Bible point both here and at that other board?

    Did he “stand up to them” as he is trying to do with Sean in the supposed case he makes above?

    Sadly – the history of posts in fact do not show any such thing to back up Kent’s story above.

    None at all.

    How sad.

    How instructive for the unbiased objective reader.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  39. Sean Pitman: But, do you have any evidence that the beneficial mutation rate is remotely able to compensate for the detrimental mutation rate? As far as I’m aware it is quite clear that the detrimental mutation rate so far outpaces the beneficial mutation rate that there really is no comparison. If you know better, by all means present your evidence.

    Now we’ve come full circle. I already showed you specific examples in which selection overcame deleterious mutations in slowly-reproducing mammals, including the conclusion of Hagenblad et al. 2009, based on real data from nature (rather than your mathematical mumbo jumbo): “For markers on chromosome 23, the signal of selection was particularly strong, indicating that purifying selection against deleterious alleles may have occurred even in this very small population.” You dismiss all such studies, just as you dismiss everything else that doesn’t suit your notions or purposes. You asked for empirical evidence; what more do you want? Never mind…I don’t give a rat’s hairy behind.

    Sean Pitman: Sure, in your scenario “Species A”, having a shorter generation time, will be more likely able to quickly adapt to a new environment. But what does this have to do with the elimination of the genomic load of detrimental mutations? Nothing! Nothing at all.

    If detrimental mutations are completely, irrevocably protected from selection, then you are right. You insist that selection cannot overcome the accumulation of deleterious mutations, but obviously your claim depends on the strength of selection. You’ve now conceded that generation time is indeed relevant to the strength of selection, but you still refuse to connect the dots.

    I’ve tired of this discussion, and I’m finished with it. There’s no point in continuing if we are going to go in circles.

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  40. @Professor Kent:

    Sean Pitman: But, do you have any evidence that the beneficial mutation rate is remotely able to compensate for the detrimental mutation rate? As far as I’m aware it is quite clear that the detrimental mutation rate so far outpaces the beneficial mutation rate that there really is no comparison. If you know better, by all means present your evidence.

    Prof. Kent: Now we’ve come full circle. I already showed you specific examples in which selection overcame deleterious mutations in slowly-reproducing mammals, including the conclusion of Hagenblad et al. 2009, based on real data from nature (rather than your mathematical mumbo jumbo): “For markers on chromosome 23, the signal of selection was particularly strong, indicating that purifying selection against deleterious alleles may have occurred even in this very small population.” You dismiss all such studies, just as you dismiss everything else that doesn’t suit your notions or purposes. You asked for empirical evidence; what more do you want? Never mind…I don’t give a rat’s hairy behind.

    Come on now. All this study points out is that beneficial mutations do happen. That’s obviously true. I’ve never said otherwise. Beneficial mutations, in the form of reversion mutations, compensatory mutations, truly novel beneficial mutations, and the like do actually happen and are selectable, in a positive manner, by natural selection.

    The problem, of course, is that the rate of beneficial mutations is far far less than the rate of detrimental mutations. None of your examples say anything about the rate of beneficial mutations vs. detrimental mutations – especially when it comes to near-neutral mutations.

    In real life, the detrimental mutation rate swamps the beneficial mutation rate – to the point where the beneficial mutation rate is effectively irrelevant when it comes to the overall effect on the quality of the gene pool over time.

    If detrimental mutations are completely, irrevocably protected from selection, then you are right. You insist that selection cannot overcome the accumulation of deleterious mutations, but obviously your claim depends on the strength of selection. You’ve now conceded that generation time is indeed relevant to the strength of selection, but you still refuse to connect the dots.

    Detrimental mutations are not protected from natural selection – by defintion (except of course for near-neutral mutations which are protected, but only for a while until a threshold level of them is realized). Natural selection always acts, ultimately, against detrimental mutations. However, natural selection needs an excess in offspring, per generation, beyond what is needed to maintain the population’s size, in order to act over time without destroying the population itself and driving it into extinction.

    What you’ve yet to understand is that the ability of natural selection to act against detrimental mutations doesn’t solve the problem for creatures that don’t produce very many offspring per generation.

    You also don’t yet understand that the strength of natural selection doesn’t affect this particular problem at all – not at all. The strength of selection is entirely irrelevant when it comes to trying to solve the problem we’re discussing. You see, it doesn’t matter if natural selection is very strong or very weak as it acts against detrimental mutations.

    For example, lets say that natural selection was extremely strong in a given environment, able to detect and eliminate every single detrimental mutation as soon as a detrimental mutation strikes any individual in a population. What would such strong powers of natural selection do to the population? Well, it depends on the rate of detrimental mutations compared to potential rate of offspring production. If the average detrimental mutation rate were 3 mutations per individual per generation (U=3), that would mean that in every generation 95% of all offspring would have at least one detrimental mutation and would be eliminted before reproduction by a strongly-selective process.

    What does a 95% death rate before reproduction suggest to you? What it suggests to me is that if the gene pool is to stay functionally neutral the average reproductive rate per female is going to have to be more than 40 offspring in order for two to survive the culling process of natural selection and reproduce the next generation. Otherwise, the population size would shrink in every generation until the population went extinct.

    As it turns out, the detrimental mutation rate for humans is over 5 (some suggest that U is really greater than 10 or even greater than 30 given the newly discovered functionality of what was once thought to be “junk-DNA” in the human genome). The death rate for U=5 would be ~99.5% – suggesting a required per female reproductive rate of greater than 292 offspring per generation to stay afloat and avoid population meltdown.

    Now, if you weaken the force of natural selection, all you do is allow for more detrimental mutations to build up in the gene pool until a threshold level is reached whereby natural selection is forced to act against them at essentially the same death rate. You see, lowering the force of natural selection simply puts off the inevitable genetic meltdown for creatures that cannot produce very many offspring per generation.

    I’ve tired of this discussion, and I’m finished with it. There’s no point in continuing if we are going to go in circles.

    We’re only going in circles because you really don’t understand the problem yet. You still don’t understand that environmental changes and changes in generation times, while they do have the power to affect the action of natural selection as you point out, do not have the power to solve the problem of detrimental mutations building up over time in the genomes of creatures that only produce a few offspring per generation. Not until you do understand this will we stop moving around in circles. But, I’m not holding my breath…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  41. @Bill Sorensen:

    Sean, I guess it depends on what you would define as “self validating”.

    For most people, the phrase “self-validating” means that there is no reference to anything outside of one’s self. No external evidence is needed to accept the claims of the individual or text. All that is needed is a reference to the internal claims of the individual or text claiming authority.

    Your appeals to prophecy are a form of external validation of the claims of the Bible since they are an appeal to something external to the Bible itself – i.e., real history. The same thing is true for my reference to other forms of empirical evidence to validate the claims of the Bible – such as the Biblical claims concerning God’s creative acts and our ability to recognize His Signature in nature. There is no difference here. Your argument that prophecy is “internal validation” while appeals, like mine, to various features of design in nature (like the functional complexities of living things or of the inanimate universe itself) are somehow inappropriate because they are “external” doesn’t make sense either. Both forms of argument reference evidences that are external to the Bible to give the claims of the Bible credibility.

    Your argument that because an individual can verify his/own claim by referencing or even generating various forms of imperical evidence is not the same thing as “self-validation” either. Reference to anything outside of one’s self-contained claim is open to the potential of testing and falsification. That’s the risk of making claims regarding the empirical world that can actually be investigated, tested, and potentially proved to be wrong. This is what science is all about.

    And, if you realize it or not, you are using a form of scientific reasoning to uphold the credibility of the Bible in your own reference to the credibility of Biblical prophecy. In other words, your arguments have the potential to be proved wrong – to be effectively falsified.

    This is only possible, of course, because the Bible is not “self-authenticating”. It opens itself up for the theorectical potential of testing and even falsification…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  42. Sean said……

    “For most people, the phrase “self-validating” means that there is no reference to anything outside of one’s self. No external evidence is needed to accept the claims of the individual or text.”

    Well, Sean, I would have a hard time believing anyone would subscribe to the definition you have stated in the context of “self validation”.

    I would say it means the person who made any claim was the one who proved it. And I think it is the only rational explanation of what “self validation” could possibly mean.

    If God said, “I am God and there is no other”, what good would it do for someone else to agree with Him with no evidence of the fact?

    But, if God says, “I am God…..” and then proceeds to give evidence of His self pro-claimed statement, this can only be called “self-validation”.

    We could ask, “Did God Himself give the evidence, or was it some other source?”

    The answer is “God Himself gave the evidence.” And this same principle applies to the bible as well. For it is the word of God according to His own testimony.

    So, I still claim most of this bickering discussion is more related to “word games” than any substancial dialogue.

    Does Professor Kent think that God simply points to Himself and says,”I am God, now believe it?” Only a fool would believe it. For Satan could equally say the same thing. Or you or me, for that matter. So if this is what Kent believes true Christanity is about or even bible Adventism, he is way off the mark.

    So, Professor Kent, is this what you believe that SDA’s believe and teach? And is it what you personally believe yourself? If so, I’ll assure you there is no “blind faith” in bible Adventism.

    God gives many “evidences” that are not beyond doubt or unbelief by someone who wishes to doubt. There is no scientific “proof” that God created anything. If this is the point you want to make, then I personally would agree.

    Proof and evidence are not always exactly one and the same thing. Especially in spiritual matters.

    Hope everyone one has a nice Sabbath experience in the Lord.

    Bill Sorensen

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  43. @Bill Sorensen:

    Well, Sean, I would have a hard time believing anyone would subscribe to the definition you have stated in the context of “self validation”.

    A dictionary definition of “self validation” is:

    “Requiring no external confirmation, sanction, or validation.”

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/self-validating

    While I think I now understand what you are trying to say, your usage of this term has been especially confusing to me since you have argued that prophecy is used by the Bible as a form of “self validation” while you dismiss other forms of empirical evidence which are also consistent with the claims of the Bible. You seem to be contradicting yourself besides using terms in ways that few others use them in my own experience.

    If God said, “I am God and there is no other”, what good would it do for someone else to agree with Him with no evidence of the fact?

    Exactly, but this is what those like Phil Brantley and Prof. Kent are suggesting – that God’s Word can be accepted at face value, based solely on the self-declared claim to be the Word of God, without any appeal to empirical evidence whatsoever. In fact, according to Brantley, even if all available empirical evidence were in apparent conflict with the claims of the Bible, one should still believe the Bible based on faith alone since the Bible is not to be subjected to any tests or verification of any of its claims about anything.

    But, if God says, “I am God…..” and then proceeds to give evidence of His self pro-claimed statement, this can only be called “self-validation”.

    An appeal to “evidence” that exists outside of one’s self, even if that evidence is apparently generated by one’s self, is still an appeal to something that exists outside of one’s self that all can examine independently to see if the evidence really does or does not support the claim. In other words, the evidence has its own separate existence that is independent of the claims of an individual or a text. It is for this reason that such independent evidence can be used to validate the claims of an individual or text concerning such evidence.

    Does Professor Kent think that God simply points to Himself and says,”I am God, now believe it?” Only a fool would believe it.

    That is exactly what Phil Brantley has said and Prof. Kent fully supports Phil Brantley whenever he has made such claims in this and other forums. While both admit that there may be evidence in support of the Bible’s claims, Brantley in particular argues that an appeal to such evidence is not needed since faith alone is sufficient to support the Bible’s claims to Divine origin.

    For Satan could equally say the same thing. Or you or me, for that matter. So if this is what Kent believes true Christanity is about or even bible Adventism, he is way off the mark.

    Indeed…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  44. Sean said…….

    “A dictionary definition of “self validation” is:

    “Requiring no external confirmation, sanction, or validation.”

    Sean, this does not necessarily say that it is against an individual saying and validating any given statement.

    The “external confirmation” can simply mean no outside source is claiming to support the affirmation. That is, no one is agreeing and proving any given statement except the person making the statement.

    If a man says “I can lift a ton of weight”, and no one agrees, or affirms his claim, he may actually lift the amount he claimed he could and in this, he “self validates” his own claim.

    And this is in agreement with the dictionary definition. Since God Himself and only God Himself could validate His own claim, how could you possibly deny it is “self validation” even by way of the dictionary definition?

    You interpret it to mean no evidence at all on any level. I don’t think this is what it means or how the dictionary meant it to be understood.

    If I say to you “John Brown is dead.” and you say, “I don’t believe it”, then the undertaker affirms my statement and shows the body, this is not “self validation” on my part.

    But if I say, “John Brown is dead” and you say, “I don’t believe it” and then I personally show you the body, this is “self validation” of my statement without any outside affirmation.

    So, I still think much of the argument is less than productive. God and the bible are “self affirming” because they produce their own evidence of their truthfulness.

    And unless we explain exactly what we mean in our use of words and concepts, we can only continue in confusion.

    So, again I have said, we need to qualify what we mean as many times as necessary to be sure we are not misunderstood.

    And by the way, this is the method the bible uses over and over so there can be no misunderstanding of what it means by anyone who sincerely desires to know what is said and how it is applied.

    We know any biblical concept can easily be misunderstood if and when the concept is lifted from its biblical context and interpreted and applied outside the biblical norm.

    People may use a phrase to explain a comprehensive idea that goes beyond a simple definition. Such as, pre-advent investigative judgment. A very comprehensive phrase that covers a lot of territory in meaning, definition and application. It is a SDA phrase. But many such phrases are used historically such as, the trinity, original sin, faith alone, the rapture, and other such phrases that can only be understood by careful study and examination of their meaning and usage by those who formulated the phrase.

    And as I said, the whole bible follows this format. Simply because word meanings are limited and some concepts require a comprehensive definition that can not be defined in a few words. Thus, we can study the bible through out eternity and never exhaust all the ideas and thoughts to be gleaned on and on into the endless future.

    And of course, there are some objective givens that are not negotiable. Such as the one being discussed on this forum. God is the creator of heaven and earth and accomplished this reality in 6 literal days and rested on the seventh.

    This thought is too clear to be misunderstood and is affirmed again and again through out the biblical revelation.

    Bill Sorensen

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  45. Prof Kent: “it just might be a good idea to be more tentative when you declare you know with certainty someone’s mind and soul”

    Kent to me: “You have reached a conclusion based on nothing but presumption, prejudice, ignorance, and malice.”

    Practice what you preach, Kent. Or does the first quote only apply to you?

    Apology: IF I misunderstood your post–I am truly sorry. Perhaps you could make yourself a little clearer one day. You wonder why everyone has a hard time trying to understand your stance on this issue, but if you were less critical to Educate Truth and the Creation supporters on this site, then perhaps we would be able to figure out what you actually do stand for. You keep saying you repeat your position over and over, but then you say stuff that sounds like you are attacking creation. Personally, I give up on you.

    I stand for Creation as recorded in the Bible. Plain and simple. I don’t entirely agree with Sean, but I don’t entirely disagree with him either. I don’t take issue with proofs for Creation just because the scientific community does. (which is one area where you run into grief)

    I do try to stand for truth, but I don’t try to make it personal and I don’t want to hurt anyone. If I do, I am sorry, but truth is of utmost importance.

    Perhaps, PK, we can leave it right there and quit the clash of the personalities. Perhaps you could be a litte more charitable to me as well.

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  46. Bill Sorensen: So, Professor Kent, is this what you believe that SDA’s believe and teach? And is it what you personally believe yourself?

    If you people can’t figure out what I believe by now, after I’ve stated my convictions far more times than anyone else at this forum, it will serve no purpose to do so again. And it doesn’t really matter anyway. I can tell you seventy times seven that I believe in something and the all-knowing guys among you say “spin, spin, liar, liar.” It becomes little more than fodder for the fools.

    As David Read once wrote, if you’re going to impeach someone, then do so on what they said and not what you say they said.

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  47. Sean Pitman: That is exactly what Phil Brantley has said and Prof. Kent fully supports Phil Brantley whenever he has made such claims in this and other forums. While both admit that there may be evidence in support of the Bible’s claims, Brantley in particular argues that an appeal to such evidence is not needed since faith alone is sufficient to support the Bible’s claims to Divine origin.

    Phil Brantley and Professor Kent argue that SDA beliefs are based on Sola Scriptura–God’s word alone. We agree with the official SDA position, voted by the General Conference in session, that Scripture must not be subject to criticism and external validation. When empiricial evidence, human reason, and science conflict with God’s word, faithful SDAs must accept God’s word at face value. This is exemplified in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Science makes clear that resurrection of a human body after several days of decomposition is physically impossible. SDA’s have a choice: to go with the evidence, or to accept God’s word at faith value. Phil Brantley and Professor Kent place God’s word ahead of empirical evidence, human reason and science, which IS the official SDA position.

    SDAs who insist that supernatural claims of scripture, such as the virgin birth, resurrection, and recent 6-day creation, can be believed only if science validates them are denying the authority of God in his revealed Word. They are elevating their own reason ahead of God’s Word. They are not faithful SDAs. I am sad that this position angers so many of you, but you really should reconsider your claims.

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  48. @Sean Pitman:

    It is interesting to read this dialog. I am not a “scientist” or student of genetics, BUT… I have a bit of common sense.

    When I was a child – in the 60’s, I remember reading about the work of a man named Bill Ison with the American wild grapes called “muscadines” – down in Georgia. The “wild” versions of these grapes are okay for eating but have many undesirable traits. Not only did Mr. Ison plant seedlings and select the best (or most desirable) traits from the seedlings, but he also bombarded some of the genetic material (seeds?) with radiation to cause mutations. By far, most of the mutations were worthless. But once in a great while, a “variety” with highly desirable characteristics would emerge and be “selected”.

    As a child, this example served as a rational illustration to me. I grew up “in the country” and I observed that anything growing wild tended to be less desirable because of the effect of being “wild” – caused by what I understand to be “natural selection”. When “natural selection” is replaced by intelligent selection, the result is vastly different.

    Intuitively (to me at least) “intelligent” will consistently win over “natural” or “wild” pretty much everytime. I see a consistency in decline for those things left unguided. I see a consistency in improvement for those things affected by intelligence. (“improvement” meaning – outcomes that are desired by the one making the choices)

    For me (yes, I admit to being a simpleton), the notion that our world of order came to be by some sort of accidental or “natural” process is foolishness. The existence of matter, those things made of matter,and the essence of life itself – is proof enough of Who God is. I can find no reason at all, to doubt the record that He has provided to us to help us understand clearly how we got here, why, and how it all turns out. To me, that record is the highest form of information available to us about our existence.

    “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it for me.”

    Happy Sabbath everyone. If you do not understand the significance of this “Holy Day”, you miss out on more than you can imagine. If indeed you do honor this day, you acknowledge God as “Creator” of the world in seven literal days – and therein you will have His blessing.

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  49. Bill Sorensen said, “Does Professor Kent think that God simply points to Himself and says, ”I am God, now believe it?” Only a fool would believe it.

    God said, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10). Only a fool would refuse to believe.

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  50. And round and round we go.

    Professor Kent and Pauluc et al continue to try to force us all to admit to blind faith as the reason for our belief in Creation, and Sean, bless him, conintues to offer proofs for Creation because he knows that there are evidences of the Creator in Creation and we don’t have to take it all on “blind” faith. So…what is behind all this constant strife?

    Here’s how I see it.

    The professors and other like-minded individuals want us to claim blind faith because then they think they can put Creation into a little box called “Religion” and separate it from the box called “Science” (that’s their opinion, not mine.) This is a vain quest, because it can’t be done. You cannot separate the Creator from His science. You cannot, with any integrity, separate your religion from any part of your life. The only possible reason to try to do this is so you can put forth “proofs” propounded by mere men that don’t mesh with the Bible. This is being double minded…trying to serve God and man…which, of course is, in reality, not serving God at all, because you are basically calling Him a liar.

    Don’t you realize that Satan is a masterful deceiver? Don’t you think he can manipulate the evidence to make you draw false conclusions from it? Don’t you realize that there is a perfectly good explanation for it all if it is seen in the correct light?

    You see, this is where I feel that some SDA scientists lose their credibility. They have been faced with arguments that may, on the surface, prove evolution. So they begin to question God instead of questioning the evolutionists. Just the fact that if you look at the whole picture you can see that the world is getting worse and worse instead of better and better blows the whole theory of evolution right out of the water.

    And why do our SDA scientists go to the world for their wisdom when we have the Bible and SOP to guide us? They are looking for worldly acceptance and acclaim, that’s why. They don’t want to be seen as the “lunatic fringe” who believe in God. They can’t tolerate the jeering of the worldly “scientists.” They perceive that as undermining their credibility and dignity as professional scientists. Well in actual fact, they lose their credibility as both Christians and scientists when they try to marry truth with error.

    This is why Professor Kent’s claim to believe in Creation as stated in the Bible is not taken seriously. How can it be when he tries to claim there are no evidences to support Creation? That is simply not true. Sean can, and has, presented many evidences to support Creation. And there are many others out there like Sean that understand the significance of these evidences.

    Of course the typical response from the “scientists” is that those who claim there is evidence for Creation are “uneducated”, “ignorant” people who “don’t understand scientific principles.” Yet these are the very people who claim that evolution, an unscientific and unprovable theory, is the answer to human origins. This is unfathomably faulty logic. There is no valid reason why SDA scientists should be promoting evolution in any of its forms.

    While I know that there are aspects of God and His Creation that are a mystery to us at this point, and that must be taken on faith, we are not called to base our beliefs on “blind” faith. We have every reason to believe that God speaks the truth to us in His word and that we can rely on His veracity 100% whether or not we have concrete proof that what He claims is true. We have seen, and are seeing daily, prophecies come true. It is absolutely amazing that He could give Nebuchadnezzar a dream that accurately shows the world’s kingdoms right to the end of time. And it has all come to pass as predicted. That in itself should inspire complete confidence in His Word.

    So, what it all boils down to is this: Professor Kent and Pauluc, who claim to have faith in God’s Word actually undermine it and Sean, who claims to have no blind faith, actually upholds the faith. Kind of funny, isn’t it?

    Happy Sabbath everyone.

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  51. @Professor Kent:

    Phil Brantley and Professor Kent argue that SDA beliefs are based on Sola Scriptura–God’s word alone. We agree with the official SDA position, voted by the General Conference in session, that Scripture must not be subject to criticism and external validation. When empiricial evidence, human reason, and science conflict with God’s word, faithful SDAs must accept God’s word at face value.

    Nowhere has the General Conference voted that Adventists must believe the Bible “at face value” without any empirical evidential support for its claim to be the Word of God. That’s a complete fabrication and makes no rational sense to boot.

    Can the indwelling Holy Spirit convict the soul, or is the Comforter utterly incapable of this, as some apparently suggest?

    The Holy Spirit convicts the soul of sin, of the difference between moral right and wrong since the moral law is written upon the hearts of all.

    The Holy Spirit also aids the mind in its search for empirical truth. However, the Holy Spirit does not take away one’s ability to think and reason when it comes to determining that the Bible’s claim to Divine origin and authority is superior to other persons and texts that make the very same claim – like the Qur’an or the Book of Mormon.

    We are called to used our God-given minds and powers of reason to search out the Scriptures and validate them to see if what they claim is really true. Contrary to the claims of the popular emergent church, we are not called to simply rely on what we imagine the Holy Spirit is telling us completely independent of the use of our brains and what rational thought God has given us to search out and investigate what is and is not most likely true in such matters. The Holy Spirit helps our minds to search out truth. He does not replace our minds or the effort necessary to actual search out truth for ourselves.

    As I have mentioned before, my Latter-day Saints friends tell me exactly the same thing you’re suggesting here. They tell me that they know that the Book of Mormon is superior to the Bible because, get this, the Holy Spirit tells them so.

    How then do you know that the spirit that is speaking to you is really the Holy Spirit? and not the impressions of your own mind or some other spirit besides the Holy Spirit? How do you know that you’re right and my LDS friends are wrong when both of you are making exactly the same claim to understanding truth by direct communication with the Holy Spirit? – yet being told conflicting things? Does this not give you the slightest pause?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  52. Sean Pitman:

    Professor Kent wrote:
    We agree with the official SDA position, voted by the General Conference in session, that Scripture must not be subject to criticism and external validation. When empiricial evidence, human reason, and science conflict with God’s word, faithful SDAs must accept God’s word at face value.

    Sean Pitman wrote: “Nowhere has the General Conference voted that Adventists must believe the Bible “at face value” without any empirical evidential support for its claim to be the Word of God. That’s a complete fabrication and makes no rational sense to boot.”

    This is EXACTLY what the GC voted in 1986 at its Annual Council approved the “Rio” statement on Bible Study: “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)…Even a modified use of this method that retains the principle of criticism which subordinates the Bible to human reason is unacceptable to Adventists.” (AR, Jan. 22, 1987)

    What I wrote is that if science and scripture conflict, SDAs take scripture at face value. SDAs DO NOT AGREE WITH SCIENCE WHEN SCIENCE AND SCRIPTURE DEPART. You need to stop peddling you intellectual garbage and publicly chastizing those who think GOD’s word is more reliable than YOUR reason and science.

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  53. Faith: This is why Professor Kent’s claim to believe in Creation as stated in the Bible is not taken seriously. How can it be when he tries to claim there are no evidences to support Creation?

    Is it too much to ask, Faith, that you criticize me with what I have said rather than what you say I have said?

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  54. WHAT DOES SEAN PITMAN TRULY BELIEVE?

    Science has irrefutably shown the Bible’s claim that a human body decomposing several days cannot come back to life. Thus, science and scripture depart on this claim. There is no middle ground.

    Who do YOU believe: God, because you take Him at his word, or the empirical evidence that drives human reason and science?

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  55. @Faith:

    Faith: “And round and round we go.”

    Indeed!

    There are two opposite sides in “The Great Controversy”. Everyone is on one side or the other in this great war. The battle is for the hearts of the individuals of humanity and many have made a firm decision as to which side they will be loyal. Some know whom they serve. Others are deceived.

    How does one KNOW the Bible is literally true?
    How does one KNOW that the still small voice he/she listens to is the Holy Spirit?

    Proverbs 16:25 – “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

    For everything that God has given us, Satan has devised a counterfeit. The nature of a counterfeit is that it is convincing. Monopoly money would never pass as real Federal Reserve Notes. It has to SEEM real and be most convincing. SO….

    * For the Sabbath, Satan has substitued Sunday.
    * For miraculous creation,he has substituted evolution.
    * For God’ ten commandments, Satan took God’s commandments but eliminated the one about IMAGES and then divided the one about coveting into two parts. (That one seems a bit obvious but actually most of Christianity has sort of bought into it, yes?)
    * We know that Jesus is coming again but that His coming will be preceeded by a false coming by the “anti-christ” that will “deceive the whole world” so much that IF POSSIBLE even the “very elect” will be deceived.
    * And yes, there is the “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit. How does one distinguish that voice from the whispers of temptation that Satan puts into our “ears”? Most certainly, Satan has a counterfeit “holy spirit” that can be manifested in multiple convincing ways.

    There is ONE TRUTH. There are many counterfeits. How to know which is right and which is wrong? Is the Bible really God’s first and pure line of information from Himself to humanity?

    Faith: “And round and round we go.”

    True. Faith, if you ever “win” a round with these guys, just remember what Ben Franklin said, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

    Each must evaluate the evidence for truth and make a decision. There are billions on planet earth who are seeking truth. When all have made their final decisions, Jesus is coming. It will be soon. Many will be saved. Sadly, the majority will be lost.

    Happy Sabbath, everyone. I pray everyone participating on this board will be present in the Kingdom.

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  56. Bill Sorensen said, “Does Professor Kent think that God simply points to Himself and says, ”I am God, now believe it?” Only a fool would believe it.”

    Kent said…….”God said, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10). Only a fool would refuse to believe.”

    May I suggest you have used this scripture totally out of context. This statement is in harmony with all the other statements made in the bible.

    The bible identifies God, His authority, and personhood in a thousand ways and mocks those who ignore and/or attack the biblical affirmation and says in a polite way, “Shut up and listen”. But only after massive doses of self affirmation in His word.

    How would you know who God is if He does not first identify Himself and His position and authority in the universe?

    While the bible does not give us absolute falsifiable proof, it does give us adequate evidence based on prophecy and history and yes, even science to some degree as to who He is and all His claims for worship.

    We must remember that “adequate” is not “absolute”.

    Just as faith gives us adequate assurance, but not absolute assurance that we are and can be saved. And this is of course because of the human factor in salvation.
    If there were no human factor, then, and then only, could we have absolute assurance.

    Just so, we have adequate evidence to base our faith on and there is no need for unbelief. Especially in light of the cross.

    Bill Sorensen

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  57. @Faith:
    Faith I admire your commitment to Sean and your confidence that he knows more in all areas of science than the thousands of scientists that have spent their lives working on honestly interpreting the data and with whom he disagrees.

    You do of course realize that Sean has committed himself to leave the Adventist church and Christianity if he is at any time in the future convinced that the creation story cannot be sustained on a scientific basis. Talk about building you faith on sand.

    In contrast I do not believe that the creation account can be at all sustained on the basis of the science without a selective distorted reading of the literature of science which I cannot do. I do however believe in the Bible as the inspired word of God and the doctrine of creation which is an essential part of the Judeo Christian tradition. In theology I am closest to the neo-orthodox and anabaptist views of Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Yoder and would see the core of Christianity in the incarnation event and the revelation of God in Jesus. A revelation that calls us to follow as disciples and enact the principles of the Kingdom.

    Acceptance of the Christian understanding of the Grace of God is not based on some notion of Natural theology or science but on the revelation of Jesus that comes through the proclamation of the community of Faith and by reading the Word of God.

    You may think that believing by faith in the revelation of God in the incarnate Christ is eroding belief in the Bible but I certainly do not view it that way and I suspect that Prof Kent does not but I will leave it to him to articulate his own belief.

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  58. @Sean Pitman:

    Sorry Sean you say

    Nowhere has the General Conference voted that Adventists must believe the Bible “at face value” without any empirical evidential support for its claim to be the Word of God.

    What then is the basis for your crusade against academics who have not interpreted Genesis 1 at face value?

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  59. I understand the case as resignations of 4 professors of LSU who were made to choose to resign or have the recorded conversation be brought to the board,etc. How can ALL these 4 mature, adult “intellectuals ” simply give up their positions if its nothing more than a recorded conversation. Is the situation too ugly to resist? The case was posted as not because of evolution issue. Actually,Im not worried if WASC would inspect or these professors will go to court as they say so. Although we, in the Seventh-day Adventist Church are challenged by these trials( universities infested with infiltrators is no joke), we fervently pray for our leaders and our church. OUR HEAVENLY FATHER KNOWS BEST!.. Remember Romans 8:28?

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  60. @Sean Pitman: Sorry I havent responded earlier to your last missive.

    We agree that natural selection is a mechanism that removed deleterious mutations in small creatures. You however continue to point to the mutations accumulating in humans and then ask me to give a mechanism for removal of deleterious mutations and more importantly near neutral mutations in long lived animals like humans. You imply that there is none and that human genetics is winding down from a perfect creation some 6000 years ago to a genetic meltdown.

    You imply that the lack of published explanation is somehow the populations geneticists dirty little secret.

    As usual you seem to be reading the literature with your own peculiar slant. After having looked at some of the literature I find that Lynch PNAS 2010 107:965 is simply expressing the predominant view among population geneticists when he writes:

    “Dating back to Muller (49), considerable thought has been given to the potential for a cumulative buildup of the deleterious-mutation load in the human population (2, 3, 50, 51). The motivation for this concern is the enormous change in the selective environment that human behavior has induced during approximately the past century. Innovations spawned by agriculture, architecture, industrialization, and most notably a sophisticated health care industry have led to a dramatic relaxation in selection against mildly deleterious mutations, and modern medical intervention is increasingly successful in ensuring a productive lifespan even in individuals carrying mutations with major morphological, metabolic, and behavioral defects.”

    How you can honestly read this as saying there is no mechanism for removal of mutations is beyond me.

    They are simply saying that we are in a difficult situation as man made changes in the enviroment and heath care has removed most of the strong selection pressures that would purify a population. Ie infectious disease with historically high mortalities as both McNeil (Pagues and people) and more recent Diamond (Guns germs and steel) have cataloged.

    They are not at all saying that they cannot image a mechanism for removing near neutral mutations they are saying that we have removed most of these.

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  61. @pauluc:

    How you can honestly read this as saying there is no mechanism for removal of mutations is beyond me.

    So, the powers of natural selection have been thwarted by modern humans? And that is why we are now heading downhill?

    You don’t understand the math Pauluc. While nature selection works to some extent to remove detrimental mutations, the death rate that would be required for natural selection to actually remove detrimental mutations as fast as they are entering the gene pools of creatures with low rates of offspring production is far far greater than could have been tolerated at any time, past or present, by such creatures.

    I mean really, we’re talking about a required minimum death rate that is greater than 99.5% of all offspring before reproduction – just to keep up with the known detrimental mutation rate. No human population, at any point in time, could have ever tolerated such a high death rate…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  62. @Sean Pitman:

    I am not arguing this I am simply saying this is what Lynch in his lecture on being elected to the academy of science was arguing if you read his paper.

    Further he argues that human compared to other non-mammalian animals have greater fidelity in somatic cell replication and so have a lower rate of somatic cell mutation. What do you suppose accounts for that? Perhaps error correction mechanisms that are present in higher mammals. Do we have a complete understanding of these. I think not but does your model allow for that?

    It is not that I do not trust the math but it is as in programming that other most useful area of math; GIGO.

    I do not trust that you have the biology correct. As I more and more see how you read the literature I am no more sanguine.

    We can argue on the math as much as we want but until you actually provide evidence of increasing deleterious gene accumulation over non-modern times I do not think we have a basis for your argument.

    I would have no argument that humans are currently accumulating genetic damage but I would tend to agree with Lynch’s argument that this reflects human manipulation of the environment and removal of selection pressure that previously existed. Indeed he argues this is akin to Global warming.

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  63. @Professor Kent:

    What I wrote is that if science and scripture conflict, SDAs take scripture at face value. SDAs DO NOT AGREE WITH SCIENCE WHEN SCIENCE AND SCRIPTURE DEPART. You need to stop peddling you intellectual garbage and publicly chastizing those who think GOD’s word is more reliable than YOUR reason and science.

    So, if the Bible claimed, in no uncertain terms, that the Earth was flat, or the Sun revolved around the Earth, or that humans originally lived on Mars only to migrate to the Earth once Mars became uninhabitable, or that the American Indians are descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, you’d believe the Bible? – not the overwhelming empirical evidence to the contrary? If so, what makes your belief in the superiority of the Bible any better than the belief of Latter-day Saints in the superiority of the claim of the Book of Mormon to be of Divine origin? What about the Qur’an?

    Belief in someone or something based on a face-value claim to Divine authority, without evidentiary support, isn’t a rational basis for belief since anyone and everyone can make this claim and many have made this claim. There must be a way, therefore, to distinguish between those making such claims to Divine origin and authority as to who is and is not genuine.

    What would have happened to Jesus claim to be “the Word of God” in the flesh if he had not been raised from the dead as he predicted? What would have happened to the faith of his disciples in his claim?

    Fantastic claims must be based on equally fantastic evidence if they are to be believed by intelligent, rational, candid minds. It is not enough, not even for the Bible, to make the claim to authority based on the face value of the claim itself without any appeal to empirical evidence that can be evaluated and tested to see if it is true.

    Even the Bible invites us to “taste and see”. – Psalms 34:8 NIV

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  64. Bill Sorensen:

    The bible identifies God, His authority, and personhood in a thousand ways and mocks those who ignore and/or attack the biblical affirmation and says in a polite way, “Shut up and listen”. But only after massive doses of self affirmation in His word.
    How would you know who God is if He does not first identify Himself and His position and authority in the universe?
    While the bible does not give us absolute falsifiable proof, it does give us adequate evidence based on prophecy and history and yes, even science to some degree as to who He is and all His claims for worship.
    We must remember that “adequate” is not “absolute”.
    Just as faith gives us adequate assurance, but not absolute assurance that we are and can be saved. And this is of course because of the human factor in salvation.
    If there were no human factor, then, and then only, could we have absolute assurance.
    Just so, we have adequate evidence to base our faith on and there is no need for unbelief. Especially in light of the cross.

    I totally agree, Bill.

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  65. Professor Kent: WHAT DOES SEAN PITMAN TRULY BELIEVE?

    Science has irrefutably shown that the Bible’s claim that a human body decomposing several days cannot come back to life is false. Thus, science and scripture depart on this claim. There is no middle ground.

    Who do YOU believe: God, because you take Him at his word, or the empirical evidence that drives human reason and science?

    Having trouble answering this, Sean? Are you afraid to admit that you actually prioritize God’s word ahead of science, just like the Geoscience Research Institute and other SDA scientists? That your claim of following science when the twain shall part is nothing more than braggadacio?

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  66. @pauluc:

    Further he argues that human compared to other non-mammalian animals have greater fidelity in somatic cell replication and so have a lower rate of somatic cell mutation. What do you suppose accounts for that? Perhaps error correction mechanisms that are present in higher mammals. Do we have a complete understanding of these. I think not but does your model allow for that?

    I’ve already argued as much in this very forum (see my commment from August 11, 4:52 p.m.). I myself have pointed out that animals with longer generation times have correspondingly slower rates of mutation over an absolute period of time. This is clearly due to better error correction mechanisms as you yourself surmise.

    The problem, of course, is that the per generation detrimental mutation rate still is and always was far far too high for natural selection to keep up (for creatures with few offspring per generation). Also, as already explained above, the relative strength of natural selection has absolutely nothing to do with this problem.

    We can argue on the math as much as we want but until you actually provide evidence of increasing deleterious gene accumulation over non-modern times I do not think we have a basis for your argument.

    We have plenty of evidence in the form of certain key facts that are clearly supported in literature.

    We know the detrimental mutation rate for humans and other slowly reproducing creatures. And, we know that this rate has not changed substantially over time.

    Arguably, the only thing that has changed a bit is the force of natural selection. It is reasonably true that human actions have lessened the impact of natural selection in modern times. There really is no argument here so far.

    The problem for the ToE is that it the modern relative weakness of natural selection doesn’t solve the problem at all – even if natural selection was much stronger in the past than it is today. The death rate would have been greater, but not nearly high enough to compensate for the known rate of detrimental mutations. Detrimental mutations would still have entered the human gene pool in the past far far faster than they could have been eliminated by a stronger force of natural selection.

    Consider that if natural selection where extremely strong, set at its maximum potential effectiveness for removing detrimental mutations, this would result in a death rate for humans of greater than 99.5% off all offsrping in each generation before they had a chance to reproduce.

    Humans do not reproduce enough offspring per generation to handle such a high death rate – and yet avoid extinction. Yet, this is the death rate that is required if natural selection were to eliminate detrimental mutations from the gene pool as fast as they are entering it.

    I would have no argument that humans are currently accumulating genetic damage but I would tend to agree with Lynch’s argument that this reflects human manipulation of the environment and removal of selection pressure that previously existed. Indeed he argues this is akin to Global warming.

    You make this argument because you really don’t understand that lessening the powers of natural selection doesn’t address the problem. The problem is not so much with the theorectical potential for natural selection to remove all detrimental mutations as fast as they enter the human gene pool.

    The problem is with the death rate that would be required to achieve such a result. This required death rate far outpaces any historical human ability for offspring production. The same is true for other creatures that cannot produce offspring remotely close to the rate needed for natural selection to effectively cull detrimental mutations from such gene pools.

    Your professor Lynch does not address these problems nor does he deal with the actual statistical elements of the problem. He doesn’t deal with the actual rate of detrimental mutations nor does he deal with the per generation death rate that would be required to deal with them. Therefore, there is no real science involved with these bald conjectures beyond their most trivial elements.

    I do not trust that you have the biology correct. As I more and more see how you read the literature I am no more sanguine.

    If I don’t have the biology correct, such as the rate of detrimental mutations per generation, by all means correct me. That would go a whole lot farther than trying to attack my reading comprehension or grasp of the literature. Prove me wrong with something that is actually relevant to the argument in play here (without misreading what I actually said as you have done in the past).

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  67. @Professor Kent:

    Having trouble answering this, Sean? Are you afraid to admit that you actually prioritize God’s word ahead of science, just like the Geoscience Research Institute and other SDA scientists? That your claim of following science when the twain shall part is nothing more than braggadacio?

    I believe in the truth of the fantastic metaphysical claims of the Bible based on those elements of the Bible that can actually be subjected to investigation and testing – with the potential of falsification. The Bible has shown itself to me to be very reliable in those things that I can test and evaluate empirically. Therefore, I trust much more in those metaphysical claims that I cannot directly test.

    Empirically blind faith in the face-value claims of any person or text doesn’t cut it for me. If that works for you, great. But, don’t be surprised if many people aren’t comforted by such blind faith.

    Beyond this, the Geoscience Research Institute (GRI) wasn’t set up by the SDA Church in order to tell people that the best we have to support the Bible is empirically-blind faith. After all, if blind faith is all we need, we don’t really need to fund geoscience research at all. Why waste our money? The whole purpose of the GRI was to find empirical evidence to support a rational faith in the Bible as the true Word of God – not just some book full of moral fables.

    Therefore, those who claim that the best empirical evidence we have undermine the claims of the Bible, but we should believe the Bible anyway, are undermining the very purpose of the GRI. Those who truly believe this way should seek employment elsewhere. I really serves no purpose for the Adventist Church to continue to fund scientists who go around telling everyone that the best we have to support Adventist beliefs is empirically blind faith. The promotion of such a blind-faith message is equivalent to the Adventist Church shooting itself in the foot…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  68. Sean Pitman: Fantastic claims must be based on equally fantastic evidence if they are to be believed by intelligent, rational, candid minds. It is not enough, not even for the Bible, to make the claim to authority based on the face value of the claim itself without any appeal to empirical evidence that can be evaluated and tested to see if it is true.

    Each year, millions upon millions of humans die. Not one–not a single one in nearly 2,000 years since Christ–has come back to life DAYS after dying. Science has evaluated and tested the claims of Scripture regarding the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and shown them to be FALSE. So why do you believe in something that an “intelligent, rational, candid mind” like yours recognize to be impossible?

    You claim you do not accept “fantastic claims” at face value. You claim that you will not believe something unless there is “fantastic” empirical evidence to back it up. You’re lying, Sean. You’ve deceived yourself and you’ve deceived your intelligent and rational fan club. You believe because you trust God more than you trust human reason and science. Why is it so hard for you to admit this?

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  69. Sean Pitman: I believe in the truth of the fantastic metaphysical claims of the Bible based on those elements of the Bible that can actually be subjected to investigation and testing – with the potential of falsification. The Bible has shown itself to me to be very reliable in those things that I can test and evaluate empirically. Therefore, I trust much more in those metaphysical claims that I cannot directly test.

    This is silly rubbish. There are hundreds of historical novels that offer “very reliable” information that one “can test and evaluate empirically.” Does this mean that every claim within such a book is correct?

    Philip Roth in 2004 wrote The Plot Against America. This story contains very accurate and detailed information that can be tested and evaluated empirically. Therefore, we should be its claims that Franklin D. Roosevelt was defeated in 1940 in his bid for a third term as President of the United States, and that Charles Lindbergh was elected, leading to increasing fascism and anti-Semitism in the U.S. Somehow the history books missed this.

    You need to do better than this, Sean. You’re showing that Adventists and other Christians are gullible fools when they base their beliefs in extraordinary miracles and supernatural events merely because a subset of Scripture’s claims, namely historical facts, can be proven true after being “tested and evaluated empirically.”

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  70. Sean Pitman: Beyond this, the Geoscience Research Institute (GRI) wasn’t set up by the SDA Church in order to tell people that the best we have to support the Bible is empirically-blind faith. After all, if blind faith is all we need, we don’t really need to fund geoscience research at all. Why waste our money? The whole purpose of the GRI was to find empirical evidence to support a rational faith in the Bible as the true Word of God – not just some book full of moral fables.

    The problem with your language is that you attribute “blind” to anyone’s faith other than your own. The GRI does not use the word “blind,” does not endorse the word “blind,” and does not imply “blind” when it tells us that empirical evidence is inadequate to prove a 6-day creation 6,000 years ago, and therefore we can only accept it by faith. YOU INAPPROPRIATELY PUT WORDS AND MEANING IN THEIR MOUTHS. And for nothing but propaganda purposes. As an honest Bob Ryan would put it, you’re a spin artist doing a con job on the Church.

    The truth is that you attack GRI unrelentently because you want them to cowtoe to YOUR interpretation of evidence. When they disagree with you, you cry “foul” and call for them to be terminated. Apparently, Ted Wilson doesn’t have sympathetic ears. You’re not getting through to him. Stop your whining and give it up.

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  71. Sean Pitman: I really serves no purpose for the Adventist Church to continue to fund scientists who go around telling everyone that the best we have to support Adventist beliefs is empirically blind faith. The promotion of such a blind-faith message is equivalent to the Adventist Church shooting itself in the foot…

    This is NOT what they do, Sean. This is YOUR SPIN on what they do.

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  72. @Professor Kent:

    You’re showing that Adventists and other Christians are gullible fools when they base their beliefs in extraordinary miracles and supernatural events merely because a subset of Scripture’s claims, namely historical facts, can be proven true after being “tested and evaluated empirically.”

    Not when those historical facts are fulfilments of prior historical predictions that could only have reasonably come from a God or God-like power.

    Also, the historical accuracy of the Bible, compared to any other text, contributes to its credibility. Undermine these historical claims concerning the empirical world, and you undermine the credibility of the metaphysical claims of the Bible as well.

    It is for such reasons that the metaphysical claims of texts like the Book of Mormon carry far far less weight for me compared to the metaphysical claims of the Bible – because those empirical claims of the Book of Mormon that can be evaluated and tested have been convincingly falsified in my own estimation. Therefore, the metaphysical claims of the Book of Mormon lose an equivalent amount of credibility in my own mind.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  73. @Sean Pitman:
    Thank your for your response. You state

    “The problem, of course, is that the per generation detrimental mutation rate still is and always was far far too high for natural selection to keep up (for creatures with few offspring per generation). Also, as already explained above, the relative strength of natural selection has absolutely nothing to do with this problem.”

    And here is the nub of the problem. You and Sandford state have accepted a faith position of biblical inerrancy and literalism which affects your reading of the scientific literature.

    You accept by faith a 6000 year earth history and the genetic models must follow. You accept that there must be genetic degradation because it must be so according to your a priori assumptions on the innerrancy of EGW and the bible. You have of course given us mutation rates that are consistent with the literature and which I do accept in good faith, but then go on to calculate a required death rate. Nowhere have you provided real evidence that this death rate is correct and is inadequate in the real world rather than in your flawed theoretical models predicated as they are on your core belief in the degradation from a perfect genome in Eden circa Oct 4004 BC.

    You nonetheless have the temerity to claim that this model is endorsed by modern populations geneticists.

    When I suggest that at least one population geneticist who sees the issue as being a man made genetic crisis he then becomes “Your professor Lynch”. How insulting.

    Sean as always despite your endorse of science as the source and basis of your faith you seem to manifest an underlying disdain for scientists and their integrity. In virtually any discipline we talk about you are right and they are clearly wrong. Sorry I do not trust you.

    We will just have to revisit all this in 10-20 years time and see if your perspective has moved. I would hope by then you have realized that Christianity is not about science but is all about faith in the revelation of God in Jesus and our response as disciples.

    Grace to you.

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  74. @pauluc:

    Sean as always despite your endorse of science as the source and basis of your faith you seem to manifest an underlying disdain for scientists and their integrity. In virtually any discipline we talk about you are right and they are clearly wrong. Sorry I do not trust you.

    I’m not asking you to trust me. I don’t care if you do or do not trust me or agree with me on such issues. I’m just curious to see if you can answer a few basic questions – to see if you have any cogent scientific explanations for my questions beyond the usual pejoratives? In other words, do you actually understand the problem in play? If you do, perhaps I really am missing something relevant.

    For example, what do you think the per generation detrimental mutation rate is/was for humans? Given this detrimental mutation rate, what is the minimum required death rate, per generation, for natural selection to effectively neutralize this detrimental mutation rate? Do you even understand the concept of a minimum required death rate?

    Simple questions my friend. Questions that have pretty solid answers available in literature. Yet, you’ve not directly addressed these simple questions and neither has any one of the population geneticists that you’ve cited as far as I’m aware.

    Where does Lynch talk about the minimum required death rate needed to deal with the detrimental mutation rate? He simply suggests that natural selection was a more powerful force in the past – which is true. He also suggests, correctly, that if natural selection were more powerful that detrimental mutations would be more effectively removed from the human gene pool.

    His only problem is that even though a stronger force of natural selection removes more detrimental mutations per generation, it also requires a correspondingly higher death rate to do so. This is a big problem because Lynch doesn’t do the math to find out just how high the death rate would have to be to completely eliminate the accumulation of detrimental mutations with each generation. He simply assumes, wrongly, that a stronger force of natural selection is all that would be needed to solve the problem. He’s wrong. Plain and simple. The minimum required death rate is also very important to understand – to know if the maximum rate of offspring production can actually keep up with the minimum required death rate that natural selection needs to do the job.

    No one, not you, not Lynch, or anyone else, has detailed and reasonable solution to this problem.

    Now, this has nothing to do with questioning the integrity of scientists. This has to do with questioning their theories – big difference.

    You keep making this amoral issue. It isn’t.

    We will just have to revisit all this in 10-20 years time and see if your perspective has moved. I would hope by then you have realized that Christianity is not about science but is all about faith in the revelation of God in Jesus and our response as disciples.

    Salvation is about doing to others as you would have done to you. Even those who have never read the Bible, who have never heard the name of Jesus, can be saved by living according to this moral law of love that is written in the hearts of all.

    The Christian Gospel message of hope, on the other hand, is based on solid empirical evidence. It isn’t just a moral fable or a feel-good story. It’s a true story and there’s very good evidence to back up that assertion.

    Grace to you.

    And to you…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  75. Professor:

    For maximum authenticity, and flavor, the following of yours (August 15, 2011 at 9:23 am) is e-dragged-dropped, not hand-copied: “Adventists and other Christians are gullible fools when they base their beliefs in extraordinary miracles and supernatural events merely because a subset of Scripture’s claims, namely historical facts, can be proven true after being “tested and evaluated empirically.”

    Have you not thus just said that you accept Genesis 1 not simply by faith DESPITE scientific evidence 100% against it, but BECAUSE science disproves it?

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  76. Sean Pitman: Salvation is about doing to others as you would have done to you.

    You claim you reject Mormonism so why are you preaching “doing”? This isnt the Salvation the Seventh-day Adventist Church teaches. According to FB #10 salvation is based on ….. ahem ….. FAITH. No, not evidence but FAITH.

    I dont understand why faith is so hard for you to admit too or defend.

    “Led by the Holy Spirit we sense our need, acknowledge our sinfulness, repent of our transgressions, and exercise FAITH in Jesus as Lord and Christ, as Substitute and Example. This FAITH which receives salvation comes through the divine power of the Word [not EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE] and is the gift of God’s grace.” – FB #10

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  77. Seventh-day Adventists are people of FAITH. What do the SDA Fundamental Beliefs teach about EVIDENCE and FAITH?

    FAITH is mentioned 15 times. The primary context applies to our acceptance of the following qualities of God and his son Jesus: God’s atonement (#9), Jesus as Lord and Christ, Substitute and Example (#10), his death and resurrection (#15), the sufficiency of his body and blood (#16) and God’s existence (#17). Yes, we accept these on faith with no apologies to Pitman and others at this website who abuse the word. Faith also describes our beliefs in the context of a community of faith (#12), the faith of Jesus (#13, #24) and our beliefs in general (#14, #23). Faith is further described as a gift (#17). Yes, a gift! Not something acquired because of rational thinking and intelligence!

    EVIDENCE is mentioned twice in terms of our response to God: evidence of our repentence of sin (#15) and evidence of our love for the Lord (#19).

    No where do our fundamental beliefs teach that our beliefs are valid only if there is empirical evidence to back them up. To denounce faith and declare it “useless” under any context shows ultimate disrespect for our fundamental beliefs. For God’s sake it is time to end the condescending remarks about faith. Adventists are people of faith and everything good in our church fails without faith.

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  78. @Anonymosity:

    No where do our fundamental beliefs teach that our beliefs are valid only if there is empirical evidence to back them up. To denounce faith and declare it “useless” under any context shows ultimate disrespect for our fundamental beliefs. For God’s sake it is time to end the condescending remarks about faith. Adventists are people of faith and everything good in our church fails without faith.

    Faith is the evidence of things unseen. – Hebrews 11:1. The Bible doesn’t say that faith isn’t based on evidence – just the opposite in fact. God does not ask us to believe without providing ample evidence to support a rational faith.

    Remember when Jesus turned water into wine?

    “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” – John 2:11

    Notice that is was because of the evidence of what John calls a “sign” of who Jesus really was that they put their faith in him – and who in their right mind, after seeing something like this, wouldn’t? Evidence doesn’t remove faith, it strengthens faith.

    “Many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, “When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?” – John 7:31

    Notice again the referenced basis of faith – i.e., the miraculous signs. There simply would have been no reason to believe in Jesus as the Christ without some such evidence.

    As a Seventh-day Adventist, you’ll appreciate these thoughts from Mrs. White on this topic:

    “God never asks us to believe, 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.”

    – Mrs. White, The Great Controversy, p. 527. and Steps to Christ, p. 105.

    This is true for any rational belief – to include scientific beliefs. Science is based on evidence, not demonstration. The same is, or at least can be, true of faith.

    According to FB #10 salvation is based on ….. ahem ….. FAITH. No, not evidence but FAITH.

    Salvation is based on love – love toward our fellow man. The law of love is the Royal Law mentioned in James (James 2:8 NIV).

    Because the Royal Law is written on the hearts of all, all can be saved by living according to this law – even without having ever heard the name of Jesus and without knowing anything about his life, death, resurrection, or the plan of salvation or the hope of heaven to come.

    It is for this reason that Paul writes that even the heathen can be saved according to how they kept the Royal Law (Romans 2:14-15 NIV).

    How, having a hope in the reality of the Gospel message requires faith, true, but it also requires evidence.

    Faith without any basis in evidence of any kind is blind and not very useful when it comes to establishing a solid basis for a conscious hope that rational people are willing to die for (like Jesus’ disciples for instance). They didn’t believe without extremely good evidence. For example, did the disciples have more or less faith in Jesus after they saw Him raised from the dead?

    After all, fantastic claims require equally fantastic evidence to back them up. Especially if you’re asking someone to put his/her life on the line… wouldn’t you agree?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  79. Sean Pitman’s doctrine of salvation merits a double-take:

    Salvation is about doing to others as you would have done to you.

    Salvation is based on love – love toward our fellow man. The law of love is the Royal Law mentioned in James (James 2:8 NIV). Because the Royal Law is written on the hearts of all, all can be saved by living according to this law.

    Seventh-day Adventists do not teach or believe in salvation by works. Salvation is a free gift and is NOT procured by our actions toward fellow man (which is fortunate for Sean’s sake). So why does Sean undermine SDA fundamental belief #10? I am astonished by his heterodox theology. Wait a minute…I hear his supporters clamoring to claim he is (as always) correct.

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  80. Sean Pitman: It is for such reasons that the metaphysical claims of texts like the Book of Mormon carry far far less weight for me compared to the metaphysical claims of the Bible – because those empirical claims of the Book of Mormon that can be evaluated and tested have been convincingly falsified in my own estimation.

    Let’s look at just a few of the metaphysical claims of the BIBLE:

    – A living human can be formed from dirt – convincingly FALSIFIED by science
    – An iron axe head can float after throwing a stick in the water – convincingly FALSIFIED by science
    – A vigin woman can give birth to a child – convincingly FALSIFIED by science
    – The bodies of dead men can be restored to life several days later – convincingly FALSIFIED by science
    – A child’s portion of bread and fish can be divided to feed thousands – convincingly FALSIFIED by science
    – A man can ascend heavenword without benefit of visible propulsion – convincingly FALSIFIED by science

    And yet Sean believes in these things–based on evidence, he insists, rather than faith.

    So let’s look at some of the key metaphysical claims of the BOOK OF MORMON:

    – One gets a “burning in the bosom” upon learning of Mormonism – science actually supports an incontrovertible link between the mind and autonomic regulation that could easily result in such sensation, with possible links to synaesthesias, crossmodal perception, and multisensory integration; the possibility of this sensation is actually confirmed in Scripture (Luke 24:32; Psalms 39:3), so it is hardly unique to the BOOK OF MORMON.

    Oh, wait a minute; there is no “burning in the bosom” in the Book of Mormon. Sean confused this book with DOCTRINES AND COVENANTS by the same author. So…what ARE the metaphysical claims of the BOOK OF MORMON that lead Sean to reject it, and which make the metaphysical claims of the Bible irrefutably rejected by science look so much more appealing to the intelligent rational candid mind?

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  81. Sean Pitman: So, if the Bible claimed, in no uncertain terms, that the Earth was flat, or the Sun revolved around the Earth, or that humans originally lived on Mars only to migrate to the Earth once Mars became uninhabitable, or that the American Indians are descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, you’d believe the Bible?

    So, if the Bible claimed, in no uncertain terms, that a pile of dirt could be transformed into a living human body, that metal axe heads can float on water, that dead bodies can return to life days later, or that virgin women can give birth to babies, you’d believe the Bible?

    Sorry, but science has falsified both sets of claims. Millions of intelligent, rational, candid people reject the latter claims, Sean, and you are not going to win them over when you insist they should follow the evidence wherever it leads. Your emphasis on evidence sets aside the vastly more important appeal that Seventh-day Adventists have to share: a relationship with the living Word.

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  82. @Sean Pitman:

    For those who seek “signs and wonders” as a basis for faith, Satan also has the power to perform miracles. And miraculous events will play a major role in end-world deceptions.

    I find my greatest faith-builder to be a study of scripture wherein I can clearly see God’s great guiding hand in the events of history as it has unfolded precisely according to His prophetic word. I find little that is more powerfully persuasive to me than the unfolding of the great 1260 year prophecy as given by Daniel and by John – centuries before it began.

    Even today, in my half-century or so of life, I have witnessed prophecy continue to unfold in fulfillment – such things as Daniel wrote about many hundreds of years ago about the “end of time”: “knowledge shall be increased”…. “men shall run to and fro”

    The way in which this information comes to us is miraculous in its delivery. As one starts to study it, there is a bit of evidence to support faith. As one digs deeper, the evidence builds more powerfully to deeply convict. As we realize that there is an almight God and that He is ultimately in control, we can intelligently choose “this day, whom we will serve”.

    “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord…” (CREATOR of all).

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  83. @Professor Kent:

    “Salvation is about doing to others as you would have done to you.”

    “Salvation is based on love – love toward our fellow man. The law of love is the Royal Law mentioned in James (James 2:8 NIV). Because the Royal Law is written on the hearts of all, all can be saved by living according to this law.”

    – Sean Pitman

    Seventh-day Adventists do not teach or believe in salvation by works. Salvation is a free gift and is NOT procured by our actions toward fellow man (which is fortunate for Sean’s sake). So why does Sean undermine SDA fundamental belief #10? I am astonished by his heterodox theology. Wait a minute…I hear his supporters clamoring to claim he is (as always) correct.

    – Prof. Kent

    Since when is true love, as expressed to one’s fellow man, arduous work? The motive of true selfless love is not self-generated, but is a gift of God – and is not considered “work” by those who actually exhibit true love. Those who reject this most precious gift, who will not show true selfless love to others, but desire a life of living only for self, will not be saved. In fact, this is the only reason why there will be those who will reject the gift of Heaven when it is freely offered. This is the unpardonable sin because there is nothing further the Holy Spirit can do for those who consciously reject the beauty of Holiness – i.e., the Royal Law of Love.

    These facts have nothing at all to do with “salvation by works”.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  84. @Charles:

    For those who seek “signs and wonders” as a basis for faith, Satan also has the power to perform miracles. And miraculous events will play a major role in end-world deceptions.

    Indeed. The same was true for Pharaoh who held the Israelites as slaves in Egypt. Satan was allowed to demonstrate miraculous power. However, He was unable to trump the evidence that God provided.

    God always provides superior evidence so that even Pharaoh’s magicians came to a point where they themselves told Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” – Exodus 8:19 NIV

    God does not leave us without superior evidence upon which to rest our faith. Those who wish to doubt, as Pharaoh did, will always find a reason for their skepticism – even in the face of what would be for any rational candid mind, overwhelming evidence in favor of the truth.

    Once one reaches this point, the point where Pharaoh rejected all that God provided to him, it really isn’t so much a matter of adequate evidence, which God always provides to those who are honestly searching for the truth, but a matter of personal desire and pride in opposition to the clear will of God.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  85. Sean Pitman: Since when is true love, as expressed to one’s fellow man, arduous work? The motive of true selfless love is not self-generated, but is a gift of God – and is not considered “work” by those who actually exhibit true love. Those who reject this most precious gift, who will not show true selfless love to others, but desire a life of living only for self, will not be saved.

    We could build a lengthy list of gifts from God that we could reject, and actions we could fail to exhibit, which could disqualify us from salvation (or to be more accurate, reflect our rejection of salvation). But none of these represent the “basis” of salvation. Again, we are not saved by “doing to others” or our “love toward our fellow man” (your description of the basis of salvation). These are consequences of our salvation, not how or why we are saved.

    I was never taught your views in my years of SDA education. Where did you get this heterodox idea?

    Did anyone else reading this exchange learn that we can be saved by living according to the Royal Law of Love?

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  86. @Professor Kent:

    We are not saved by “doing to others” or our “love toward our fellow man” (your description of the basis of salvation). These are consequences of our salvation, not how or why we are saved.

    We are saved based on motive – the motive of selfless love. Have you forgotten that, “Everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.”? – 1 John 4:7

    The free gift of salvation can be rejected you know. How does one reject this gift? By denying the call of that “still small voice” that speaks to the soul, telling us what is right and wrong. A deliberate rejection of what is known to be right is sin – equivalent to a rejection of the Holy Spirit. Once all efforts of the Spirit have been definitively rejected, there is nothing left for the Spirit to do but to leave the individual alone. Such is the state of the lost.

    In that day Christ does not present before men the great work He has done for them in giving His life for their redemption. He presents the faithful work they have done for Him. To those whom He sets upon His right hand He will say, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: naked, and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye came unto Me.” But those whom Christ commends know not that they have been ministering unto Him. To their perplexed inquiries He answers, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” …

    Those whom Christ commends in the judgment may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them. Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their own lives. Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God.

    How surprised and gladdened will be the lowly among the nations, and among the heathen, to hear from the lips of the Saviour, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me”! How glad will be the heart of Infinite Love as His followers look up with surprise and joy at His words of approval!

    -EGW, DA, p. 637-638

    Therefore, we accept the free gift of salvation by listening to what the Law of Love is telling us to do. This moral voice or compass of the Holy Spirit has been implanted in the hearts of every one of us so that none are without excuse. We reject salvation if we reject this voice that is calling us to a life of selfless love toward others.

    We are miraculously given the ability to know right from wrong – i.e., the moral voice of the Holy Spirit. It is by listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, telling us to live according to the Law of Love, that we are saved.

    The only ones who will be lost are those who knowingly reject what they knew was right – who knowingly reject the calling of the Holy Spirit in no uncertain terms. This is what the Bible calls the “unpardonable sin”. The rejection of the call of the Holy Spirit is unpardonable because the individual does not wish to be pardoned. God respects the free will choice of the individual – even if that choice is a conscious rejection of what is known to be right.

    Such is the insanity of sin. If it could be explained in any kind of rational way, it would no longer be sin. It is for this reason that the Bible calls sin, “the mystery of iniquity”.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  87. Sean, I suggest you read the chapter on salvation from the book, Seventh-day Adventists Believe. The plan of salvation involves much more than our hearing the Moral Voice of the Holy Spirit and responding to the Royal Law of Love.

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  88. @Professor Kent:

    Sean, I suggest you read the chapter on salvation from the book, Seventh-day Adventists Believe. The plan of salvation involves much more than our hearing the Moral Voice of the Holy Spirit and responding to the Royal Law of Love.

    This is true from God’s perspective, but not from ours. We have a very simple choice to make regarding our salvation or loss. We either accept the gift, a selfless loving relationship with God and those that God loves, or we turn it down. Those who reject this gift, would not be happy in heaven (or anywhere else for that matter) and will therefore eventually choose oblivion by their own freewill. Sin is, by definition, ultimately self destructive and insane.

    Our only moral responsibility before God is therefore very simple: To respond favorably to the call of the Holy Spirit speaking the truth of the Royal Law of Love to the heart – the only sane option open to us.

    “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV

    There is a difference between faith and belief. Even the devils believe and tremble (James 2;19 KJV), yet they do not have faith in God. Faith is belief combined with the love of what is known to be true. The wicked know what is true, but they don’t love the truth. It is the love of the truth that gives faith its advantage over mere belief.

    It is for this reason that the love of the truth is more important than knowledge itself… more important to God than our faith or a conscious hope in the future.

    “The love of Christ binds together the members of His family, and wherever that love is made manifest there the divine relationship is revealed. ‘Everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.’ 1 John 4:7.” – EGW, DA, p. 683

    At one time a lawyer came to Jesus and said, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus turned the question back upon the questioner, and said unto him, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” The lawyer answered Him in a way that made manifest that he understood what the law comprehended. He quoted the words found in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” And he said unto him, “Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live.” – Luke 10:25-28

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  89. Sean said…..

    “A deliberate rejection of what is known to be right is sin….”

    Sean, a biblical definition of sin is far more comprehensive than the one you have opted for.

    Simply put, “Sin is transgression of the law.” and according to EGW, this is the only biblical definition of sin.

    “Now, we want to understand what sin is–that it is the transgression of God’s law. This is the only definition given in the Scriptures. Therefore we see that those who claim to be led of God, and go right away from Him and His law, do not search the Scriptures. But the Lord will lead His people; for He says that His sheep will follow if they hear His voice, but a stranger will they not follow. Then it becomes us to thoroughly understand the Scriptures. And we will not have to inquire whether others have the truth, for it will be seen in their characters.” {FW 56.1}

    Now we are aware that God handles “sin” from various perspectives. There are sins of ignorance and sins of rebellion. None the less, all is sin.

    So, just because you don’t know something is sin, and you don’t wilfully transgress the law, does not mean you are not transgressing the law.

    Certainly, we are aware that willful and deliberate rejection of God’s commands is sin. This is a selective definition and not a comprehensive one. It is a human definition, not a divine definition. And the bible deals with both perspectives.

    If the human definition is the only one we confess to, then, if any one sins in ignorance, they are not guilty and need not repent for any sin committed in ignorance, even if later they are enlightened of the situation. They could simply say, “I wasn’t sinning since I didn’t know better.”

    Notice how EGW deals with the divine definition of sin and how it applies, even to the Christian community.

    ” As the ministration of Jesus closed in the holy place, and He passed into the holiest, and stood before the ark containing the law of God, He sent another mighty angel with a third message to the world. A parchment was placed in the angel’s hand, and as he descended to the earth in power and majesty, he proclaimed a fearful warning, with the most terrible threatening ever borne to man. This message was designed to put the children of God upon their guard, by showing them the hour of temptation and anguish that was before them. Said the angel, “They will be brought into close combat with the beast and his image. Their only hope of eternal life is to remain steadfast. Although their lives are at stake, they must hold fast the truth.” The third angel closes his message thus: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” As he repeated these words, he pointed to the heavenly sanctuary. The minds of all who embrace this message are directed to the most holy place, where Jesus stands before the ark, making His final intercession for all those for whom mercy still lingers and for those who have ignorantly broken the law of God. This atonement is made for the righteous dead as well as for the righteous living. It includes all who died trusting in Christ, but who, not having received the light upon God’s commandments, had sinned ignorantly in transgressing its precepts.” {EW 254.1}

    Notice the final atonement is not only for wilfull transgression and repentance for it, but also for sin of ignorance. People like Luther and others who never received the light on the Sabbath truth were “forgiven” their sin by virtue of the final atonement.

    Yes, ignorance is and was a factor in forgiveness, but ignorance does not mean you are not sinning.

    And in the final sense, you are correct in assuming that it is wilfull sin that will shut people out of heaven, for it is only rebellion that in the end, that God can not and will not forgive.

    And even rebellion can cover considerable ground since wilfull ignorance may be considered rebellion by God.

    Bill Sorensen

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  90. @Bill Sorensen:

    Sean, a biblical definition of sin is far more comprehensive than the one you have opted for. Simply put, “Sin is transgression of the law.” and according to EGW, this is the only biblical definition of sin.

    Sin is a moral transgression against the only moral law there is… the Royal Law of Love – Luke 10:25-28. On this one Royal Law “hang all the law and the prophets” – as Jesus said. Since this particular law has been written on the hearts of all, no one can claim ignorance of this law. If anyone could claim ignorance of this law, such a person would not be guilty of sin since the insane self-destructive property of sin requires a deliberate rebellion against known truth.

    Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin. – John 9:41 NIV

    There are “sins of ignorance” of course, but these are not moral sins or shortcomings. A moral sin is dependent upon a deliberate rejection of known truth. Otherwise, people would have a valid excuse before God.

    What makes a moral sin so insane is that it is a deliberate act against that which is known to be true and good. An act against an unknown truth is not insane and therefore not a moral wrong for the ignorant individual in particular.

    This is not to say that honest errors will not result in suffering and pain. They often do. It is just that honest ignorance, where there were no deliberately rejected opportunities to know any better, makes one guiltless of moral responsibility for such harmful acts.

    Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34 NIV

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  91. Sean said…..

    ” If anyone could claim ignorance of this law, such a person would not be guilty of sin since the insane self-destructive property of sin requires a deliberate rebellion against known truth.”

    Then people who keep Sunday in ignorance are not sinning? Is that your understanding, Sean?

    It doesn’t seem to harmonize with EGW’s view that Jesus makes atonement for sins of ignorance. In your view, there would be no need for atonement for sins of ignorance. At least this is what I am getting from your explanation.

    Now you quoted this text….

    “Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin. – John 9:41 NIV ”

    But this is typical of the NIV. It distorts the true meaning of the text. In fact the text means this, “If ye were blind, you would have no sin that could not be forgiven. But now you say ‘We see’, therefore, your sin is unpardonable.”

    Totally different meaning than the NIV would have us understand this text. But the rendition I gave is in perfect harmony with the context and situation Jesus was addressing.

    Beware of the NIV. It may have some good thoughts on some passages. But is at times in total error on other passages. Such as Heb. 9. where they blatantly deny the real context that Paul is dealing with. And would negate the whole SDA movement if their explanation was correct.

    Sean futher said….

    “This is not to say that honest errors will not result in suffering and pain. They often do. It is just that honest ignorance, where there were no deliberately rejected opportunities to know any better, makes one guiltless of moral responsibility for such harmful acts.”

    Again Sean, you fail to see sin by way of an objective definition and limit sin to a subjective definition.

    In an objective sense, the law doesn’t care what you know or don’t know. The law pronounces guilty any and all who transgress it no matter what the reason.

    So as the saying goes, “Ignorance is no excuse and will be punished accordingly.”

    Now if we want to add grace to the law, (and the bible does this) we can state some elements of forgiveness based on various factors that activates grace. And a subjective application of the law and grace make redemption possible.

    But to claim no one is sinning unless they know better negates some aspects of grace and implies that grace is not necessary in these situations. And worst of all, it makes the atonement less valuable and negates some aspects of the atonement.

    It would have us believe Jesus did not pay for all sin, only the sins we committed when we knew better.

    When Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

    It was with the implication that if they repented, they could be forgiven. There is no blanket forgiveness for the whole human family apart from the response of confession and repentance.

    Jesus said to Mary, “Neither do I condemn you,” but He was quick to add, (lest there be any misunderstanding on her part or ours) “go and sin no more.” And this was part of the condition of forgiveness.

    So, Jesus death, plus our response, makes up a complete reason for forgiveness.

    The main point is that sin is both objective and subjective. And both define all the aspects of sin as defined and applied in the bible.

    Bill Sorensen

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  92. @Bill Sorensen:

    Then people who keep Sunday in ignorance are not sinning? Is that your understanding, Sean?

    That’s right – as long as they had no known opportunity to consciously recognize and deliberately reject the truth or knowledge of the truth.

    Honest ignorance of various forms of truth is not a moral wrong and does not lead to eternal death. As long as a person is living according to his/her God-given conscience(which is the Holy Spirit speaking to the heart) as best as he/she knows how given his/her limited knowledge of the truth, that person is considered to be righteous before God… end of story.

    Now you quoted this text….

    “Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin. – John 9:41 NIV ”

    But this is typical of the NIV. It distorts the true meaning of the text. In fact the text means this, “If ye were blind, you would have no sin that could not be forgiven. But now you say ‘We see’, therefore, your sin is unpardonable.”

    No version of this text reads like this. For this particular text, the KJV reads the same as the NIV:

    “Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin.” – John 9:41 KJV

    Jesus specifically claims that ignorance is equal to a complete lack of sin – period. There is no qualifier here that even suggests what you are suggesting.

    Consider also the following texts that say essentially the same thing:

    If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. – John 15:22

    If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. – John 15:24

    Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. – James 4:17

    Over and over again the Bible makes clear that truly honest ignorance of this or that truth, without any opportunity to know any better, is not viewed by God as a sin against one’s conscience… against the motive of selfless love.

    In an objective sense, the law doesn’t care what you know or don’t know. The law pronounces guilty any and all who transgress it no matter what the reason.

    The moral law is based on selfless love. In other words, the moral law is based on motive, not on perfect knowledge of all truth or actions. Not even in heaven will we have perfect knowledge or be perfect in every thought and action. We will, however, be perfect in selfless love. Only God is completely perfect in knowledge and action.

    Not too many years ago doctors and dieticians actually believed that meat and dairy products were vital to good health. Therefore, out of love and care for their patients, they would tell them to eat more meat, eggs, and milk to build strong bodies and bones. Now even the secular medical community is starting to realize that this advice was completely mistaken – that animal protein is actually quite harmful to the human system over time – resulting in markedly enhanced heart disease, a significantly increased risk of cancer, and numerous other medical conditions.

    So, were those who honestly advised their patients to eat lots of animal protein, thinking they were acting selflessly for the benefit of others, living a life of sin while in their ignorance? I think not. Their motives were pure and it is the motive that is judged by the moral law and by God, not the lack of correct knowledge.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  93. Sean Pitman: Now even the secular medical community is starting to realize that this advice was completely mistaken – that animal protein is actually quite harmful to the human system over time – resulting in markedly enhanced heart disease, a significantly increased risk of cancer, and numerous other medical conditions.

    It’s not quality; it’s quantity.

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  94. @Professor Kent:

    Sean Pitman: Now even the secular medical community is starting to realize that this advice was completely mistaken – that animal protein is actually quite harmful to the human system over time – resulting in markedly enhanced heart disease, a significantly increased risk of cancer, and numerous other medical conditions.

    Prof. Kent: It’s not quality; it’s quantity.

    You’re mistaken. It’s not just the quantity, but the quality of the protein in the diet that is important to health.

    Plant protein does not have the negative effects that certain animal proteins have on the human system. Laboratory studies have shown that plant protein, even if provided at the same level in the diet of lab animals, does not have the cancer-promoting properties of certain animal proteins.

    There is an increasing evidence that a diet mainly based on animal protein, casein in particular, is associated with various diseases in humans. High intake of animal protein increases total blood cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, obesity, and risks of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. On the other hand, many studies report that vegetable protein is associated with low blood cholesterol and the low risk of these diseases.

    In fact, eating plant-derived protein has a greater power to lower cholesterol levels than reducing fat or cholesterol intake.

    The animal protein casein, in particular and in isolation, has been shown to causes a broad spectrum of adverse effects.

    Among other fundamental effects, casein makes the body more acidic, alters the mix of hormones and modifies important enzyme activities, each of which can cause a broad array of more specific effects. One of these effects is its ability to promote cancer growth (by operating on key enzyme systems, by increasing hormone growth factors and by modifying the tissue acidity). Another is its ability to increase blood cholesterol (by modifying enzyme activities) and to enhance atherogenesis, which is the early stage of cardiovascular disease.

    And finally, although these are casein-specific effects, it should be noted that other animal-based proteins are likely to have the same effect as casein.

    Dr. Campbell and his colleagues studied the effects of casein versus plant proteins such as those found in soy or wheat. What they found was startlingly clear. Plant proteins do not promote foci or cancer growth, even when consumed in very large quantities. However, casein has a dramatic affect on foci or cancer cells. The Cornell researchers found that casein turns cancer on and off. If you consume even moderate amounts of milk and cheese you will promote any cancer cells that may be latent in your body. If you stop eating casein containing products, the growth of foci or cancer growth slows or stops.

    There is also the problem of what comes along with the protein you’re eating. A 6-ounce broiled porterhouse steak is a great source of protein—38 grams worth. But it also delivers 44 grams of fat, 16 of them saturated. That’s almost three-fourths of the recommended daily intake for saturated fat. The same amount of salmon gives you 34 grams of protein and 18 grams of fat, 4 of them saturated. A cup of cooked lentils has 18 grams of protein, but under 1 gram of fat.

    See also:

    http://www.tcolincampbell.org/

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1308977765978236346

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  95. Sean, I will just make one more comment and then you can believe what ever you want, even if you are wrong.

    Suppose I speed through some town and I don’t see a speed limit sign that says 35 miles an hour.

    A cop stops me and tells me I was doing 50 in a 35 mile an hour zone. “OH” I say, “I didn’t see the sign, so I am not guilty of speeding.”

    How impressed will he be with my defense that I am not guilty since I did not see the sign? He may show mercy and not write me a ticket based on his evaluation that I was truly ignorant of the law.

    Or, he may write me a ticket and tell me I should be more observant since a couple blocks earlier there was a sign clearly posting the 35 mile an hour limit.

    My final comment is that you have a warped view of guilt in reference to law. If you break God’s law, you are guilty whether you know it or not.

    Just so, God may forgive sins of ignorance based on grace, not because a person is not guilty.

    So Paul says, “At these times of ignorance, God winked at.” Not because people were not guilty, but because God took into account their ignorance of His will.

    And the only reason God can “wink” at sin or overlook sin is because of the atonement of the cross. So, once again, you have a convoluted non-scriptural view of sin, guilt, and the law.

    Bill Sorensen

    Hope everyone has a nice Sabbath.

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  96. Thank you, Sean. Your language (“diet mainly based on” and “high intake”) reflects agreement the more serious issue of quantity. I appreciate the info on quality and will have to look into the original literature when I get a chance one day. If you don’t mind my asking, are there any human data addressing the quality issue (casein), or is it all based on animal models? What is your source for the Cornell study on milk and cheese?

    Have the Adventist Health Studies revealed a quantitative link (proportion of meat in diet, while controlling for many other variables simultaneously, including body fat index) between animal protein and cancer? Of course, there are other differences besides protein quality in animal- vs. plant-based diets (e.g., fat and bioaccumulation of toxins in animals), so a causal relationship beyond a mere association in humans would be very difficult to demonstrate.

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  97. Sean, I checked your link to Cornell, and could not find refereed publications there to back his claims. I take it his conclusions have been disputed. Do you have references for refereed publications handy? I’m a vegetarian myself, so I do find this interesting–and with much more potential for SDAs to witness to the world than endlessly arguing “faith” versus “blind faith” and origins.

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