@OTNT_Believer: Religious belief has never been entirely rational, and there …

Comment on Dr. Ervin Taylor: ‘A truly heroic crusade’ by Sean Pitman.


Religious belief has never been entirely rational, and there is no reason to expect it to be. Not all truth is accessible by rational means.

The well-known Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias, tells a story of a lady standing up during one of his lectures and explaining to him that religion is not rational and is not supposed to be rational. In response, Ravi said, “Would you like a rational or an irrational response?” – to which the lady stood silent for a moment before sitting down without further comment…

To argue that important truths are completely irrational is itself an irrational statement that is essentially nonsensical. The God of the Bible constantly strives to appeal to the rational candid mind as well as the heart. He is quoted as saying, “Come, let us reason together.” – Isaiah 1:18 NIV.

The Christian God is not a God of confusion, but of order and reason. He has given us rational minds for a reason. As Galileo once opined, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Dr. Ervin Taylor: ‘A truly heroic crusade’
One more thing Erv. I’d also be interested in your response to the following comments from Dr. John Baumgardner regarding your 2007 paper:

Finally, Bertsche seeks to dismiss the 14C we measured in diamonds also as contamination. He cites a 2007 paper by Taylor and Southon. The paper describes the techniques the authors recently applied to measure 14C levels in natural diamond. As part of the background of their paper, Taylor and Southon list six potential sources of contamination for samples analyzed in AMS laboratories. At the very top of their list is “1 Pseudo 14C-free sample: 14C is present in carboniferous material that should not contain 14C because of its geological age.” By placing this item first, they acknowledge what has long been known by AMS radiocarbon specialists: namely, that the vast majority of samples that ought to be completely 14C-free because of their geological context display 14C levels far beyond what can be accounted for by sources attributable to laboratory procedures or equipment design.

Indeed, they implicitly acknowledge this in the first paragraph of their introduction by mentioning 14C ages of 47.9 ka for a marble sample and 52.1 ka for a Pliocene wood sample, both far beyond the AMS 100,000-year detection limit they mention in their first sentence. It is astonishing that these authors never attribute this discrepancy to any one of the six possible explanations they list later in the article. In fact, they are completely silent as to just what the correct explanation might be. This silence is all the more noteworthy since the 14C level in the marble sample is 546 times the detection limit of their AMS system.

The main point of their paper is that by using diamonds and mounting them directly in the sample holder, they are able to exclude items 2 through 5 in their list of six potential sources of contamination. These items are 2 Combustion/acidification background, 3 Graphitization background, 4 Transfer (to the sample holder) background, and 5 Storage background. The last item in their list, 6 Instrument background, involves a “14C signal registering in the detector circuitry when 14C-ion [is] not present.” This item is routinely and reliably tested by running the system with no sample in the aluminum sample holder. This test is the basis for the value of the ultimate AMS detection limit, about 0.0005 pMC, corresponding to about 100,000 14C years. Therefore, by process of elimination, what these authors are measuring and reporting is their item (1), namely, 14C intrinsic to the diamonds! This is precisely what we claim for diamond samples we measured using the same technique.

Taylor and Southon report results from eight individual natural diamonds and from six separate fragments cut from a single diamond. The 14C values ranged from 0.005 to 0.021 pMC for the eight individual diamonds and 0.015 to 0.018 pMC for the six fragments, with typical uncertainties of ±0.001-0.002 pMC. Note that a value of 0.015 exceeds the AMS system background value by a factor of 30.

I certainly grant that one needs almost to be an AMS insider to be aware how routine it is to measure the sixth item in Taylor and Southon’s list, instrument background, and hence to realize that the 14C values they report represent intrinsic 14C in the diamonds themselves and not instrument background. It is therefore understandable why Bertsche comes away with an incorrect conclusion after reading their paper. This illustrates again, however, that he is not the expert in 14C dating that he makes himself out to be.

What about the RATE diamond measurements? Bertsche alludes to the fact that the RATE team also tested diamond by placing diamonds directly into the AMS sample holder. Our tests were done in 2006 after the RATE book was published in 2005. We obtained results quite similar to those reported by Taylor and Southon in 2007. Our ten diamond samples displayed 14C values between 0.008 and 0.022 pMC, with a mean value of 0.014 pMC. Certainly these 14C levels are much smaller than what we obtained for our coal samples; so, caution is obviously advisable in their interpretation. Nevertheless, unless one has a philosophical bias against such a possibility, the most plausible explanation, astonishing as it may be to some, is that natural diamond contains measurable and reproducible levels of intrinsic 14C.



Sean Pitman

Dr. Ervin Taylor: ‘A truly heroic crusade’
Dr. Ervin Taylor on Radiocarbon and AMS Technology

@Ervin Taylor:

Hi Erv,

I really don’t know why you’re getting all excited about my comments regarding radiocarbon dating and AMS technology? I understand that AMS technology has various problems of contamination. I also understand that these problems can be understood and even controlled to a reasonable degree using careful techniques. Given these techniques, it seems to me like my original points and observations still stand – i.e., that most samples of coal, oil, and non-fossilized remains of fossils contain levels of 14C that are in fact above the level of that can reasonably be attributed to the AMS technology itself. In other words, there is real 14C in most of these particular types of specimens – even if it is given that there is no 14C in diamonds (I never personally understood, even from a creationist position, why there should be much 14C in diamonds to begin with).

As an aside, did you not find it curious that your analysis (using your own AMS machine) of multiple cuts of a single diamond produced a very narrow range of apparent ages? apparent 14C ages ranging between 69-70 kyrs? Yet, the range you measured, in the very same machine, between different diamonds was 68-80 kyrs? Why the significant difference in apparent age between different diamonds if all the 14C was the result of “contamination” due to “instrument background” and other such sources of potential contamination associated with the AMS machine and methodology? – i.e., not the result of any intrinsic 14C? One would think that if there was no intrinsic 14C at all in any of the diamonds analyzed that all should have essentially the same apparent age within the same range of error according to the background produced by the machine itself… or am I way off base here?

After all, didn’t you and Dr. Southon actually addressed this phenomenon in your 2007 paper – on the Use of natural diamonds to monitor 14C AMS instrument backgrounds ?

“Our measurements have confirmed our hypothesis that diamonds represent a much “cleaner” surface with respect to adhesion of carbon-containing molecules from the ion source that contribute to trace memory or sample “cross talk” effect. At this time, it is not clear to us what factors might be involved in the greater variability in the apparent 14C concentrations exhibited in individual diamonds as opposed to splits from a single natural diamond. Possible factors suggested to us are greater variability in the orientation of the crystal facies and microfractures in individual diamonds.”

Perhaps I’m showing my ignorance here, but I’m not sure what variability in the orientation of crystal facies or microfractures would have to do with producing an increased variability in apparent 14C age of the diamond? – given that the diamond did not in fact have any 14C to begin with? But, at least you and Southon admit to the reality of this curious observation given your hypothesis of a complete lack of 14C in all diamonds analyzed.

In any case, regardless of if diamonds do or do not have trace amounts of 14C, the issue remains on how to explain the presence of real 14C in most samples of coal and oil and other organic remains of fossils? It seems like we are back to square one with the usual counter argument being “in situ contamination”…

As noted by Dr. Paul Giem in his 2001 Origins paper, Carbon-14 Content of Fossil Carbon, the common argument of 14C production by Uranium within or near the coal sample releasing neutrons over time is not reasonable given the degree of 14C “contamination”. The amount of original radioactive material would have been prohibitive. And, perhaps the most striking problem, as noted by Dr. Giem, is:

“If neutron capture is a significant source of carbon-14 in a given sample [given that nitrogen-14 captures neutrons 110,000 times more effectively than does carbon-13], radiocarbon dates should vary wildly with the nitrogen content of the sample. I know of no such data.”

Therefore, the levels of 14C “contamination” that are generally observed could not reasonably be explained by in situ production of 14C – right? So, where does this leave us? with your argument for in situ contamination by modern 14C of course…

There seems to be at least some validity to this argument, but how does one explain the nearly universal nature of this in situ contamination? As Dr. Giem notes, “It is difficult to imagine a natural process contaminating wood, whale bone, petroleum and coal, all roughly to the same extent. It is especially difficult to imagine all parts of a coal seam being contaminated equally.”

Of course, there are still a few mysteries for the creationist side of this particular line of evidence as well. For example, why do some forms of anthracite exist with no measurable intrinsic radiocarbon above the background level of the AMS technology?

So, there remain questions on this particular issue for both sides. Yet, it seems to me, at least for now, that the weight of evidence seems to favor the creationist position when it comes to radiocarbon dating – to include the use of AMS technology. However, any further comments and education from someone of your expertise in this area would be most welcome.


Sean Pitman

Dr. Ervin Taylor: ‘A truly heroic crusade’
@Professor Kent:

More from Richard M. Davidson, Interpreting Scripture According to the Scriptures: Toward an Understanding of Seventh-day Adventist Hermeneutics

The sufficiency of Scripture is not just in the sense of material sufficiency, i.e., that Scripture contains all the truths necessary for salvation. Adventists also believe in the formal sufficiency of Scripture, i.e., that the Bible alone is sufficient in clarity so that no external source is required to rightly interpret it.

Does anyone here disagree with one of the leading SDA theologians, representing the Adventist Biblical Research Institute, on these points? You can read more here: http://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/documents/interp%20scripture%20davidson.pdf

There is a difference between being able to interpret what the Scriptures are saying vs. being able to determine if the Bible is or is not really the “Word of God”. Coming up with a correct interpretation of a text, of what the authors were trying to say, is not the same thing as a demonstration of the Divine origin fo the text. Such a demonstration needs additional evidence beyond the text itself in order to be able to rationally pick the Bible over all other competing texts/options as the true Word of God.

Please, for Christ’s sake, do NOT base your beliefs in God and His word based on what the fossils say!

Or on any other empirical evidence for that matter- right? Why take on the potential for possibly being wrong? Why take on any risk?

Well, upon what then do you base your choice of the Bible over other self-proclaimed mouthpieces for God?

Sean Pitman

Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

Scott Ritsema, Dr. Lela Lewis, Pastor Wyatt Allen an Dr. Peter McCullough on COVID-19 Vaccines
Yeah, well, it might help to actually understand the primary data one is looking at before one makes up his/her mind… which Dr. McCullough clearly doesn’t understand – particularly when it comes to the meaning of the VAERS data.

Scott Ritsema, Dr. Lela Lewis, Pastor Wyatt Allen an Dr. Peter McCullough on COVID-19 Vaccines
If you’re going to just present one side of an issue, just do that. Don’t bother citing your “academic” credentials and history of “always” trying to present a balanced perspective. And, don’t complain about others, like the mainstream media, doing the very same thing that you’re doing – presenting only one side of an issue.

Beyond this minor point, have you nothing of real substance or interest to say about the actual primary claims being made? about all the scientific data that appears to strongly counter the sensational claims that Dr. McCullough’s presented in this video?

Scott Ritsema, Dr. Lela Lewis, Pastor Wyatt Allen an Dr. Peter McCullough on COVID-19 Vaccines
Then don’t complain about others doing exactly what you’re doing…

Anyway, the real issue with the video is that the main claims are almost all completely false and those that are true are presented in a very misleading manner – which has the potential to harm or even kill people. That’s the real problem.

Now, I know that you’re a registered nurse and lifestyle director of the Eden Valley Institute of Wellness in Loveland, Colorado. And, that’s great! I would suggest to you, however, that excellent health would also help someone do very well with the mRNA vaccines. But why not just rely on excellent health alone? Doesn’t the Adventist Health Message completely negate the need for vaccines? Well, no, it doesn’t. I know of several very healthy vegans who have been seriously sicked by COVID-19 with some having sustained permanent and progressive injuries – and some have even died. So, I would suggest to do both – to follow the Health Message as carefully as possible and to take the mRNA vaccines. This will provide the greatest level of protection possible to our Adventist brothers and sisters. It’s certainly what Mrs. White advocated in her own day when smallpox was killing many people. She certainly wasn’t opposed to the smallpox vaccine and supported her own son William White getting vaccinated, along with his staff and associates (Link). And, her own secretary (D. E. Robinson) wrote that Mrs. White was also vaccinated for smallpox (Link).

Scott Ritsema, Dr. Lela Lewis, Pastor Wyatt Allen an Dr. Peter McCullough on COVID-19 Vaccines
That’s just it. Scott didn’t claim to “be providing a neutral platform”. He just complained about others not doing so, and then didn’t do so himself. He said that,

“I believe that everybody needs to hear both sides. My background in academics was in history, I was a history teacher. I got into ministry later in life… but I come from that academic background of dialogue and inquiry. And, as a history teacher, whenever I notice that maybe one side was getting a little more play and imbalance, and the other side had some valid and interesting things to bring to the table, whether I agreed with them or not, I would always want to give air to that other side – to let people think and evaluate for themselves and grant people that they are capable, that they are individuals with a mind, and can evaluate the evidence for themselves.”

Yet, immediately after saying all this about being all even-handed with presenting a topic, he immediately says that in this particular video, he’s “Looking forward to hearing another side of this discussion” – without actually evenhandedly presenting and/or discussing both sides for his audience to “evaluate the evidence for themselves”.

Again, I don’t mind if someone wants to present one particular side of a discussion. However, when someone states, upfront, that they are an “academic” who is all into presenting data on both sides of an issue so that people can make up their own minds, it comes across as a bit non-academic when only one side is then presented without any time given for anyone on the other side to address and give their own take on the claims being made.

COVID-19 and Vaccines – Update
As I’ve asked others, why do you think that the overall “all-cause” death rate in the United States, and around the world, suddenly spiked in March of 2020 if this pandemic we’re in is really no big deal? – if the death rates have been so exaggerated as you claim? If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, what else has killed off more than 600,000 people so far in this country alone (3.9 million worldwide)? – beyond what would usually be expected? (Link)

I’m sorry, but Dr. McCullough is basing his position off of a false interpretation of the VAERS data (maintained by the FDA and CDC by the way) and false interpretations of a few other papers as well, which he evidently doesn’t understand.