Comment on The Credibility of Faith by Sean Pitman.
Iâ€™m in the same boat as those described in Romans 1:20, who likewise observed the wicked cruelty of nature at play (thanks to sin), had conflicting evidence for a benevolent God, had no evidence whatsover of Jesus Christ, yet were â€œwithout excuseâ€ and apparently â€œbelieved.â€ Maybe weâ€™ll dock at the same destination as your boat, and maybe we wonâ€™t. But I donâ€™t feel compelled to jump ship.
Yes, and the very same thing can be said for my honest and sincere LDS friends (even for my agnostic and atheistic friends). God will accept the honest sincerity of their belief if combined with the motive of selfless love and care for their neighbors. Given this motivation, even though they may be mistaken regarding various other doctrinal beliefs, they will still “dock at the same destination” as those who did know and live according to greater doctrinal “truth”. They will be in Heaven – as will you and I if we remain sincerely and earnestly devoted to the truth as best as we can see it (even if you or I happen to be wrong in what we think is the truth regarding origins).
How much better though to have an intelligent basis for faith, belief and hope in the future here and now if we did have the backing of very solid empirical evidence? How much more confidence could be had in this life if one could appreciate the overwhelming evidence, the empirical evidence, for the credibility of God’s Word? Surely you recognize that there would be at least some benefit if discoveries of science did happen to clearly support the validity of the Bible’s claims? If not, what’s the point of any Church sponsoring the study of nature?
Sean Pitman Also Commented
The Credibility of Faith
I do not for one millisecond take the position that I believe without evidence. However, a large amount of my evidence is not based on what most scientists would consider â€œscientific data.â€ My faith is based on a consortium of evidence. Some of it is scientific, some of it is metaphysical, some of it is prophetic, and some of it is experiential. The truth is, I have no proof whatsoever that my source of authority is superior to that of Muslims. There is plenty of reason in my mind to believe that there is, but that is unlikely to be sufficient to convince many of them.
Many people forget that science requires leaps of faith beyond which the data actually goes. That’s what science is all about – making educated leaps of faith that cannot be absolutely proven to be true. The same thing can be true of religion.
I see all empirical data is “scientific data” and I think that science can be and must be done, ultimately, by the individual. Again, science isn’t about absolute “proof”. Science never proves a hypotheses or theory to be absolutely true. Science can falsify hypotheses or theories, but it can never fully prove them.
As far as convincing someone else that your own hypothesis is the correct one among many options, that’s a different story. What seems favored by the weight of evidence from your particular perspective may not seem so conclusive from someone else’s perspective. As you point out, there are many factors involved when it comes to making decisions as to what is and is not most likely true – and not all of these factors are based on logical reasoning. There is also the factor of personal feeling or desire or motive.
Since only God can accurate judge the motive or hearts of us humans, the best we can do is share what has been so convincing and helpful from our own perspective. The rest is up to God and the promptings of His Holy Spirit… as you also point out.
My whole point here is to explain that one’s own personal choice as to what is and is not most likely true should be based on more than some sort of internal feeling or strong impression. It should be based on the weight of available empirical evidence. You list biblical prophecy as one of your evidences, for example. You suggest that the evidence of prophecy is not “scientific evidence”. Yet, scientific reasoning can indeed be employed in the evaluation of the hypothesis of fulfilled prophetic statements: Were they really fulfilled in actual history? Were they really made before they were fulfilled? What is the statistical value of the prophecy regarding the need for Divine or superhuman input vs. the alternate null hypothesis of random chance?
These questions can be tested and potentially falsified via forms of scientific investigation and logical arguments based on the weight of empirical data. This sort of investigation is a form of scientific reasoning.
Again, while such scientific reasoning may not reach the level of absolute proof, while it may not be able to convince everyone, “even if someone were raised from the dead some will not believe…” (Luke 16:31), it doesn’t mean it isn’t valid scientific reasoning from your own perspective… and potentially useful for other candid minds who sincerely come to you and ask you the reason for the hope that is within you… a reason that is something more than an internal impression that is only useful for you as a valid reason…
The Credibility of Faith
So the conclusion to all of this appears to be that, for SDAs, science and evidence trump faith. I completely disagree, but so be it.
If “faith trumps science and evidence”, as you suggest here, then what conclusion can one make except to see this as an argument for blind faith? – faith that is not based on any kind of scientific reasoning or evidence? – faith in a particular point of view that can stand even if all available evidence is pointing in a different direction?
In short, how is your faith in the Bible, faith that is not based on science or evidence of any kind, superior to the same type of faith expressed my LDS or Hindu or Muslim believers in the superiority of their own sources of authority compared to your Bible? How are you so sure you’re right and they’re wrong? How do you know that your “faith” is superior to theirs? Upon what basis do you make such a bold assertion? – a basis that would have general appeal to candid minds beyond your own?
The Credibility of Faith
I respectfully disagree, even though I believe in the latter, non-falsifiable hypothesis.
Is it not uncharitable of you to argue that the vast majority of scientists are obviously wrong? wrong in their claim that the biblical notion of a recent creation of life on this planet has in fact been clearly falsified by the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence? I mean, every time I suggest that anyone might be mistaken you suggest that I’m being uncharitable. How about you then? Does the same argument apply to you?
You see, you’re not just disagreeing with me here. You’re disagreeing with the majority of mainstream scientists who think that your claim to the non-falsifiability of the biblical short-age model of origins is obviously mistaken – that this model for the origin of life on this planet has clearly been falsified by the overwhelming weight of empirical evidence. The very fact that you yourself recognize that empirical evidence can indeed be brought to bear against the biblical position on origins should be enough to convince you of potentially falsifiable nature of the biblical account (in the same manner that many of the historical statements in the Book of Mormon are open to potential falsification and have in fact been falsified).
The only basis that you have consistently forwarded to believe that the biblical claims are still correct despite all the falsifying empirical evidence is your “faith” in the Bible despite all the physical evidence to the contrary – faith that is largely supported by what you feel are the impressions of the Holy Spirit along with a few relatively weekly supporting empirical evidences in the form of fulfilled historical prophecies. That’s it. That’s all you’ve really argued for as far as I’ve been able to tell.
From a rational basis, your claim that the biblical position on origins is not at all subject to empirical testing or the falsifying weight of empirical evidence simply doesn’t hold water for the vast majority of intelligent minds who have thought seriously about this issue…
It is fine if you want to believe despite in the face of what you consider to be the overwhelming weight of empirical evidence to the contrary. Just don’t call your belief or faith anything other than blind faith – i.e., faith that isn’t based on the weight of empirical evidence. Faith that is based on something other than the empirical evidence is blind to that particular type of evidence since it doesn’t take it into serious account.
The kind of faith that is independent of the weight of physical evidence may be helpful for the individual, but it really isn’t helpful when it comes to convincing minds that do not have access to whatever other type of non-empirical evidence you seem to have access to. I certainly do not have access to this other type of evidence that seems so convincing to you in the face of the overwhelming weight of empirical evidence to the contrary.
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…
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Review of “The Naked Emperor” by Pastor Conrad Vine
I fail to see where you have convincingly supported your claim that the GC leadership contributed to the harm of anyone’s personal religious liberties? – given that the GC leadership does not and could not override personal religious liberties in this country, nor substantively change the outcome of those who lost their jobs over various vaccine mandates. That’s just not how it works here in this country. Religious liberties are personally derived. Again, they simply are not based on a corporate or church position, but rely solely upon individual convictions – regardless of what the church may or may not say or do.
Yet, you say, “Who cares if it is written into law”? You should care. Everyone should care. It’s a very important law in this country. The idea that the organized church could have changed vaccine mandates simply isn’t true – particularly given the nature of certain types of jobs dealing with the most vulnerable in society (such as health care workers for example).
Beyond this, the GC Leadership did, in fact, write in support of personal religious convictions on this topic – and there are GC lawyers who have and continue to write personal letters in support of personal religious convictions (even if these personal convictions are at odds with the position of the church on a given topic). Just because the GC leadership also supports the advances of modern medicine doesn’t mean that the GC leadership cannot support individual convictions at the same time. Both are possible. This is not an inconsistency.
Review of “The Naked Emperor” by Pastor Conrad Vine
Thank you for this update. I really appreciate it and the courage it took to post this…
Dr. John Campbell: mRNA Vaccines Cause Lethal Encephalitis?
Dr. Roger Seheult does make some money from his YouTube Videos, but not nearly what Campbell makes. The fact of the matter is, Campbell started making much more money once he switched from presenting mainstream medical science to promoting conspiracy theories. Promoting conspiracy theories is far more profitable it seems… unfortunately.
As far as your posts, I haven’t blocked any of them thus far. I do find it interesting, however, that you don’t address any of the counterarguments forwarded by Dr. Seheult. Why do you choose to believe a retired nurse, like Campbell, over a practicing pulmonologist who was fighting on the front lines during the height of COVID-19, like Seheult?
Dr. John Campbell: mRNA Vaccines Cause Lethal Encephalitis?
Two brains, locked in on the official narrative. Please look outside of the box. Jesus walked and talked and cared for people outside the box. Follow your leader who warned about deceptions by big pharma and big business as the beast the harlot church rides — Revelation 18:23
“… all nations were deceived by your sorcery (pharmakeia)!
You do realize that Ellen White herself promoted various medications and medical therapies of her day that she considered to be helpful in various situations? – to include the use of what was generally regarded as a “poison”, quinine, to prevent malarial infections for missionaries who worked in malaria-infested regions of the world? She wrote, “If quinine will save a life, use quinine.” (Link) She also supported the vaccination of her son William, both as a child and as an adult (despite William having had an adverse reaction to vaccination as a child) (Link). She supported blood transfusion when necessary, despite their risks (Link). And, she even supported using radiation therapy when appropriate, despite its risks (Link). Beyond this, she recognized the advantages of anesthesia during surgery and the use of medicines to relieve the intense pain and suffering of the injured or sick (Link).
Regarding Revelation 18:23, in particular, the term “pharmakeia” is best translated as “sorcery” here. There is no intended advice at all against modern medicine in this passage. What, are you suggesting that medications like antibiotics to treat bacterial infections or insulin to treat diabetes are evil “sorceries”? Again, such arguments only make the Christians who say such things look sensational and irrational – which puts the Gospel Message itself into a bad light for those who are considering following Christ. (Link, Link)
Jesus reached out asking to “let us reason together.”
“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (Matthew 12:20).
There is a spirit in the SDA Church that is breaking reeds and putting out wicks.
Not an example of who we say is our leader.
Again, the delegates simply were not so uninformed as you and Pastor Vine are claiming here. They had already heard enough reasons and arguments regarding vaccines to make an intelligent informed decision on this particular topic…
Wilson/ADCOM/Hart disowns members who dare want to “let us reason together” about the Vaccine Statement. Attorney Zirkle’s request stomped by Wilsons command to delegates to vote NO, and by a mal-functioning electronic voting system that would not even register the seconds to Zirkle’s motion. Request to check the electronic voting system was rejected by GC. Not something Jesus would reject.
As already discussed, this isn’t true. Elder Wilson simply doesn’t have the power to command the delegates to do anything. And Zirkle’s motion did in fact receive “seconds” since the internet connection issue was fixed. The electronic voting system simply wasn’t an issue at this GC session as it had been back at the 2015 GC session. You’re simply repeating claims here that aren’t true.
You say without compassion:
Really? Why then haven’t the sudden death rates for adults or young healthy athletes increased since the mRNA vaccines became available?
Why are you accusing me of having no compassion when I simply point out the fact that the actual sudden death rate for adults and young healthy athletes has not increased since the mRNA vaccines became available? – that the rate of these tragic events has not changed? – that, despite these events being true tragedies that are horrible indeed, they are are not being cause by the mRNA vaccines?
You say the vaccine is a risk-benefit decision. I say that each “risk” dying or harmed is a human person, not a throw-away statistic. Where is the informed consent, and information on vaccine adverse affects within the vaccine medicine box? Do you have a copy of what information about the vaccine is provided to patients and doctors?
Everything you do is a risk/reward decision. Even drinking pure clean water can kill you, since water can be toxic if taken into the body beyond its level of toxicity. And, the risks of the mRNA vaccines are well known and have been well-publicized. It’s just that, for most people, the risks of getting infected by the COVID-19 virus was much much greater than getting vaccinated ahead of time.
Athlete deaths are 1700% higher since Covid 19 vaccine began.
Study finds Athlete Deaths are 1700% higher than expected since Covid-19 Vaccination began
Book: Sudden Deaths in 2020-2021
Children’s Defense Fund, Edward Dowd, Robert Kennedy
Names of athletes who died after vaccine began:
Tucker Carlson interview:
This is all based on false or misleading information, some of which has been completely fabricated (Link). You’re taking lies for truth and truth for lies here. I’m really sorry that you’ve been do deceived, but that’s the reality of the situation. The voices that you’ve chosen to listen to are, in fact, not telling you the actual truth. And, just a little bit of even-hand investigation would demonstrate this to the candid observer. The claim that young healthy athletes have started dying at much higher rates since the mRNA vaccines became available just isn’t true. This conspiracy theory is flat out wrong, without any basis in actual generally-available empirical data. Here’s a little history behind this particular conspiracy theory:
Ben Swann, who has spread misinformation about the pandemic since 2020, posted on Facebook on Jan. 3 an old video promoting the unsupported theory that there’s a recent surge in athlete deaths. The same day, conservative commentator Liz Wheeler and Dr. Simone Gold — who has peddled dubious cures for COVID-19, anti-vaccination messages and politicized medical misinformation — posted similar claims… Both Wheeler and Gold cited a letter to the editor published in the Scandinavian Journal of Immunology that was co-authored by Dr. Peter McCullough, another prominent purveyor of COVID-19 misinformation. Although its publication may give the letter a veneer of legitimacy, the letter did not include any original research, as suggested by Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson. Rather, it relied upon an arbitrary list of athlete deaths maintained on an anonymous website that we wrote about shortly after it appeared online in late 2021.
As we explained before, the list includes students, professionals, amateurs, coaches and retirees. It includes people who died by suicide, car crash and drug overdose. The list does not — in nearly all cases — include the vaccination status of the deceased, let alone prove any causal relationship between vaccines and the deaths. In fact, as we’ve previously reported, some of the deaths initially listed happened before the vaccines had even become available to the age category for the person listed.
Wheeler and Gold, though, each shared an image that highlighted a portion of the letter comparing the number of deaths listed on the anonymous website with the number of sudden cardiac deaths among athletes that had appeared in academic literature over a 38-year period as compiled in a 2006 paper. The two figures reflect different criteria. One number is very broad and includes anyone with a passing relationship to sports who died for any reason since 2021, while the other is conspicuously narrow and includes only the deaths of athletes that were analyzed in English-language academic research papers.
Although the comparison they make is meaningless, Wheeler and Gold leave the false impression that there’s been a surge in deaths and further the baseless narrative that there’s been an increase in athlete injuries and deaths since the COVID-19 vaccines became available.
But the surge is fiction. It doesn’t exist.
“There is no uptick in sudden cardiac arrest or death in athletes due to COVID-19 or from COVID vaccinations. This is total misinformation,” Dr. Jonathan Drezner told us in an emailed statement. Drezner is the director of the UW Medicine Center for Sports Cardiology at the University of Washington, editor in chief of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, and a team physician for the Seattle Seahawks, the OL Reign soccer team and the University of Washington Huskies.
More than 2,000 children and adolescents in the U.S. die from sudden cardiac arrest every year, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and two-thirds of the deaths “occur during exercise or activity.” Among young athletes, sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death, according to CHOP.
Drezner said his center monitors “all cases and all causes” of sudden cardiac arrest or death in athletes by working with the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “[T]here is no change,” he said.
The National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research catalogs injuries for high school and college athletes, and its most recent report covers the 2020-21 school year. It shows that 21 athletes died while playing their sport that year.
COVID-19 vaccines were available to everyone 16 and over in the U.S. by April 2021, so the overlap between the period covered by the report and the period in which vaccines were widely available to young people was relatively small. We reached out to the center to find out if the data collected for the 2021-2022 school year has indicated any increase in deaths.
The center’s director, Dr. Kristen Kucera, told us that so far, “the numbers are the same and it’s actually fewer than we captured in 2018-19.”
For context, the center reported 19 deaths in 2019-20, 25 deaths in 2018-19 and 21 deaths in 2017-18.
Similarly, Dr. Robert Cantu, the center’s medical director, told us in an emailed statement that he’s seen no increase in athlete deaths and called the claims “misinformation.”
“The statistics don’t bear out that there’s been an increase in events among athletes,” Dr. Curt Daniels, professor of cardiovascular medicine and director of the sports cardiology program at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, told us in a phone interview.
The field of sports cardiologists who oversee the health of athletes is relatively small, Daniels said. “We talk and communicate all the time,” he said, and none of his colleagues has flagged a rise in sudden cardiac arrest.
“There’s been no increase,” he said.
Also, Daniels noted, there’s a high vaccination rate among athletes in part because many organizations require vaccination to participate. He noted that a rare side effect of the mRNA vaccines is heart inflammation, or myocarditis, which has primarily affected young men between 12 and 24 years old after a second dose, as we’ve explained before. The risk is highest for males ages 16 to 17, at 106 cases per million doses after the second dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those cases have appeared to resolve faster and have better clinical outcomes when compared with the more common cases of myocarditis caused by viral infection, including from the virus that causes COVID-19. Despite that, anti-vaccine campaigners have distorted the rare vaccine side effect as being more common than it is, using that misrepresentation in claims about increases in athlete deaths.
For those who develop myocarditis, stressing the heart with intense physical activity could create an arrhythmia resulting in a cardiac event, Daniels said.
“And, in fact,” Daniels said, “we have not seen an increase in events.”
So, he said, if the vaccines were causing an increase in sudden deaths, “we would be seeing it here and we’re not.” (Link)
Yet, you don’t accept any data that is contrary to your position. Why not? Upon what basis do you believe the claims of known conspiracy theorists over the observation of the vast majority of experts in this particular field of study? I mean, how credible are those that you’re referencing here?
Tucker Carlson, in particular, admits that he lies on his program for entertainment purposes (Link, Link). Robert Kennedy consistently makes completely false and outrageous claims and promotes innumerable conspiracy theories – most of which are completely ludicrous. Drs. Peter McCullough and Robert Malone aren’t much better, spouting off endless tin-hat just-so conspiracy theories and misinformation about COVID-19 and the mRNA viruses. Yet, these are the types of people that you are citing to support your positions here? Can’t you do any better than this?
I know you will say that all the above are non-worthy opinions compared to the experts’ opinions in the above article. Every opinion that differs is immediately discarded.
It’s not that these differing opinions haven’t been very carefully and thouroughly considered. It’s just that they’ve all turned out to be wrong. The actual data that is currently in hand very clearly falsifies the claims that you’ve been forwarding – all of them. How then, do you explain away what seems to be the very strong weight evidence that I’ve provided to you that appears to effectively falsify your positions here?
Dealing with narcissists who think they are empathic:
Again, you accuse me of narcissism and lack of empathy with great confidence – without actually knowing me or my true heart or motivations. What makes you so confident that I care not about reducing serious injuries or saving lives? How could you possibly think yourself clear to make such God-like accusations? Are such moral judgments and accusations really Christlike? I mean, even though I think that what you’re promoting is actually hurting people and putting their very lives at risk, I don’t accuse you of evil motives. I think that you honestly and sincerely believe what you believe – that you are honestly trying to help people. Why can’t you offer me the same benefit of the doubt here? – at least with regard to my own motivations and personal morality?
Review of “The Naked Emperor” by Pastor Conrad Vine
Again, it wasn’t Ted Wilson nor the members of ADCOM who voted down Zirkle’s motion – nor did they force or unduly coerce the vote of the delegates in Session. Also, it isn’t true that the vaccine issue hadn’t been adequately discussed for the benefit of the delegates – or that the delegates didn’t have already enough information to make an informed decision. I’d say that they were much more informed on this topic than Pastor Vine gives them credit for.
Now, I’ve very sorry you feel like you do and I can understand your honest confusion since what you’re hearing from anti-vax conspiracy theorists is truly scary stuff. However, the voices that you’re referencing truly are misleading you – telling you things that simply aren’t true. Your latest example of this, from Dr. James L. Marcum, is no better than Dr. Peter McCullough. He makes many claims that are simply false or misleading. Now, Dr. Marcum certainly comes across as very caring and kind, and I’m sure that he is. The only problem here is that he’s wrong – flat out wrong in what he’s telling you. And, this has resulted, no doubt, in a great many long-term injuries and deaths that could have been avoided. Kindness and sincerity isn’t enough here. True kindness will take the time to carefully investigate the actual weight of currently available scientific evidence and present it in an honest even-handed manner. That’s not what Drs. McCullough and Marcum have been doing – not at all.
In short, when your health and life are on the line, would you rather have a doctor with a wonderful bedside manner who isn’t giving you the best available information, or a doctor who may not be as smooth or delicate with his/her words, but who is actually giving you the best available information?
You see, I’m not trying to be mean or harsh here. I’m just truly trying to save lives and prevent long-term injuries. That’s what I’m trying to do. And, I’m sure you’re trying to do the same thing, and I appreciate that. It’s just that you don’t have good scientific evidence to back up your position…