by Carmen Holland

Jan Long, MHA, JD, is an administrative analyst for Riverside County, California, in charge of research and development involving strategic planning and statistical reporting.

Recently the President and Board Chair of La Sierra University (LSU) issued a joint letter entitled, An Open Letter Regarding the Teaching of Creation. A copy of this letter published in Adventist Today raises intriguing questions regarding the future of Adventist higher education. Although the LSU letter was the specific trigger for thinking about this, it is clear that it has broad implication for the entire Adventist educational enterprise.

In the concluding paragraph of this letter, it states that "La Sierra University is committed to being an institution that does not just present the Church's view of creation, but fully supports it." Although some may be uncomfortable with this statement, in view of the current language of Fundamental Belief #6 (FB) pertaining to creation — a very general statement that affirms God as creator — most will likely read this as a reasonable and non-controversial affirmation. In short, LSU is merely giving assent to a faith statement that is not scientifically testable—but certainly is not a statement that is in opposition to science.

As most readers are no doubt aware, some leading Church officials are proposing to insert language into FB #6—something on the order of the earth, or at least life on our planet, being created in six literal, contiguous, 24-hour days, some 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.[1] What some may view as innocent verbiage would instantly transform the Church into an anti-scientific institution for the simple fact that there is an overwhelming amount of compelling physical evidence that such prospective language is inappropriate.

If this FB rewrite takes place, not only will every Church member be confronted with whether they will support a program that belittles the human capacity to draw conclusions from sense data and sound reason, but it will directly impact LSU's affirmation referenced above, as well as all other Adventist institution of higher learning. This impact will be due to the irreconcilable differences it would create—the choices being to affirm an anti-scientific statement and thereby lose academic credibility, or whether to remain committed to the scientific enterprise.

Since I come from an administrative background and was also on the faculty of Loma Linda University for a number of years, I am sensitive to the need for a degree of respect to the parent organization to which a university is attached, but there is also the need for academic honesty if a university is intent upon remaining credible.

In short, in the best of times it can be a difficult dance that administrators of higher education are required to play—and I submit that this dance will reach the breaking point should the Church move forward with its nefarious FB rewrite plan. The reality is this, LSU and all other Adventist universities will have a difficult time upholding and supporting any Church belief that proceeds down an anti-scientific path?

How does the educational wing of the Church reconcile anti-science with science? The fork in the road for the entire educational enterprise will be one of choosing to remain credible academic institutions by distancing from the parent Church, or to downgrade the entire educational enterprise to the status of bible colleges that specialize in apologetics.

That we are heading into this storm is quite amazing, considering the fact that Adventists have historically placed a high value on truth. For that reason, it may be useful to go back and review how it is that we acquire knowledge about anything—the fundamental tools that humans employ in this endeavor—for any resolution of this shaping conflict will be found in the engagement of these tools.

On the face of it, this may seem like a worthy endeavor for a Church that places a high value on truth. Yet, as we burrow into the subject we soon learn that there is very little that we can categorize as knowledge. In the absolute sense of the word, the only real knowledge any of us have, would be the self-evident truths about which reasonable people cannot otherwise object — such as all triangles have three sides, or a whole is greater than the sum of its component parts.

Obviously, this does not represent a very practical definition of knowledge, and consequently what we sometimes refer to as knowledge, is really less than knowledge in the true sense of the word. Generally such use of the term falls into the category of an educated opinion based on theory and/or observation based on evidence. But most importantly, this reality reminds us of the difficult task we face, presenting a fundamental tale of caution regarding that which we should be willing to assert.

In addition to the empirical and theoretical, Adventists and other theists would include revelation as a source of knowledge—though as evident from the multitude of theology floating around, even this comes with a host of cautions. So this, then, is essentially the world we live in, a world that is very short on certainties and knowledge in the absolute sense of the word.

To the extent that Adventist are to remain committed to truth there is no choice but to frame our notions about creation in a way that balances revelation with that which we can derive through sense data and just basic commonsense reason. These different tools we have for aligning our thinking with the reality, as well as the process sometimes can create unresolved tensions, but there would certainly be no wisdom in ignoring solid data that suggests a contrary conclusion.

It seems that Adventism and Adventist education are approaching a crossroad, because how these issues are resolved will determine whether the Church and its affiliated institutions will maintain ongoing credibility in the world, and whether the Church and its education enterprise will remain united or go their separate ways. The shrill voices of some within the Church that seek fundamentalist purity gives reason for pessimism, yet it is possible to hope that reason will yet bubble to the surface averting this shaping disaster. Perhaps the place to start would be to keep the current language of FB #6. Hope springs eternal.

[1] While the Church officially makes a distinction between "young earth creationism" and "young life creationism" (favoring the latter), there would seem to be a major problem in logic. After all, a literal reading of Genesis suggests that the Earth, Sun, Moon, stars, and all life were all created in six days. Since an FB #6 rewrite includes the prospect of a literal reading of Genesis with language that creation week consisted of six literal, contiguous, 24-hour days, it is puzzling as to what standard of objective criteria is being employed in order to single out "life" and apparently exclude it from a very old universe.

Comments


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 19th, 2011 Seanpit says:

You assume that popular mainstream science is actually the best available scientific interpretation of the empirical evidence in hand. I propose to you that mainstream "science" is based more on philosophy than actual science when it comes to the question of origins. In my opinion, after extensive study of this topic, there is in fact a great deal of evidence, even the weight of evidence, favoring the Biblical perspective of a literal 6-day creation week that took place within recent history as the beginning for all life on this planet.

Beyond this, your claim that a literal reading of the Genesis account would necessitate or require that the entire visible universe was created in six literal days a few thousand years ago is simply not true.

The phrase, "he made the stars also" does not require that God created the stars ex nihilo on the fourth day of creation. Some creationists have held that the entire universe, or at least the visible portion, was created on the fourth day. The text permits this reading, but does not require it. "The stars also" is merely a parenthetical phrase in which God is identified as the creator of the stars without identifying when this was accomplished. The text appears to permit the interpretation that the stars were already in existence, perhaps with planets inhabited by other created intelligences.

For example, Clyde Webster, former associate director of the Geo-Science Research Institute, in his book The Earth writes, “There is no reference in Scripture within creation week that addresses the creation of water or the mineral content of dry land. . . . The only reference made to their creation is ‘in the beginning.’ It seems possible then that the elementary inorganic matter is not bound by a limited age as is the living matter.”

Early Adventist pioneers also seemed to favor this view. M. C. Wilcox, in 1898 wrote, “When did God create, or bring into existence, the heaven and the earth? ‘In the beginning.’ When this ‘beginning’ was, how long a period it covered, it is idle to conjecture; for it is not revealed. That it was a period which antedated the six days’ work is evident.”

More recently, at the 2002 General Conference-sponsored Faith and Science Conference, Richard Davidson from Andrews University stated that “[T]he biblical text of Genesis 1 leaves room for either (a) young pre-fossil rock, created as part of the seven days of creation (with apparent old age), or (b) much older pre-fossil earth rock, with a long interval between the creation of the inanimate ‘raw materials’ on earth described in Genesis 1:1,2 and the seven days of Creation week described in Genesis 1:3ff (which I find the preferable interpretation).”

After all, the Bible itself indicates the pre-existence of the universe before the creation of this planet to a state that could support life. For example, consider that the author of Job claims that the sons of God sang together and that the angels shouted for joy at the creation of our world (Job 38:7). Mrs. White also tells us that the angels and other intelligences on other planets pre-existed the creation of our planet and that our creation had something to do with the jealousy that began in the heart of Lucifer. So, what do such Biblical claims indicate about the pre-existence of the universe? Where did the angels and sons of God live?

In short, I think you misinterpret both the available empirical data with regard to scientific conclusions of the age and evolution of life on this planet as well as the Genesis account of origins with regard to the special creative modification of this planet vs. the potential age of the universe and the basic materials or building blocks of this planet.

Because of this, and because of the ardent efforts of many to take advantage of the less restrictive language of FB#6 as it currently stands (language that was originally proposed by theistic evolutionists Fritz Guy and Lawrence Geraty), more definitive language is obviously needed in order to make clear the SDA Church's fundamental position on a literal 6-day creation week. After all, this position is not just the historical position of the SDA Church, it is the position on which the very name Seventh-day Adventist is based.

Those who think this position outdated or even directly anti-scientific and irrational are certainly welcome to such opinions. However, such individuals should not expect to be paid to undermine this very clear position of the SDA Church on the Church's dime.

Sean Pitman, M.D.

www.DetectingDesign.com


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 19th, 2011 Ervin Taylor says:

Dr. Pitman says: "In my opinion, after extensive study of this topic, there is in fact a great deal of evidence, even the weight of evidence, favoring the Biblical perspective of a literal 6-day creation week that took place within recent history as the beginning for all life on this planet." You have to admire his tenacity in continuing year after year to express his mantra about the "weight of the scientific evidence" pointing to a literal 6-day creation of life within recent history. I guess his approach is to argue that if you say something over and over again, even if it is absurd, the statement somehow gains more and more credibility simply by virtue of the number of times you repeat it. I think that is one of the definitions of "propaganda."

Jan Long's observation that there is nothing in the Genesis creation narratives themselves which would even hint that we should distinguish between the creation of the universe, the creation of our world, and the creation of life on our world is obviously correct.. These are ideas that are forced on the text. It does not come out of an analysis of the text itself. The fact that even Dr. Pitman believes that the universe and our planet is billions of years old but life is very young indicates that he his getting his information not from the Genesis text itself but from his interpretation of other Biblical passages and, more importantly, other non-Biblical sources, primarily Ellen White.


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 19th, 2011 Jan Long says:

Seanpit ===> In short, I think you misinterpret both the available empirical data with regard to scientific conclusions of the age and evolution of life on this planet as well as the Genesis account of origins with regard to the special creative modification of this planet vs. the potential age of the universe and the basic materials or building blocks of this planet.
_____

Sean, there is a chance that the vast bulk of the scientific community has misinterpreted "the available empirical data" and there is a chance you have misinterpreted the available empirical data. There is also a chance that both you and the scientific communityare off base–perhaps some 3rd path will eventually emerge. However, the point of my article is three-fold:

1. That science is saying something quite different from what Adventist's have historically understood regarding the timeframe related to beginnings, and the these scientific views are not plucked out of thin air, but are based on compelling data.

2. That perhaps the historic Adventist position will one day be vindicated, through some misunderstanding of the data. However, I have studied a wide range of data, and I am seeing it articulate a fairly consistent theme that is not supportive of the historic Adventist position.

3. That Adventist Universities will have a very difficult time in maintaining credible science programs, and at the same time affirm a fundamentalist FB#6 rewrite.

It does not serve the long-term interest of the Church to stake a position that is widely at variance with the evidence. The responsible FB #6 position is the current position that presents a very general statement, and this conservative approach demonstrates respect for the data. To the extent that we ignore the data, we set ourselves up for a Galileo type fiasco.


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 20th, 2011 Shane Hilde says:

Many of the readers here may have had a chance to read "A little known history about belief 6," but if you haven't, please take the time. It is quite relevant to Jan's article.

https://www.educatetruth.com/la-sierra-evidence/a-little-known-history-ab…
Shane Hilde


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 21st, 2011 David C. Read says:

I am intrigued by people like Jan; to study and learn of their psychology is the main reason why I have continued read Spectrum and Atoday despite such marked disagreements with the ideological committments of these journals.

Jan seems to have concluded that the mainstream Lyellian/Darwinian view of origins is truth (italics Jan's), but refuses to come to terms with the implications of his beliefs, to wit, that they make Adventism's founding prophet–who claimed to have been carried back in vision of the creation week and been supernaturally shown that it was a week just like every week since–a fraud, a liar, and a con artist, and would deal a mortal blow to the rationale for the Sabbath, Adventism's signature doctrine. If Jan is right about mainstream origins science being truth, Adventism's whole biblical hermeneutic, doctrinal structure, and history, is utter and complete nonsense. In fact, Christianity itself is probably utter and complete nonsense. Personally, I have no use whatsoever for a god that is too puny to create the world in six days if he so chose, or who is so lacking in basic integrity as to tell us he did when he didn't. If its opening claims about God's creatorship are wrong, why would anyone care what the rest of the Bible claims?

Jan seems concerned about the plight of Adventist education, but if he is right about what truth is, then Adventist education has no real reason to exist; it is a wasteful redundancy of the public education system. If Jan is right about what truth is, the Adventist Church and its educational arm are propping up a false philosophy and worldview, perpetuating a gigantic lie, and they should both be liquidated with all possible dispatch.


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 21st, 2011 Jan Long says:

David, claims my position makes ===> “Adventism's founding prophet–who claimed to have been carried back in vision of the creation week and been supernaturally shown that it was a week just like every week since–a fraud, a liar, and a con artist…”
_____

…or perhaps simply wrong about a few things. I don’t presuppose revelation to be inerrant, so can live with the possibility that a human who claims inspiration does not always bat 100%, just as I can live with Old Testament attributions that God orchastrated genocide. As for your statement that my approach deals a “mortal blow to the rationale for the Sabbath” there is no one outside of literalists who make this argument. Check out Gerald Schoeder's several books–a Jewish physicist who takes both Genesis and the Sabbath seriously, but also the physical evidence. As for your statement, “Personally, I have no use whatsoever for a god that is too puny to create the world in six days if he so chose…,” I prefer to avoid arrogantly presupposing what God can or can’t do. I personally operate from the assumption that God possesses qualified omniscience and omnipotence and therefore do not deny the possibility that creation could have occurred in 6 days. What I can say is that the data does not support that conclusion, and thus is born the tension.


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 22nd, 2011 Vastergotland says:

Sean Pitman wrote:

" In my opinion, after extensive study of this topic, there is in fact a great deal of evidence, even the weight of evidence, favoring the Biblical perspective of a literal 6-day creation week that took place within recent history as the beginning for all life on this planet."

If you were to write a book where you describe the evidence and how it favours your understanding of the Biblical perspective, it would be a very interesting read. For instance a comparative study, where the data is compared with the strongest models which have been given to explain it, and explaining why the evidence leads to literal 6-day creation week model rather than to any other proposed model. Many people claim that following the evidence will lead the scientist to the recent creation model but few if none have attempted to show that it is true (using a criteria of comparing ones own best model with the best models supported by others). Since you are already well informed of the facts and models involved, you would be well equiped to undertake this endeavor.


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 22nd, 2011 Vastergotland says:

David C. Read wrote:

"Personally, I have no use whatsoever for a god that is too puny to create the world in six days if he so chose, or who is so lacking in basic integrity as to tell us he did when he didn't. "

What about a God who creates the world in 6 days, including humans whom He makes both curious and capable of understanding how the world works, and then consistently creates the world in such a way that as soon as someone begins to study what the world looks like in detail they will find that it doesnt look like a recent 6 day creation? Such a creation would set up the humans who ask "how" to temptation and James 1:13.


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 22nd, 2011 Preston says:

Faith, in temporal terms, may be viewed as arrogance. Or belief in what another limited human has deduced (re: Schoeder) in contrast to what God claimed to be may be a higher form of arrogance. It depends on whom you believe to be more credible.

To believe that God is either who He said he is, or a fraud, is pure logic. To bestow "qualified omniscience and omnipotence" on Him seems both arbitrary and oxymoronic.


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 22nd, 2011 Vastergotland says:

It seems to me that any learning (except possibly such involving first hand, hands on experiences) comes in a framework. When you approach the bible, you are inevitably guided by how the language used has been defined for you. Before you even start to analyse what a sentence such as "qualified omniscience and omnipotence" means, you are hedged by how your faith tradition defines the two key words. Two people who approach the same words in the same text may come through it believing what God has claimed and yet disagree with each other simply because they disagree on what the words themselves mean. As neither of them put any value in human deduction in contrast to Divine revelation, theirs is not a contest of source credibility. How should they resolve the situation? We will naturally side with the person who share our tradition background and word definitions against the other, and might even claim that this person has the objective understanding. We will think one is objective because as humans, we easily become blind to that which surrounds us. For instance, we will easily think that people do not speak in dialect where we live, that dialecting variation is something that only affects people speaking the language in all other places. How we speak and how we define words are integral parts of who we are, and everyone who does either differently are "the other".

So, could it be that it is not a case of human deduction in contrast with what God claimed, but rather two cases of humans deducing what God claimed that reach different conclusions? "Or belief in what another limited human has deduced (re: Schoeder) in contrast to what God claimed to be may be a higher form of arrogance. It depends on whom you believe to be more credible."


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 22nd, 2011 Jan Long says:

Preston ===> Faith, in temporal terms, may be viewed as arrogance. Or belief in what another limited human has deduced (re: Schoeder) in contrast to what God claimed to be may be a higher form of arrogance. It depends on whom you believe to be more credible.
______

Preston, my understanding of “faith” is that it is the difference between what we have the ability to know through reason and sense data, and what we “believe to be the reality.” We may believe in God, and have certain evidences for God, but do not live with the certitude of God. Faith is thus the difference between what we can know about God, and what we believe. Arrogance only enters the picture when we impose categorical thinking and absolutes onto our beliefs. After all, history is replete with examples of “absolute” and “categorical” thinking that would later be debunked in the face of compelling evidence.

As for your comment, “To bestow ‘qualified omniscience and omnipotence’ on Him (God) seems both arbitrary and oxymoronic.” It is not entirely clear what you have in mind here, but let me give you an example of what I mean by my use of the term “qualified.” I begin all thinking about God by presupposing that he is logical and rational, this being deduced from observation of the universe we inhabit. Thus, such a qualifier would not be “arbitrary and oxymoronic,” and in fact quite the opposite. So presupposing “logic” in our use of the terms “omniscience” and “omnipotence” will necessarily qualify and limit our use of such terms. For example, there is no logic in concluding that God is all-powerful and that therefore he can create a rock so big, he can’t move it. Neither is it logical to conclude that God would act (use his power) outside the framework of his character. Omniscience would be analyzed and used n similar fashion.


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 22nd, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

"Advemtist Education at the Crossroads" is the subject of this thread.

Has a poll been taking among the alumni to ask their opinion either why, or why not, their children will be attending their parents alma mater? Would that not provide information for future planning? It is a recognized fact that there are fewer young people who are practicing SDAs and attending church. Why not ask them and their parents of their future plans for higher education rather than wondering about the future of SDA education. Already, some SDA schools of higher education are either stagnat or losing attendants. Listen to constituents.


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 22nd, 2011 Seanpit says:

@Jan Long:

Sean, we have no guarantee that science has correctly interpreted all data. In fact we can assume that as Thomas Kuhn has shown, it is likely that there will be future paradigm shifts. Because of this reality, some, such as yourself apparent dismiss or diminish the scientific enterprise.

I’m not sure how what I actually wrote in response to your article suggested to you that I’m trying to diminish the scientific enterprise? That’s hardly my position since I’m a very strong believer in scientific methodologies and basic rules of logic and empirical testing, with at least the potential for falsification, to help us humans approach truth in all aspects of our lives.

I’m also a fan of many of the ideas of Thomas Kuhn, believing that all of our efforts, scientific or otherwise, are influences by our various biases since we are inherently subjective creatures.

The problem with your suggestion that the literal 6-day creation week is “anti-science” is that it isn’t inherently anti-science. It is only opposed to what is currently popular within the scientific community. The minority position in science is not necessary wrong, however. Time and again the majority opinion in science has been replaced by what was once a distinctly minority perspective.

The fact remains that the historic SDA perspective on origins is supported by a great deal of evidence – I personally believe that it is supported by the significant weight of evidence. Scientific reasoning strongly suggests to me that current popular theories of origins are painfully mistaken. As just one example, the Darwinian mechanism of evolution (RM/NS) is clearly untenable beyond very low levels of functional complexity. There are no examples of evolution in action beyond very very low levels of functional complexity and, if you actually sit down and do a bit of statistical analysis, you will find that higher and higher levels of functional complexity are exponentially harder and harder to achieve in a given span of time. Well before the level of 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues is reached, the evolutionary mechanism completely stalls out this side of trillions upon trillions of years of time.

The only reason the scientific community doesn’t come out and openly admit such failures to the public is because they know they have nothing else to go on. And, they know the implications of this – i.e., it clearly allows the Divine Foot in the door. That thought scares most mainstream scientists to death.

But fleeing to the refuge of revelation may not be the complete answer either. We know, for example, that Jesus introduced his own paradigm shift. It was a radical departure from business as usual. I must ask, what theological paradigms shifts await us—or do we have all the truth? At the very least we know that with the proliferation of theological interpretations in just about every area of thought, we should use extreme caution in arriving at categorical conclusions on most theological matters.

As already noted above, the SDA Church stands on the concept of “Present Truth”. By no means does this suggest that the Church has discovered all Truth. Quite the contrary. The Church, since its inception, has recognized the limited and progressive nature of the human understanding of Truth and progress toward Truth.

Special or privileged revelation of Truth, as is found in the Scriptures, is quite helpful, but is not independent of empirical evidence. The Divine origin of the Scriptures is confirmed by the natural world, by the currently available empirical evidence. If God exists, He is the Source of both the written Word as well as Nature herself. He is also the Source of science, of the ability to think and reason scientifically about the world in which we live. If all of these share a single Author, they should all agree with each other. Inspiration should not be in conflict with empirical evidence or rational thought. As Mrs. White so eloquently put it:

God is the foundation of everything. All true science is in harmony with His works; all true education leads to obedience to His government. Science opens new wonders to our view; she soars high, and explores new depths; but she brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation. Ignorance may seek to support false views of God by appeals to science, but the book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other. – Ellen White, PP, p. 115

So, you see, true science is not in conflict, or at least should not be in conflict, with a clear reading of Scripture – if in fact Scripture truly has a Divine origin…

The point of my article was to articulate that there is a current scientific paradigm in place and any educational system that wishes to remain credible must educate students in that paradigm irrespective of those forces within the Church that may oppose that scientific paradigm.

There are several issues in play here. For one, credibility is in the eye of the beholder. Why would the Church necessarily want to be seen as credible by those who are fundamentally opposed to God and his revealed will? Was Jesus seen or promoted as “credible” by the powers that be in his own day? Should he have altered his teaching to be more in line with what would be seen as credible? See what I’m driving at here?

Beyond this, I most certainly agree that students in our SDA schools should be very very well informed with regard to the theory of evolution. However, our SDA educational system should go beyond this to also inform our students of the serious weaknesses that are abundant in this theory as well as the weight of evidence that clearly favors the SDA position on origins. You see, our students should know everything that the best of secular education has to offer – and more…

Furthermore, I don’t believe a university can remain credible if it teaches the reigning scientific paradigm, but pledges allegiance to a hypothetical anti-scientific position. That is the reason for the wisdom of maintaining the current FB #6—what ever its shortcomings, at least it is not anti-scientific.

You mean you want a statement and official Church position that is not clearly opposed to mainstream evolutionary science – i.e., you want room in the Church for our schools to promote the mainstream idea that life has existed and evolved on this planet, in a Darwinian manner, over the course of hundreds of millions of years.

You clearly do not understand the fundamental challenge that mainstream evolutionary scientists pose, not only to the SDA faith, but to the rational acceptance of the Christian faith at large. Mainstream evolutionary theory, if true, paints a God who would use such an overtly evil process to create, a process that requires the death and suffering of untold billions and trillions of sentient beings, in a very bad light indeed. Who would want to serve such a God? I certainly wouldn’t.

I much prefer the God of the Bible – a God who never intended for there to be “Survival of the Fittest”; a God who is actually grieved when a sparrow falls wounded to the ground; a God who is so upset by the current order of things that He came to die to have the right to change it all to how it was originally intended to be – a place where there is no sorry or pain or death for any of his sentient creatures.

This is the God I believe in and this is the God I still see reflected in His works of nature – even though they have been marred by sin over the course of several thousand years…

Thanks again for your thoughts, but suggest to you that the SDA Church cannot follow your advice if it wishes to remain viable for more than a couple more generations…

Sean Pitman

https://www.DetectingDesign.com


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 22nd, 2011 Seanpit says:

Jan Long,

You wrote:

I read widely enough, to have some understanding of the approach generally taken by those who hold to a literal reading of Genesis. It usually consists of engaging in pseudo-science and then passing it off as science (by the way, I have not read your work, so I am not alleging that you specifically engage in pseudo-science).

I’m not saying I agree with many or even most creationist arguments. Many are admittedly very bad indeed and reflect badly on those who hold to the rational validity of a literal understanding of the Genesis account of origins.

That being said, in my own research into this topic, I’ve found a great deal of what seems to me to be very solid evidence in favor of a recent arrival of life on this planet as well as a recent universal catastrophe, or very shortly-spaced series of watery catastrophes, that produced the fossil record and geologic column.

Of course I’m in the minority here. But, that doesn’t mean that I’m wrong or that I’m not really being “scientific” in my thinking.

Again, scientific methodology isn’t defined by the majority perspective or the majority interpretation of the available data. Some of the greatest scientists in history have held to very unpopular opinions until their views eventually became popular. The work of someone like J Harlen Bretz and his very unpopular theories (for many decades) on the origin of the Scablands of Washington State is a good example of this.

The way this usually occurs is to take a straightforward explanation of the data that creates a problem for the literalist, and rather than deal with it honestly, the general practice is to come up with a wild scenario that will account for the data that would otherwise says something quite different if the data were just accepted on its own terms at face value.

And you think that mainstream scientists are immune from this sort of thing? You don’t think that mainstream scientists come up with wild theories and explanations of the data that are rationally untenable? – in an effort to support their unshakable belief in Darwinian-style evolution over billions of years on this planet? – in an effort to support their chosen philosophical or even religious position?

In this line, consider the comments of Richard Lewontin, a well-known geneticist and one of the world’s leaders in evolutionary biology:

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

Richard Lewontin, Billions and billions of demons (review of The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan, 1997), The New York Review, p. 31, 9 January 1997.

You don’t see a strong religious bias there? – a bias that is willing to take clearly untenable positions in order to uphold a strongly desired belief system?

Consider also the following thoughts from the well-known mathematician Chandra Wickramasinghe in this regard:

“It is quite a shock. From my earliest training as a scientist I was very strongly brainwashed to believe that science cannot be consistent with any kind of deliberate creation. That notion has had to be very painfully shed. I am quite uncomfortable in the situation, the state of mind I now find myself in. But there is no logical way out of it. I now find myself driven to this position by logic. There is no other way in which we can understand the precise ordering of the chemicals of life except to invoke the creations on a cosmic scale. . . . We were hoping as scientists that there would be a way round our conclusion, but there isn’t.

Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, as quoted in “There Must Be A God,” Daily Express, Aug. 14, 1981 and Hoyle on Evolution, Nature, Nov. 12, 1981, p. 105

Wickramasinghe used pretty strong language here to describe his scientific training as “brainwashing” when it came to those aspects of intelligent design that are otherwise clearly evident, scientifically, without the philosophical presuppositions of the secular mindset.

Or, consider the thoughts of well-known Cornell geneticist John C. Sandford:

Late in my career, I did something which for a Cornell professor would seem unthinkable. I began to question the Primary Axiom [Evolution via random mutations and natural selection]. I did this with great fear and trepidation. By doing this, I knew I would be at odds with the most “sacred cow” of modern academia. Among other things, it might even result in my expulsion from the academic world.

The Primary Axiom is actually an extremely vulnerable theory – in fact it is essentially indefensible. Its apparent invincibility derives mostly from bluster, smoke, and mirrors. A large part of what keeps the Axiom standing is an almost mystical faith, which the true-believers have in the omnipotence of natural selection. Furthermore, I began to see that this deep-seated faith in natural selection was typically coupled with a degree of ideological commitment – which can only be described as religious. I started to realize (again with trepidation) that I might be offending a lot of people’s religion!

https://www.benabraham.com/html/respected_cornell_geneticist_r.html

You see, a great deal of religious passion is involved here – from both sides of the equation. Evolutionists are no more immune from religious fervor and bias than are creationists. So, when you categorically side with popular mainstream secular scientists as being the only truly scientific people on the planet, with creationists and those who actually believe what the Bible says as being “anti-science” by definition, you reveal your own bias and distorted view of reality. Reality isn’t as clear cut as this. There are shades of grey. Not everyone, on either side of this issue, is inherently anti-science.

What I have discovered is that with almost all the important scientific data it is necessary for the literalists to play games so as to get it to say what we want it to say. While I don’t know if this describe you I cannot help but notice that you seem to think that a literal 6-day creation week is apparently “scientific.” As you no doubt know, there are virtually no qualified scientists who would concur, outside of a few who superimpose a Genesis literalism onto their operating presuppositions. To me that speaks volumes.

How can so many be wrong and so few be right? It is very easy to go with the flow of popular opinion, but such appeals to popular authority really have no explanatory value when it comes to the data itself. Should the majority interpretation be taken seriously? Of course since the majority of intelligent people is often right. However, the majority, even of very intelligent and well-informed people, is not always right or even immune from a very strong collective bias (as noted above). It is therefore unwise of you to categorically categorize creationists as being “anti-science”. You simply make this assumption based on arguments from authority, not any real scientific arguments based on the data itself…

I start with the premise that God doesn’t lie, and that therefore he doesn’t arrange the data to lead us astray. If the data is consistently telling us the same story, we should probably be very careful about arrogantly ignoring the story it is telling. Perhaps part of the equation worth examining is the assumptions that we bring to our understanding of revelation.

Again, you assume that the data is in fact telling us a particular story that substantively digresses from what the Bible is clearly telling us. While there is in fact a dramatic and obvious difference between what the Bible says regarding the origin of life on this planet and what mainstream science says, you are mistaken to believe that mainstream scientists are always telling you the most scientifically rational explanation of the data at hand. That assumption, while it may seem likely at first approximation, is not necessarily true. And, in the case of origins, I think it is clearly false.

You mention evolution, which is outside the scope of my article (though I recognize that it will likely get entangled in an FB #6 rewrite). The only point I will make here is that it is possible to posit the reality of evolution on some level without concluding that it is a divine process.

Evolutionary theories are inextricably linked with the age of life on this planet. Therefore, you are, by default, talking about modern evolutionary theories. Also, you cannot posit anything that takes place on this planet without concluding that either God made it that way to begin with or that it is somehow an aberrancy or alteration of what God originally intended for life on this planet. Surely you have to admit that the whole mechanism of “Survival of the Fittest” is, by its very nature, a very painful and even an evil process when applied to sentient beings. How can you dismiss the effects of suffering and death on sentient beings as being somehow “Ok” or outside of the realm of Divine origin or processes?

Sean Pitman

https://www.DetectingDesign.com


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 22nd, 2011 Jan Long says:

Let me begin with an apology. I do not generally work in HTML and for some reason I cannot get the paragraphs to set off properly so I apologize for a difficult read. 😉 Sean, you state that, “in my own research into this topic, I’ve found a great deal of what seems to me to be very solid evidence in favor of a recent arrival of life on this planet as well as a recent universal catastrophe, or very shortly-spaced series of watery catastrophes, that produced the fossil record and geologic column. Of course I’m in the minority here….” My query to you is, how does this universal recent watery catastrophe square with the 100,000 or so confirmed annual layerings of the Greenland ice sheet? How about the several hundred thousand years of the Antartic ice sheet? As to your discussion of the philosophy of science I am well aware of the fact that conclusions can be influenced by presuppositions, yet I don’t find a boogyman in scientific materialism. If not for scientific materialism, we would still assign a role to the gods for all manner of natural phenomenon. I would simply say that scientific materialism has its limits, as does revelation. Wisdom is demonstrated in understanding the limits of each. You mention the Cornell geneticist John C. Sandford, and I am familiar with his book on genetic entropy. He proposes some interesting ideas and since I am not a geneticist, I must rely upon the scientific community to assess his argument. To date I have not seen any movement in his direction and that could be telling. That having been said, however, there is currently a clear demarcation between the evolutionary process and the question of origins. Perhaps we can find common ground on this. Since we are so far afield from the thrust of my article, I won’t detail it here, but DNA is an information rich system as you know, and information theory cannot explain, on the basis of random probability, how DNA got its start is the odds appear to be too staggering. The resolution of most of these issue—including evolution—likely resides in a better understanding of DNA. We can anticipate that surprises await science on this front, but it may also hold a few surprises for literalists. In the meantime the Church would be much better served by allowing science to finish its work before it leaps into a place that it quite likely will one day regret.


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 23rd, 2011 Seanpit says:

@Jan Long:

Sean, you state that,

“in my own research into this topic, I’ve found a great deal of what seems to me to be very solid evidence in favor of a recent arrival of life on this planet as well as a recent universal catastrophe, or very shortly-spaced series of watery catastrophes, that produced the fossil record and geologic column. Of course I’m in the minority here….”

My query to you is, how does this universal recent watery catastrophe square with the 100,000 or so confirmed annual layerings of the Greenland ice sheet? How about the several hundred thousand years of the Antartic ice sheet?

You assume that the “annual” nature of the layers has actually been confirmed beyond any real reasonable doubt. Consider that as one considers deeper and deeper ice within these ice sheets the layers can no longer be counted visually, only chemically. At this point, the resolution of an “annual” layer counting falls off significantly to the point of “decadal averages”. That means that a hundred thousand layers could be accounted for in less than 10,000 years. Consider also that even when the layers can be counted visually that it is very difficult to distinguish an “annual” layer from sub-seasonal layering (i.e., storms, etc).

“Fundamentally, in counting any annual marker, we must ask whether it is absolutely unequivocal, or whether non-annual events could mimic or obscure a year. For the visible strata (and, we believe, for any other annual indicator at accumulation rates representative of central Greenland), it is almost certain that variability exists at the subseasonal or storm level, at the annual level, and for various longer periodicities (2-year, sunspot, etc.). We certainly must entertain the possibility of misidentifying the deposit of a large storm or a snow dune as an entire year or missing a weak indication of a summer and thus picking a 2-year interval as 1 year.”

Alley, R.B. et al., Visual-stratigraphic dating of the GISP2 ice core: Basis, reproducibility, and application. Journal of Geophysical Research 102(C12):26,367–26,381, 1997.

Contributing to these problems in determining annual layers in ice is the fact that chemicals in ice are not fixed, but move around – quite easily. There are microscopic channels of water between the ice crystals that allow for the movement of various chemicals used to try to analyze for annual layers.

There is also the problem if the warm “hypsithermal” period which was warmer than it is today – supposedly for some 5,000 years. The Greenland ice sheet is currently melting much faster than it is being formed, resulting in an overall loss of ice of around 250 cubic kilometers per year. Some scientists are now suggesting that Greenland’s ice may be complete gone within one or two hundred years. So, how did Greenland’s ice avoid a complete meltdown during the Hypsithermal? – when it was warm all around the globe on all sides in recent history?

For more information on this topic see:

https://www.detectingdesign.com/ancientice.html

As to your discussion of the philosophy of science I am well aware of the fact that conclusions can be influenced by presuppositions, yet I don’t find a boogyman in scientific materialism. If not for scientific materialism, we would still assign a role to the gods for all manner of natural phenomenon. I would simply say that scientific materialism has its limits, as does revelation. Wisdom is demonstrated in understanding the limits of each.

I agree. Where we seem to disagree is over where these limits are or should be placed.

You seem uncomfortable with the SDA Church’s clearly stated position on origins. This is in spite of the fact that the SDA Church takes its stand on a clear reading of the Bible – of what the Biblical authors clearly intended to convey to their readers. It is quite clear that the author(s) of the Genesis narrative intended to convey to their readers, to us, a literal historical account of God’s creative act in the formation of life on this planet. I don’t think even liberal secular scholars of Hebrew would deny this. Take, for example, the comments of well-known Oxford Hebrew scholar James Barr:

“Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that: (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience. (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the “days” of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know.”

Letter from Professor James Barr to David C.C. Watson of the UK, dated 23 April 1984.

Consider that Prof. Barr made this statement while personally considering the Genesis narrative to be false. He did not believe that God created life on this planet in just six literal days. He believed that life existed and evolved on this planet over billions of years just like most mainstream scientists do today. Yet, he still was quite clear that the author(s) of the Genesis narrative intended to say something about real historical events. They did not intend to be figurative in their language.

Now, it is quite a different thing to say that the Biblical authors where simply mistaken compared to the argument that suggests that they were intending to write symbolically or figuratively. The SDA Church takes the Bible at its word, as the revealed Word of God. So, in suggesting that the SDA Church not put so much stock in a literal reading of the Genesis narrative, you are suggesting that the Church back off of its position that the Bible was in fact inspired by God to give us privileged information about Himself and about the world in which we live. If the SDA Church were to do this, it would basically undermine the entire purpose for their being a unique Seventh-day Adventist Church. After all, if one can pick and choose what is and what is not correct in the Bible, what’s the point?

Of course you might argue, and have argued, that prophets can make mistakes. And, I agree. However, if a prophet specifically says that God showed him or her a specific vision of historical reality, and that prophet simply recorded what he/she saw, you’d have to conclude one of two things with regard to the Genesis account. Either God was lying to the prophet about true historical reality, or the prophet was very dull witted in order to get something wrong that is as obvious as “evenings and mornings” marking off the boundaries of the “days” of creation. I mean, even a small child can get that much right. This isn’t rocket science here… if you know what I mean.

You mention the Cornell geneticist John C. Sandford, and I am familiar with his book on genetic entropy. He proposes some interesting ideas and since I am not a geneticist, I must rely upon the scientific community to assess his argument. To date I have not seen any movement in his direction and that could be telling. That having been said, however, there is currently a clear demarcation between the evolutionary process and the question of origins. Perhaps we can find common ground on this. Since we are so far afield from the thrust of my article, I won’t detail it here, but DNA is an information rich system as you know, and information theory cannot explain, on the basis of random probability, how DNA got its start is the odds appear to be too staggering. The resolution of most of these issue—including evolution—likely resides in a better understanding of DNA. We can anticipate that surprises await science on this front, but it may also hold a few surprises for literalists. In the meantime the Church would be much better served by allowing science to finish its work before it leaps into a place that it quite likely will one day regret.

The origin of very high levels of information/functional complexity within DNA is indeed very very hard for mainstream science to explain using mindless naturalistic mechanisms alone. However, I can assure you that the origin of novel information within living systems, with the full use of the mechanism of random mutation and natural selection, is equally hard to explain beyond very very low levels of functional complexity. Popular scientists usually get hung up over explaining the similarities between living things when the similarities aren’t the real problem for the theory of evolution. Similarities are fairly easy to explain using naturalistic mechanisms. The insurmountable problem for the modern theory of evolution is in explaining the qualitatively novel functional differences beyond very very low levels of functional complexity. That’s where the rubber really meets the road.

It is for such reasons that I think it very unwise of the SDA Church to give up its stance on taking the Bible as it reads, as the Biblical authors originally intended it to be read and interpreted. The SDA Church maintains its whole reason for existence on being fairly unique in this regard. If you remove the unique SDA take on the Bible, you remove its very reason for existence. There’s really no point in having a SDA Church at all if you remove the literal 6-day creation week as being a literal creation week. Again, this is the basis for the very name Seventh-day Adventist.

Thanks again for your thoughts and questions,

Sincerely,

Sean


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 23rd, 2011 Jan Long says:

Sean, your argument about the reliability of Ice Core dating is quite deceptive. While it is true that the deeper the core, the weight of the ice and the shifting thins the layering, but the layers have been validated by historic events—namely known volcanic eruptions—going back 2000 years. The scientific community is quite unified in the conclusion that the ice core has captured historical data going back 100,000 years on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Older than that, the dating reliability falls off.

Rather than get bogged down in a fruitless discussion of Ice Core dating, I will leave the reader with a couple of excellent references, and those of you who are interested in more information can study this subject from credible scientists. Both sources are quite readable.

https://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/Wiens.html
Richard B. Alley, The Two Mile Time Machine

As for your discussion of how revelation should be read and interpreted, I will mention that I was reared in SDA fundamentalism and while I take revelation quite seriously, I have moved away from bible-olatry and ellen-olatry. In short, I take empirical data seriously. The choice is thus to either abandon faith entirely or to vest revelation with a revised level of authority commensurate with the physical realities. I have simply chosen the latter course.


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 24th, 2011 Seanpit says:

@Jan Long:

Sean, your argument about the reliability of Ice Core dating is quite deceptive. While it is true that the deeper the core, the weight of the ice and the shifting thins the layering, but the layers have been validated by historic events—namely known volcanic eruptions—going back 2000 years.

This isn’t exactly true.

Comparison with volcanic signatures isn’t an exact science by any means. Tephra is not often found because it falls out of the atmosphere before it makes it to the ice sheet. And, below 10,000 layers the ice becomes too alkaline to reliably identify the acid spikes associated with volcanic eruptions. Also, volcanic eruption rates are very common, 30 per year on average. Yet, the farther back in history, the fewer of even large volcanic eruptions are known. For example, only 11 eruptions were recorded from between 1 and 100 AD. Therefore, determining which eruption signal is or is not present in the ice at a particular level, even within just the past 2000 years, becomes quite problematic.

As an example of this problem, consider the Mediterranean volcano Thera, a volcano that was so large that it effectively destroyed the Minoan (Santorini) civilization in the year 1628 B.C. Tree rings from that region show a significant disruption matching that date. Layers in the “Dye 3″ Greenland ice core also showed that a major eruption occurred in 1645, plus or minus 20 years. This match was used to confirm or calibrate the ice core data as recently as 2003 (well after the publication of the Two Mile Time Machine you reference below).

At the time of the initial study scientists did not have the budget to do a systematic search throughout the whole ice core for such large anomalies that might also match a Thera-sized eruption. Now that such detailed searches have been done, many such sulfuric acid peaks have been found at numerous dates within the 18th, 17th, 16th, 15th, and 14th centuries B.C. Beyond this, tephra analyzed from the ice core layers originally thought to represent the Thera eruption did not match the volcanic material from the Thera volcano.

And there are other such examples of significant problems in the use of volcanic signatures to validate ice core dating. Consider the following commentary on the reliability of volcanic signatures in ice cores:

“The desire to link such phenomena [volcanic eruptions] and the stretching of the dating frameworks involved is an attractive but questionable practice. All such attempts to link (and hence infer associations between) historic eruptions and environmental phenomena and human “impacts”, rely on the accurate and precise association in time of the two events. . . A more general investigation of eruption chronologies constructed since 1970 suggest that such associations are frequently unreliable when based on eruption data gathered earlier than the twentieth century.”

– Baille 1991, University of Wales

If even theoretically this particular method has little reliability beyond the twentieth century, what good is it when it comes to a time in history when ice sheets were forming very very rapidly during the initial post-Flood ice age that swept the planet a few hundred years after the Flood? You’ve also failed to even address the problems the Greenland ice sheet poses for the very long Hypsithermal warm period that began to fade only 4,000 years ago… a period what was even warmer than it is today (talk about ‘global warming’).

The scientific community is quite unified in the conclusion that the ice core has captured historical data going back 100,000 years on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Older than that, the dating reliability falls off.

Of course the scientific community is quite unified on this assertion. The mainstream scientific community is completely sold on the idea that life has existed and evolved on this planet for billions of years. What’s a few hundred thousand years of ice in comparison? But what is the reliability of the actual science involved in ice core dating? – the actual data? Do you know? Or, are you just relying on what you’ve been told without looking into the counter-evidence for yourself?

Rather than get bogged down in a fruitless discussion of Ice Core dating, I will leave the reader with a couple of excellent references, and those of you who are interested in more information can study this subject from credible scientists. Both sources are quite readable.

https://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/Wiens.html Richard B. Alley, The Two Mile Time Machine

Ah yes, The Two Mile Time Machine, a favorite reference for those who have lost all confidence in the Biblical story of origins. Unfortunately, Richard Alley significantly overstates the case for ice core dating. He doesn’t cover the problems involved to any significant degree – problems which are fundamental to the reliability of this dating method.

As for your discussion of how revelation should be read and interpreted, I will mention that I was reared in SDA fundamentalism and while I take revelation quite seriously, I have moved away from bible-olatry and ellen-olatry. In short, I take empirical data seriously. The choice is thus to either abandon faith entirely or to vest revelation with a revised level of authority commensurate with the physical realities. I have simply chosen the latter course.

Bible-olatry? i.e., Bible idolatry? That's certainly a new one for me – especially coming from someone who claims to be supportive of a Church that is based on the assumption that the Bible is the very Word of God himself. What's next? God-olatry?

This isn't to say that empirical evidence isn't important. It is very important. Both the Bible and Ellen White recommend that faith should be built on the weight of evidence – i.e., on the weight of physical reality or empirical evidence that appeals to the candid mind. The only difference is that you think your own ability to interpret physical reality is more solid than certain of the Bible’s very clear statements on the true nature of physical reality which fundamentally disagree with your own ideas.

Yet, you want to somehow maintain a semblance of faith in the Divine origin of the Bible on at least some level. How is this done once you’ve removed the very basis of rationally supporting the idea that the Bible provides any more privileged information than a good moral novel? Such an approach to the Bible does not leave the SDA Church in any kind of unique position beyond a general feel-good Christianity that provides no real basis for a solid hope in the future physical realities described in the Bible. After all, if you essentially falsify the credibility of the Bible’s account of history, you are left with no really rational basis to accept what the Bible says about the future – or any of its other metaphysical statements about God or any of the other “miraculous” stories in the Bible for that matter.

I’m sorry, but if the SDA Church wishes to remain viable, it must take some risks. It must risk the potential of being falsified in many people’s minds. Taking a non-position that doesn’t have even the potential for falsification is just a feel good religion that has nothing really solid to offer regarding the future realities of the physical resurrection of the dead and a future life without sin and the pain and suffering that go along with the “Survival of the Fittest”.

Again, I do appreciate your sincerity and your efforts to present what you think is true and beneficial.

Sincerely,
Sean Pitman

www.DetectingDesign.com


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 24th, 2011 Jan Long says:

Hi Sean; It appears that there is a wide chasm between us. You cite as authoritative a link on ice core science from 1991!!! That is 20 years ago and you surely wouldn't be suggesting that it has any relevance today?

I appreciate your evangelistic zeal, and I wish you the best. I will continue to study and if I find evidence that ice core science is bogus, I will reconsider my position. Until then I have no choice but to stick with science on this.


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 25th, 2011 Seanpit says:

Hi Jan,

You wrote:

It appears that there is a wide chasm between us. You cite as authoritative a link on ice core science from 1991!!! That is 20 years ago and you surely wouldn't be suggesting that it has any relevance today?

The basic points presented have not substantively changed as far as I am aware. They certainly didn’t change by the time of the publication of the Two Mile Time Machine – your own recommended authority on ice core dating published in 2000 (eleven years ago).

Tell me, what additional factors have come into play that make volcanic signatures so much more reliable as markers in ice cores during this time?

Here’s a comment from another paper, published in 1995, discussing the problems with volcanic markers in ice cores since just the 1850s:

It is not possible to identify any individual ice core that would be representative of hemispheric-average volcanism. Even cores drilled 2 m apart, opposite sides of the same core, and measurements from the same side of the same core before and after longitudinal cutting exhibit a substantial amount of high frequency disagreements.

Alan Robock and Melissa P. Free, Ice cores as an index of global volcanism from 1850 to the present, Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 100, No. D6, Pages 11,549-11,567, June 20, 1995

https://climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/pdf/RobockFree95JD00825.pdf 
Have things really improved that much for volcanic markers? If so, I’d be most interested in your references. It seems the best that can be said is that volcanic chemical signals can be detected for some 10,000 layers or so. But, matching them up to a specific known volcanic event for calibration purposes becomes quite problematic beyond a few hundred years – as cases like the misidentification of the Thera eruption signal (as recently as 2003) illustrate.

Also, you’ve not yet even addressed the problem of the relatively recent mid-Holocene hypsithermal warm period… a situation of long-standing global warming with temperatures significantly warmer than today all around Greenland (while today the Greenland ice sheets are melting quite rapidly). This is one of the most puzzling problems that I can see for modern ice core dating assumptions…

According to mainstream science, there existed, for millennia, after the end of the last ice age (approximately 11,000 years ago) around 5,000 years of warm weather all around Greenland. Strong evidence indicates that the Eurasian arctic averaged nearly 13°F warmer in July than it is now.

This evidence includes forests of large trees, even fruit bearing trees, that are now buried and preserved in the acidic Siberian tundra – and they can be carbon dated. Where there is no forest today, because it’s too cold in summer, there were all these forests of large trees, all the way to the Arctic Ocean and even on some of the remote Arctic islands that are bare today. There were also large numbers of animals living within the Arctic Circle that no longer live in these regions. And, back then, thanks to the remnants of continental ice, the Arctic Ocean was smaller and the North American and Eurasian landmasses extended further north.

Some of this evidence is based on the work of Glen MacDonald, from UCLA’s Geography Department. In his landmark 2000 paper in Quaternary Research, he noted that the only way that the Arctic could become so warm is for there to be a massive incursion of warm water from the Atlantic Ocean. The only “gate” through which that can flow is the Greenland Strait, between Greenland and Scandinavia.

MacDonald, G. M., et al., 2000. Holocene treeline history and climatic change across Northern Eurasia. Quaternary Research 53, 302-311.

So, Greenland had to have been warmer for several millennia, too – right?

Yet, what you are basically suggesting is that the ice core dating evidence is so strong for at least the past 100,000 years or so that it effectively falsifies the Genesis story of origins – to include the literal 6-day creation week and a worldwide Noachian Flood within the last 10,000 years. You are effectively claiming that it is rationally impossible for ice to have layered out much more rapidly than today on Greenland in the recent past. You are saying this despite indisputable evidence that the layering of ice toward the margins of the Greenland ice sheet results in dozens of layers being deposited per year (refer to the burial of WWII planes several hundred layers of ice in less than 50 years). It couldn’t be that many more layers were deposited per year when ice first started to form on Greenland just a few hundred years after the Flood? – During a time of increased moisture, intra-annual warm and cold spells, and numerous seasonal storms over Greenland?

Given new discoveries, such as those of Robin Bell that came out just this month (March, 2011), suggesting that long accepted models of ice sheet development are not correct, how confident are you in your ice core falsification hypothesis? After all, Bell’s work suggests that up to half the thickness of the ice sheets in certain places of Antarctica formed from the bottom up, not the top down as previously assumed.

To put it in non-scientific terms, lead scientist Robin Bell told msnbc.com, the study redefines “how squishy” the base of ice sheets can be. “This matters to how fast ice will flow and how fast ice sheets will change.”

“It also means that ice sheet models are not correct,” she said, comparing it to “trying to figure out how a car will drive but forgetting to add the tires. The performance will be very different if you are driving on the rims.”

https://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2684493/posts 
When it comes to claims for calibration of ice-core dates for many tens of thousands of years, consider the following comments published by Skinner in 2008:

All palaeoenvironmental inference hinges on chronostratigraphy. Without a way to accurately link and order our observations spatially and temporally, they remain at best of ambiguous, and at worst of dubious, significance. Nevertheless, a given chronostratigraphy is best viewed as an hypothesis. Much like any proxy, a chronostratigraphy must be employed in a manner that explicitly allows it to be tested. The Greenland and Antarctic ice-core stratigraphies, together with North Atlantic marine archives, low-latitude speleothem and coral records, and the radiometric dates that these latter archives contain, comprise an integrated chronostratigraphic system that is eminently amenable to consistency testing. The integration of these “chronostratigraphic elements” results in a system that remains underdetermined, in that it’s chronology cannot be resolved unequivocally. However, this is only true to the extent that proposed stratigraphic links and absolute ages can be questioned, and that radiometric ages are subject to uncertain “calibrations” (i.e. we cannot account for the movement of all radio-isotopes in the system).

Based on the assumed accuracy of coral and speleothem U-Th ages, Northeast Atlantic surface reservoir ages should be revised upward by _350 years, while the NGRIP age-scale appears to be “missing” time. These findings illustrate the utility of integrated stratigraphy as a test for our chronologies, which are rarely truly “absolute”.

Skinner, L. C.: Revisiting the absolute calibration of the Greenland ice-core age-scales*, Clim. Past, 4, 295-302, doi:10.5194/cp-4-295-2008

You see how interdependent ice-core dating is on the reliability of other dating methods? Ice core dating is not a truly independent dating technique with fail-safe calibration markers for a hundred thousand years or more. Its accuracy is entirely dependent upon the assumed accuracy of other dating methods which are in turn calibrated against each other. And, I’m not the only one to see logical circularity here. Such circularity in reasoning is inherent with the dating of ice cores and ocean sediment cores.

The task of dating these strata [ocean sediment cores] is difficult because sediments may accumulate more quickly during some eras and more slowly in others. To tell the age of layers between known benchmarks, researchers often use the Milankovitch orbital cycles to tune the sediment record: They assume that ice volume should vary with the orbital cycles, then line up the wiggles in the sediment record with ups and downs in the astronomical record.

“This whole tuning procedure, which is used extensively, has elements of circular reasoning in it,” says Muller. He argues that tuning can artificially make the sediment record support the Milankovitch theory.

Richard Monastersky, The Big Chill, Science News, vol 152, October 4, 1997, pages 220-221.

Such tuning can artificially make various patterns support just about any pre-conceived theory one wants to support. That’s the problem with these patterns from various dating techniques being set up to calibrate each other. They are all “tuned” to each other…

See also:
https://www.detectingdesign.com/milankovitch.html 
You really think such things have significantly changed since 1997 when I graduated from medical school?

I just hate to see someone leave their faith in the credibility of the Bible behind over a “science” as new and problematic and demonstrably at odds with well established facts as is ice core dating…

Sean Pitman

https://www.DetectingDesign.com


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 25th, 2011 Jan Long says:

Sean, yes even Two Mile Time Machine is somewhat dated, though it would be my understanding that the main thrust of the book is still considered valid and has been strengthened with additional research. As I understand it, probably 75% of what we know about ice cores has been learned in the last 10 years. As you may know, ice core studies are a dynamic and fast changing field–primarly because so little was previously known. My prior point about 20 year old ice core discussions was that, that verges on the stoneage, ice core speaking.


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 25th, 2011 Seanpit says:

I supposed, then, that Glen MacDonald's paper and observations are out of date as well? – to include the radiocarbon dating of the Arctic forests? – and hundreds of millions of warm weather animal remains that existed within recent history in areas that are now frozen solid year-round?

Radiocarbon-dated macrofossils are used to document Holocene treeline history across northern Russia (including Siberia). Boreal forest development in this region commenced by 10,000 yr B.P. Over most of Russia, forest advanced to or near the current arctic coastline between 9000 and 7000 yr B.P. and retreated to its present position by between 4000 and 3000 yr B.P. Forest establishment and retreat was roughly synchronous across most of northern Russia. Treeline advance on the Kola Peninsula, however, appears to have occurred later than in other regions. During the period of maximum forest extension, the mean July temperatures along the northern coastline of Russia may have been 2.5° to 7.0°C warmer than modern. The development of forest and expansion of treeline likely reflects a number of complimentary environmental conditions, including heightened summer insolation, the demise of Eurasian ice sheets, reduced sea-ice cover, greater continentality with eustatically lower sea level, and extreme Arctic penetration of warm North Atlantic waters.

MacDonald, G. M., et al., 2000. Holocene treeline history and climatic change across Northern Eurasia. Quaternary Research 53, 302-311.

Sean Pitman

www.DetectingDesign.com


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 25th, 2011 Seanpit says:

Hi Anonymous,

Limiting the definition of the modern theory of evolution simply to “change over time” does not adequately describe what the theory proposes. The modern theory actually proposes just what I said it proposes. It is a historical theory that does in fact propose change from very low to very high levels of functional complexity via the particular mechanism of random mutations combined with natural selection. Yet, you write:

“If you move from the creationist definition of evolution as you gave it to the biological definition, there is no longer any contradiction between the concept of biological evolution and an eternally pre-existing creator God.”

The problem in play here isn’t over the existence of God. Not even the modern theory of evolution is really at odds with the concept of God’s existence. The problem in play here is over the ability to present evidence that can only be explained by the actions of a God or a God-like being at work in our universe. The modern theory of evolution, as with naturalism in general, removes the necessity to invoke an intelligent designer of any kind, much less a God-like designer, when it comes to explaining either the origin or diversity of life – or even the origin of the universe itself.

It is for this reason that creationists like me have no problem with the basic concept of change over time. We just have a problem with the notion of change over time beyond very low levels of functional complexity without the input of pre-existing intelligence. Some refer to this type of change as a form of “macroevolution”. That’s where creationists and evolutionists diverge.

You are also mistaken that science cannot propose, by its very nature, the need for intelligent design to explain certain types of phenomena observed in nature. I’ve already gone into this with you in fair detail. Many scientific disciplines are dependent upon this ability – an ability that isn’t just a philosophical position since it produces real predicative value and is also a falsifiable position. Yet, you write:

"Historical science can study the traces that divine intervention leaves behind itself, but again cannot propose divine intervention as the cause, at least not until all other possible causes have been ruled out."

Ruling out other potential non-deliberate natural causes is certainly a requirement for the ID-only hypothesis. However, once all other known non-deliberate mechanisms have been effectively ruled out, the ID-only hypothesis often remains viable. This is the reason why anthropologists can determine that a piece of rock was once deliberately formed into an arrow head instead of by some non-deliberate natural mechanism. They determine this by doing two things:

  1. Determining if the object in question can reasonably be produced by some known non-deliberate force of nature.
  2. Determining if the object in question can reasonably be produced by intelligent design on at least the human level or greater.

If the object in question goes well beyond any known force of nature yet remains within the power of at least human level intelligent design and production, then the ID-only hypothesis, the hypothesis that only intelligent design could have produced the object in question, remains the best scientific conclusion at the present time.

This logic is the basis of forensic science, of various aspects of anthropology, and of SETI science… as well as a number of other sciences that are dependent upon the detection of deliberately produced artifacts.

Yet, you present the common argument:

“You can always reach the point where you will say, I cannot explain this so it must have been caused by a miracle, and thereby restraining yourself from examining the evidence one more time which might lead you to discover the cause and effect relationship.”

That’s simply not the argument presented. I can explain the chocolate cake using intelligent design. I cannot explain the chocolate cake using any known mindless mechanism a the present time. It isn’t a matter of not being able to explain the phenomenon in question. It is a matter of not being able to explain it using mindless mechanisms while still being able to explain it via ID. How long would you propose to continue your search for a mindless naturalistic mechanism to explain the origin of a highly symmetrical polished granite cube on Mars? – before you finally accept that it most likely had an ID origin?

Yet, you go on to compare the human ability to learn new information to the ability of random mutations and natural selection to generate new information at higher and higher levels of functional complexity. I’m sorry, but you’re making a false comparison. The mechanism of RM/NS is not at all like the human ability to learn. It is not intuitive. It has no vision of the future. Natural selection only selects, in a positive manner, for what works right now. It is for this reason that mindless mechanisms, like RM/NS, cannot generate novel information that goes significantly beyond the starting point level of functional complexity – not even given trillions upon trillions of years of time. Mindless mechanisms just don’t work like you evidently think they do.

Anyway, thanks again for your thoughts.

Sean Pitman

www.DetectingDesign.com


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 26th, 2011 Seanpit says:

Hypsithermal vs. Ice Core Science

Sean Pitman

March, 2011

Uncontested, yet conflicting, "facts" in modern science:

The Greenland ice sheet is currently melting at a relatively rapid rate.

A fairly recent study, based on reprocessed and improved data between 2003 and 2008, reports an average trend of 195 cubic kilometers (47 cu mi) per year.[6] These measurements came from the US space agency's GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite, launched in 2002, as reported by BBC.[7] Using data from two ground-observing satellites, ICESAT and ASTER, a study published in Geophysical Research Letters (September 2008) shows that nearly 75 percent of the loss of Greenland's ice can be traced back to small coastal glaciers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenland_ice_sheet

The Holocene Climate Optimum was a "Hypsithermal" or warm period during roughly the interval 9,000 to 5,000 years ago according to mainstream scientists. This warm period was significantly warmer than it is today all around Greenland. Large forests and warm-weather animals populated regions currently frozen over year-round all around the Arctic Circle.

The Holocene Climate Optimum warm event consisted of increases of up to 4 °C near the North Pole (in one study, winter warming of 3 to 9 °C and summer of 2 to 6 °C in northern central Siberia).[1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypsithermal

Some of this evidence is based on the work of Glen MacDonald, from UCLA’s Geography Department. In his landmark 2000 paper in Quaternary Research, he noted that the only way that the Arctic could become so warm is for there to be a massive incursion of warm water from the Atlantic Ocean. The only “gate” through which that can flow is the Greenland Strait, between Greenland and Scandinavia.

Radiocarbon-dated macrofossils are used to document Holocene treeline history across northern Russia (including Siberia). Boreal forest development in this region commenced by 10,000 yr B.P. Over most of Russia, forest advanced to or near the current arctic coastline between 9000 and 7000 yr B.P. and retreated to its present position by between 4000 and 3000 yr B.P. Forest establishment and retreat was roughly synchronous across most of northern Russia. Treeline advance on the Kola Peninsula, however, appears to have occurred later than in other regions. During the period of maximum forest extension, the mean July temperatures along the northern coastline of Russia may have been 2.5° to 7.0°C warmer than modern. The development of forest and expansion of treeline likely reflects a number of complimentary environmental conditions, including heightened summer insolation, the demise of Eurasian ice sheets, reduced sea-ice cover, greater continentality with eustatically lower sea level, and extreme Arctic penetration of warm North Atlantic waters.

MacDonald, G. M., et al., 2000. Holocene treeline history and climatic change across Northern Eurasia. Quaternary Research 53, 302-311.

Question:

If Greenland's ice is currently melting at a fairly rapid rate, one would think that Greenland's ice was melting at an even faster rate during the Hypsithermal period where the temperatures around Greenland were significantly warmer, year-round, than they are today – for thousands of years. Given this well accepted fact of mainstream science, how is it that mainstream scientists also propose, at the same time, that the ice sheets on Greenland actually survived thousands of years of such warm temperatures? After all, modern scientists are so worried about modern "global warming" that many are suggesting that Greenland's ice will be gone within just 1,000 years and some are suggesting that it may be gone within a few hundred years.

James E. Hansen has argued that multiple positive feedbacks could lead to nonlinear ice sheet disintegration much faster than claimed by the IPCC. According to a 2007 paper, "we find no evidence of millennial lags between forcing and ice sheet response in paleoclimate data. An ice sheet response time of centuries seems probable, and we cannot rule out large changes on decadal time-scales once wide-scale surface melt is underway."

James Hansen, Makiko Sato, et al., Climate change and trace gases. Phil.Trans.R.Soc.A (2007)365,1925–1954, doi:10.1098/rsta.2007.2052. Published online 18 May 2007


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 26th, 2011 Jan Long says:

Sean Pitman: Question:
If Greenland’s ice is currently melting at a fairly rapid rate, one would think that Greenland’s ice was melting at an even faster rate during the Hypsithermal period where the temperatures around Greenland were significantly warmer, year-round, than they are today – for thousands of years. Given this well accepted fact of mainstream science, how is it that mainstream scientists also propose, at the same time, that the ice sheets on Greenland actually survived thousands of years of such warm temperatures? After all, modern scientists are so worried about modern “global warming” that many are suggesting that Greenland’s ice will be gone within just 1,000 years and some are suggesting that it may be gone within a few hundred years.

Greenland is a large land mass that is 4 times larger than France. Three quarters of the country lies within the Arctic Circle. Only 16% of the area is devoid of permanent snow and ice.

Portions of the ice sheet are at elevations of 10,000 feet. The melting that is occurring is in the coastal and southern regions where the temperatures in the summer can get up into the 40(f) degree range. Much of the country including the upper elevations are in a permafrost zone. Even where there was rapid warming in the past, it would only impact the warmer coastal areas–not the higher elevation ice sheet.


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 26th, 2011 Al Good says:

Trying to get back on topic …. (will I succeed?)

Jan, this is a very timely article. I graduated from Adventist schools – high school and college. For quite some time, I've been thinking about what I think is the general direction of Adventist higher education. As I reflected on the state of academic freedom in the colleges and universities, and from reading some statements from high ranking officials in the church, I'm not very optimistic. Sadly, Adventist higher education (if it can really be called that eventually) will go the way of the Bob Jones University types. A college or university will lack credibity overall if even one department has a scenario where professors are asked to submerge objectivity and truth and uphold a position of the church even if it is scientifically untenable. Rigorous enquiry is replaced by apologetics. They may as well downgrade them to bible colleges. Theologians teaching biology classes.

The university/college will be as vibrant as the board is progressive. Regardless of the attention La Sierra has been getting recently, and the general suspicion that some traditional adventists hold of Loma Linda University, the fact remains that these institutions are governed more or less by a conservative board structure as is the case, btw, with all Adventist colleges and universities around the world. And the boards are made up overwhelmingly or almost entirely of trained pastors – all in the employ of the church at varying levels. We all know that any call to substantially reduce the number of such individuals on the boards will simply be ignored. Thus, as the church moves in a more conservative direction with its attending anti-science views, and as certain academic departments come under greater scrutiny, we may have to wonder if Adventist universities can eventually be considered real universities. Consider that the GeoScience Institute at LLU is charged with the mission of finding 'evidence' to support the church's position on origins. Can a respectable scientist work for such an institution?


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 26th, 2011 Jan Long says:

Al ===> Consider that the GeoScience Institute at LLU is charged with the mission of finding 'evidence' to support the church's position on origins. Can a respectable scientist work for such an institution?

Al, I like the sentiments you have expressed in your post. The only area that I might quibble about would be quote above. Here is why:

All thinking begins with a set of presuppositions, and for that reason I do believe that there is a legitimate place for scientific inquiry that would be supportive of uniquely Adventist presuppositions. After all, Adventist presuppositions could be on the order of any run of the mill hypothesis. Generally, an hypothesis begins with supporting evidence, but I do think there is a legitimate place for starting with a hunch and then seeking the evidence that would support it. I think that some of Einstein's thought experiments may have been along these lines, where he came up with the ideas, and then the scientific community over a period of decades validated much of his paradigm.

For that reason, I would generally be supportive of the GRI, at least conceptually. I have very little knowledge of its actual work, but I am familiar with one of the scientists on staff and know him to be very thoughtful and well aware of the problems that they are up against.

The only thing I would expect out of GRI is honest scholarship and honesty about the data.

Adventist universities are in a different category because as educational institutions that are primarily in the business of educating students and are subject to accrediting boards, etc. –not doing scientific research on origins, etc. It is very difficult for a university to hold to an anti-scientific worldview, which could be coming with an FB #6 rewrite, and then expect the institution to maintain its credibility.

In general, though you have made some very good points. Thanks


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 27th, 2011 Seanpit says:

Hi Jan,

You wrote:

Greenland is a large land mass that is 4 times larger than France. Three quarters of the country lies within the Arctic Circle. Only 16% of the area is devoid of permanent snow and ice.

Portions of the ice sheet are at elevations of 10,000 feet. The melting that is occurring is in the coastal and southern regions where the temperatures in the summer can get up into the 40(f) degree range. Much of the country including the upper elevations are in a permafrost zone. Even where there was rapid warming in the past, it would only impact the warmer coastal areas–not the higher elevation ice sheet.

High altitude doesn’t seem to be a helpful argument when it comes to explaining the preservation of Greenland Ice sheets during the thousands of years (6-7kyr) of Hypsithermal (Middle Holocene) warming. Why? Because what supports the high altitude of the ice in Greenland? Obviously, it is the ice itself.

I mean really, note that the altitude of the ice sheet in Greenland is about 2,135 meters. Now, consider that about 2,000 meters of this altitude is made up of the thickness of the ice itself. If you warm up this region so that the lower altitudes start to melt, the edges are going to start receding at a rate that is faster than the replacement of the total ice lost. In short, the total volume of the ice will decrease and the ice sheet will become thinner as it flows peripherally. This will reduce the altitude of the ice sheet and increase the total amount of surface area exposed to the warmer temperatures. This cycle will only increase over the time of increased warmness.

Consider this in the light of what is happening to the ice sheet in Greenland today with only a one degree increase in the average global temperature over the past 100 years or so. Currently, the ice is melting at ~200 cubic kilometers per year. And, we aren’t yet close to the average global warmness thought to have been sustained during the Hypsithermal (another 3 to 5 degrees, Celsius, warmer around Greenland). If that’s not a problem I don’t know what is?

After all, if your argument were considered sound, by modern science, why are so many scientists predicting that Greenland's ice sheet will in fact melt within less than 1000 years? – with some predicting much more rapid melting? Have they simply not considered your high altitude argument?

Consider that even your own prefered authority on this topic, Richard Alley, argues that Greenland's ice sheets will melt completely away given just a 3 degree increase in temperature (see link).

https://images.wri.org/climatescience_greenlandicesheet.jpg

Note also that the total area of the Greenland ice sheet where there is at least one day of surface melting in summer increased to a new record extent in 2007. The surface melt area had been less than 15 million square kilometers in the 1970s, but increased to almost 30 million square kilometers by 2007 (see link).

https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/figures/area-of-greenland-ice-she…

This is truly catastrophic melting — nothing like it has ever been seen before. Note that the summer melt zone now stretches right across the ice sheet summit in southern Greenland. Some researchers think that this part of the ice sheet is about to disintegrate catastrophically, leaving a remnant in north Greenland which will be about half the size of the ice sheet of the 1950's.

https://2.bp.blogspot.com/_FraUxsnCivU/TUpwZFi3FAI/AAAAAAAAAtQ/4CEzxbFjs8…

Also, consider that a new record for ice melting in Greenland was set in 2010.

https://cdn.physorg.com/newman/gfx/news/hires/newmeltrecor.jpg

I'm sorry, but I don't think your altitude argument is a tenable explanation for the preservation of Greenlands ice during the mid-Holocene Hypsithermal period.

Sean Pitman

https://www.DetectingDesign.com


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 27th, 2011 Al Good says:

Jan, I understand what you're saying about the possibility of losing acreditation with an overtly anti-science posture, and the impact of that lost acreditation. However, it seems to me that prospect seems looming; the current leadership in the highest echelons of the church, and the foreseeable future, isn't about to back down. The bull's eye is the biology depts. I don't hear any talk of allowing science faculty a certain lattitude; it's all about "they must unequivocally support the church's position on origins." So, again, I'm not very optimistic. What will happen when your friend finds data that directly and clearly contradicts the church's positions? It is his honest interpretation of the data supported by the most rigorous analysis. He will follow his conscience, no doubt, but he may have to face the consequences.


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 27th, 2011 Jan Long says:
Sean, this is not just an altitude issue. It is also latitude issue.

We have veered way off the topic of the main article, so I won't be pursuing this further with you. It is simply clear that no amount of data would change your mind. It is also clear that irrespective of what data is presented you will always have a "but" argument. You very well may support an FB #6 rewrite. Just understand that if it happens in the way that some are promoting, it will have definitive long term negative consequences on all Adventist Universities.


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 28th, 2011 Seanpit says:

Hi Jan,

You wrote:

Sean, this is not just an altitude issue. It is also latitude issue.

You evidently didn't read through the references I gave you… or you forget that if the Arctic ice cap melts completely (as is quite likely in the next few decades) that this will dramatically increase the temperatures within the Arctic at all latitudes.

"Summers in the Arctic may be ice-free in as few as 30 years, not at the end of the century as previously expected."
NOAA, Ice-Free Arctic Summers Likely Sooner Than Expected, April 2, 2009

https://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20090402_seaice.html
Before this, in 2006, Walt Meier, a researcher at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado noted that the melting of the Arctic ice cap in summer "is progressing more rapidly than satellite images alone have shown. Given resent data such as this, climate researchers at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in California predict the complete absence of summer ice on the Arctic Ocean by 2030 or sooner."

Don Behm, Into the spotlight: Leno, scientists alike want to hear explorer's findings, Journal Sentinel, July 21, 2006

Consider what would happen if the entire Arctic Ocean went without ice during the summer months owing to a warmer and therefore longer spring, summer, and fall.

An interesting article published in the journal Nature almost 40 years ago by R. L. Newson showed that, without the Arctic ice cap, the winters of the Arctic Ocean would rise 20-40ºC and 10-20ºC over northern Siberia and Alaska – all other factors being equal. M. Warshaw and R. Rapp published similar results in the Journal of Applied Meteorology – using a different circulation model.

–R. L. Newson, "Response of a General Circulation Model of the Atmosphere to Removal of the Arctic Icecap," Nature (1973): 39-40.

–M. Warshaw and R. R. Rapp, "An Experiment on the Sensitivity of a Global Circulation Model," Journal of Applied Meteorology 12 (1973): 43-49.

Certainly this degree of warming would result in more snowfall, but this would not be enough to prevent the warmer weather from removing the snow cover and the ice itself from Greenland’s ice sheet.

So, the best currently available evidence strongly suggests that the arctic ocean was iceless during the summering throughout the Hypsithermal and that it was warm enough during this time, around the entire ice sheet of Greenland, to completely melt the whole thing during the Hypsithermal – all latitudes included.

Sean Pitman

www.DetectingDesign.com
  


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 28th, 2011 Seanpit says:

Hi Jan,

You also wrote:

It is simply clear that no amount of data would change your mind. It is also clear that irrespective of what data is presented you will always have a "but" argument.

I'm sorry, but it seems to me like you're the one being dismissive of sincere questions and published scientific data. I'm just presenting my own thoughts and questions and you're acting as if any questioning of your position, or the popular opinion of mainstream science, is so obviously ludicrous and ill-informed as to be dismissed without serious thought or response. I dare say that if you were in charge of the SDA educational system, that you wouldn't think to present the students in our schools with any such questions or challenges of mainstream thinking. You'd only present them with a very one sided view of the currently available data on the topic of origins… a very secular view I might add that finds no need to invoke God or a God-like intelligence, or any intelligence for that matter, as the origin of anything we see within our universe. While God is not specifically ruled out of the equasion, neither is mainstream science supportive of presenting any evidence that can only be explained, rationally, by invoking an intelligent designer that cannot be readily distinguished from a God or God-like power.

That's the main problem I see with your endeavor to give mainstream secular scientists the power to dictate to the SDA Church just what is and is not reasonable to teach our own young people about the various realities of the world and universe in which we live.

Also, I didn't know that the goal here was to actually change each other minds. I doubt that any evidence presented to you by a creationist would change your mind. You seem far more impressed by the origin of the information and the opinions and interpretations of mainstream scientists than the information itself. You seem to me to be swayed, not so much by the arguments themselves, but by the fact that the vast majority of mainstream scientists, whom you respect and admire, think that the SDA position on origins is ludicrous – equivalent to belonging to some flat Earth society.

In this light, I am amazed that you continue to call yourself SDA. Outside of social reasons, why be at all associated with such a backward group of people?

You very well may support an FB #6 rewrite. Just understand that if it happens in the way that some are promoting, it will have definitive long term negative consequences on all Adventist Universities.

I guess it's all relative – a matter of perspective. You think the consequences of actually presenting the true SDA position on a literal 6-day creation week in no uncertain language in our fundamental beliefs would a very bad thing. That's because you really don't believe in one of the very reasons why we are a unique denomination within the Christian community.

I think it would be tragic to only present the mainstream view of origins to our students. Our students should know the mainstream story of origins as well as any student taught in the top secular universities. However, our students should also be presented with the evidences that challenge the mainstream perspective and actually support the SDA position on origins – a position that has actually been voted on by the GC exec committee and presented to all SDA schools.

Affirmations

As a result of the two international conferences and the seven division conferences, the Organizing Committee reports the following affirmations:

  1. We affirm the primacy of Scripture in the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of origins.
  2. We affirm the historic Seventh-day Adventist understanding of Genesis 1 that life on earth was created in six literal days and is of recent origin.
  3. We affirm the biblical account of the Fall resulting in death and evil.
  4. We affirm the biblical account of a catastrophic Flood, an act of God’s judgment that affected the whole planet, as an important key to understanding earth history.
  5. We affirm that our limited understanding of origins calls for humility and that further exploration into these questions brings us closer to deep and wonderful mysteries.
  6. We affirm the interlocking nature of the doctrine of creation with other Seventh-day Adventist doctrines.
  7. We affirm that in spite of its fallenness nature is a witness to the Creator.
  8. We affirm Seventh-day Adventist scientists in their endeavors to understand the Creator’s handiwork through the methodologies of their disciplines.
  9. We affirm Seventh-day Adventist theologians in their efforts to explore and articulate the content of revelation.
  10. We affirm Seventh-day Adventist educators in their pivotal ministry to the children and youth of the church.
  11. We affirm that the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church identified in Revelation 14:6, 7 includes a call to worship God as Creator of all.

Recommendations

The Organizing Committee for the International Faith and Science Conferences recommends that:

In order to address what some interpret as a lack of clarity in Fundamental Belief #6 the historic Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the Genesis narrative be affirmed more explicitly.
Church leaders at all levels be encouraged to assess and monitor the effectiveness with which denominational systems and programs succeed in preparing young people, including those attending non-Adventist schools, with a biblical understanding of origins and an awareness of the challenges they may face in respect to this understanding.
Increased opportunity be provided for interdisciplinary dialog and research, in a safe environment, among Seventh-day Adventist scholars from around the world.

https://www.adventist.org/beliefs/statements/main_stat54.html 
So, when professors in our own schools think themselves clear to undermine the clearly stated SDA position on origins, as you are obviously recommending (just because they see some sort of loophole in the current wording of the SDA Fundamental Beliefs), they are stealing from their employer by misrepresenting what their employer is paying them to do. This is a form of dishonesty – a moral problem in anyone's book.

Therefore, if you or anyone else who simply cannot see him or herself clear to actually support the Church's position within our own Church schools, such a person should do the honest thing and go and work for the many universities who are more in line with their own personal beliefs.

And, at the very least, our professors and the schools that employ them should be very open and honest about exactly what is being taught to our children in our classrooms. If the school clearly supports a position on origins that directly undermines the historic SDA position on origins, this position and general attitidue of the school should be clearly advertised and presented to potential students and their parents and the SDA Church at large. Afer all, parents like me who do not agree with the mainstream perspective, who actually think that their children should be presented with something more than what secular schools are presenting on this topic, should be presented with very clear options. We should not be sold one thing and given something completely different for our hard earned dollars.

Sean Pitman

www.DetectingDesign.com 


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 29th, 2011 Seanpit says:

P.S.

Note that the Dye-3 ice core is located well within the southern tip of the Greenland ice sheet – within an area that is currently showing significant surface melting.

https://s1.hubimg.com/u/2912868_f496.jpg
Yet, the ice in this region supposedly survived the Hypsithermal period with significantly warmer weather in this area than exists today? In fact, the Dye-3 core is supposed to be one of the best records of the post-glacial climatic optimum which is thought to have lasted over a span of some 5,000 years from ~9000-4000 yrs B.P.

How does either your altitude or latitude argument explain the persistence of ice in the region of the Dye-3 during the entire mid-Holocene? – in the same region that is currently expected to completely melt well within a 5,000 year span at current temperatures?

Sean Pitman

www.DetectingDesign.com


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 29th, 2011 bauermd says:

Sean,

Please refer to item five in the guidelines section for posting here:

The comments area is not a place for long-winded lectures and dissertations. Stay short and to the point.

You have hijacked this discussion and taken it far afield from it's original thread. In doing so you are discrediting yourself and revealing that you have a large axe to grind and agenda to advance. This blog is for those who are open minded and truly searching for a meaningful exchange of ideas.

Give it a rest!!


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 29th, 2011 AGG says:

I grew up in very conservative churches. When I was teenager I knew that Jesus cannot come later than 2000, that really 2000 years from Jesus birth are in 1996 and He would come for sure earlier. There was no doubt in anything in written in the Bible, Helen White or even pastors words. We were taught that all western scientists believe in God. Pastor’s words; ‘All true scientists believe in God!’

At age 12 I was already reading nuclear physics, geology etc and tried to reconcile somehow the Bible with the facts. I was trying to put out all the doubts the scientific facts can cause. And imagine that in communist country where God is forbidden.

Some decades later: 1) Jesus still didn’t come. 2) I know evidences that not all sister White wrote is true. (For example the quote: “6000 years human history and 1000 millennium”). 3) Not all western scientists believe in God (USA statistic – 90% of people with degree don’t believe in personal god or don’t believe at all). 4) We are trying to explain the historical and social frame of some book in the Bible in order to match it with present time. But we never do so with the writings of sister White (And of course we look stupid: ‘Don’t buy bike!”; “Jesus would come if you repent during Minneapolis conference.”).

The evidences that Bible must not be taken 100% literally are so compelling that I don’t have to explain them. In all different science disciplines there are problems, but there is no one which is now closer to creationism than 50 years ago.

Somehow SDA church has to accept the reality, not to hide from it. If the direction is what I heard from the inaugural ceremony of Ted Wilson our church will root more and more in low educated people in developed countries and very well in countries without good education.

My friend told me after one Sabbath school lesson: “Let’s hope that God has other church for intelligent people!” (No comments)


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 29th, 2011 Jan Long says:

In the article above, the proposal is that we appear to be reaching a crossroad. For those readers stuck in the middle between the Church's historic position on a recent creation, and the scientific data, my guess is that most would probably like to find a way to reconcile the two worlds.

There are at least 2 ways to go about this:

1. The first way is to reconsider the way in which revelation is read. Outside of the very broadest of principles (on the order of in the beginning God created…), the question looms as to whether it is really appropriate to use revelation as a science book? This is one of the questions that must be confronted.

2, The second approach proposed by literalist often argue that the data is being misread due to incorrect presuppositions, or that there were possibly remote events that has distorted the data, etc. All of this is, of course, possible. I am not closed to data supportive of Adventist presuppositions. However, as GRI has discovered, there really is very little data that supports Adventist presuppositions. Furthermore, literalist arguments tend to break down through scientific verification from indeptendent data sets.

Outside of these two general approaches I am unaware of any other methods. Many would probably like to sit on the side lines and let science finish its work before drawing decisive conclusions, but this may not be possible with an FB rewrite. This is why we seem to be approaching a crossroad, for if the Church crosses into the anti-scientific realm, it will have guaranteed devastating negative consequences for all Adventist universities.

P.S. As for questions raised about the history of Greenland's temperature history, please see the follow sources.

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/metadata/noaa-icecore-2475.html

ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/icecore/greenland/summit/gisp2/isotopes/gisp2_temp_accum_alley2000.txt  


Re: Adventist Education—at the Crossroads?
On March 29th, 2011 Professor Kent says:

@ Sean Pitman,

I would like to congratulate you for your uncanny ability to distinguish between the remarkably small percentage of studies which reach conclusions that are apparently correct and, not coincidentally, happen to support your views, versus the exceptionally large percentage of studies that reach grossly incorrect conclusions. You amaze me.

PK

The professor of Christ