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  1. Stephen Ferguson
    22 June 2012 @ 8:27 am

    Seventh-day Adventist long term creationist (emphasis added)

    Very good Jack.  I particular like you designation as a 'long term' creationist. I believe Ervin and other commentators have raise comments about how certain terms, such as 'creation' and 'creationist', get coopted by certain people, as if creationism must always correlate to literal young earth creation.

    I guess I am one of the 'grandchildren' who don't think it is a big deal. I know it is a 'middle' view that many people on both 'sides' think is a cop out, but the point is none of our FB beliefs are fatally abrogated by accepting long term creation.   

  2. pagophilus
    22 June 2012 @ 9:03 am

    You have just shown, Jack, that you are a cultural Adventist, and you want to keep on being involved in a club whose basic teachings you don’t agree with. That’s fine, but it’s not fine for you to have senior positions (ie be an elder) if you don’t really know what you are there for.

    The purpose of the Adventist church is a lot greater than getting people not to eat meat. It is to prepare people for the second coming of the Creator, who created this world 6000 years ago according to the information He himself gave us.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      22 June 2012 @ 9:22 am

       It is to prepare people for the second coming of the Creator, who created this world 6000 years ago according to the information He himself gave us.

      Why does preparing people for the second coming of the Creator require the world to be created in 6000 years?  

      • prbigkev
        25 June 2012 @ 8:41 am

        Who said it was created in 6000 years? I thought the point being made was that it was made 6000 years ago.

    • Kevin Riley
      22 June 2012 @ 10:42 am

      The FB on creation is not one of the original FBs.  When listing the 'pillar doctrines', Ellen White did not include it.  If we discovered God created the world in 6 days, 1, 237, 473 years ago, what else would really change?  Or if we discovered that God actually created the world in 6 seconds, 6,000 years ago, what would change?  We would move Gen 1 from 'literal time' to 'figurative time', but we have changed our minds on how other sections should be read, so I think we would survive.  We have always acknowledged that not all texts should be read literally.  If we discovered God did not create, then I believe we would have an insurmountable problem.  A day to remember what didn't happen seems foolish to me.  But a day to remember God created – whenever, however long it took – seems like a good idea.  When he created the world is exactly the information we are not given in the creation account, so I doubt it is central.

      • Stephen Ferguson
        22 June 2012 @ 10:52 am

        But correct me if I am wrong, but isn't even the current FB#6 sufficiently ambiguous that it doesn't explicitly specify creation means in 6,000 years.  That is why Pres Wilson is trying to have it changed.  
         However, until he does, I don't think pagophilus can say Jack is merely a 'cultural Adventist' if he holds to views that conform with the wording of the SDA FBs.  In any event, even for those do accept all 28 FBs, there is a wide variety of opinions on how to interpret them exactly.  

        • Kevin Riley
          22 June 2012 @ 11:16 am

          I don't know that the 6,000 years is meant to be inserted, just the literal nature of the days will be 'clarified'.  And Ellen White is clear on the 'about 6,000 years' issues, and some would consider that as more certain than any Biblical text.

        • pagophilus
          22 June 2012 @ 9:32 pm

          There are many verses telling us how long ago creation was. You just have to add up the numbers. Go on – add up the ages of the patriarchs and see where you get to. That’s what James Ussher did and many others.

    • Chuck Reid
      22 June 2012 @ 10:52 am

      Pagophilus – I have met cultural Adventists – Jack's story goes way beyond cultural involvement. There is no verse telling us that the world was created 6,000 years ago. Rather, this number is arrived at using calculations, not unlike the calculations used by Miller and others to set dates for the return of Christ, but in the opposite direction. It is clear that there are numerous interpretations of what it means to be an Adventist. There are some who reject the basic teaching of the Trinity, for example. Would you call them cultural?

  3. In His Service
    22 June 2012 @ 10:06 am

    Amen Stephen.

  4. William Noel
    22 June 2012 @ 12:41 pm

    Such points of controversy exist only in the absence of focus on our historic priority: preparing people for the Kingdom of God.  How long will we allow such distraction to be the center of our attention?

    • Jack Hoehn
      25 June 2012 @ 3:02 pm

      As long as one side feels the need to "weed out" those who see the obvious and overwhelming evidence that earth and life on it has been here a lot longer than the 6,000 years .

  5. Darrel Lindensmith
    22 June 2012 @ 2:19 pm

    Thank you Jack,  I like, "It is scientifically clearer and clearer that the creation of life hypothesized by godless random chance evolution is impossible. Yet life as intelligently designed has clearly changed and adapted, so the possibility that God designed life to be capable of change and adaptation seems more and more likely." 
    I am wondering what you might think of the promotion of a "godless random chance evolution" in public schools.  If the more logical "Intelligent Design," science can't be taught in public schools because it is "religion," can secular humanist science be taught legally?   The reason I ask is the agressive attempts to promote such.  

    EVO: Ten Questions Everyone Should Ask About Evolution is a new educational film by Hummingbird Films, which promotes along with some really beautiful photography, a not so beautiful picture of a world with “no purpose.”  Styled as a “evolution teaching tool” for our State Schools in the United States it is being promoted by the National Science Teachers Association and is to be used a curriculum also titled Evo: Ten Questions Everyone Should Ask About Evolution. It aggressively advocates for materialism, stating that the evolved world is "mindless and has no purpose."  Two other times the films mock people who believe in a Creator.  My question:  Is such promotion of religion legal in Public Schools?  

  6. Dragonslayer666
    22 June 2012 @ 4:29 pm


    I would ask what your interpretation of a "long term creationist" would be? That the six days of creation were actually millions of years or some other undetermined span? I dont necessarily believe that the dirt we stand on is necessarily 6,000 years old. It could be that God created the actual planet millions of years ago. As Genesis said, it was without form and void whether that means it didn't actually exist at creation or that God took a unihabited rock that He formed previously is open to interpretation. I can accept either premise. However, I cannot accept or do I believe that the Bible teaches that the actual creation is millions of years old or that the creation "week" was millions of years or any other time span other than 7 literal, 24 hours days. There are serious flaws in your logic if you believe that. Plant life was created prior to the sun and could not have survived millions of years in the dark. In Hebrew the word YOM with a number is always a literal 24 hour day, and Genesis even states, the evening and the morning were day 1, day 2 etc. How do you account for that? How do you account for our 7 day week? This comes directly from the Garden of Eden. How do you account for a literal 24 hour Sabbath if it was actually a span of time and not a literal day? Your belief in a long term creation would make the Sabbath a myth and need not be kept holy.
    Regarding your belief in adaptation is not a problem for me. I believe in micro evolution or adaptation and the Bible teaches it. It would be illogical to believe that every single breed of cat or dog or horse was created in the Garden. There are species of dogs and other breeds of animals that are new. However, they are still dogs. The Bible doesn't teach Macro evolution, is this what you are referring to when you say that you are a long term creationist? So, Adam and Eve were created as monkies and God left them to develop through millions of years? The Bible is clear that God created species of animals during creation week and these animals were fully functioning creatures so there was no need for a long period for man or animal to develop, it wasn't necessary.

  7. Jean Munding
    22 June 2012 @ 7:30 pm

    Genesis merely states that the Spirit of Gof moved upon the "face of the deep"……The ball of mud could have been here since the very beginning of creation millions of years ago.  The six days of creation took place on the earth and was transformed into a lovely world with LIFE on it.

    • Kevin Riley
      23 June 2012 @ 1:59 am

      How do you deal with 'in six days the Lord created the heavens and the earth and everything that is in them"?  If you rationalise away 'the heavens and the earth', why not the rest of it?

      • Adykstra
        26 June 2012 @ 6:21 pm

        @KEVIN RILEY said "How do you deal with 'in six days the Lord created the heavens and the earth and everything that is in them"?  If you rationalise away 'the heavens and the earth', why not the rest of it?"

        What is troubling about your view is the necessity to believe then that no star or planet may be any further than 6,000 light years away. Anything further would require the universe to be older. If light has travelled to earth from 20,000 light years away, then it has taken more than 6,000 years to get here.

        I believe all of this talk may be in vain. I am no longer convinced that Genesis 1 is a scientific statement. I am of the belief that it is a statement of faith. I believe it was not written in a vaccuum or to satisfy curiousity. Some have speculated that it was written to counteract creation myths of nations surrounding Israel. Its first statement of faith is "In the beginning God…" who pre-exists all. It states that God created light first though the creation of sun and stars happens in day 4. How better to counter sunworship than to present a God who creates sun and stars further on, to say, in effect "Your "god" was created by mine.

        It is likely not a great idea to be too dogmatic about the creation story. It generates more questions than it answers. The narrative appears to be purposely vague and shockingly uninterested in what we want to know. Purely as a statement of faith, the Creation story is still a good source for believing in a Sabbath rest.

  8. Jack Hoehn
    23 June 2012 @ 1:53 pm

    Now we are talking! 
    Sister M, Brother Pagophilus, can you hear us? 
    Dragonslayer666 and Jack are talking.  We are starting at a point of agreement and moving to points of disagreement.  We are explaining our thoughts to each other, and bringing up possible stumbling blocks or deal breakers.  We nibble around the edges of ideas, we stick a toe in the water, we pull back in fear, or step out to see where the current of thought might take us.
    Dragonslayer666—we agree that God’s creation of physics and chemistry seems to have preceded the creation of carbon based life?  And that instantaneous from nothing creation of earth, Milky way, Orion and billions of galaxies,  is not required by Genesis to have all happened in 6 days, 6,000 years ago?  Or during the 24 hours of Creation day 4?
    So we do by careful thought change how our ancestors understood Genesis 1 to read, based on the revelation of truths found in nature, we modify slightly, painlessly, faithfully our understanding not of the fact of God’s creation, but of the chronology of His creation.
    Old rocks, young life we can be comfortable with?
    But there you draw your line in the sand, I think.  Well good enough.  For many Adventists this is enough for now. 
    But let’s keep studying the evidence from nature, and then testing our interpretations of Genesis 1, to see if we can continue to worship ONE GOD, who reveals Himself both in nature and in revelation.
    And not fear if the truths of nature push us to modify our understanding of the chronology and mechanisms of how God actually created.
    Here is someone else’s quote, but I have adopted it as mine now.  “I always loose when I argue against reality, but only 100% of the time.”
    The reality is that the Ancient of Days, really is Ancient.  We don’t need to fear this fact.
    But please, let’s keep talking together about it.
    “As iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friends.”
    Oh, don’t you love Adventism when it is allowed to be what God wanted it to be, a movement back towards the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!

  9. Truth Seeker
    23 June 2012 @ 8:28 pm

    Whether Creation was 6000 or 8000 years ago is immaterial. It was not a million years ago nor was it 100,000. And God created this earth in 6 literal days. Is it honorable to be a Darwinian Adventist?

    True science is in agreement with Scripture although we may not always be capable of explaining it. In the example of genetic changes in dogs one aspect is immutable — the product, as it were, is *always* a dog! 

    • Jack Hoehn
      25 June 2012 @ 2:29 am

      Sir, "TruthSeeker", you would enhance this conversation if you would re-read my blog "I'm not a Darwinian Adventist", and stop trying to tar and feather all who disagree with you. 

      As you see below there are those who think Darwin and Adventism can cooperate, and I want to keep talking to them like I am talking to you.  But at least they are not calling me unfair and inaccurate names.  It is honorable to believe that Darwin best explains creation, (even though I personally doubt that it does). 

      It is dishonorable to call someone a Darwinian because they exceed your limited flexibility moving from 6,000 to 8,000 years, versus moving to where the evidence requires us to move the chronology of Creation.   Please keep showing me the evidence that earth and its life is no older than 8,000 years.  Please stop painting everyone who disagrees with your restrictions  with the tar brush of "Darwinian". 

  10. Ervin Taylor
    23 June 2012 @ 10:09 pm

    "Truth Seeker" (Wouldn't it be nice if we knew why TS hides his/her real name?) asks "Is it honorable to be a Darwinian Adventist?"  Simple answer: yes, it is honorable.  Next question?

    • Edwin A. Schwisow
      25 June 2012 @ 1:26 am

      I suppose youth is often misspent in philosophical endeavors, but to first "find" and then "face" "truth" I had to go through a period of reflection in my life that seemed to some to be "Schwisow's Lost Weekend" (in literal time, it was longer than a weekend I grant you) which included for me a decision on whether to join Adventism officially, to simply live along with it cordially but without commitment, or to link up with some kind of social gospel emphasis. One of the big internal considerations was how prominent a place to give absolute certainty regarding origins. I concluded that Christianity while theologically linked to origins, does not require that we know a great deal about God/Providence, except that He is conscious and cares about us, and that Jesus and his enlightened viewpoints in Scripture are the primary (but in fact enough) proof of this reality—which in turn vastly raises the probability that this caring force had major input in our creation. My faith has grown and matured since then, but I have never turned my back on that fundamental decision, though having gone through the valley of mental shadows, I am perhaps more charitable to those who lose their way (as it were) in that valley and may still be groping for something to hold on to. Those who are seeking after truth may be too shy or insecure to identify themselves as they ask questions—I know the feeling. On the other hand there are some who present themselves as seeking truth whose primary purpose seems to be to admonish others…. It would be better if they didn't try to hide under the mantle of a seeker—it seems a bit misleading….. Thare ARE true seekers by the thousands, and I honor their sensitivity and shy timidity…..

  11. alphameg
    24 June 2012 @ 7:00 am

    Thank God no one will be lost to redemption if they believe the earth is X number of years old. No one
    knows, 6ooo years? 60,000 years? 60 million years? It really isn't important, except for speculation in
    discussions. We do know our God is Eternal, Is now, Always was, Always will be.
    Being dogmatic re: the Bible, not subject to "Private Interpretation", is foolhardy.

  12. Stephen Ferguson
    24 June 2012 @ 10:46 am

    Sorry can I also ask a very obvious question for those who say that life on earth was only created 6,000 years ago – where do you get that figure from?  

  13. Stephen Ferguson
    24 June 2012 @ 10:54 am

    1 Cor. 13:12 –  'For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.'

    I know I am wasting my breath in saying this, but it would great if we could approach this topic with a little less dogmatism, and a little more sense of awe.  The Bible, for all is beauty and usefulness, only gives us a glimpse of God and His creation – only a glimpse.  On that basis it would be great if weren't so sure of ourselves – maybe God is bigger than our human minds can comprehend.

    For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

  14. Stephen Ferguson
    24 June 2012 @ 12:21 pm

    Perhaps Jack can quote Lennox about Ussher's calculation (Jack I believe it is about page 75). 

    • Stephen Ferguson
      25 June 2012 @ 1:54 am

      Lennox points out that Ussher's calculation was based on some false premises.  For example, geneologies often don't describe actual father to son, but rather often skips many generations, only going from notable ancestor to notable ancestors.  You see this in the geneology of Jesus in Matt, which skips quite a few actual generations, and only focuses on the notable ancestors. 

      Therefore, we can't rely on Ussher's calculation with any scientific certaintly, because the Bible may in fact only be recording every second, tenth, twenthieth or hundreth generation – not every single generation.  Thus, even according to a literal interpretation of the Bible, it may in fact be 600,000 years rather than just 6,000 years – we just don't know.

      Also, assuming a very literal interpretation of Genesis, the Bible is also silent on how long Adam and Eve lived in the Garden before the Fall.  It could have been a million years for all we know.

      We also don't know how long there was a gap between the creation of the universe and the creation of planet earth, and then the gap between the creation of life on planet earth.  Again, the Bible is silent on this and it could have been billions of years.  Even the SDA-GC GRI admits a very literal reading allows for this possibility.

      The whole point being, the Bible is ambiguous and silent on all these issues.  Yes, Moses now doubt probably thought the world was created in 6 literal days – and no doubt his readers read the Bible that way.  But that is not to say God intended all generations for all time to read it that way.

      Have you ever thought why God allowed the Bible to be so ambiguous on these issues?  He could have simply told moses exactly how many years had passed since the creation of the world, in the same way in Gen 15 he foretold how many years the Israelites would be in slavery.  But God didn't.  Instead, he used a very ambiguous Hebrew word – day ('yom') – and otherwise left these other issues unanswered.

      I am not advocating evolution – I am just saying we perhaps need to be a little less dogmatic and sure of ourselves.

      • Ed Dickerson
        25 June 2012 @ 7:10 pm

        One of the fundamental principles of biblical interpretation is that one cannot get direct answers to questions the human author was not addressing.

        For example, was the 'burning bush' actually undergoing combustion? The Hebrew only indicates the bush appeared to be burning but somehow was not being burned. This kind of ambiguity of language is common, and even inevitable when dealing with unique situations for which there literally are no words. In English we might say the bush was 'alight' or 'ablaze' but not burning.

        But today we have incandescent, flourescent, and light-emitting diodes; we can separate bright light from combustion.  FWIW, Mark has a similar, if more humorous, difficulty with unexplained illumination. Describing Jesus at the transfiguragtion, Mark wrote: "His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them."

        Both Moses and Mark were confronted with dazzling brilliant light in the presence of God. That's what they wanted to communicate, not whether the light was produced by combustion or soap.

        I relate all this to make one simple point: There is no verse in the Old Testament that indicates any of the human authors is in any way interested in or addressing the age of the Earth.

        No matter how sophisticated our mathematical and linguistic analysis, any inferences we make about that number, and its relation to the ages of the various patriarchs, are simply our own speculations. We read 6000 years as the age of the Earth into the text; it cannot be found within the text. To insist on 6000 years as the age of the Earth, when those who recorded the genealogies were not concerned with the age of the Earth would be like insisting, "But Moses said the bush was burning."

        Just for clarity, I find myself without a home in this debate. I am not a  'long-age' creationist, because I'm doubtful about millions of years, so according to 'long-age' people, I'm a 'short age' creationist.

        But as I've just indicated, I find no biblical evidence to support a 6,000 year chronology, and have other reasons (unrelated to geology, for instance) to believe the Earth older than that. So for the true 'short age' people, I'm not one of them, either.

        And somehow I don't find the term 'middle aged creationist' appealing. πŸ™‚

        • Tim
          25 June 2012 @ 11:18 pm


          Evidence overwhelmingly, unequivocally points to a very old earth (approximately 4.3 billion years old, in fact).  It is not ambiguous.  So overwhelming is the evidence, in fact, that it takes a very special, very, very impressive kind of willful ignorance to believe that the world is ~6,000 years old simply because an old book suggests such a thing (though it doesn't explicitly say such a thing, as you detail above).

          Now, I'm ordinarily perfectly content to let most people here remain "unsure" about the age of the planet, or to buy whole hog into the idea that Earth is a mere 6,000 years old, and the reason I'm content to let most people believe these things is that most people here are among the least analytical thinkers, the least critically thinking individuals I have ever come across anywhere in the world in my 32 years of life, and I say that without a shred of hyperbole or sarcasm.  Most people here are painfully, fantastically stupid.  If we lived in the Marvel or DC Comics universes, people here would be the Magnetos and Hulks and Supermen / Superwomen of stupid.

          But despite the fact that you and I don't see eye to eye on much of anything, I recognize that you are an analytical thinker.

          So my question for you, then, is how in the world — no pun intended — can you be "without a home" in this debate when the evidence is so completely crystal clear?

          • Ervin Taylor
            26 June 2012 @ 12:01 am

            Just a footnote on the previous comment of Tim: Even the GRI has given up on 6,000 years for the earth itself.  They are happy with 4-6 billion years or whatever the scientific data says.  (They don't seem to have read EGW very carefully on this.  EGW would certainly not have agreed with this view)  The GRI pull back position is that it is life which is young–living organisms and especially humans must be less than 10,000 years old.  Why is this?   As I have suggested elsewhere, it is EGW not the Bible for which they seek support.  A prediction: Come back in say 50 years and the GRI will have pulled back further and say o.k. life is billions of years old, but humans as special.  (Regretfully, I will not be around to see that happen.) 

          • Stephen Ferguson
            26 June 2012 @ 12:57 am

            And I wonder if eventually they will admit that human beings did evolve from earlier organisms, but that they were not 'human' until God did some special act of interventionist 'creation' say 10-100K years ago.  I wouldn't have a huge problem with that.  After all, God didn't make mankind out of nothing, He made mankind out of the pre-existing 'clay'. Who says the 'clay' wasn't billions of years old? 

          • Ed Dickerson
            26 June 2012 @ 1:23 am


            Concerning how it can be that I am without a home in this debate, I'm tempted to reply with the words of the old song, "This world is not my home . . ."

            Concerning the notion that the evidence is overwhelmingly, unequivocally, undeniably, ineluctably, inescapably, unavoidably, crystal clear . . . .

            I cite Einstein, "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination," and either J.B.S. Haldane or Arthur Eddington (I have seen both attributions), "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine."

            It is my belief that the failure to reconcile scripture and science is not a failure of logic, but of imagination.

          • Ed Dickerson
            26 June 2012 @ 1:25 am

            P.S. I am notified that my 'subscription' runs out in 5 days. I have tried to raise this with the PTB. If you hear no more from me soon, apparently my time is up.

          • Stephen Ferguson
            26 June 2012 @ 1:30 am

            Ed, I would probably agree with your position in that I am not 100% either way, mainly because I am not a scientist and for every person who tells me one thing someone else says the opposite.  In that respect, I am merely trying to have an open mind about the different possibilities.  I hear what Tim is saying, and I do note that 99% of scientists broadly support evolution, but that is not to say we should be dogmatic about science either.  Science is continually evolving as well, and there are many debates within the scientific community, as evidenced by a recent public fight between Richard Dawkins and EO Wilson over different evolutionary theories:


            The point being, I tend to take a 'cheats' approach or 'middle view' of hoping Neo-Darwinist evolution were not true but at least thinking through theologically it could work if it was true. I tend to get criticised by both 'sides' for that approach, but absent getting a degree in biological science, I am not sure what esle I can do?

            I am not sure if that also makes me a person without a 'home' or rather a 'nomad' on this issue? In my mind, it would be more constructive if some of our professional theologians left science to the scientists, and at least started to think about the theological consequences and opportunities IF they ASSUMED evolution was true.

          • Tim
            26 June 2012 @ 3:41 am

            Concerning how it can be that I am without a home in this debate, I'm tempted to reply with the words of the old song, "This world is not my home . . ."

            Yeah well, fine, great.. I get that.  But you are presently here, and you have functioning eyes, ears and a sound mind that is capable of reasoning.  Believing that home is actually a bunch of mansions on Jesus Christ Boulevard in a place far, far away doesn't preclude one from taking account of his/her present environment, temporary or not.  So.. c'mon, Ed.

            Concerning the notion that the evidence is overwhelmingly, unequivocally, undeniably, ineluctably, inescapably, unavoidably, crystal clear . . . .

            I cite Einstein, "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination," and either J.B.S. Haldane or Arthur Eddington (I have seen both attributions), "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine."

            Einstein also said, "The most important thing is not to stop questioning."  He said a lot of things, as have countless other very insightful people.  I don't see how any of this is applicable to the question at hand.  Let me try putting it a different way.

            Let's say we're at a debate over why the sky appears blue, and there are two guys on stage.  One of them insists that the sky appears blue by way of Rayleigh scattering and pulls up a powerpoint detailing the ways in which sunlight scatters off atmospheric molecules like nitrogen, the ways in which its doing so is inversely proportional to the fourth power of the light wavelength, etc.  He details the physics behind the concept and explains at length why it all makes sense theorically and mathematically.

            The other guy insists that no, it's not Rayleigh scattering, but the ghost of Bob Ross who, in his new extra-corporeal form, prances around the sky smearing overripe cosmic blueberries all over the atmosphere and that, incidentally, his overactive ethereal gut flora cause spiritual flatulence which is causal to the formation of hurricanes.  In his powerpoint presentation, he provides no math, no peer reviewed studies, no theoretical framework at all, but instead takes broad snipes at those tiny aspects of Rayleigh scattering that we either don't yet understand or can't yet explain in an effort to somehow — magically — prove that the Bob Ross ghost prancing blueberry gas-passing theory therefore must be correct.

            Now, we can say, "well, you know, both arguments have merit.  I'm just not sure where I stand — the math is compelling on the Rayleigh scattering side of the house, but the Bob Ross magical pirouetting ghost blueberry-smearing guy was pretty passionate and seemed to know what he was talking about."  We can do that if we'd like.  But to do so would be to abdicate the very higher faculties that punctuate your status as a member of the human race.  I presume that Einstein wouldn't, upon being asked after the debate, state, "the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."  This quote, for the record, was a reference to the power of creative thinking (specifically, with respect to problem solving), NOT a nod to the celebration of the illogical and irrational.  It took great imagination to entertain the ideas that eventually became the theories of general and special relativity.  But the ideas sparked by that remarkable imagination were subsequently validated by a theoretical framework based on solid math, else Einstein would have categorically dismissed them as fanciful nonsense.

            The evidence for a very old Earth is there, as clear, as I said earlier, as crystal.  Yes, by all means, keep the door open for future discoveries, but for now, it's there, clearly and unambiguously.

            So my question remains.  In light of the overwhelming body of evidence pointing to an old Earth, why remain undecided?  Is it fear of the religious implications of such a belief?  On what grounds does a reasonable, analytical mind forgo reason and analysis in favor of ambiguity?

          • Jack Hoehn
            26 June 2012 @ 4:34 am

            Tim, all minds, including yours, reject ideas that on first take don't agree with our previous perceptions.  This has been shown with animals and with humans.  We have built in filters.  Changes in paradigms come only after a tipping point is reached where enough new information has been assimilated.  And I think if you expect all minds to assimilate raw scientific information and act on that, you misunderstand minds.  You dish out criticism of stupidity to those not of a technical bent.  Yet it is very probable that those you distain can make a better loaf of bread, grow a greener and more beautiful garden, sing a nicer song, and may have contributed more to the good of their communities in public and secret ways than have you and I who are scientifically responsive.  What I am asking you is to figure out how to translate what you know, into stories, illustrations, common sense examples that the right brained (intuitive, subjective,  emotionally aware) can appreciate.  And then show them how what they hold dearest and most true (Jesus, Love, Law, Beauty, Holiness, Harmony, Hope) is not incompatible with your science lessons. 
            That does not happen by denigration of their kind of minds.   Which happen to be a very nice complement to your kind of mind.  I hope you have found someone to fall in love with who is very much unlike you!  It makes a wonderful life to share it with a beautiful counterpart.

          • Tim
            26 June 2012 @ 6:18 am


            I don't think there's anything in your post with which I disagree, with one caveat, and your points are well-taken.  And I -certainly- hope anybody here can bake a better loaf of bread than I can or we're in serious trouble.

            The caveat is that the stupidity I so vociferously deride has nothing to do with technical ignorance.  To illustrate this, I see from your bio that you're an MD.  Let's say before medical school you believed wholeheartedly in the old Greek concept of the four humours ostensibly governing human health, both body and mind.  If after attending medical school you STILL believed in humoural philosophy, you'd be an idiot, and I'd be right to refer to you as such.  You'd be an abject moron.

            Likewise, there are people among us who, I propose, even after a PhD program in geology or some other relevant field, would STILL believe in a young Earth simply because the Bible alludes to such a thing.  That's the nature of the delusional thinking we're dealing with here.  I could write a veritable dissertation here, pages and pages and pages of the most compelling evidence anybody could ask for, in great, deep detail, and it wouldn't make one bit of difference, because the Bible says what is says and that's the Truth with a capital T.

            This is in part the result of religious disdain for bona fide expertise.  If I, the mere son of medical professionals with no medical training myself, were to insist that the human body has two livers, you, as a highly educated medical professional, would probably see fit to correct me.  A reasonable person would give great weight to your words, even if he/she felt the need to independently verify your claim that we, in fact, only have one liver, multi-lobed though it may be.  Likewise, one would expect reasonable people to give great weight to the scientists and academics who, collectively, all insist that the Earth is in fact much, much older than the Bible claims.  But this is not the case, as we can clearly see.  An unreasonable mind would argue back at you and say, no, you're wrong, we do in fact have two livers because that's what some guy said at a conference in Atlanta or something.  An unreasonable mind would also continue to insist that the world is young despite the evidence because that's what some old scrolls suggest, the evidence be damned.

            So you'll have to pardon those of us who feel no need to waste our time waxing technical when contesting the most moronic of wild assertions against which all the evidence in the world is rendered powerless.

          • Ed Dickerson
            26 June 2012 @ 11:38 am

            Wow, Tim. Devastating.

            Next thing you know, you'll be debunking my deeply held belief that the moon is made of green cheese.

            Since every belief but your own is moronic and full of wild assertions in defiance of overwhelmingly, unequivocally, undeniably, ineluctably, inescapably, unavoidably, crystal clear evidence, it's difficult to understand why anyone wouldn't want to spend time discussing with you.

          • Tim
            26 June 2012 @ 7:51 pm

            Next thing you know, you'll be debunking my deeply held belief that the moon is made of green cheese.

            I don't know why I'd ever do that, since we both know perfectly well it is made of green cheese despite what some unimaginitive "scientists" try to tell us.  A guy at a talk in Atlanta was telling me that an anomymous astronaut is rumored to have said off the record that it is in fact delicious, and was, quote, "highly reminiscent of aged provolone," end quote.

            Since every belief but your own is moronic and full of wild assertions in defiance of overwhelmingly, unequivocally, undeniably, ineluctably, inescapably, unavoidably, crystal clear evidence, it's difficult to understand why anyone wouldn't want to spend time discussing with you.

            You're missing the point..  It doesn't matter what I believe at all.  I could believe that humanity is caught in the middle of a divorce-turned-full-fledged-spiritual-war between an adulterous Mr. and soon-to-be-ex Mrs. Santa Claus for all it matters, or that none of the rest of you exist at all and are just figments of my overactive and apparently extremely annoying and masochistic subconscious mind.  I'm not talking about what *I* believe.  To hell with what I believe.

            What matters is the evidence, which is, like it or not, kick and scream and pull out your hair in frustration, overwhelmingly, unequivocally, undeniably, ineluctably, inescapably, unavoidably, crystal clear.  It's there.  It's not ambiguous.  That some people are desperately clinging to a literalist Biblical interpretation (without any good reason to do so beyond a raw desire to believe literally in the Bible) does not in any way affect the volume and validity of the evidence pointing toward an old earth.  I'm not speaking out against YEC because it differs from some personal beliefs I hold.  You think a gay guy like me can make it through life attacking things simply because they're different?  The evidence itself speaks out against YEC.  I need not say a single thing.

            So you're still dancing around my question.  Is it that you're not convinced by the myriad independent methods of radiometric dating that all point to the same answers?  Or the stratigraphic fossil sequences that all strongly suggest many millions, not thousands, of years have passed since their demise?  What causes a thinking man like yourself to take an ambiguous position on a topic for which the evidence is anything but ambiguous?

          • Ed Dickerson
            26 June 2012 @ 9:08 pm

            "So you're still dancing around my question."

            Oh. . . to dance! A talent I sadly lack. We do have beautiful worship dance at our services sometimes.  .  .

            No, actually, I've answered your question, to wit: It is my belief that the failure to reconcile scripture and science is not a failure of logic, but of imagination.

            The barriers include epistemology, i.e., failure to recognize that there is more than one kind of knowledge; and mistaking physics for metaphysics, assuming implicitly or declaring explicitly that science does and can encompass all of reality.

            The final barrier I see is that many who claim to believe science, despite all their protestations, have become believers in a religion I will call 'scientism.' I say this because, instead of welcoming new data and new theories as things to be explored, those who come up with new data and new theories are treated–and sometimes explicitly described as– heretics.

            Consider Alfred Wegener, who first proposed continental drift. He was ridiculed. It took more than half a century before his theory was accepted. There are many such cases. Ignaz Semmelweis is another notable example.

            In fact, within the sciences, it's amazing how territorial different disciplines can be–much like medieval religious societies. I remember a number of years ago the absolute fit some physicists had about a new discovery claimed by some physical chemists. How dare they! The discovery clearly belonged to physics. And here some philistine physical chemists published it! Blasphemy!

            Perhaps science alone, of all human endeavors is immune to human error, and is 'self-correcting.' The evidence is otherwise.

          • Darrel Lindensmith
            26 June 2012 @ 9:17 pm

            This has slowly become my conviction as well Ed.  So much of this Science has been 'creedalized' (?) and thus, scientism!

          • Tim
            27 June 2012 @ 3:08 pm

            Alright, well.. if you're happy with that reasoning, Ed, then I'll just let it go.

            But you do appreciate the irony of your invoking Wegener, I hope… or is the failure to reconcile continental drift and YEC just a failure of imagination, too?  πŸ™‚

          • Elaine Nelson
            26 June 2012 @ 1:53 am

            The majority of people make decisions on such subjects without any analytical application and largely on "feelings" or opinions without any ability to either explain or justify those opinions.  There are questions that cannot be answered, yet ambiguity is rejected.

            Is there a common impression that not to make decisions on the age of the earth or life is a serious fault?  I am happy to declare that it really makes no difference to my life:  how I relate to others; or to my afterlife–whatever it may be.  There are a very few decisions which we must make but many have no relationship to anything of importance.

            No one has yet given a reason for the necessity for making a decision on this, or what is the only right one.  If church membership requires a definitive "yes" or "no" what will be the result if people decline to state?  This is not a test with only one right answer. There are times when the hierarchy is best ignored.


  15. Elaine Nelson
    24 June 2012 @ 6:50 pm

    There are differences in both the Septuagint and the Masoretic texts.  Which is the most dependable?  Plus, dates and figures were never as precise when used by the Hebrews as we demand today.  We base their stated figures as being as exact as ours, and a careful reading will show they are often very imprecise.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      25 June 2012 @ 1:59 am

      Hi Elaine, see my response above.  A very, very good book on this issue is a book by famous scientist and mathematician John Lennox, 'Seven Days that Changed the World.'  It is the sort of book you could give to conservative Adventist friends, and is quite small and doesn't overload you with scientific facts.

      Jack has mentioned this book before and I also recommend it. Lennox goes into the problems of Ussher's calcualtions – as I have probably poorly summarized above.

      Lennox book can be viewed here:

  16. Stephen Ferguson
    26 June 2012 @ 8:00 am

    In relation to the above interesting points, especially between Jack and Tim, I have a question. 

    Does anyone think there will ever be a 'Christopher Columbus Movement' for the theory evolution?

    You know, the Roman Catholic Church (and probably a few other Christians to boot) refused to accept the world was round or not the centre of the universe – threatening Copernicus and Galileo etc. The RC Church justified these positions of orthodoxy, and the extreme measures take to enforce them, on the basis of several Bible quotes, together with clever arguments from tradition, reason and logic. 
    However, I guess when Columbus discovered the American continent, that categorically ended the argument once and for all (except for some crazy Flat Earth Society People). Now we say that what the RC taught and believed was itself crazy, and they were downright silly to interpret those ambiguous Bible texts about the earth sitting on immoveable pillars, as scientific, when the Bible writers were clearly communicating a theological concept and not a scientific one.  Today, we even have revisionists amongst fundamentalist Christians who argue that ancient Bible writers and readers always believe the world was round.
    So, do people think there will ever come a moment when the evidence is so incontrovertible that even the majority of conservative Christian fundamentals will have to accept that the world is over 6,000 years old and that mankind did evolve from other species?

    • Kevin Riley
      26 June 2012 @ 1:02 pm

      No.  For some people no amount of evidence can equal even one Bible text.  Not even if the Bible text is somewhat ambigous and hotly debated among conservative Christians.  There are people who need the Bible text to be inerrant, and their understanding of it to be right, or the world as they know it will end.  We just have to accept that, learn to recognise them, and move on.  Most Christians already believe the world is old, and that life is probably almost as old.  Creation 6,000 years ago, an inerrant Bible, a commitment to a literal reading of Scripture – these are all primarily the product of C19th America.  That is why these teachings are not found to any great degree in Europe, or among any of the older, established churches in Australia/NZ (or in the US, for that matter).  That isn't to say those beliefs are necessarily wrong, just that the majority of Christians already do not see them as central to the Christian faith.  Have you noticed conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists turning away from them on that account?

      BTW, it was sailing around the world that finally put an end to the idea of a flat earth for most people, not Columbus discovering what he thought was Asia.  Most people pretty soon worked out it wasn't.  But the difference is that the Bible never actually said the world was round.  It does say God created the world in 6 days.  Hard to get around that if you are committed to an inerrant, literally understood Bible.

      • Stephen Ferguson
        26 June 2012 @ 2:24 pm

        Yes indeed, but I thought 'Columbus Moment' sounded better and would be better understood by everyone than describing it as a 'Magellan Moment'. 

        Re your last statement, the Bible does say in spots that the world is fixed and has corners.  If you are committed to an inerrant, literal understanding of the Bible, then you would come to the conclusion that the world is flat, as the medieval Roman Catholic Church did.  Yes, the Bible says the world was created in 6 days, but it doesn't say how long a 'day' is.

        I do think the situations between the world being flat and the current debate have many similarities; although, of course no analogy is perfect.  I am not the only who thinks so – John Lennox and a number of other scholars, Christian scientists and theologians have drawn the obvious comparison.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      26 June 2012 @ 2:29 pm

      And does anyone think there will ever be a 'Columbus Moment' (or 'Magellan Moment' if Kevin prefers) where even most conservative Christians will have to face up and accept the scientific consensus on evolution?

      • Anonymous
        26 June 2012 @ 4:41 pm

        Stephen, is the scientists' consensus on evolution the same as the scientific consensus? By definition, some would reasonably argue, science excludes – or at least certainly ignores – the possibility of dimensions of reality beyond what it can apprehend and measure. 

        I accept the consensus as to an old earth, old life, and common origin, because I am persuaded that those conclusions have been proven by science and I.D. logic, not because a majority of scientists hold those positions. I, along with many conservative Christians, believe that many consensus viewpoints that have been inferred or theorized from scientific evidence may be logical and reasonable, but they are not compelled by true science (c.f. catastrophic anthropogenic global warming). Neither am I willing to posit as legitimate science, theories that are refuted by science.

        Does that make me a conservative Christian who refuses to "face up?" As I understand the "scientific consensus on evolution," it would force me to reject the Bible in any meaningful sense. So to me, your question is sort of like asking, "When will conservative Christians face up and accept the consensus of atheists regarding the existence of God?"   

  17. Anonymous
    26 June 2012 @ 4:02 pm

    I very much appreciate and agree with Jack's blog – especially the sensitive way that he deals with the liberal and conservative fundamentalist perspectives that are offered by some of the commenters. If we all took what he says to heart, I think it would radically alter the way that we treat others and converse with them. God speaks to us not so much to inform us as to evoke a response – a response that enables us to experience and act on dimensions of reality that transcend the boundaries of the dogmas by which our quotidian lives are protected.

    Those who accept the reality of the biblical God revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ will have little difficulty accepting the possibility of paradox, discontinuity, and mystery in the natural order. They should also, it seems to me, have little difficulty accepting the reality of the God who not only established the natural order, but made provision for freedom within that natural order; the God whose interference in the natural order is the exception rather than the rule; and the God who reaches us, His creation, through our experience, our senses, and our reason.

    It seems to me, almost without exception, that conversationalists here who find it necessary to call others stupid, ignorant, or non-Adventist favor dogma over the presuppositions I have posited in the preceeding paragraph.

  18. Stephen Foster
    26 June 2012 @ 4:04 pm

    You know, Tim makes a lot of sense to me. If, as he insists, the evidence is incontrovertible for what he and some of you who are Adventists believe; that mankind evolved over millions or billions of years, then why are you trying to reconcile this with Biblical fantasy?
    Which is to say, if the Bible can be so very, very wrong about the origins of man and sin and the role that (the Bible insists) God has played, and is playing, in the affairs of mankind as a result, then why should Tim—or you—take anything in it seriously? It doesn’t make sense.

    • Doctorf
      27 June 2012 @ 7:06 pm


      This concept of "sin" escapes me. On the surface God creates "perfection" (whatever that means) and then some idiot eats the apple and the rest of us are condemned? If that is God's "justice" system it needs reworking. In most systems of justice you do NOT condemn or punish the innocent because of the actions of others. 

      • Stephen Foster
        03 July 2012 @ 1:25 am

        Sorry Doctorf for having missed this question. Interestingly enough, this is the very question that I posed approximately 40 years ago. It did not compute that, though I did not ask to enter this world—or participate in this great cosmic controversy—that I would be held responsible for anything that an ‘Adam and Eve’ did.
        Let’s be clear, I am not a theologian. I can only tell you how I have processed the information from which my conception of sin has its origin.
        Gradually, it became clear that we need not be held responsible by God for anything that they did.  Gradually, it became clear that we need not be held responsible by God for anything we do.
        Sin is rebellion against the Creator God who lovingly sustains any and all life, and from whom all life has emanated.  He is Life, and He is love. When we rebel against Him and reject His love—death is the inevitable result.
        However, He has made a "way" for us, who inherently rebel against Him and reject His love, to escape responsibility for what both our ancestry has done and for what we have done. He took personal responsibility for everything we do, so that we can receive what He has.
        It’s liberating to understand it this way.

  19. Darrel Lindensmith
    26 June 2012 @ 6:55 pm

    Good point Stephen,   Truthfully, the evidence for materialist evolution is anything BUT,"incontrovertible." Some here have hear of the "geosynclinal theory."  It was the accepted fact that mountains emerge from offshore troughs that accumulate tons of sediments and then snap like a rubber band to throw up giant mountain chains.


    In a space of Ten years the entire paradigm changed because of the overwhelming evidence supporting plate tectonics, which was ridiculed to death at first.

    Why hasn't the same kind of evidence thrown out random mutation and natural selection? The answer is that evolution deals with a religious issue — where do we come from and what is the nature of life, while the cause of physical systems like mountains does not. It makes no religious difference whether mountains come from shifting plates or geosynclines. It does make a religious difference if life comes from mind rather than matter.

    Here is the quote about this once accdepted fact:

    ""The geosynclinal theory is one of the great unifying principles of geology. In many ways its role in geology is similar to that of evolution that serves to integrate the many branches of biological sciences. The geosynclinal theory is of fundamental importance to sedimentation, petrology, geomorphology, ore deposits, structural geology, geophysics, and practically all the minor branches of geological science. Just as the doctrine of organic evolution is universally accepted among thinking biologists, so also the geosynclinal origin of the major mountain ranges is an established principle in geology.""


    [Thomas Clark and Colin Stearn, The Geological Evolution of North America: A Regional Approach to Historical Geology, p.43 (Ronald Press, 1960)]

    Theories come, theories go.  My prediction is, within Ten years the evidence from ongoing elucidation of genetics, and especially the epigenetic revolution, will force the  paradigm  to shift to Intelligent Design Theories, inspite of the fearful religious implications.

    • Tim
      26 June 2012 @ 8:10 pm

      My prediction is, within Ten years the evidence from ongoing elucidation of genetics, and especially the epigenetic revolution, will force the  paradigm  to shift to Intelligent Design Theories, inspite of the fearful religious implications.

      I'm sorry, but I actually laughed out loud when I read this.  You know how when you read something amusing online, you might smile, or maybe even chuckle quietly for a few seconds?  When something really grabs you?  Well, I laughed pretty heartily at this.  It wasn't a guffaw, exactly, but it definitely transcended your average chortle.

      If evolution by way of natural selection does end up in history's dust bin of lacking theories, it'll end up there because it was replaced by new knowledge, not magic or superstition or mysticism or the belief in an invisible, bearded space giant, kindly and gentle though he may be.

      In 10 years, if ID takes the helm from science, reason and rationality, I will personally apologize to each and every last one of you.  I'll quit whatever the hell I'm doing and spend a few months doing nothing but traveling around to beg your forgiveness and offer to mow your lawns or pull your weeds or something.

      Of course, no such thing is going to happen, but I appreciate the opportunity for levity, Darrel.  You really have to be so, so isolated — surviving in a veritable informational cocoon of your own making — to believe such an awesomely outlandish thing.

      • Anonymous
        27 June 2012 @ 5:09 am

        What's really quite hysterical, Tim, is the way you love to embarrass yourself by flaunting your altogether irrelevant visceral reactions to posts. Do you think that you have sufficient credentials or credibility that your clumsy ridicule will be given weight by anyone or cause anyone to actually think? 

        • Tim
          27 June 2012 @ 6:51 am

          I'm not embarrassed in the least. You seem pretty upset, though.  Wanna talk about it?  πŸ˜›

        • Doctorf
          27 June 2012 @ 7:14 pm


          I read Tim's comment. So he found the post amusing. So what? Tim is correct, a scientific theory can be replaced by new knowledge but a theory is not necessarily going to be replaced by a mystical belief. I am not an evolutionary biologist but I do have a PhD in Neuropharmacology and I do use some evolutionary principles to look at genetic expression of targets of interest in different animal models. We can look at gene expression of targets in species where the genome has not been sequenced. What we do is look at the sequence of the targets in known species. Then you do a BLAST alignment in organisms of  various disparate genus. You then look for the conserved sequences and make your probes to those sequences. Voila, it works every time. So with your comment "macro-evolutionary" events below, they are there within the genome. Genomic science is unraveling the interconnectedness of all life forms suggesting that new life forms can evolve from previous ones.

          • Joe Erwin
            27 June 2012 @ 7:38 pm

            There is no reason at all for Tim to be embarrassed. And "Doctorf" has it right. Genomic science is really filling in gaps in knowledge regarding actual relatedness of life forms. Although there may have once been room to imagine that this was designed on a common platform, increasingly it is possible to identify genomic speciation events and estimate their timing. The orthologous genomic regions are increasingly being aligned between humans and other primates (as well as other mammals and nonmammalian animals). I do not ask you to suspend your faith or lose it; however, denial of reality and painting yourself into corners buttressed by ignoring and denying strong evidence leaves you vulnerable to another Great Disappointment.

          • Doctorf
            30 June 2012 @ 5:40 pm

            Joe welcome back. Lee Greer did a presentation in our theology class showing conserved sequences of genes coding for electron transport in bacteria and then looking at human mitochondrial genes coding for electron transport proteins. Ohhh, the conserved regions are amazing! The genes we are looking at are "TRPC" genes coding for calcium channels that respond to changes in calcium content within the smooth endoplasmic reticulum.


            John B

  20. Darrel Lindensmith
    26 June 2012 @ 8:56 pm

    Righhhhhhhhhht!   That will be good for you Tim.

    • Tim
      27 June 2012 @ 2:19 pm

      Righhhhhhhhhht!   That will be good for you Tim.

      What, laughing?  Yeah, agreed.

      To be clear, Darrel, the reason I laughed is this:  human progress is punctuated with example after example after example of turning "hmmm, must be God I guess" into "oh wait a minute, that's how that works."

      Not one time in the entire span of human history has the inverse occurred, wherein we've replaced the scientific with the mystical, knowledge with fantasy.  Not once have we gone from having a theoretical framework, incomplete though it may be, to "huh, well how do ya like that, looks like it -is- God after all."

      Not one time.  Yet… here you are, hypothesizing that just such a thing will occur within the next ten years, for no other reason at all beyond the fact that you want it to be so.  That's absolutely hilarious.  πŸ˜›  Nothing personal and no offense intended.

      • Anonymous
        27 June 2012 @ 5:41 pm

        "Not once have we gone from a theoretical framework, incomplete though it may be, to "huh, well how do you like that, looks like it -is- God after all."

        Are you really suggesting, Tim, that a theortetical framework, incomplete though it may be, is science? How is it that filling in the "gaps" with "scientific" speculation is honorable, but filling in the gaps with theological understanding is nonsensical? The conflation of the scientific with the mystical, the intuitive, the spiritual and the religious has been happening throughout history.  What else are the artistic renderings of macroevolutionary progressions for which no scientific evidence exists? What else is the Hockey Stick illusion or the IPCC reports based on grey science? Like religion, science fills in its gaps with its gods.  

        Have you read Al Gore's Earth in the Balance? Do you see the Orwellian use of language which is substituted for rational discussion to manipulate public sentiment? Have you read up on post-normal science or the precautionary principle, which are key features of environmental movements fed by selective manipulation of science? The public appetite for fantasy is growing by leaps and bounds. Power and money are the rewards for those who direct and feed those appetites. And scientists are only too happy to confirm conclusions that advance the agendas of their benefactors (usually the government).

        I have no crystal ball. But I don't have to look very far to see that science has always been tempted by the power of religion, and religion is always in danger of conscripting science to advance its goals. 



        • Tim
          27 June 2012 @ 10:58 pm

          Are you really suggesting, Tim, that a theortetical framework, incomplete though it may be, is science? How is it that filling in the "gaps" with "scientific" speculation is honorable, but filling in the gaps with theological understanding is nonsensical?

          Uhhh, yes, I am suggesting exactly that, though the fact stands on its own and doesn't really require any championing from me (at least, not anywhere but this curious place).  Take Newtonian physics for example.  As a theoretical framework, it's incomplete — it totally breaks down as soon as you go sub-atomic, for example, or get anywhere near the speed of light — yet using nothing but Newton's equations, humanity was able to get to the moon and back. We also have general and special relativity courtesy of Einstein, quantum mechanics thanks to Bohr, Heisenberg, Planck and others (with a hat tip to Einstein again), string theory thanks to a large number of people but perhaps most importantly Ed Witten, and so forth and so on. None of these by themselves is a complete model of the physical laws governing our universe. There are gaps, which in many cases are substantial. The difference, though, is that in trying to bridge those gaps, science extrapolates from what we understand and asks, "how about this…" before testing the heck out of it and seeing what happens, whether in the abstract (mathematically) or by direct observation. Religion, on the other hand — not just another side of the same coin, by the way, and I really can't stress that enough — sees gaps and says, "ahhhh HA! Told ya so! It's the Lord Jesus Christ, I knew it — maybe if I use a crowbar to widen this gap far enough so Jesus's glory can peek through and convince everyone… 'Hey Jesus, you over there? Lord if you can hear me, I'm comin!  Just a little further now… *grunts* Just trying to get through this gap here!  Almost there! *struggling*  See, all ye of little faith?  Heh. I told you this theory was total crap *panting* Just.. a little further now… *strains*." 

          Do you see the difference, and why the latter will never, ever, say, get humanity to the moon and back?  Or give us better technologies, better medicines?  Or anything… you know, useful beyond a really pleasant love story?

          Neither the Bible nor the Koran can explain the world around us any more than can The Coldfire Trilogy by C.S. Friedman (great series, by the way — just not, you know, descriptive of reality).  And to be frank, it's incredibly funny to watch people claim that they can and do.

        • Doctorf
          30 June 2012 @ 5:44 pm

          Filling in the "gaps" with theological knowledge is out of the bounds of science and in the purview of religion. Theological knowledge cannot be tested in the same way that science can test scientific hypotheses. Its OK to say "we do not know" and let science move forward. But, interjecting God as an explanation in the end explains nothing. 

        • Doctorf
          30 June 2012 @ 5:44 pm

          Filling in the "gaps" with theological knowledge is out of the bounds of science and in the purview of religion. Theological knowledge cannot be tested in the same way that science can test scientific hypotheses. Its OK to say "we do not know" and let science move forward. But, interjecting God as an explanation in the end explains nothing. 

        • Doctorf
          30 June 2012 @ 5:44 pm

          Filling in the "gaps" with theological knowledge is out of the bounds of science and in the purview of religion. Theological knowledge cannot be tested in the same way that science can test scientific hypotheses. Its OK to say "we do not know" and let science move forward. But, interjecting God as an explanation in the end explains nothing. 

  21. Darrel Lindensmith
    27 June 2012 @ 2:51 pm

    Tim, I am sure you are fimiliar with Information Theory or at least Computor programming. 
    Natural Processes do not and CAN NOT write 'code.'  

    Some, like Crick and Dawkins can think that 'aliens' composed it.  This of course leads to the 'infinite regress' of :where did they come from?  another, another, another . . . . .    Logic rather requires that we stop at a 'non regress'–an "eternal" Mind.  This is Aristotle's "unmoved mover."  Bottom line:  Only a mind writes code.
    The reason I made my statement regarding the next 10 years is because epigenetics is showing us not just one code.  Many kinds of genetics codes besides DNA are at work in concert together.  If it were not for our advances in 'programming science' we would not have the conceptual tools to even begin to understand these systems.   This in fact will be what slows us up to more discovery; we first will need the mathmatical and conceptional tools to be able to understand the workings of what we will be discovering.

  22. Jack Hoehn
    27 June 2012 @ 2:56 pm

    To maintain a devoted scientific fundamentalism you have had to make a decision that "the appearance of design" shouted for by the creation is "only an appearance".  You have also had to decide that the resurrection of Christ and any other "apparent" miracles are "only an apparant miracle".  You have had to decide that "it appears that the Universe was made for creatures very much like us" is only a fortuitous accident.  That the fine tuning of the constants of physics and chemistry is not tuned at all.  That the elegance and information rich DNA system can really come from random chance.   That the amazing conservatism of gene preservation is good luck. And to be consistent you do have to choose that beauty is not real.  That joy is an illusion.  That love is a chemical belch.  That harmony is an accident.  And that selflessness is really just another name for selfishness.  My God, man, you do have to believe that black is white!
    How dare you claim to be free of the mystical and fanatical?  You also must live in a fairy land of scientism, not on this very real lovely mind blowing and strangely reassuring earth.

    • Tim
      27 June 2012 @ 3:47 pm

      Well, Jack, I'm not sure what scientific "fundamentalism" is exactly.  I just believe in the scientific method as a means by which to know and understand the world around us.  Sorry if that's troublesome.

      With respect to the rest of your post:

      You have also had to decide that the resurrection of Christ and any other "apparent" miracles are "only an apparant miracle."

      Correct.  Aside from a few highly contradictory accounts in an old book, there is no evidence at all that Jesus either performed miracles or was miraculously raised from the dead.  There is just as much evidence for the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, or Chupacabra.

      You have had to decide that "it appears that the Universe was made for creatures very much like us" is only a fortuitous accident.

      I don't really know what this means.  The universe actually tends to be fantastically hostile to human life.  Three or so days without water, core temperature goes up or down by less than 10 degrees, something falls on you, you fall on something (fun fact — the average height from which somebody falls to his/her death is only 11 feet), not built for swimming despite the majority of the planet being covered in water, change the gas ratios in the atmosphere by just a few percent in any direction, try to breathe anywhere above roughly 20,000 feet or so above sea level, eat the wrong things, drink the wrong things, get an infection that goes systemic without antibiotics on hand.  I mean, the list goes on, man.

      That the fine tuning of the constants of physics and chemistry is not tuned at all.

      Logically, we could not exist in a universe in which those constants deviate (in some cases, by extremely small amounts) from their current positions, which means that the perceived "fine tuning" is little more than an observational bias.  Still remarkable, though, and despite our disagreement on the origins of the universe, we do agree that it's an almost unfathomably amazing place.

      That the amazing conservatism of gene preservation is good luck.

      That's correct.  It's not luck.  Natural selection is a very simple but frequently misunderstood process that has absolutely nothing at all to do with luck whatsoever.

      And to be consistent you do have to choose that beauty is not real.  That joy is an illusion.  That love is a chemical belch.  That harmony is an accident.  And that selflessness is really just another name for selfishness.  My God, man, you do have to believe that black is white!

      You're sort of going off the deep end here.  Not sure why beauty and joy can't be real if there is no god (????).  Unless I'm misunderstanding you here?  Also, I'm not sure why harmony being "accidental" would be a bad thing, although you're not expressly correct — look up the science of synchrony (not to be confused with synchronicity! πŸ™‚  ).  Fireflies lighting up in tandem by the thousands, tens of thousands of birds turning in perfect harmony.. I'm not sure why these things are rendered trivial because Jesus didn't do it.

      But you're not far from the mark with respect to selflessness being another name for selfishness.  Study after study seems to suggest exactly that.  Dirty little secret in the field of psychology.

      You also must live in a fairy land of scientism, not on this very real lovely mind blowing and strangely reassuring earth.

      Yes, a fairy land of 'scientism' in which what we hold to be true is based on observation, reason and critical assessment, as opposed to the 'real world' of religiosity in which what you hold to be true is based on the often contradictory words of a 2,000 year old tome that teaches you about a magical, invisible giant who lives in the sky and watches your every move.  Guess I just never learned to keep my feet on the ground, you know?

      The world is indeed very lovely and very real — more lovely, more incredible and more complicated than I suspect we'll ever know.  It's weird how you guys claim not believing in your god somehow invalidates all that — would believing in some other god help, like Zeus or something?  Or does one need to believe specifically in Jesus for the world to be mind-blowing?

    • Elaine Nelson
      27 June 2012 @ 6:22 pm

      The resurrection of Christ is a reported miracle and all "miracles" are subjective, based on faith.  Because there are very ardent believers, they have convinced themselves that such reports are objective evidence but without any objective reports. 

      There are "reported miracles" of virgin births and resurrections predating the story of Jesus, and there are reported miracles today.  On what basis, other than faith are any of them accepted?  Or, why are some accepted and others rejected?
      Believers conflate the sheer strength of their subjective faith as objective fact.

      Non-believers would be far more convinced of a faith, sans such miracles, if they were not constantly being subjected to the demand that only by accepting reports of miracles as objective, can they truly be called Christians.  Who has demanded this requirement?  Is it no longer sufficient to follow the principles set forth to be Christian?  Must all miracles be fully accepted as fact to become a Christian disciple–a word that means "follower"?

      • Doctorf
        27 June 2012 @ 7:18 pm


        Indeed, one anectdotal miracle report is as worthless as 10 others. The view that ones faith can also be "fact" is often based on the "sheer strength" of reports of many anectdotal stories. After all can over a billion Christians be wrong? I think the answer is, yes.

        • Elaine Nelson
          27 June 2012 @ 7:37 pm

          A well-known Bible scholar who has written many books on the NT illustrates the inadequacy of scriptural accounts:

          "I often have my first-year students do a simple comparison exercise in which they list everything said in each of the four Gospesl about the events between the time Jesus was buried and the end of the Gospels.  There can be no better introduction to the idea of horizontal reading.  There are scads of differences among the four accounts , and some of these differences are discrepancies that cannot be readily (or ever ) reconciled.

          Who actually went to the tomb?  Mary alone (John 20:1)? Mary and another Mary (Matt. 28:1)? Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome (Mark 16:1)? Or women who had accompanied Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem–possibly Mary Magdalen, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and "other women" (Luke a24:1); see 25:55)?  Had the stone already been rolled away from the tomb (as in Mark !6:4) or wa it rolled away by an angel while the women were there (Matt. 28:2)?  Whom or what did they see there?  An angel (Matt:28:5)?  A young man (Mark 16:5)? Two men (Luke 24:4)? Or nothing and no one (John)?

          Did Jesus ascend on the day of his resurrection (Luke 24:20? Or forty days later (Acts 13)?

          Add to that:  was he in the same physicial form and body, or as a spirit who could suddenly appear or walk through closed doors? 

          • Tim
            27 June 2012 @ 8:55 pm

            Heh… that reminds me, Elaine, a quick aside:

            When I was in Iraq, I was surprised to learn from the locals that forty days / nights is an idiom throughout the Middle East meaning "an indeterminate, long-ish period of time."  As a former SDA, naturally, I had always just assumed 40 days literally meant 40 days.  The locals were laughing as they mentioned this, because they were apparently aware of the literal interpretation people tended toward overseas.  Pretty amusing.  πŸ™‚

            Of course, these are the same people who, upon being told "I'd like to meet you again two days from now at 11:00AM," simply respond with "Insha'Allah," raise their hands in a sort of shrug, and then show up four days later at 9:45PM.  Time isn't exactly a rigid, granular construct over there.

          • Elaine Nelson
            27 June 2012 @ 10:13 pm

            Yes, it is far too coincidental that all the multiple times that "40" is used in the Bible to take it literally; it would tie up the timing of far too many ages and events.  Just a simple check of the word "forty" in any concordance should convince all but the most decided literalist that it is an impossibility:  forty days, forty years, forty times, etc.

            There were no clocks, no calendars, and time was based on the sun and moon.  Counting was limited to 40–the maximum number of human digits–and it was centuries later before the decimal system was invented:  10 being the finger digits which were used in counting.  Time was not measured strictly at all, as you indicated with middle eastern customs.  "Living by the clock and calendar" are much later inventions.  That is why reading the Bible with a 21st century context is ludicrous.

  23. Darrel Lindensmith
    27 June 2012 @ 3:09 pm

    As I read your cogent comments Jack,  I remember now with amazement that I used to think in just that
    reductionist way.  I am so glad 'the spell' has been broken! 

  24. Doctorf
    27 June 2012 @ 7:01 pm

    There you go Tim, interjecting rational questions into a mythological story! Great post! In the end I "weeded" myself from Adventism. To me religion is more like a smorgasborg. People come to the table and take what they need and leave the rest.

    In keeping with Jack's thesis I think it is time for theological orders within the SDA church. Works for Catholicism.

  25. Darrel Lindensmith
    27 June 2012 @ 10:27 pm

    Again, Natural Processes do not and CAN NOT write 'code, Tim.  You believe in a kind of magic and do not realize it.

    Even Crick and Dawkins and others back away from the 'magic' and tenitively claim that 'aliens' did it. This of course leads to the 'infinite regress' of :where did they come from? another, another, another . . . . . Logic rather requires that we stop at a 'non regress'–an "eternal" Mind. This is Aristotle's "unmoved mover." Bottom line: Only a mind writes code.

    Your confusion in 'psychology'  regarding selflessness and selfishness is the natural outcome of your belief that there is only matter. 

    • Tim
      27 June 2012 @ 11:46 pm

      Again, Natural Processes do not and CAN NOT write 'code, Tim.  You believe in a kind of magic and do not realize it.

      Incredibly complex "code" is generated in your body's proteins hundreds if not thousands of times every second (much of which is scrapped immediately out the door, by the way — protein generation is terribly inefficient).  Are you suggesting that the mechanism by which this occurs is magic?  That we don't understand the half of it yet doesn't mean that it's magic, if that's what you're suggesting.  As for only a "mind" being able to "write code," not understanding how something occurs doesn't automagically mean it was intelligently designed.  It just means that, thankfully, life is still full of mystery and wonder — the joys of discovery remain.

      Your comment above is a perfect example of the scientific approach vs. religious superstition.  Science says, "we have no idea, but let's keep trying to understand."  The religious say, "nah, that's just not possible.  Trust me."  We've demonstrated again and again throughout the history of scientific discoveries that the "impossible" is, in fact, not.  We once believed atoms were the fundamental building blocks of the universe, that it was "impossible" to break matter down into anything smaller because nothing smaller could exist.  We now know verifiably that we were wrong by orders of magnitude.  So you'll have to excuse me if I don't share your cynicism with respect to life's complexities.

      Your confusion in 'psychology'  regarding selflessness and selfishness is the natural outcome of your belief that there is only matter.

      What?  I stated fact, not conjecture.  Studies are increasingly demonstrating that much of what we do for "selfless" reasons are in fact driven by selfish motivations (note that psychologists use the word "selfish" as a neutral term — it has nothing to do with concepts of right or wrong).  Here's a recent example that should hit close to home:

    • Tim
      27 June 2012 @ 11:51 pm

      Oh, and I neglected to mention, Darrel, that you're misappropriating Dawkins' claims in your post (I'm quite familiar with his work and his positions, for the record — even got a chance to meet the man in person down here).  He's simply open to the possibility that alien life exists out there somewhere, and that since we as yet have no solid hypothesis concerning the origins of life, if alien life were to exist, a reasonable person cannot rule out the possibility, however remote, that they had a hand in our genesis.

      But what you seem to be missing is that Dawkins doesn't believe in aliens any more than he believes in god, and the reason for that is that there isn't a shred of evidence for either one.  He's simply open to the possibility of the discovery of future evidence that suggests they exist, just as he (and I and others) are perfectly open to the possibility of future evidence pointing to the existence of a diety.

  26. Elaine Nelson
    27 June 2012 @ 10:47 pm

    Regardless of infinite regress, none of us knows the beginning.  Some posit a god; some posit "turtles all the way down" or aliens.

    Does it really make any difference if there cannot be a proven origin?  Each gets to choose what makes the most sense and there are no "right" or "wrong" answers.  Why is it impossible to simply admit that WE DO NOT KNOW?  as it is all speculation based on nothing more than imagination and faith in whichever answer seems to make sense to the individual.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      28 June 2012 @ 2:36 am

      Furthermore – does either the Bible or the scientific method claim to know the ultimate factual Truth?  Or do they both admit that at most they are truths that act as like dirty glass, by which we can catch glimpses of the Truth. 

      I agree we need a healthy dose of a sense of awe and mystery, and a little less dogmatism, as if we think we know the absolute Truth about such things.

      The Bible doesn't say Adam was made out of thin air but pre-existing stuff – it says the earthling (it doesn't actually say he was male at that stage) was made out of 'clay'. 

  27. Jack Hoehn
    28 June 2012 @ 4:32 am

    If Tim and Doctorf (and Elaine Nelson?) are here for the sport of shooting believers in the little Adventist Today barrel, then there is little more to say. 

    If they are incapable of seeing the difference between the rational belief in a designed creation suggesting a Designer  and  a childish belief that the earth has to be only 6,000 years old, then we have living evidence of the harm that rigid, blind Biblicism does.  At  least to inflexible minds–to those who say, "well if that is not true, then none of it is true.  If you say the earth is flat, I don't want to listen to anything else you have to say. "

    It appears that a rigid Adventism has done these men (and women) and many more like them incalculable harm.  But there are others, younger, less injured perhaps, who might listen to us if we don't make it impossible for them to hear us.   That is why I am here voting for returning to a plausible Adventism instead of an impossible Adventism.

    Yet Tim and Doctorf linger.  And I keep hoping it is for more than sport.
    At least Tim still is open to wonder.  And he appears keenly aware of his mortality.  I wish he could reopen his mind to possibilities he seems to have slammed shut.

    Hitchens, Peter, still living brother to the now dead Christopher, has done his best to explain why two intelligent brothers become icons of disbelief and belief.    "The Rage Against God" by Peter deserves equal hearing with "God is not Great" by Christopher.

    And if our unbelievers were ever willing to give the godly another chance Michael Novak's "No One Sees God" would be a good place to listen to someone not concerned about scientific truths threatening spiritual truths.  He subtitles it "The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers", and tries to be even handed, but does not stay in the dark. 

    (At times it appears that our critics have stopped reading theology with "My Bible Friends" for their god-criticisms are often painfully juvenile?)

    • Stephen Ferguson
      28 June 2012 @ 4:57 am

      Moreover on the same train of thought, if one has ever read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins or seen his TV series The Root of All Evil, you have probably lamented like I have that Dawkins deliberately argues on the attack against the most extreme Christian Fundamentalists.  In such a challenge, Dawkins obviously comes out on top against such easy targets, and the voices of people in the 'middle' are simply forgotten and left without a voice. 

      I do wonder sometimes if the discussions here on AT are somewhat similar, with both extreme 'sides'  dominating and drowning out all other voices.  When both 'extremes' then talk to each, no doubt the extreme views of their opponents only reinforces their own extremism. 

      In the end, one finds the 'conservatives' saying 'Get out of the SDA Church' whilst 'liberals' echoing 'Come wiht us and leave the SDA Church'.  Thus, both extreme 'sides', whilst pretending to be polar opposites, actually very much have the same ultimate agenda in my book.  

      From where I sit, thankyou Jack for trying to be a voice of reason on moderation for this whole issue, demonstrating it is possible to have different views about such things as evolution, but still firmly remain within the broad Church of Adventism and its pioneer spirit of reformation, theological diveristy, progressive revelation and present truth.

  28. Joe Erwin
    28 June 2012 @ 12:22 pm

    Natural processes "do not and cannot write code" has been repeated many times. It seems to me that some special definition is given to the word "code." It is an assertion based on some meaning of the term that defines code as being intentionally produced, so that means it is not really "code" if if naturally occurs. This is really just word play. And is a faulty premise used as an anchor of absolute faith.

    Let me add my voice to those who praise Jack for making this effort to loosen the grips of dogma. It is a very difficult place to be within adventism, in part, because the commitment is so deep and so pervasive to rejection and denial of evidence, and because the tradition is to hold fast to certain concepts regardless of where evidence leads.

    Having been a serious and committed adventist, and having left because I could no longer honestly claim to believe some of the required tenets of faith [it was my impression that belief was demanded], I assure you that my presence here is not to poke fun at those who believe. I don't see that in other former adventists either. In most cases, we grew up in a spiritual community of which we are no longer a part–but it is part of us. We are who we are, in part, because we were raised as we were, and because we knew the people we knew. There is a substantial affectional attachment for some of us to the "society" in which we matured.

    That is a society in which I grew to feel unwelcome. That is largely still true. Even within AToday. But some are more welcoming than others, and that seems especially true of those whose honest search for truth and thirst for knowledge has led them to question or reject some of the "fundamental beliefs."

    While science is not my substitute religion, it is true that my scientific community fulfills many of the needs that a church community does. I was reminded of this powerfully during the recent meeting of the American Society of Primatologists, a scientific society I incorporated back in 1976. This was the 35th meeting of the society. Many who attended were people I went to school with long ago. Some had their grown up biological children with them. Many more had their academic children with them. In fact, this is now multigenerational. The society was intended to be broadly interdisciplinary, and it really is. Laboratory and field researchers interact at ASP. Zoologists, mammalogists, psychologists, anthropologists, genomics scientists, physiologists, neuroscientists, virologists and infectious disease specialists, physicians, veterinarians, etc., all attend and interact, exchanging information, developing collaborations, agreeing and disagreeing, but all passionate about advancing understanding of primates–including humans. There is much genuine mutual affection and respect. It is a delightful family–one that encourages and honors discovery. It is not our church, but any church could be proud to serve its members' needs as well.

  29. Edwin A. Schwisow
    28 June 2012 @ 2:04 pm

    It has been said that arguing with a confirmed conspiracist is futile, for in questioning the existence, prevalence, or extent of the conspiracy one confirms his participation in that very conspiracy, and therefore can never be trusted. Likewise, I believe, there is a conspiracy-like sense that individuals with long-term creationist viewpoints or questions are (knowingly or unknowingly) part of a plan to methodically destroy the underpinnings/fundamentals of Adventist faith—and dialogue with such individuals is futile and in fact dangerous. In fact, they should be cut off with the weed-whacker and if possible pulled out by the roots before their tare-ible genetic material can be foisted on the blessed wheat.

    This is perhaps one powerful reason why the dialogue on creation/evolution is so diabolically intense. It's not just the science, it's the sense of a conspiracy set forward by Darwinian Adventists to destroy the church from within—and dismiss the existence of God entirely—by unhitching its anchor from the sure word of the literal creation narrative. The view is that this is really the one and only anchor we can really trust to see us through to the kingdom, and if we lose this, we've lost it all. Ergo, the MORE persuasive the alternatives to literalism appear, the MORE intense the determination to save the church by demonstrating unalterable faith in that literalism.

    Perhaps one useful way to bring detente and rationality to this great controversy is for both sides to recognize that God is God, and is not reliant on human subjects to defend what He has wrought and how he brings things to pass. I am reminded of the words of Joash, the father of the judge Gideon of fleece-and-fanfare fame (Judges 6:31), who answers for his son when it becomes apparent that Gideon has thrown down the community's altar of Baal: "If [Baal] be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar." The words may seem harsh and even sacrilegious, but if God is God, does he "literally" require our defense and assistance? Is he not the self-existent I-Am? Personally we may hold certain views—views which with all probability will vary from year to year, even from day to do, as this question filters through our thinking and our understanding of the Big Picture comes into focus. But to escalate this discussion almost to a level of saying, "If we lose this argument, we've lost God himself," seems very close to the arguments made by the Baalites against Gideon. Sometimes we seem to think that if we do not defend a precise view on literal creationism, God himself will perish. Unfair and pretentious! God being God will eventually win every argument, answer every question, cause every knee to bow. We need to have this faith, and carry on without fear (and with a Christian smile?!) any dialogue we wish on creation/evolution issues. God is much larger than we can ever suppose, and to surmise that those who tear down the altar of literal creationism are somehow threatening his existence and that of his movement on earth seems to contradict the very faith we claim to hold so firmly in the existence and power of the Most High.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      28 June 2012 @ 2:16 pm

      Thanks Edwin – what you said is very good.  I for one am not 100% convinced of evolution, because I am no scientist and for every person who says one view there seems to be someone esle who says the opposite.  However, I am more than willing to discuss the issue, and explore the interesting and important theological consquences of IF evolution were true what it would mean for Adventism.  After doing much thinking on that assumption over a number of years, I am fairly certain that my Adventist faith could survive accepting evolution – even pretty much keeping all the FBs.

      Yet when I mention this approach on AT I (and others who take a similar approach) have been somewhat treated as traitors and two-headed monsters.  And not just from 'conservatives', from 'liberals' for not simply wholly accepting evolution and then leaving the SDA Church. 

      If would be great if for once if we could have a discussion just assuming hypothetically IF evolution were true – then that would be a very interesting theological discussion. But sigh, I doubt that will be able to happen here…

  30. Joe Erwin
    28 June 2012 @ 3:41 pm

    Repeatedly, I have suggested that humans should not "put God in a box." If your faith is genuine and if God is God, He does not need you to define Him. Indeed, it is clear that we cannot and should not EXPECT to be able to define Him. Yet, those whose faith apparently is insufficient, insist on dogmatically claiming to know the mind of God and His intentions for themselves and everyone else–thereby painting themselves into corners where they must defend indefensible anti-evidence positions. I have no interest in being an SDA or in bringing down the SDA church or its members–but I would like to see members be more open to evidence-based positions and quit fooling themselves and misleading their young people in mind-destroying ways. I continue to have much affection and empathy and sympathy for adventists.

  31. Ed Dickerson
    28 June 2012 @ 4:23 pm

    One question. If God exists, is He a God of life or a God of death?

    • Stephen Ferguson
      29 June 2012 @ 1:57 am

      And why do lions have sharp teeth and eat animals if they were created perfect vegetarians in Eden? 

      Why would God make them that way to more easily kill other animals?  Or was Satan somehow part of the process in changing the natural environment?  And was Satan around before Adam and Eve sinned – why was there a snake in Eden and why was there a desolate wilderness outside a supposedly perfect Garden?  And if Satan did have a part to play in changing the natural environment, which we see around us in the Darwinian struggle, could Satan's involvement have simply started much earlier than we first thought?  Could the Great Controversy be a lot older, and a lot bigger, and the players a lot more aged than we first naively viewed this earth as the known flat universe with a fixed domed canopy surrounded by water above and waters below? 

      God is a God of life.  But even creationists believe Satan has been involved in the creative process – even more so.  Otherwise why do lions have sharp teeth and eat other animals, if they were supposedly were created perfect vegetarians only a few thousand years ago?

      • Joe Erwin
        29 June 2012 @ 2:25 am

        Satan the Creator? C'mon…. Satan and the "Darwinian struggle?" Older? For sure. Controversy? Really?

      • Tim
        29 June 2012 @ 3:00 am

        And why do lions have sharp teeth and eat animals if they were created perfect vegetarians in Eden?

        Uh, that's not a particularly tough one, Stephen.  The answer:  they weren't.  Unless you believe in magic and mystical curses and evil talking snakes and stuff, in which case neither I nor anybody else can help you.

  32. Joe Erwin
    28 June 2012 @ 4:39 pm

    Ed, What does that even mean?

  33. Ervin Taylor
    28 June 2012 @ 7:09 pm

    May I join with Joe to ask Ed if he would please unpack his statement "If God exists, is He a God of life or a God of death?  I'm not sure I understand what is being suggested.

  34. Edwin A. Schwisow
    28 June 2012 @ 8:21 pm

    We often invoke the term "postmodern" to define our era, but we also seem to have entered the "post-moderation" era in which there are apparantly so many views, so many options, so many individually held self-evident truths, that to even be heard we feel we must invoke harsh, flamable rhetoric to rise above the fray. I sense that in the long run, as normally occurs, the more balanced views/rhetoric will prevail (though some find the current era of bare-nuckle advocacy bracing and exciting, kind of like rooster-fighting to the death in the old barn, back behind the elm trees). The primary problem with power-play advocacy, spiced with brutal conspiracy logic, is that in time we all tire of the whole charade and wonder if belonging or participating in any program (church, party, nation, web site) that proves so emotionally costly is really worth the punishment. Can we not be saved WITHOUT going to church? Can we not meet with like-minded enculturated people in locales OTHER than in church settings? Why should we venture into arenas where we can win every bet, every time, on the question of whether or not we will be attacked personally within the first 15 minutes? In time we WILL moderate and follow common sense, or we will consistently and visibly turn our churches and discussion venues into Saturday Kingdom Halls where shunning and other antisocial behavior become boilerplate, as congregations grow smaller and smaller, older and older, more and more caustic toward any dissent or calls for departure from the old ways. It would be a shame if our church, which began with such promise and innovation, should lapse into the common downfall of organizations that decide it's just too difficult to reinvent themselves every 20 years or so.

    God is indeed a God of life and progress; he has given us the ability to adapt, lest (as Cain charged the Lord in Genesis 4:13) we all perish in a world with constantly changing loyalties, constantly changing expression of values and culture. We must be a flexible organization, able to adapt not only in response to, but in anticipation of changes in our surroundings.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      29 June 2012 @ 1:51 am

      Again very good and agree.  This doesn't just seem to be a Church thing, it is something that now seems pervade our whole culture.  You see that in politics – all the moderates have been run out of town and never cross the floor of their party to compromise any more. 

  35. Joe Erwin
    28 June 2012 @ 8:35 pm

    Growth and maturation are processes of change. Birth and death, sowing and reaping, etc., are all inevitable aspects of life. I have no problem with that. I do not fear death. I expect it to be a permanent end of existence. That's perfectly fine with me. Why worry about it all so much?

    • Tim
      29 June 2012 @ 2:25 am

      Hear, hear, Joe.  I've enjoyed your posts in this thread and others related — they resonate with me.

      We haven't missed the billions of years we weren't around before we were born, and we won't miss the [indeterminate but lengthy period of time] after we die.  If anything, the fact that our lives are finite makes them all the more meaningful — this is not a test.  This is the production run, and what we do here and now matters.

  36. Jack Hoehn
    29 June 2012 @ 3:32 am

    Brother Materialists, you are so cheaply satisfied, with 10 cents of life as good enough?  It is all very noble, this life is enough, I'm part of eternity because my atoms will be recycled.  But it is the slaves comfort!  The slave who says, this life of toil is enough because nothing else is possible.  That's all you get so deal with it. 
    Well we Idealists are not satisfied with 10 cents of life.  We could be if it were just us, but we NEVER have enough of our lovers.  We NEVER want to see our children die.  We want to hear NOTHING of the end of our beloved grandchildren.  We don't even want to NEVER have Christopher Hitchens around for another chance to change his versatile mind!  (God how I wish he could have listened to his brother before alcohol took him).
    So please pardon the rest of us who consider your, "I'm just fine with death", as a cowardly slavish tip of your hat to the king of death.  Tim, you consider him magic and mystical, but son, he's got you in his spell.

    • Anonymous
      29 June 2012 @ 5:09 am

      Thank you, Jack. So well said! I am mystified that ex-Adventist, post-Christian atheists are attracted like moths to this website. What pathological obssession would keep someone quarreling with those they perceive as intellectual inferiors who prefer primitive superstitions and magical thinking to reason and logic?  

      • Stephen Foster
        29 June 2012 @ 9:10 am

        I think I can answer your question. They are attracted here because so many Adventists represented here likewise don’t believe (much of what those to whom you refer regard as) “primitive superstitions and magical thinking.”
        In other words, they sense the presence of those who ‘think’ like they do, but simply haven’t yet completed the process. (This seems like fertile ground for ‘recruitment.’)

      • Ervin Taylor
        29 June 2012 @ 2:35 pm

        I see that my good friend and AT collegue has relapsed into his old rhtorical exessses.  "pathological obsession"?  Dear me!  "pathological"?   And "like moths to this website"?   Now the rest of us are "pathological moths."  Is that so way down the evolutionary scale as to constitute that we have been insulted by a professional?  

    • Joe Erwin
      30 June 2012 @ 12:05 pm

      While I am comfortable with my own coming death, whenever and however the end comes, I do not wish pain and suffering and death on others–although there comes a point when death can be welcome relief from pain.

      I do feel a little sad for those who fail to experience a full and free life because they are pathologically obsessed with getting something more–living longer, living again, or even living forever. It seems so self absorbed, and, in a way, so greedy and selfish. Maybe it would not be so bad to devote a little more of this life to treasuring one's children and loving one's lover and a little less time on fantasies of future fulfillment.

    • Doctorf
      30 June 2012 @ 6:11 pm


      Your blog has been very successful and you started the discussion not us. Its true Elaine, Joe, Tim or myself are not here to convert anyone. Your blog generated a discussion and I do get a better understanding of the rainbow of perspectives and beliefs from the comments written here.

      I think you do not understand some of us, or maybe you do. In the real world yes this 10 cents of life is ALL I get and so do you. You do not accept that this is all we have. But, we have invented the "afterflife." I hope you are right about the afterlife. My hope not withstanding, do you know anyone in the "afterlife"? Has anyone come back with a report?  If God is going to resurrect me, fine. I will be "waiting" but not conscious of my waiting. With regards to you suggesting that people such as Elaine and myself lack a sense of "wonder", man you should come my lab sometime. I am the most blessed man in the world and the "world" of the neurons and blood vessels are wonderous indeed. Thus, my 10 cents of life is certainly worth it in my view.


      Great comment! "Pathological obsession"? I did not know I was in a pathological state of mind. I guess I better take my name off our latest Pediatric Research article before it is submitted. You do have a way with words. Thank you for the laugh it really made my Saturday. I mean that. I get a kick out of some of your more acerbic posts. I wonder if you sometimes go crazy with us and say "damn doubters." 

  37. David Langworthy
    29 June 2012 @ 4:54 am

    Well, Jack
    That is a conversation stopper.  And I should know.  I'm pretty good at stopping conversations too.

    I'll take the advice I gave Brother Nate recently and just say, I disagree.

    PS:  I miss Hitch.  But he loved all-night conversations fed by coffee, cigaretts and scotch.  One has only so much wax in the candle.  He enjoyed burning his brightly and quickly.  He said he'd do it the same again.  Compare his death at 62 from the above with a devoted praying believing christian 20 year old who dies climing the face of Half Dome.  Is one death more noble?  Is one life more temperate?

  38. Jack Hoehn
    29 June 2012 @ 6:31 am

    David, choosing death for 6,000 years or more has been considered pathology.  In our society it is legal to force people to choose life against their stated wills.    I'm not trying to stop the conversation, I'm trying to stop the madness of accepting death as natural and healthy and noble.  Bah humbug!

    • Kevin Riley
      29 June 2012 @ 12:52 pm

      I wouldn't say death is natural or healthy, but for most if its history Christianity taught that living a good life was partly preparation for dying a good death.  After all, if it is merely a sleep, over in an instant, why should we fear death?  In the context of evolution without God, then we are talking of something different.  I do find it hard to reconcile so much senseless death with a good God.

    • Ed Dickerson
      29 June 2012 @ 2:15 pm

      Choosing death for 6,000 years? Not even a serious start. How about for 600,000,000 years? That's what I'm talkin' 'bout.

    • Joe Erwin
      30 June 2012 @ 4:38 pm

      Jack, are you trying to tell us "You will not surely die?" I've read that somewhere before…. Could that be the message of that powerful one who created the fossil record to deceive us? Who could that be? Could it be SATAN?

      Death exists. I don't worship it. It often isn't very nice or very pleasant, but denying that it is what it is changes nothing–except to provide some self-deception or false hope to others. But, in truth, giving people false hope can be a powerful tool for control and manipulation.

  39. Joe Erwin
    29 June 2012 @ 12:33 pm

    My attraction to this site is quite simple. I grew up as an adventist and formed an affectional attachment to the people and places I associated with–and those things do not automatically disappear just because one finds he can no longer honestly claim accordance with the list of fundamental beliefs. Apparently I am not the only one here who is under the impression that this site welcomes participation of former and current adventists who are not entirely okay with the FBs. So, it is somewhat personal. People are here I went to academy and college with, including one of my roommates from PUC. Even relatives are here from time-to-time. Also, I'm not here to recruit anyone.

    Jack, I agree with you that some deaths are tragic, and many are premature. I was deeply touched and saddened as my youngest grandchild lay dying in my arms. Fortunately, he survived. My poor niece, however, was murdered by her evangelist husband. That was tragic.

    But, if I died today, it would not be a tragedy. I've been fortunate enough to have lived sufficiently and constructively and with quite a lot of freedom as compared with religious perfectionists. I'm not grieving for Hitchins.

    I'm not quarreling with Nathan, except that I'm pretty sure he thinks he is smarter than I think I am. And given some of the language he uses, there is a good chance he is smarter than me. Mental agility is required to come up with some of his language and reasoning, although he sometimes seems to try a little too hard.

    Pathology? Now that is another matter. Intelligence does not protect people from paranoid thinking. In fact, it seems to predispose. Of course, I am attracted to pathology to some extent. After all, I am a psychologist, and I worked in a state hospital and as a social worker. And I was an SDA, an organization which, I think, attracts many people who have mental health challenges of various kinds. Sometimes I think it may be therapeutic to explore the cognitive styles attracted to, or inspired by, SDA FBs. Other times? Not so much. 

    Embracing death as a fact of life is certainly no madder than inventing an enormous imaginary cosmos peopled with angels and demons upon whom one can blame or credit all sorts of things to escape taking personal responsibility for anything. According to this twisted scenario Satan becomes a creator and God can be whatever He wants–as long as He confirms with what one imagines Him to be. Pathology? PATHOLOGY? Are you kidding? The tragedy is that this mental pathology is transmitted to the young by people who who have been driven into looney tunes land by believing the utterly incredible. 

    • Doctorf
      30 June 2012 @ 6:19 pm


      I cracked up at the "pathology" comment. I addressed it above. Like Elaine we are impugned and "pathlogical" because like Montaigne we embrace death as a fact of life? Look at this imaginary cosmos of the Adventists and Christians. Demons that can possess us and do with us as they we please? An arcane "salvation" where we have to embrace a God who punished us through "sin" because some idiot ate the apple?  Then kills his own son so we can be "redeemed"?  My heavens, I want no part of their cosomos. 

  40. Elaine Nelson
    29 June 2012 @ 3:57 pm

    Why is it that Christian believers look on all non-believers as pathological because they haven't adopted a scenario awaiting them after death?  I challenge any of those who are so certain of what and where they will be after death to report a single individual who is able to describe his experience after death.  How can he expect others to accept what he has a total inability to demonstrate?  A Ponzi scheme:  simple believe, and you will be richly rewarded? 


    I'm with Joe:  Of one thing I can be certain, I will not be here 20 years from now, and probably much less.  Worried?  Not for a single minute.  Once around is enough, filled with joys, pain, and I ask for no more. Whatever awaits after death is not in my hands and I am at peace whenever and wherever death comes.


  41. Joe Erwin
    29 June 2012 @ 9:19 pm

    Elaine, those who are gracious go far to make up for those who are not so much. Interesting how that sorts out among those who claim such certainty of our afterlife destination, eh?

  42. Jack Hoehn
    30 June 2012 @ 12:58 pm

    Well here we are at the crux. 
    In the beginning God Created.  Yes or no.
    In the beginning was the Logos.  (Word-Codified Information-Language-a design)  Yes or no.
    He came that we may have Life.  Yes or no.
    Through death, he condemned death.  Yes or no.
    As in Adam all died, so in Christ all live.  Yes or no.

    Science testifies to a beginning.
    Science testifies to life requiring a code, plan, logical system of function, from the beginning.

    Chronology of all of this is irrelevent to the crux.  4.6 Billion year earth and 13.7 year Universe are not essentially different than 4006 BC!

    But dismissal of the universal urge to live, or the fact of existanced at all, based on that fact that Elaine has never seen anyone come back to life, and she chooses to disbelieve those reports of resurrection, is insufficient to deny the universal life urge.

    Christians too die gracefully, calmly, and and hopefully.  It does not take "blind belief", mental illness, denial of scientific evidence to do so. 

    Scientifically honest does not equal acceptance of eternal death.
    Belief that life shows evidence making materialism impossible keeps hope very much alive for millions of death's slaves.

    We have this hope that lives within our hearts, and you can not take it with the spiritual poverty of materialism  or simply by showing us that the creation of life took much more than 144 hours 6,000 years ago.

    • Elaine Nelson
      30 June 2012 @ 4:20 pm

      Christians too die gracefully, calmly, and and hopefully.

      Neither dies differerently, so what is your point?  Haven't Christians always proclaimed the "blessed hope" which makes facing death more peacefully? 

      I can live a full and happy life guided by the Golden Rule and dying with peace.
      You have not sold the benefits of Christianity to those like Joe and me.  If it gives you happiness and peace and gratitude that others observe, it works for you.  Vive le difference!

    • Joe Erwin
      30 June 2012 @ 5:48 pm

      So this is "The Crux" (defined as, The Cross, or crossroads, a perplexing difficulty, or, a pivotal point).

      1. maybe, but probably not

      2.word-code design? probably not

      Life and death exist. The message of Jesus was that we should have free and abundant lives.

      Evidence does indicate an ancient origin for life (>3 billion years ago)

      Evidence does not specify how or why complex a biotic molecules acquired self-replication

      Billions of years and thousands of years differ by many orders of magnitude. They are different.

      Elaine is not the only one who has not observed any resurrections

      Many evolutionists have suggested that humans and other animals are motivated to survive.

      Actually, I have not seen any evidence that hope resides in the heart (although I am fond of hope)

      It seems to me that I am one of those NOT "enslaved by death" or fear of death

      So, here at the crux, we choose different paths. I'm fine with you taking the path you've chosen.

      BTW, when were you at PUC? Did we know each other there? I remember some long and deep conversations with Elder Hyde. I was first there in 1958.

  43. Joe Erwin
    30 June 2012 @ 2:24 pm

    Jack, you have every right to believe what you do, and it is not my place (or wish) to contend otherwise. I appreciated your thoughtful piece. We disagree on much, but that need not lead us to be unpleasant toward one another. Life is too short to spend it being unpleasant to others. Even if one intends to live forever. 

  44. David Langworthy
    30 June 2012 @ 3:27 pm

    Out weeding your garden this morning, Jack?
    It would be very easy for AT to withdraw my log in credentials.  Perhaps they should for my/our own good.  

    In your garden metaphore, one could say most roses (like you) do just fine with thorns (like me) near by.  We are both from the same plant (adventism)… although you may have horticulturalists working on the problem now, engineering the adventist rose plant to be thornless..?

    Dr Jack, if you find no essential difference between 6,000 and 4,500,000,000, I'm glad you are not in charge of writing my prescriptions.  6K micrograms of morphine would be a proper dose for severe pain.  4.5B micrograms…?  Only if you are prepared to manage me in your ICU on a ventilator for a really long time.

    If the world is truely 6K years old, then Derrill is right and all is magic, created to appear old- including the fossil record in the geologic column- including the fact humans have an inactivated gene for making vitamin C, mutated into nonfunction just like the other primates… [insert thousands of examples here]  Would god do that?  yes or no

  45. Jack Hoehn
    30 June 2012 @ 8:00 pm

    I am truly sorry that my anti-death comments were deadly.  I am not trying to weed the Garden of Adventism.  But we do need to know what garden we are walking in.
    Both young earth creationists and materialist evolutionists agree with each other, and disagree with me.
    They say ONE OR THE OTHER.  Magic God or Magic Materials take your choice. I protest that the truth in science clarifies but does not nullify the truths of Revelation.  I say the basic Crux (yes the Cross truths worth dying for) truths of Revelation are supported by science (not necessarily bythe majority of scientists which is not the same).
    Joe (and I assume David?) found that Adventism demanded a chronology of life that was not supportable by the evidence, and have accepted materialism.   My Adventist weeders say, see I told you so, accept old earth, progressive creation and you’ll end up atheists like them.
    I am not capable of scientifically pulling back Joe or David or Tim.  I can only testify that materialism is not the only way of understanding  the evidence of progressive creation and intelligence in design, and that Literal Biblicism is not the only way of understanding Revelation.  Forgive me if this blog is not focused on your needs primarily.
    I may (to be tested of course) be more capable of showing  my fellow Adventist Believers, who accept the Crux truths listed above, that it is possible to accept all our core beliefs, regardless  of an age of earth of 6,000 years or 3.7 Billion years.  We will see in the months to come if I am able to be helpful to them or not.  Since dear departed Sister Ellen didn't think so, I realize this may not be easy, but I know from my own experience that it is possible.  So we will give it a try. 
    Joe, you are my senior at PUC.  I studied from William Hyde in 1963-7.  David are you a Paradise, CA aquaintance?

    • Tim
      01 July 2012 @ 12:34 am

      I am truly sorry that my anti-death comments were deadly.

      I don't know about deadly, but certainly a little weird coming from a medical doctor.  None of the rest of us should have to remind you that the end is built into the beginning.  One doesn't choose to die any more than one chooses to be born.

      I can only testify that materialism is not the only way of understanding  the evidence of progressive creation and intelligence in design, and that Literal Biblicism is not the only way of understanding Revelation.

      No you can't.  If I said, "I can only testify that materialism is not the only way of understanding the evidence of evil witchcraft in disease," it doesn't mean my "testimony" has any basis in reality, particularly if I haven't a single shred of evidence to show for it.  I can only "testify" that I saw the Jabberwocky in my bathroom mirror last night when I got up to take a leak.  He told me to ask you all, "Has anybody seen Alice?  She's about 4 feet tall, pony tail, blue dress, demonstrates increasingly spirited disdain for the establishment.  Anybody?"  It seemed rather urgent.  I guess perhaps if you guys want to keep an eye out, I can let the Jabberwocky know next time I bump into him (which I can only testify really happened).

      So it doesn't particularly matter how one understands the evidence of progressive creation and intelligence in design because there is no evidence of either creation or design.  I wish there were — the Bible is a pretty neat story.  But there isn't.  Your desire for there to be evidence does not magically create evidence.  Either it's there or it isn't.  Several of you keep using the term "materialist" / "materialism" in this thread, as though we're some sort of outliers or take a fringe position simply because we remind you that you haven't a shred of evidence to support your bizarre assertions (magically coming back to life and becoming immortal with an ability to fly, a magical spirit realm, magical creation of the universe and Earth with all sorts of intentional, really devious built-in deception by way of results in radiometric dating, the fossil and genetic records, apparent plate tectonics and the distribution of life on Earth, et al., a magical invisible creature who lives beyond space and time and watches your every move and judges you according to the beliefs you hold primarily as a function of geography, magical demons and magic angels, magical telepathic communication from the invisible space creature to a woman named E.G. White despite the fact that the magic giant's dictated words — the Bible — expressly forbid women from teaching men on theological matters, spiritual testing and trials and so forth, for starters).  There is no evidence of any of this.  None of it.  I'll be the first person to leap out of his skin and say, "holy ****," the very moment any evidence turns up.  As of this writing, none has.  It's not that some of us are failing to properly "understand" some evidence, or that we're just dirty "materialists" or something; that's akin to saying you're failing to properly understand the evidence for reincarnation (which, incidentally, another holy scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, "testifies" about — you should ask yourself why you believe one scripture over the other.  I'll give you a hint:  geography matters.)

      I also admit to being amused by the claim, Jack, that you're "not capable of scientifically pulling back" either Joe, David or myself.  Pulls us back where, exactly?  Into fantasy?  And from what — education, or the ability to think critically?  Is it so sad that we can't unlearn what we've learned, that we can't return to the bliss of ignorance?  πŸ˜›  I can't speak for the others, but while I certainly appreciate the desire to "pull us back," it's actually not so bad way out here in reality land, albeit a bit on the lonely side at times.  But I wouldn't have it any other way.  In the spectacularly ironical words of Paul:  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

  46. Joe Erwin
    30 June 2012 @ 8:21 pm

    Jack, so we overlapped briefly in 1964 when I returned for one quarter after army service in Germany. Just a note, I do not consider myself an atheist, because I do not like the sound of dogmatically insisting on something that cannot be demonstrated one way or the other. My wife says I'm an atheist. I say I'm either a "nonbeliever" or "agnostic." Maybe there is no perfect term. I'm not an adventist or Christian. When I left, I certainly thought the position of the church was rigidly YEC. Had I felt that that my honesty was welcome, I might have stayed. Jack, I thought you looked younger than I do…. We might have met in the spring of 1964.

    I also don't especially like the term "materialist," because of its suggestion that I'm all about gaining the trappings of material wealth–which I'm not. But, I suppose it contrasts with being "spiritual." Much of my research has been behavioral, which is not quite "materialistic," but certainly isn't in the realm of "spirit."

    I'd like to hear more about your experiences in Africa…. 

  47. David Langworthy
    01 July 2012 @ 1:22 am

    I'd enjoy talking.  ddlangworthy at comcast dot net

    Yes, Paradise.  It's a good place, but it's not Puget Sound.  πŸ™‚

  48. Jack Hoehn
    02 July 2012 @ 4:02 am

    Joe, actually Africa greatly enhanced my love of Adventism.  I love what the Seventh-day Adventist belief does to converts in Africa.  The Adventist church on a Sabbath morning is the most hopeful and happy place in thousands of villages on a thousand green hills in Africa.  This is one reason why I am fighting to retain its genius and oppose its nulification.  I consider the best Adventists Christian Realists.  I love what it does for real people in this wide world.

    David, sorry to have married the most beautiful girl in Paradise.  Don't hold it against me!

    Tim, you are can hold to your disbelief of the reality of the spiritual with scorn and reductionism.  There is much evidence of spiritual realities.  You choose to scorn and deny it.  You are so much like the young earth creationists denying the reality of scientific evidence, that it is scarry.    But as I said, I am not really writing for you.

    This thread is close to its natural end.  I'll work on next month's blog post mostly for the rest of this month.  But if you have a specific and personal question, my email is also public.  drhoehn at msn dot com.

    • Elaine Nelson
      02 July 2012 @ 4:15 am

      The African-American churches here in the states is also more joyful and free; unlike too many of the Causasians which are sedate and almost dead.  This is the reason that cultural practices for worship should not all be alike and uniform, yet the leadership wants them all to breathe in unison.

  49. Jack Hoehn
    02 July 2012 @ 4:02 am

    Joe, actually Africa greatly enhanced my love of Adventism.  I love what the Seventh-day Adventist belief does to converts in Africa.  The Adventist church on a Sabbath morning is the most hopeful and happy place in thousands of villages on a thousand green hills in Africa.  This is one reason why I am fighting to retain its genius and oppose its nulification.  I consider the best Adventists Christian Realists.  I love what it does for real people in this wide world.

    David, sorry to have married the most beautiful girl in Paradise.  Don't hold it against me!

    Tim, you are can hold to your disbelief of the reality of the spiritual with scorn and reductionism.  There is much evidence of spiritual realities.  You choose to scorn and deny it.  You are so much like the young earth creationists denying the reality of scientific evidence, that it is scarry.    But as I said, I am not really writing for you.

    This thread is close to its natural end.  I'll work on next month's blog post mostly for the rest of this month.  But if you have a specific and personal question, my email is also public.  drhoehn at msn dot com.

    • Tim
      02 July 2012 @ 9:48 am

      There is much evidence of spiritual realities.

      Ok, like what?  That's all I'm asking.  Show me the tiniest drop of evidence.  No scorn, no sarcasm, no cynicism.  Throw it at me.

      I appreciate that you "[aren't] really writing for me," but you did take the time to state that you have evidence that I choose to "scorn and deny," and as a result, I'd be very appreciative if you would just let me know specifically to what evidence you're referring.  You don't even have to get detailed — I don't want to take a whole bunch of your time, Jack.  A few words would suffice so long as you get the point across.  I really appreciate it, because if there's evidence right in front of me that a magical spirit realm exists and I'm just shrugging it off like a jackass, it'd be nice to get that figured out before I get too much older, you know?  Thanks.

  50. Joe Erwin
    02 July 2012 @ 1:52 pm

    Tim, with all due respect to Dr. Jack, and those who believe otherwise, I agree with you that evidence of "spiritual reality" is neither obvious or exists (as far as I can tell). One can certainly accept that some intangible phenomena, such as "mind," may be real in some sense, but going much farther than that does not seem to me to be warranted–or, at least, exists only in imagination.

    It is fair to say, however, that people are capable of passing along imaginary concepts to others in ways that have pivotal influences on their lives. The valence of that influence can range from wonderfully inspiring to deeply disturbing and dangerous–even within cult-like organizations like the one we all are familiar with.  

    • Tim
      02 July 2012 @ 6:07 pm

      Agreed.. 'real' perhaps in the sense that our executive selves tend to be more or less stable across time and, as an emergent phenomenon, seems to be greater than the sum of its parts.  But try explaining Phineas Gage, for example, or Henry Molaison, without concluding that our minds are inextricable from the physiology from which they emerge (perhaps the railroad spike pierced Gage's spirit, too, or the surgeon accidentally damaged HM's soul while resectioning his medial temporal lobes?).  And of course, as you and most here already know, those are just two of the most prominent of countless examples out there.

  51. Elaine Nelson
    02 July 2012 @ 4:42 pm

    I'll add a third voice to one that anxiously awaits some evidcnce of "spiritual reality."  Is it only available to the initiated who knows what signs to look for?
    "Spiritual" ordinarily implies unseen qualities, but reality has implications of very objective assessments.  This then becomes an oxymoron, something like
    "unseen objects."  That opens up all sorts of similarities:  sightings of "big foot," UFO's, etc.

    If "spiritual" can be observed, how is it identified?  When such religious talk becomes available only to those especially attuned with the ability to know it, does it require special training unavailable to everyone, and limited to only those who've received that gift?

  52. Doctorf
    02 July 2012 @ 4:58 pm

    When people suggest that there is evidence of spiritual realities the "evidence" becomes a rehash of their personal experiences and testimony of their beliefs. I have heard many of the cliches such as "God is speaking and you are not listening" etc. Objective assement of "spiritual realities" is impossible. I would like to know how those making claims of spiritual realities are any different from mediums, psychics and other charlatans.

    • Tim
      02 July 2012 @ 6:12 pm

      I hate to just throw links around in lieu of saying something meaningful, but as I don't tend to be very adept at the latter, I'll let Sam Harris do the talking.  It's a 3 1/2 minute clip in which he really nails this point.

  53. Elaine Nelson
    02 July 2012 @ 5:13 pm

    "Spiritual reality" is an oxymoron.

  54. Elaine Nelson
    02 July 2012 @ 11:33 pm

    Sam Harris cuts to the chase and doesn't waste time showing how foolish the ideas of "unseen realities."

    (But then, he is a witch   πŸ˜‰

  55. Jack Hoehn
    03 July 2012 @ 12:37 am

    Tim,  please, I'm not going to even suggest to you the reality of my opinions of god and my understanding of the spiritual.  I have personal experiences that belong to me. 
    I do however expect you could accept the evidence that consciousness itself it spiritual, non material.  This is the well known assertion that the most amazing thing in the universe is that we are aware of it.

    Also there is a very strong scientific resistance to Darwinian psycology.   [Alas Poor Darwin–Arguments against evolutionary psychology–editors Hilary and Stephen Rose,  Vintage, Random House, 2001, not religious people, just mind scientists or psycologists.] 

    I do think you could accept the evidence that animals also are spiritual (have feelings, consciousness, emotions, intelligence) [The Pig who Sang to the Moon, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Ballantine Books, 2002–not religious, lauded by Peter Singer!]  [The Moral Lives of Animals, Dale Peterson, Bloomsburry Press,  2011–an evolutionist who accepts the reality of morality throughout creation.]

    I am referring you to  people who don't agree with me about the origin or source of morality and spirituality.  I am just saying that materialism, naturalism can not deny the existence of non-material realities except by just so stories, but not by what you could call scientific evidence.

    More down my physician's line was Elisabeth A. Lloyd's [The Case of the Female Orgasm–Bias in the science of Evolution, Harvard University Press,  2005]  Again a evolutionist's complaint that to quote from the book's gloss, "How could anything as inadequate as the evolutionary explanation of the female orgasm have passed muster as science?"  Orgasm, female joy,  pleasure, detached from evolutionary or materialistic necessities is not something materialism can adequately explain.  At least not by male evolutionists, so says Dr. Lloyd!

    I'm suggesting you could accept that there are many evidences for realities (I called them spiritual realities) that do not lend themselves to materialistic explanations, or that do lend themselves as well or much better to the concept that they came from personality, from mind, from intelligence beyond chemistry and physics. 

    I'm not asking you to accept my conclusion, my God of the huge gaps.
    I would just like you to show a small touch of humility in acknowledgement that there are huge gaps in the materialistic explanation of reality.  But of course humility might be one of those spiritual realities that you deny?

    If you want more than just new baloons to pop with your reductionist pin, then I have already suggested two serious books.  Peter Hitchins.  Michael Novak, in previous posts offering unfoolish considerations of unseen realities.  But be warned these last two do come down on the God hypothesis.  So it might be better for now to just ignore them for the good of your spiritual comfort.  You know, your feelings, your happiness, your calmness, your satisfaction with yourself.  Spiritual you.  That part of you that might just be more than "an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato." [ Well known materialist, E. Scrooge of course.]


  56. Joe Erwin
    03 July 2012 @ 11:42 am

    So, orgasm, consciousness, happiness, self-satisfaction, and pretty much all behavior and awareness are all spiritual phenomena. That really explains a lot. And Peter Singer and Dale Peterson, and other such authorities on evolutionary biology would be supportive of this concept?

    Would you agree that there are physical and physiological correlates of orgasm? Is it spiritual in women and just physical in men? Now, that WOULD explain a lot…. 

    • Elaine Nelson
      03 July 2012 @ 3:30 pm


      As one of the few females here I will not contribute my two cents to answering that question πŸ˜‰

  57. Stephen Ferguson
    03 July 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    Is Love just an evolutionary mechanism that helps us survive better as a species?  Is charity, goodness and compassion just a lie?  Is consciousness? If so, I might as well have a bottle of Jack Daniels, a line of Cocaine, have a hooker and then go out and shoot myself.  

    • David Langworthy
      03 July 2012 @ 4:24 pm

      you needn't feel insulted if reality is indifferent to you.  It is ego centering to realize ones place in the cosmos.  Being a part if this 3.5+ billion year life process is really cool.  One does not have to incist they are the "crown of creation" in order to see value in themselves, others and the biosphere.  Charity, goodness and compassion are not a lie.  They are fantastic advances for self and social preservation.  The golden rule is a really good way for getting along in the world.  We all could pay closer attention to it.

      "If so, I might as well have a bottle of Jack Daniels, a line of Cocaine, have a hooker and then go out and shoot myself."
      In my opinion, you are setting up a false dicotomy saying something like;  Either I am a specially created son of god, or I am nothing.  This is not true.  Living life is great!  Helping humanity is a wonderful gift to give.  Caring about the world and all the life on it is worth while.  I make ther assertion, not killing yourself is better than your revolver example.  I believe with Dr Jack it would be a sign of mental illness were you to desire to do so and I would urge you to seek help from a medical professional.

      You list alcohol and drugs and prostitutes as ways to trash your life.  And all three can kill you quickly.. or slowly, or not at all.  But they all can be very personally and socially distructive.  I do not recommend any of them.  There are many toxins in the environment.  Many will kill you quickly in tiny amounts.  Toxicology is a fascinating field of study.  A few grams of whisky in your lazyboy before bedtime will probably not harm you.  But have those few grams and go driving?  Bad move.  Cocaine is a wonder-medicine in the hands of Dr Jack, a potent anesthetic and vasoconstrictor.  It is still used today.  Ask someone hemorrhaging from their nose if they would like an anesthetic before you pack it with gauze..  But for you to use it recreationally?.. very dangerous.  you can die the first time from a hypertensive crisis, burst a brain blood vessel, blow out a heart valve… etc.  But you can die quicker out cleaning your rain gutters perfectly sober… or slip in the shower (very common).. or fall from the face of Half Dome… or go into High-Altitude-Pulmonary-Edema/HAPE on a climb up Mt Whitney and not make it down.
      The world is a dangerous place.  Be careful.  Live long and prosper.


  58. David Langworthy
    03 July 2012 @ 4:34 pm

    At one time there was an edit button.  I need it.. or an editor… sorry.

  59. Joe Erwin
    03 July 2012 @ 7:46 pm

    So, let's not go confusing emergent psychological phenomena, such as awareness, or sensory experience, or even orgiastic pleasure, with magic or the spiritual dimension. I'm afraid it might get very confusing, indeed, if adventism got caught up in the enthusiasm of the new age charismatic consciousness movement–there could be some unusual ideas of the magic and meaning of the second coming and other notions. Let's step back a bit.

    Mention has been made of Jack Daniels, as well as Dr. Jack, and I must confess that I was anticipating that someone would soon be referring to "Dr. Jack Daniels." Fortunately, that did not happen. BUT, Dr. David, being an anesthesiologist, has a lot of experience with consciousness and chemistry. He can speak eloquently for himself, but I wonder if he is willing to speak to the issue of consciousness being a spiritual phenomenon, rather than something in the realm of physical reality.

    As I mentioned above, I do not feel comfortable being called a "materialist" because I recognize that some phenomena that emerge from tangible physical reality do not have properties that are measurable as "material." Ideas. Feelings. Imagination. And all like that…. It does not seem to me that those qualify as being in the "spiritual dimension," just because we do not see them as material substance in themselves.

    And "don't go confusing paradise with that house across the road…." 

  60. lance hodges
    06 July 2012 @ 5:58 pm

    Biblical chronology while possibly not perfect still indicates around 6000 years or so for all life on earth.  To understand the fossil record along with this short chronology we need the universal flood catastrophe.  Won't work with a local flood – period.  I have been a geologist for 40 years.  There is as far as I know no biblical evidence how long earth was here before the creation of life.  Remember God existed from eternity!! 

  61. Joe Erwin
    06 July 2012 @ 8:18 pm

    Hmmmm. Don't you find it pretty difficult to fit everything into the 6000 year chronology anyway, regardless of a cataclysmic flood event? It seems to me that it takes a lot more than a great flood to fit all life into 6000 years.

    Remember what Dolly Parton claimed her Daddy had told her "Don't try to put ten pounds of stuff in a five pound sack." [this was on the occasion of her wardrobe malfunction at the Grand Ol' Opry]

    This is more like trying to put more than a billion years of "stuff" in a 6000 year "sack." How does that work?

  62. connieandherson
    07 July 2012 @ 2:12 am

    Jesus died for my freedom to rightly divide the spirits,
    of Jesus who comes as My Creator to recreate Me,
    or Lucifer who comes as our enemy to destroy everything he can about our Creator God.

    It pretty black and white to me…For The Creator, or for the Destroyer, whose name is Lucifer the once arch angel.Lucifer's name is in Revelation 9:11  The Destroyer.

    Seems like a no brainer to me?

    • Joe Erwin
      07 July 2012 @ 11:12 am

      Black and white may well be a "no brainer."

      What are brains for?

      • Stephen Foster
        07 July 2012 @ 2:15 pm

        What a great question this is Joe! Why do we have brains, and what is the mind; and what is its purpose, and from where does it originate?
        Was it a series of fortunate coincidences? Do our brains—our minds—represent the highest form of intelligence in the universe?
        What are the chances of that anyway?

  63. Joe Erwin
    07 July 2012 @ 2:20 pm

    Ad what about the brains of nonhumans? What are they for? How different are they from ours?

    • Jack Hoehn
      10 July 2012 @ 5:18 am

      Joe, Creationists believe in an Intelligent Designer who designs things for functionality.  We have no problem recognizing that design in creatures and do not demand that humans be isolated in form or function from other sucessful creatures.  We do see the obvious differences between the descendents of Adam and Eve and other creatures created and placed on earty before them, but that does not have to deny the obvious similarities.

  64. Elaine Nelson
    07 July 2012 @ 4:22 pm

    The eternal, but unanswered questions: 

    Why am I here? 

    Where did I come from?

    Where am I going?

    They are either "no-brainers" or they have engaged human brains since the beginning of time as we know it.  If answers have been OBJECTIVELY verified, please inform the rest of us. Many have claimed to have all the answers.

    "Philosophy is questions that may never be answered;  religion is answers that may never be questioned."

  65. Stephen Foster
    08 July 2012 @ 1:35 am

    Elaine may have inadvertently answered Joe’s question. Human brains have, “since the beginning of time as we know it,” been engaged in pondering the questions why am I here, where did I come from, and where am I going. This appears certain.
    In this way, among others, human brains differ significantly from the brains of nonhumans.
    Frankly, it is somewhat baffling as to why someone with your background Joe would ask “how different are they from ours?” Clearly human brains are different than other primates’, and other mammals’, and other animals’.
    Human beings have formulated fields of study about themselves and about many other things. Human beings are interested in astronomy and chemistry and sociology and history and philosophy.
    The question isn’t if humans are different. The question is why are humans different?

  66. Joe Erwin
    08 July 2012 @ 10:50 am

    I agree that asking why humans brains differ from nonhuman brains is quite important.
    But, knowing HOW they differ also seems critical. 

  67. Stephen Foster
    08 July 2012 @ 7:37 pm

    I may have totally misunderstood you Joe. I thought you were questioning (or challenging) the proposition that human brains were different.
    I agree that HOW and WHY they are different are both important to know. The why has implications because the contrast of the how is so very stark.
    Of course you would expect me to say this, but in my opinion the HOW is WHAT it likely means to be made in the image of God.

  68. Joe Erwin
    08 July 2012 @ 11:16 pm

    I'm just saying that we must not merely assume that human brains are TOTALLY different from those
    of other animals, especially mammals, even moreso the other primates–and especially the great apes.
    Just how different are these brains, structurally and functionally? Fortunately, there are people who
    study comparative neurobiology, behavior, and cognition. I imagine some would be surprised that
    some of the differences are less stark than they would expect.

    • Stephen Foster
      09 July 2012 @ 7:34 am

      Well I’m sitting here watching 60 Minutes and I see this piece on chess champion Magnus Carlsen and how he can play multiple games simultaneously without seeing any of the boards; and, incredibly, he wins.
      Does someone really have to “study comparative neurobiology, behavior, and cognition” to determine that human brains are TOTALLY DIFFERENT in terms of functional capacity than other animals’ (or mammals’, including primates’)?
      When we consider what the mind of man has the capacity to do, as opposed to the functioning capacity of any other creature—be it great ape or whatever—you must acknowledge a stark differentiation. This is why I have stated that education is (waaay) overrated.
      You should expect me to say this: God can communicate to the human mind. The human mind can communicate to God. It is in fact the highest and ultimate use/purpose of the God-invented human mind.
      The physiognomy of the organ is deceiving. It is capable of so much more than its appearance would seem to indicate.

  69. Elaine Nelson
    08 July 2012 @ 11:23 pm

    Can there be little difference in the physiological anatomy of the brain but great differences in its function?  How is "brain" and "mind" defined? 


    Does a neurologist study and treat the brain, while psychiatrists study and treat mental conditions?  Yes, they are often very closely related, butare there  specific differences?

  70. Rudy Good
    09 July 2012 @ 10:15 am

    The complexity of the human brain is amazing as many have noted in various ways. There are probably some who do not take the idea of sin very seriously. But, the human brain obviously has the capacity to contemplate moral choices. It is hard to deny this reality and we do not hesitate to pass some kind of judgment on the right or wrongness of human behavior. We do that in large part because we believe that people have the choice between right and wrong.

    Ironically, Christianity which does take sin and right and wrong sseriously, describes God as one who forgives. The Bible never discussed the brain, but it is obviously concerned with the mind. Paul makes the renewing of the mind an important goal of the Christian way.

    Christianity by implication recognizes the complexity and also the brokenness of human brains. We need to apply this insight to our spirtitual experiences and fellowship, the church. People's brains are broken in many ways due to the evil experiences of this world. God obviously has not chosen to remove all the effects of evil on our brains, sin, in an instaneous renewing. Since we have the power to choose we demonstrate our desire for this experience and we begin the process by following Christ. He will finish the work of renewal.

  71. Joe Erwin
    09 July 2012 @ 11:34 am

    Humans, of course, are not the only animals with the ability to evaluate situations and choose among alternatives. We may be the only ones who sometimes see incorrect choices as "sin." Although
    we often attribute feelings of guilt or shame to dogs who have done some forbidden act.

    So, Elaine, we can define, examine, and evaluate brains–the physical structures–and we can
    even do functional imaging of the brain. We can chemically characterize brains and influence
    their functioning–even to the point of temporarily eliminating awareness/consciousness (which
    seems to be what is mostly meant by "mind"). But "the mind" is neither well defined, well
    characterized, nor well understood–at least not well enough that many experts can agree on
    what it is–or, indeed, whether it is a uniquely human characteristic.

    As for the Bible, it seems that innermost feelings and awareness were often ascribed to "the heart,"
    rather than the brain or mind, and yet, a distinction was sometimes made between the mind and
    the heart. And what is meant the "soul" must also be considered. As adventists we learned a
    different definition of soul than the usage that is common. Some of this unclarity can be attributed
    to the lack of sophisticated knowledge of neuroscience back in Bible days, but neuroscience has
    certainly had some challenges in trying to understand the structural and functional correlates of
    consciousness and awareness, despite the availability of quite sophisticated instruments and

    For me, explaining the "mind" as a "a miricle" is insufficiently satisfying, as, I expect, is the case with
    most psychiatrists, neurologists, neuropathologists, neuroscientists, anthropologists, and psychologists. 

    • Rudy Good
      09 July 2012 @ 7:17 pm

      There is no doubt that dogs exhibit something that appears to be shame, but IMO opinion they are only reacting to an awareness that someone is not pleased with them. They do appear to anticipate this if they have been scolded in the past. Human beings are probably capable of this same simplistic reaction as well. But, people also contemplate right and wrong. If you observe human beings they appear to reference something that can only be defined as an objective standard of right and wrong, often articulated of what is fair or unfair.

  72. Stephen Foster
    09 July 2012 @ 3:10 pm

    “For me, explaining the ‘mind’ as a ‘a miracle’ is insufficiently satisfying, as, I expect, is the case with
    most psychiatrists, neurologists, neuropathologists, neuroscientists, anthropologists, and psychologists
    This is interesting Joe, I have found that most medical and scientific professionals that I know seem to conclude that the more they study about things, the more that they discover what they do not know.
    It is gratifying that despite the personally unsatisfying concept of “miracle,” you acknowledge that neuroscience “has certainly had some challenges in trying to understand the structural and functional correlates of consciousness and awareness, despite the availability of quite sophisticated instruments and methods.”
    The Bible references the mind numerous times in terms of memory and thinking patterns. It is, in fact, a recurring theme.
    Even if, and it certainly appears to be a big if, the mind is not a uniquely human characteristic, the human mind is infinitely  superior to that of any other life form that science acknowledges.
    Dogs may appear to express shame or regret in deference to a higher intelligent life form (man) who has ‘trained’ it as to what is forbidden (or not). To Rudy’s point about moral contemplation and choices, humans are taught by equally intelligent life forms about that which is forbidden; but from where did humans get morality?
    Our brains can indeed be intricately studied. It is our minds that defy explanation; but we certainly know that they exist. This is, of course, just like God.   

  73. Elaine Nelson
    09 July 2012 @ 7:05 pm

    It is true of most subjects:  the more deeply we study, the realization of the less that we do know.  This is seen in those who have little knowledge of a subject who often talk more about it.

    Where did humans get morals?  Could it be that when there were only two, there was little need of morals?  Morals implies interaction with another human.  Can a hermit be moral?   As humans increased and began living close  to  one another, there was a need for a common understanding of how to best accomplish that without bloodshed–although there was plenty of that.  Over time, killings accomplished little  as the hatreds are still there and often more fierce (see Hatfields and McCoys).  Perhaps an unwritten bargain not to invade others' territory (even the primates do this), and to exchange food and  necessities by trade was a far more practical approach in developing a common moral code.  Today, those are all incorporated into laws,  but the earliest such laws were  Hammarubi's Code, followed by Moses' Law. 

    Forbidding certain acts produce moral behavior, but observance of laws is only  outward, not inner morality which must derive from self.  One cannot demand love or worship but only the rituals intended to demonstrate those.

  74. Ed Dickerson
    10 July 2012 @ 1:18 am

    “In our world," said Eustace, "a star is a huge ball of flaming gas."
    "Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is, but only what it is made of.”
    –C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

  75. Joe Erwin
    10 July 2012 @ 1:29 am

    So, for those who think the human brain (and mental phenomena associated with it) are superior
    in every way in humans as compared with all other life forms, are you aware of "Ai" chimpanzee
    in Japan or "Kanzi" bonobo, now in Iowa? You can find out about them just by googling their

    • Stephen Foster
      10 July 2012 @ 5:15 am

      Human brains are clearly superior; but you have now thrown in the poison pill “in every way.” (I’d prefer to stick with vastly superior and totally different in terms of functional capacity.) That certain primates are apparently much more intelligent than most realize is not news. There are even spiders which appear to be better at engineering than the average human being; but we can study them and discover how and why they do what they do.
      The point is that we can reason, contemplate moral considerations, rationalize, contextualize, compartmentalize, etc.
      Is this really a matter of debate?
      Why (and how) are humans so different?

    • Jack Hoehn
      10 July 2012 @ 5:22 am

      ( Sorry, I posted this higher up, but it belongs here.)  Joe, Creationists believe in an Intelligent Designer who designs things for functionality.  We have no problem recognizing that design in creatures and do not demand that humans be isolated in form or function from other sucessful creatures.  We do see the obvious differences between the descendents of Adam and Eve and other creatures created and placed on earth before them, but that does not have to deny the obvious similarities.

      • Stephen Foster
        10 July 2012 @ 4:05 pm

        I posted this below, but I meant to post it here. Now that’s ironic.

        Well, here’s a big difference between the creationists who are evolutionists and those who aren’t. Those of us who aren’t do “demand that humans be isolated in form and function from other successful [whatever “successful” means?] creatures;” make no mistake about that.
        Actually, we don’t demand it; evidence does. (Here is where I agree with Kevin.)
        That man is so much more intelligent than everything else on earth is evidence.

  76. Joe Erwin
    10 July 2012 @ 1:08 pm

    Well said, Jack. "We…do not demand that humans be isolated in form and function from other successful creatures." It certainly is possible to believe that the fundamental similarities of brains across species reflect a platform invented by one Designer. It is one explanation for the fact that nonhuman ape brains resemble human brains anatomically and functionally much more than either one resembles any other kind of brain, but it is not the ONLY plausible explanation….

    • Kevin Riley
      10 July 2012 @ 1:26 pm

      Is that not one of the problems in this debate: that there is often more than one plausible explanation for the data, and each side chooses the option that fits in with their belief system?  Few are then willing to admit that the other option/s is/are also valid, as that undermines the argument that their option is, if not the only option, certainly the best option.

      • Stephen Foster
        10 July 2012 @ 3:58 pm

        Well, here’s a big difference between the creationists who are evolutionists and those who aren’t. Those of us who aren’t do “demand that humans be isolated in form and function from other successful [whatever “successful” means?] creatures;” make no mistake about that.
        Actually, we don’t demand it; evidence does. (Here is where I agree with Kevin.)
        That man is so much more intelligent than everything else on earth is evidence.

  77. Darrel Lindensmith
    10 July 2012 @ 1:15 pm

    Hello All, I have been traveling on speaking tour, have missed the discussion–interesting topic.  For those considering the Mind/Brain as simply developed by blind forces through mutation and seclection helping survival, I am wondering what survival value is there in advanced math, music and quantum equations?   As many researchers have pointed out, the human brain is "over-developed" for purposes of survival.  Or maybe this also was the "Accumulation Of Luck," as Dawkins so famiously asserts.

  78. Elaine Nelson
    10 July 2012 @ 3:51 pm

    Probably none, if survival value is all that is desired.  "Survival" depend on the conditions where one lives.  In the Amazon jungles there may be no need for such information but they have survival skills that most moderns do not, nor woud be able to survive if put in such surroundings.

    Where a child is born demands for different skills may be valued and if valued by the community, they will be taught, or access will be given.  There is so much more to life than merely surviving and these advanced skills greatly enhance enjoyment of life while we are here.

  79. Darrel Lindensmith
    10 July 2012 @ 4:47 pm

    Elaine, I agree with you mostly, but your answer about 'survival' shows you do not understand evolution.   Survival is ALL the matters, nothing else.

  80. Joe Erwin
    10 July 2012 @ 5:17 pm

    More knowledge by assertion. More unwillingness to look at actual evidence. The pattern continues.

    Darrel, if I misunderstood evolution as you do, I would probably reject and ridicule it too.

    There are none so blind as those who absolutely refuse to see.

  81. Darrel Lindensmith
    10 July 2012 @ 5:24 pm

    That the problem exactly, where is the evidence for the brain being lucky accident????
    The principle in natural selection, is that an attribute's utility should be the chief determining factor– abstract reasoning, mathematical ability, artistic and musical abilities have no role in survival.
    Jerry Coyne admits the above and gives this ridiculously weak explanation:
    “And once we have a complex brain, capable of learning, speaking, and working out strategies to hunt and to live in small social groups, it becomes capable of doing things beyond what it evolved for. In other words, chess, math, and building spacecraft are what Steve Gould called ‘exaptations:’ those features that can be used in a beneficial way but evolved for other reasons. Once the brain crossed a certain threshold of complexity, these things became possible, but those abilities are epiphenomena.”
    Not only does he assume what we are trying to expain to ‘expain’ it,  then further step in it by stating that the very things that make us human are “epiphenomena.” 
    This is the idiotic reasoning that students are taught as ‘science;’ It’s a disgrace!

  82. Joe Erwin
    10 July 2012 @ 6:39 pm

    Emergent phenomena are found throughout living systems. They are fundamental to moving into new ecological niches. It is astonishing that "minds" can remain closed to such concepts. It really is just stubborn refusal to consider possibilities. You are so hung up on quoting scripture that you treat all writing as if it pretended to be authoritarian scripture. Loosen up a little and enjoy life and learning. Perhaps not all brains develop emergent capabilities, such as being able to change. 

  83. Joe Erwin
    10 July 2012 @ 7:30 pm

    Sorry, I should not have limited emergent phenomena to LIVING systems–they occur throughout all sorts of systems. The critical characteristic is complexity. Phenomena that are "more than the sum of their parts" emerge with increasing levels of complexity. In living systems, it is the emergent phenomena that offer opportunities for positive selection. Emergent phenomena that have functional advantages enable adaptation. If you do not understand this, it is not the concept that is weak. 

  84. Stephen Foster
    10 July 2012 @ 9:16 pm

    Now it appears that it might be you, Joe, who needs to lighten up. You certainly have no need to engage in any ad hominem drive by shooting. There’s no need to attack brain development. Darrel was attacking 'scientific' reasoning; not you. (I mean “epiphenomena,” you gotta be kidding?)
    It is also somewhat apparent that you are not exactly willing to acknowledge any possible implications from the weaknesses of certain 'scientific' attempts to explain away the unique abilities and complexities of the human mind.
    I’m not saying that these weak explanations are dispositive, well…maybe in fact I am.

  85. Joe Erwin
    10 July 2012 @ 9:31 pm

    I apologize to you all for being intolerant of what I know from my own experience in adventism are deeply held positions of faith. I'm afraid that I get exasperated with the tenacity with which some views are held. Why would I expect faithful long-time adventists to have any understanding of evolution? They have lived for so long within a system that ignores and ridicules modern biology that they cannot even begin to consider any concepts that do not fit into the rigid mental matrix of SDA dogma.

    Yes, I agree Stephen. I do need to lighten up. And I really do need, once and for all, to just let go of this community. I'm allowing myself to be irritated unnecessarily, and that is not good for any of us. For those who are, however, the least bit curious, do some reading on emergent phenomena. If you allow yourself to do this, you just might find that I was not making this up. Emergent phenomena are fundamental to understanding systems biology and complexity and functional adaptation. 

  86. Tim
    10 July 2012 @ 11:42 pm

    A caveat before I make a few jumbled comments:

    Please don't take my comments personally.  We as individuals are, as far as I'm concerned, extraneous to the conversation at hand.  I don't know any of you beyond your names here and, to be frank, I don't much care to — we're discussing ideas, not each other.  That said, if I see weak thinking or bad ideas, I'll attack them emphatically and unapologetically, and I'd hope the reciprocal would be true as well.  Attacking weak thinking does not automagically equal ad hominem — at least, not the fallacious sort.  Sometimes it's warranted.  If somebody doesn't like that, then either refrain from posting or don't engage in weak thinking.  I don't believe in 'respecting' bad ideas simply to keep from hurting somebody's feelings, and I have absolutely no intention whatsoever, here or anywhere else, of ever doing that.  The very thought is repulsive to me.

    Darrel, based on what you're posting here, it seems that you've got a deep misunderstanding what natural selection is and how it works.  You're communicating an almost visceral response to the idea of epiphenomenalism and emergent phenomena, which I find bizarre (and revealing) — this should not happen if you properly understand how evolution by natural selection is thought to occur.

    Joe hit the nail on the head in each of his posts, insofar as I'm able to discern such a thing, as he's massively more educated than I am (I realize education and expertise don't tend to be well-respected these days, but they still hold a lot of water with me — call me crazy), although I'd never apologize for being intolerant with respect to bad thinking.  If an adult believes in the tooth fairy, are we supposed to be 'tolerant' of his 'belief?'.  C'mon.

    At the end of the day, what differentiates us as humans from the rest of the animal kingdom is largely our self-awareness, our executive consciousness, and all the wonderful benefits — emergent phenomena — that come with it.  Beyond that, we are not special with respect to all other life.  Animals have demonstrable sensory memory, working memory (which correlates strongly and positively with cortical mass) and long-term memory, just like we do.  They're capable of learning, and in many cases, capable of using tools.  Complex vertibates have amigdalae just like we do, which are integral to emotions.  Animals have, just like we do, robust spatial memories — and the greater the size of the animal's territory, the larger the brain structures responsible for spatial processing.  Animals are capable of producing and processing complex communications.  The list goes on and on.  The advanced capabilities of the human mind — "advanced math, music and quantum equations," to use your seemingly random examples — have absolutely nothing to do with anything.  There are no brain structures expressly responsible for advanced math, or music, or quantum equations.  The capacity to recognize, appreciate and engage in the processing of these things is an emergent result of our executive consciousness and existing cortical functionality.  We have the luxury of having extremely large brains, and as science has demonstrated, size matters.  Beyond that, and beyond the 'gift' of an executive consciousness, sorry — humanity's "unique" abilities mostly aren't, and much of our complexitiy is not unique.

    I'm not sure why I keep seeing posts in which the word scientific is being used in quotations.  This is not wild conjecture, nor is it at all, in any way, shape, or form, comparable to the faith-based explanations for their occurrance which suppose that humanity was hand-crafted to be superior by a magic, invisible space giant.  These are theories based on observable reality.  The word scientific does not require quotes when what you're discussing is, in fact, scientific, and in this case, it is.  This is not my opinion — this is not me arguing in favor of astrology vs. phrenology, or why I like the color green more than blue, or why I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate.  This is not "science" in quotes, and it is not mindless faith or philosophical postulating.

    Where the religious find alarm and dismay at the notion that humans are merely advanced animals, I find elegance, beauty and a deep feeling of connectedness.  Our responsibilities to love and care for the world around us come not from divine command or the moral prescriptions of an old book, but from the fact that we are in executive positions in an enormous living family, the self-awareness of life itself.

  87. Kevin Riley
    11 July 2012 @ 12:00 am

    Sometimes I wonder if what many people fear is really complexity?  When the world appears to be simple, it also appears that you both understsand and have some control over it.  When things get really complex – as most things do if you start looking closely – both your level of understanding and your illusion of control suffers.  I have come to the conclusion over the last few years that the majority of Christians are functional atheists because truly committed theists realise that mostly 'control' is an illusion.  It is perhaps ironic that the theist and the atheist both come to the conclusion that the universe is largely beyond our understanding and our lives are shaped by forces which we neither fully understand nor have control of.  That doesn't sit well with people who believe what they know puts them in a position of power, and who believe they are (to some extent) responsible for seeing that 'everything is done decently and in order'.

    • William Noel
      11 July 2012 @ 4:24 pm


      Great point about fear of complexity!  Learning that I could neither fully understand or control even a small portion of the world around me was at first a horribly defeating realization, then ultimately liberating becuase it meant I was under no requirement to understand or control.  Rather, my duty was to be controlled by the Holy Spirit so I could be focused on what He wanted me to do. 

  88. Stephen Foster
    11 July 2012 @ 12:09 am

    There is no need to disengage Joe. You have added immense value to these conversations. But tolerance should also extend to those who think that dismissing the God factor is every bit as nonsensical as many—who may not believe there is a God—think that including it is.
    Timo, we have recently been discussing the human mind in terms of it being evidence of special creative design, likely in its Maker’s image. Trying to get believers to be personally open to disbelief because you think it is natural, or tempting, or tolerant, or Christ-like (to doubt), is curious.
    What’s even more curious is any intellectual equating of belief—or any challenging of the premises of disbelief—to sin.
    If you review these posts you may observe that intolerance went in one direction. Dare recommend an attempt at objectivity?

    • Tim
      11 July 2012 @ 12:19 am

      But tolerance should also extend to those who think that dismissing the God factor is every bit as nonsensical as many—who may not believe there is a God—think that including it is.

      Stephen, I couldn't disagree more strongly.  It's easy to see why if we use something comparable but different in the place of God for which there is also no evidence.  Say, witchcraft, for example (black magic).

      If you're arguing with somebody over what caused the tsunami in Japan and he/she claims that all the evidence points to witchcraft, are you telling me you're going to be tolerant of that position?  There is no "God-factor" beyond what people wish to believe, just as there is no witchcraft beyond that which [ignorant] people see and attribute falsely to witchcraft.  There is zero evidence of either.  Zero.  Why are we supposed to be tolerant of bad ideas and weak thinking?  Just so we don't hurt each others' feelings?  Should we never tell our children that Santa doesn't actually exist because doing so may hurt their feelings?  Should we be tolerant of their invisible playmates even as they grow into adults?

  89. Darrel Lindensmith
    11 July 2012 @ 12:28 am

    Everyone,  I feel Joe's comments totally fine.  I did not feel you were out-of-line at all.  I hope my comments are not felt to be directed at anyone.  They are not.   I became a Adventist somewhat late in life.  For many years I was a theisticevolutionist.  My views began to change dramatically while I was in a Biology Program at a State University.  This was before I became an Adventist.  I certainly understand Joe some of your experiences with narrow minded people in your unbringing.  For myself, my views on Intelligent Design have nothing to do with my Adventism.  EGW's oppinions do not contribute anything to my views on creation.   My views on Intelligent Design that I share here and elsewhere are completely derived from logic, lab research and scientific liturature.  This is why I quote the liturature.  It was the study of Biology that brought me to these opinions.   I respect you all, and I think we all contribute to an important discussion.

  90. Darrel Lindensmith
    11 July 2012 @ 1:00 am

    Tim, I know I understand Natural Selection very well.   Survival value is center to the concept, you should know this.  Darwin's original view was not dissimilar to lamark and then the New Sythesis focused on the supposed role of mutations in creating new code that would produce new functions and organs.   This theory is clearly a dead end.  Then we had Gould's PE theory, also dead.  "Emergent phenomena" is not offering a new mechanism.   Is it understood to be a replacement for "mutations?"

    Please someone, flesh it out for us>

    • Tim
      11 July 2012 @ 1:40 am

      Tim, I know I understand Natural Selection very well.   Survival value is center to the concept, you should know this.

      No, that's not center to the concept, so perhaps you don't know it as well as you're assuming.  Center to the concept is variations in the likelihood that the organism will successfully reproduce and nothing more.  While survival and likelihood of reproduction are often correlated, this is not always the case.  Look at the Birds of Paradise as an example, or other animals with exaggerated traits (like a male peacock's tail, for instance) — in some cases, traits that increase the likelihood of reproduction can in fact be detrimental to that organism's survival.

      If you're thinking of natural selection in terms of survival — a common misconception, to be sure — then you are not understanding natural selection correctly.

  91. Joe Erwin
    11 July 2012 @ 1:30 am

    "This theory is clearly dead end." Are you serious?

    Maybe have a look at Mailen Kootsey's explaination of science on Spectrum.

    Just read the literature and decide for yourself. 

  92. Stephen Foster
    11 July 2012 @ 7:02 am

    This is where I get in trouble with Timo (the Tolerant); but you may ironically find some appreciation for this.
    I respect your right to disbelieve and I respect your forthrightness in so doing. That’s because I’m attempting to be tolerant toward that which I believe is foolishness.
    You have, of course, asked a good question as to why should we actually “be tolerant of bad ideas and weak thinking.” Perhaps it is reasonable to suggest that we should only do so if we wish to communicate in a civil manner to those whose ideas we consider bad and whose thinking we consider weak.
    Now you certainly have demonstrated a willingness to communicate with others on this site. The civil part is up for debate.
    But don’t get me wrong, you obviously may communicate in any manner that suits you. It would however be interesting to witness certain reaction if ‘believers’ communicated identically.

    • Stephen Foster
      11 July 2012 @ 7:54 am

      I think that you believe, as I do, that Christ effectively bore the weight of the sin of the world during His passion and/or crucifixion. Romans 5:8-11 indicates that we all received atonement through Christ’s death; and Romans 8:32 says that God “delivered Him up for us all.”
      My understanding is that Jesus felt separated from His Father at this particular time simply because sin separates us from God. How much must He have felt this separation if He then represented our sin?
      We are not asked to do this. His doubt only resulted from our sinfulness. Our doubt only results from our sinfulness. (This is especially true in my case.)

  93. Darrel Lindensmith
    11 July 2012 @ 1:42 pm

    Tim, may I point out that "successfully reproduce" is survival value.    Joe, you are right NS has been observed for 1000's of years.  I am just saying that the idea of NS wedded with mutations as being the engine of new organs and new organisms has been falsified.  That's all.  Dr. Kootsey's article is very good but the fact remains that mutations are a dead end.  I would view, or it could be viewed that "emergence," is possible.   We have evidence of genetic code for limb development and eye development in Sea Urchins for example.  Sea Urchins do not have either of these, but there is code for both, latent in their genome.  This could be viewed as an emergent property–The Creator in this case would have "front-loaded" life with computor code that would become emergent through epigenetic environmental needs or internally timed emergence.

    • Tim
      11 July 2012 @ 5:50 pm

      Tim, may I point out that "successfully reproduce" is survival value.

      Those terms are not synonymous; the latter is more broad.  I don't want to get into a semantic argument here, but small errors in our premises can lead to big errors in our thinking.

  94. Joe Erwin
    11 July 2012 @ 3:50 pm

    Darrel, with all due respect, it simply is not true that morphological change based on genetic variation and selection has been falsified. It has not been falsified. Of course, detailed knowledge continues to progress and understanding of these processes are continually improving. In fact, far more is now known about how genetic change occurs than was known 10-15 years ago. There are many things, including ideas about evolution that have been falsified and required revision. But, the point is, to REVISE AS THE EVIDENCE INDICATES, not to reject everything about evolution because someone suggested some ideas about how evolution occurred that turned out to be incorrect. That is what the scientific process is for. To try out and test and refine ideas.

  95. Elaine Nelson
    11 July 2012 @ 4:16 pm

    Check the online Adventist Review for Mark Kellner's column on this.  It is symptomatic of what drivel that Adventists are being "taught" by their official news mag. 

    • Elaine Nelson
      11 July 2012 @ 4:23 pm

      Correction:  The writer is Lael Caesar.  The Article is titled "Knowing."

  96. Darrel Lindensmith
    12 July 2012 @ 3:00 pm

    Here is some research I looking ofr in my files: The International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics aims to “relate ecosystems to evolutionary thermodynamics in order to arrive at satisfactory solutions for sustainable development."
    The journal includes scientists and engineers from over 15 nations at over 40 institutions including MIT, Duke University, Tokyo University, University of Exeter, University of Bologna, University of Koln, and Georgia Tech.
    I have been looking for Andy McIntosh’s paper "Information and Entropy – Top-Down or Bottom-Up Development in Living Systems," and finally found it.  He is Professor of Thermodynamics and Combustion Theory at the University of Leeds.  This paper came out in 2009:
    He says, “The ultimate question in origins must be: Can information increase in a purely materialistic or naturalistic way?  It is not satisfactory to simply assume that information has to have arisen in this way. The alternative of original design must be allowed and all options examined carefully.”

    He argues that “such machines in order to operate require information in the form of computer-like code.”    In McIntosh's view, the only way to make sense of molecular machines is to understand that the information that drives them is non-material and constrains the thermodynamics of matter and energy to create code–this information must arise in a "top-down" fashion, thus requiring the input of intelligence:
    “”There is a perfectly consistent view which is a top-down approach where biological information already present in the phenotypic creature (and not emergent  as claimed in the traditional bottom-up approach) constrains the system of matter and energy constituting the living entity to follow intricate non-equilibrium chemical pathways. These pathways whilst obeying all the laws of thermodynamics are constantly supporting the coded software which is present within … Without the addition of outside intelligence, raw matter and energy will not produce auto-organization and machinery. This latter assertion is actually repeatedly borne out by experimental observation — new machinery requires intelligence. And intelligence in biological systems is from the non-material instructions of DNA.

    Another paper by McIntosh appeared in this journal, titled "Evidence of design in bird feathers and avian respiration," this paper, McIntosh argues that two systems vital to bird flight — feathers and the bird respiratory system — exhibit "irreducible complexity”
    “Functional systems, in order to operate as working machines, must have all the required parts in place in order to be effective. If one part is missing, then the whole system is useless. The inference of design is the most natural step when presented with evidence such as in this paper, that is evidence concerning avian feathers and respiration.
    Regarding the structure of feathers, he argues that they require many features to be present in order to properly function and allow flight, including barbs, barbules, hooks, and catches.
    Regarding the avian respiratory system, McIntosh contends that a functional transition from a purported reptilian respiratory system to the avian design would lead to non-functional intermediate stages. He argues that "even if one does take the fossil evidence as the record of development, the evidence is in fact much more consistent with an ab initio design position — that the breathing mechanism of birds is in fact the product of intelligent design."
    I quote this Professor and his research to show brilliant and educated people do see clearly the science of design.

    • Tim
      13 July 2012 @ 2:31 pm


      The hilariously-named "International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics has zero academic or scientific stature and is a publication of the Wessex Institute of Technology, which isn't so much a respected university as it is something along the lines of University of Phoenix after a fistful of crazy pills.  The individual you cite — McIntosh — who wrote the paper that you claim means something is on the editorial board of the "journal"'s parent organization.  It is not a peer-reviewed scientific journal, unless you want to claim that a bunch of near-clinically retarded YEC'ers signing off on one anothers' bizarre, completely debunked nonsense constitutes "peer review."

      That aside, McIntosh is apparently unaware — like you — that irreducible complexity as an argument for creation has been shot down and hacked to death with these neat little things called logic and reason over and over and over and over again.  It's cute to see people cling to the notion, though, having apparently nowhere else to turn.  It's a bit like a child clinging to his or her favorite blankie for comfort.  It might do you some good to know that McIntosh is not taken seriously by anybody but his small fringe cohort of YEC types, none of whom are taken seriously by the rest of the scientific and academic communities either.

      I'd be insulted at this point, Darrel, by your continued cherry-picking of awesomely terrible sources, which so far have fallen like dominos in terms of credibility to the most casual of google searches.  Thankfully, I'm pretty certain at this point that you just don't know any better.

      I see Joe's post below in which he's chosen the diplomatic route.  That's kind of him.  I can't do it.  The desperation so readily apparent in posts like the one above is just too pitiable.

  97. Darrel Lindensmith
    12 July 2012 @ 3:31 pm

    Dr. Lynn Margulis is a biologist and University Professor in Geosciences at the Univeristy of Massachusetts Amherst.
    In her 2011 Discover magazine interview, she makes a statement that my above post proves untrue, that is that “All scientists agree that evolution has occurred.”   But more helpful to our discussion here is what she admits about NS.   She explains that “natural selection eliminates and maybe maintains, but it doesn’t create.”  She at “one time believed the textbook orthodoxy that random mutations lead to evolutionary change and new species,”  “until I looked for evidence,” and that “There is no gradualism in the fossil record.”

  98. Joe Erwin
    13 July 2012 @ 11:54 am

    Surely there is abundant evidence that people who are brilliant in some ways are not so much in others. And yet, people selectively pick and choose quotations that support what they already believe. It is an authoritarian game. "My authority is better than your authority," or "your authority is not so smart," or, "here let me choose your authority for you." Scientists assert all sorts of things. You don't have to believe them.

    "All scientists agree that evolution has occurred." Of course, most of us have been warned against using "all" or "none" or "always" and "never." You are correct in identifying that as an incorrect statement. The use of "most" or "nearly all" would have made her point quite well. One should also be skeptical of her statement that "There is no gradualism in the fossil record." We don't really know what she meant by that, but I'm guessing that she probably did not mean it the way many people who quote her claim. Why would we expect her to be more reliable in this assertion than in the "All scientists agree…" quote? Beginning any assertion in that way should raise red flags.

    I think the distinction between "top down" versus "bottom up" design is a fair characterization. What exists often does have regularity and consistency that enables function, often, very refined and effective function. So, how did it get that way? A complicated process of evolution is one way. Or an amazingly gifted and powerful Designer and Fabricator planned and did it all. One explanation is very complex. The other is very simple but requires almost incredible knowledge and power–certainly far beyond anything else in our experience. One explanation insists on trying to understand how things came to be as they are. The other just gives up on that and insists on an easy answer, "God did it, and nothing else matters."

    So, there you go. I'm a "bottom up" guy, and you, Darrel, are a "top down" guy. So be it. That doesn't mean we can't respect each other or even be friends. You are entitled to hold the view you do. I cannot honestly accept what I understand to be your view.



    • Stephen Foster
      13 July 2012 @ 3:45 pm

      To be fair Joe, which to your credit is what you are trying to be, I’d think that theistic evolutionists would say that you offer a false choice.
      “So, how did it get that way?” I would imagine that they would answer that they are seeking to discover how God designed the evolutionary process to work.
      Of course, they can speak for themselves.
      (You make an excellent observation/point, by the way, regarding how people use scientific authorities.)

      • Joe Erwin
        14 July 2012 @ 12:09 am

        Stephen, I imagine theistic evolutionists credit God with setting up replicating molecules and letting them evolve from there, but there are probably many brands of theistic evolution–some claiming more divine intervention and some less. And, yes, in trying to understand the evolutionary process, some would claim to be discovering how the process was created.

        Yes, it seems to me that there are very authoritarian ways of dealing with knowledge. I think it is a fact that smart people sometimes say stupid things. And people who are not especially well-educated sometimes say very profound things. We all tend to pick what we like and agree with. How much faith or belief we place in statements made by others varies. I seldom find anything I agree entirely with, and I don't feel all that comfortable getting so attached to any information that I won't be able to discard it tomorrow for something better.

  99. Joe Erwin
    13 July 2012 @ 3:45 pm

    To be quite candid, though, you should all know that I agree with Tim.

  100. Darrel Lindensmith
    13 July 2012 @ 4:07 pm

    About authorities

    Dr. Lynn Margulis is a biologist and University Professor in Geosciences at the Univeristy of Massachusetts Amherst in her 2011 Discover magazine piece is because she is on the materialist side.
     You are right when you say my choice of experts is selective at times, but selective in attempt to offer a 'contol' for abjectivity.  I could quote Conway Morris who is almost the authority on the cambrian Explosion and that fossil evidence,  but he is a Design Theorist, so I am attempting to use some researchers that basically agree with the materialist worldview and illustrate that inspite of some researchers predilictions, the facts speak thus and thus.  

    I believe that inspite of her beliefs, her research tells her that “natural selection eliminates and maybe maintains, but it doesn’t create.” She at “one time believed the textbook orthodoxy that random mutations lead to evolutionary change and new species,” “until I looked for evidence,”  

    Yes, I am being selective, but for objectivities sake.

  101. Joe Erwin
    13 July 2012 @ 8:17 pm

    Maybe "abjectivity" is correct….

    • Tim
      13 July 2012 @ 8:58 pm

      Had *exactly* the same thought.  πŸ™‚

  102. Joe Erwin
    14 July 2012 @ 1:54 pm

    We've been weeded out, I guess, Tim, Chris, DL, et al.

  103. Joe Erwin
    14 July 2012 @ 4:35 pm

    And you, friend Timo, are also welcome at my table any time. If we are both so fortunate as to have
    either lentils, venison, or both, it will be a fine day. We will also have home garden grown turnip
    greens or Swiss chard, crook-neck squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers. And if you are so inclined,
    feel free to have a glass of the nice Barossa Valley Shiraz I brought home yesterday. And, yes, the
    weeds sometimes escape from the garden and thrive in the vinyard.

  104. Elaine Nelson
    14 July 2012 @ 6:50 pm

    Yummy, am I also invited to feast on your homegrown veggies?

  105. Joe Erwin
    14 July 2012 @ 7:31 pm

    Absolutely, Elaine. And my sweet dog Katie will also throw in a kiss!

  106. Ella M
    15 July 2012 @ 2:29 am

      The same arguments on the same issues and the same answers do get a little old.

  107. Joe Erwin
    15 July 2012 @ 11:47 am

    Darrel, back to the Margulis quotation (sorry, Ella, just one more time). I do not have the context in front of me, but the assertion that natural selection "does not create" certainly is correct. It only selects from what already exists by deleting what doesn't work or favoring what works well (essentially, by eliminating the less functional alternatives to what does work). In order for selection to occur there must be variation. As I have said many times elsewhere, I think variation has causes, many or most of which are not just "random." Replicating molecules have some physical features that are more vulnerable to replication errors than others. Some genetic loci have more alleles than others and are less stable. Can we predict whether a specific replication error will be retained or culled out? Often not. In a mathematical modeling sense, we might insert "random" for unknown causation or for unknown outcome, but that is not the same as claiming the that everything is just totally a "crap shoot" chance roll of the dice. And now that we know that there are larger strings of dna that get inserted, deleted, and translocated throughout the entire genome, that there are mobile elements, and that added variation in phenotypic function occurs epigenetically, it is clear that there are many, many sources of variation on which selection can act–far more variation than any of us knew about 30 or 40 years ago. I don't know whether Lynn Margulis went on to say any of that…    

  108. Joe Erwin
    15 July 2012 @ 6:54 pm

    In the late 1960s I felt that the usual explanations regarding "random mutations" were not adequate to account for the amount of variation essential for selection to have resulted in adaptation as rapid as the fossil record indicated had occurred. Kuo Zing-yang (Dynamics of Behavioral Development: An Epigenetic View) and others, seem to have had similar concerns, and Lynn Margulis expressed those concerns at around that time, proposing some other mechanisms for the emergence of greater complexity and variability. Although discounted at the time, some of her ideas were borne out by later evidence. Certainly the lateral incorporation of dna across genomes, which she suggested, turned out to be true.

    Ella, let's talk. What interests you most? 

  109. Joe Erwin
    16 July 2012 @ 12:30 pm

    Ella, please start us on a new issue. I'll try to bring new content to address it. It is always good seeing you here.