How Not to Argue Against Evolution


You may not have spent enough time in the SDA church then if you think that’s the case:

Most of Adventist doctrine, be it “unofficial popular Adventist opinion” includes life on the other planets, and claims that the “specials status” of this one is that it serves as an example of the consequences of sin for the rest of the Universe… which is really what “Great Controversy” is thought to be about - a cosmic “experiment” allowed by God to demonstrate effects of sin to the rest of the life in the Universe out there.

I’m not saying that all Adventists believe that, and it’s not explicitly stated in any official doctrinal statements, but you will find the idea quite frequently in Adventist theology.

So no, Adventists are maybe one of the few denominations who don’t believe that Earth is the only planet with biological life on it.


Well, the SDA Church I grew up in definitely claimed the Earth was the only place with sin and death on it. If we find evidence of life evolving on other planets how does that fit the narrative?


Here is a nice summary of the link you provided:

“But while the Bible seems to support the notion that there is life on other worlds, we should be careful to remember that the devil and his angels can easily create illusions to deceive us (2 Corinthians 11:14). Remember that un-fallen worlds are probably restricted from mingling with our sin-diseased planet. That’s why most UFO sightings are likely mere optical illusions or dangerous satanic deceptions. No, E.T. has not been here … yet. After God creates the new earth, we will be able to freely travel and visit with all of His creation”

That is the problem with all these religiously inspired thoughts: If anything scientists find differ from the reverend’s “plain reading of scriptures” well, its Satan deceiving them…


But you do admit that humans on earth are still more or less the center of the Universe in some sense? Its us on display to the ENTIRE Universe that is resolving some key issues about God’s character, and all the rest of the Universe is utterly fascinated by this drama. Or did I miss something?

That is the key to me. Science has been the debunking of our special status. When I was a kid, I remember attending evangelistic crusades complete with beautiful pictures of the Orion Nebula, and other wonders of the Universe and being told that only on Earth was sin in control, and the rest of the Heavens were perfect!

Not what we know now is it? But SDA’s still cling to the idea that life on Earth is unique, at least as it relates to sin and death. We know that destruction in the rest of the Universe is common. But the life/death/sin issue is still clung to with great love and affection. I think its time is limited. But I don’t think religion will suffer any debilitating problems once that is shown. New apologetics will be created, and the offering plate will still be passed, the show must go on…


But in order to conclude that you are relying on assumption that genetic stasis that we currently observe is consistent from generation to generation, and that all of the species are similar in their resistance to change.

I do agree that evolutionary mechanism via random mutation is insufficient to accommodate development of features that require complex and interdependent function. It’s a giant problem for proponents of “undirected evolution”. I don’t see it as a problem in context of broader understanding of what life is as a sub-process of reality, which appears to operate through embedded “units of intelligence” that manifest as properties and consistent behavior of matter.

As such, I don’t see the mechanism of the evolution as random. We’d have to really work on underlying philosophical assumptions behind present science, which end up ignoring the conscious observer when they postulate materialistic concepts… but again, I’m fairly certain that we already began to make moves in the direction away from that particular dead-end… beginning with many suggesting that falsification is not a viable boundary for science.

I’m not sure that it doesn’t. Certain details don’t, but you would have a huge problem of explain as to why we don’t find human remains along with some of the earlier life on Earth. If flood was a gigantic cataclysm that buried a whole bunch of life together… then you should find plentiful human remains in the same layers as dinosaurs, etc, etc.

We don’t. We see a clear progression, and conjecture that the reason for that is because different organisms sink and float at different rates… is and should be embarrassing. Yet I see it repeated over and over again to justify the arrangement in the geologic column that we find today.

Why would that be the case? Were these animals progressively created and died before humans ever got to sin?

Scientific data is in conflict most of the time. That’s why Bayesian analysis exists, and with evolution being multi-discipline agglomerate of facts… I’m not sure that pointing to conflicting data breaks the theory as viable. It didn’t for Behe. It didn’t for Gould. It didn’t for Colin Patterson.

So I think there’s more than data conflicts in play here for you, and you should be upfront about it to save some discussion time. Data for you seem to have lesser significance when weighed against preferred doctrinal axioms.

You are not applying the same standards of criticism to conjectures that you prefer, and that’s where inconsistency is problematic. Evolutionists don’t attempt to validate Evolution as a theory by disproving Creationism or ID. They go with Bayesian approach of data analysis which is sourced from a wide array of interdisciplinary science.

And what is the mechanism for that “adaptation” :slight_smile: ?

No, if you think that, then you should read other thoughts that I’ve posted here.


Importance is a subjective judgement driven by contrast of perception. Hence, my personal center of the universe is in my house where my children are. It’s rather unsurprising that every nation or religious group will have “Chosen by God for important task” label in some sense of that expressed purpose. Our conscious perception is subjective in reference to “I”, whatever that may be.

So, I don’t really see a view that we are somehow central to the Universal being, because the nature of conscious being itself is still very unclear. When we rushed into methodological materialism as default framework, we completely jumped over Kant and Berkley as irrelevant, but in doing so we constantly ignore the observer as something “given” and not necessary to explain before we move on with the rest of the assumptions about reality.

If you are locked into methodological naturalism to gather all of the adequate answers about nature of life and consciousness as it relates to reality… then I’m not sure giant telescopes will help you find answers what a single DMT trip may (I’m not advocating drug use). I’m simply saying that we know very little about ourselves in order to make far-reaching conclusions about our place in reality.


Again, when you are talking about “special status”, that’s a context of subjective value. And I’m almost certain that if you have a choice between whether we club a 100 seals to death or let your kid live… you’d chose your kid (granted that you have one). So, I don’t really think that science diminished our “specialness” in light of our perception of self and our place in reality.

I think I understand what your objection is, but there are more way to think about these things than through the narrow lens of Biblical literalism.

I agree that it wouldn’t, as it hasn’t in the past… thus I think that we can choose to contribute our time and resources towards subjects that we find worthy of contribution. I’ve stopped paying “upwards tithing” a while ago, and instead choose to support local individuals and causes. And I agree that education of various positions and possibilities plays role in how we view any-given subject. If not for “hardcore philosophy”… then I would likely not be in church anymore. But philosophy allowed me to view church and religion from a different angle, with necessity for “interpretive layer” to contextualize certain narrative as viable. I still agree with much of it, but not in the way that a typical baby-boomer Adventist would agree with it.

Hence, there will be a gradual shift and doctrinal revision once this generation in charge is gone. That has been the case for a wide range of past Adventist doctrine that we no longer emphasize or keep “down low”. I don’t see pastors criticizing evolution as much as they are used to, and I don’t see them trying to focus on what Pope does as much as they used to.

There’s still this “everything is aweful and horrendous, and the whole world is going down the drain” selective perception of the previous generation… but I think that will likely pass when given that we won’t have economic destabilization, or the present-day political extremism on both ends of the isle. Hopefully that will subside eventually.

(Allen Shepherd) #212

So the doctrine of uniformity is out? And isn’ it

t a bedrock of the theory that we assume that the processes we see today are what has gone on from the past? Who was it, Lyle who believed in saltation and who was finally driven from the field? Are you a saltationist? If you want to believe in things that can’t be shown, why criticize me for my thinking?

If you agree with me on this, no mechanism, then you can see my point.

“Embedded units of intelligence”? Pantheism? So, you reject ID and go for some sort of vital force? God did not do it, but put something that none of us can really see that does it. Why go there? Why not just stand and say, “I am a Theistic Evolutionist”?

Yes, I have that problem. I confess it as a problem for which I do not have an explanation.

I already told you that I accept the Bible as true. So, yes you “data” are less significant than scripture, I already said that. But I consider the Bible data as well. See post 179.

If they are no threat, why all the time to show them wrong. And there is quite a bit of time doing that. Even against religion as such.

As far as scientism, it is unclear what your view is. Even more so with the imbedded intelligence comment.


Do you seriously think that being the center of attention of the entire collection of intelligent Beings of the Universe is not “special”?


I think you are confusing objection to Evolutionary Gradualism with saltationism. Gradualism is problematic, because it’s not observed in fossil record as such. We see stasis and then rapid emergence of the new species followed by another period of stasis, etc. We see different species with different rates of morphological change, etc. There are various accepted hypotheses to explain this, with PE suggesting allopatric mechanism (geographic separation, or fringe geography being major driver of change), which finds some support in the fossil record.

One thing for sure, gradualism doesn’t seem to be the case.

The point being is that we do observe this change is the fossil record. New species appear, while some of the old species no longer seen. And on top of that , we do observe morphological similarities that suggest evolutionary change. If you have competing explanation for this phenomenon… I’m all ears!

Did God gradually create animal species to replace the ones going extinct?

Well… no. I’m not saying that I’m certain about what that would that be. If you have to press me hard, then you could probably squeeze Chalmers’ panpsychism out of me:

But that’s beyond this discussion. If you don’t like the idea, again, I’m all ears about your explanation behind the consistent properties of matter, especially when these properties direct complex processes of our brain function and perception as a continuum of intelligent being.

Hence, there’s more depth to this discussion than you think.

But that tells me very little about what you actually believe both about the Bible and the model of reality that you think it describes. You don’t think that we should attempt to reconcile Biblical narrative with what we observe in reality? Your position seems to be very much like Luther’s when he objected to modern-day cosmology and insisted that Biblical narrative mandates a more primitive understanding of the Universe. Yet, several centuries later the scientific paradigm wins… and that’s not the only case where it does, mainly because it iterates and discards false ideas much more rapidly instead of clinging to certain set unquestionable orthodoxy.

So, the idea that religious concepts about science remained unchanged since the inception of Biblical narrative is utter nonsense. So, it turns out that religious people do consider “data” as more significant than some outdated orthodoxy? Why would you think your case is very different?

I’m not sure that it really matters, because science isn’t there to dictate morality or alter religious dogma, although let’s not pretend like scientific progress didn’t alter our view of Biblical narrative, or that it was written with anticipation of modern Christians in mind. I’ve said it before, but if you’ve transported 1st century Christian into a church in modern suburbia and then gave them a quick 1 day tour on modern living, and then sent them back… they would think they were transported to heaven and back.

The cultural presents, technology, and overarching societal mentality is so vastly different, that it’s a crime not to write a several chapters of detailed description of the cultural mindset of people who wrote the Bible before a modern person gets to open up a translation, fill those placeholders we call “words” with meaning that’s relevant to modern person, all at the same time thinking that Biblical writers mean to convey cultural concepts exactly the way we understand these today (or even remotely close to modern meaning).

Hence, the largest fraud perpetrated by modern church is that lack of disclosure about difference in the cultural mindset when it came to scientific understanding of biology, cosmology, sociology, geography, politics, economics, etc, etc, etc. It’s presented with implication that there is some conceptual stasis between now and 2000 years ago… and that’s simply not the case.

It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t derive some central themes like Christ-narrative. The concept of sin, etc. But, it does mean that “vs-by-vs” breakdown of Biblical narrative is intellectual version of the “king with no clothes” story. So, when a teen sits through it, they can’t help but point out how banal and boring it is as the small child in the story would scream “the king is naked”. Yet, we continually insist on dragging the future generations through the same exercise of “preaching the word”, as though it has some special “magical powers” of transforming our minds via listening it being read an pontificated about. I personally don’t see power in that.

I do see power of coherent mindset as it relates to execution of collective goals. As such I do support and engage in local church, and encourage expression of Christianity that goes beyond typical “show and tell”, or most of the time just “tell”. I do see the power of the archtype-driven narrative to explain concepts to us in a way that sticks and hooks to some “core of our being”. All of these are extremely positive aspects of the church.

Unfortunately these are overshadowed by rent-seeking structure of management that doesn’t seem to be very interested in being on the front-line of re-defining and maintaining the culture. And it’s mostly interested in self-aggrandizing mechanism that points to dubious ritualistic necessity of the typical “church service liturgy” as the only God-sanctioned means of “doing church”. What they seem to be interested in is hooking into the financial mechanisms of the culture that they decry, and channeling resources towards the mechanism of “accomplishing the mission of spreading the good news”, which generally means… “Jesus loves you, but if you ever need some support, refer to your local government authority”.

So, being in broadcast and film, I really think that the world would be much better off if television and cinema didn’t exist. But likewise I think that the world would be much better off if the church didn’t revolve around liturgy, but instead revolve around functional community participation and projects. I’ll end it here.

(Ikswezdyr) #215

That is not my experience or what is seen in news reports or with the public or on line. I see very little harassment from conservatives. I don’t know where you live but it must be isolated. I could go through lists but there isn’t room. When Eretha Franklin has to defeind herself to sing the National Anthem, something is terribly wrong. When administrators who work for Trump are harassed in restaurants with their families, when a boy or anyone can’t wear the Trump hat without being threatened for his life and the foul-mouthed protestors are advancing, this is not freedom. When an ethics professor tells people on his FB to delete themselves if they voted for Trump, that is a shadow of McCarthyism. When celebrities and dems use threats and hatred to attack the president, that is McCarthyism. When families turn against one another that is verbal civil war. When one cannot even question by a minor comment a dem without them shouting you down or make a comment on FB without being called names. Maybe on the public posts one can find conservative wackos and on Y-tube, but you have to go looking for them.When 90% of all mainstream news is negative about everything the president does, that is not a free press and it is intolerant.

This does not mean I like the president’s demeanor or everything he does and probably would not vote for him. But seeing the meanness of dems (which I used to be), I would never vote for another one. From the beginning their stated purpose was to see this president fail. One has to be extremely biased to not see some of the good he has done and problems addressed for the first time by any president. You will deny it any improvement, but I am happy that no more missles are being fired over the Pacific.


Sure, from subjective POV of a religious conjecture which you can’t either accept or deny on basis of scientific data. We don’t really know whether the religious conjecture of Adventism is true or not.

Let’s say we take simulation hypothesis and apply contextual meaning of Adventist theology, and paint some “Matrix” analogy of different levels of that simulation and different levels of awareness of the subjects in that simulation about being simulated.

In which case, pointing to “successful” and “disastrous” iterations would make some sense in that context.

Would that make the disastrous simulation in need of rescue special? Yes, but in a bad way! :slight_smile:… so I wouldn’t interpret this concept the same way you seem to see it.

There’s not much to be proud of in Adventist view of our “specialness”.


Unfortunately, conservative Christians, especially Evangelicals, by embracing Trump as Their Leader on earth have painted a revealing picture of themselves. By their fruits ye shall know them…


Why are you so sure of that? It is at least potentially falsifiable if we find life and death on other planets. In that case, at a minimum, sin and death aren’t confined to the Earth.


Sure. That would require interstellar travel capability, and we can barely reach Mars.

(Patrick Travis) #220

Great POTUS & Great SOTU Speach. I’ll own those paintings for the here and now!

(Patrick Travis) #221

“Classical Liberalism” held by the founding fathers of USA IS NOT the political liberalism of today. Today’s is not “limited government”, it is “limited free speech and ideas.”

(Allen Shepherd) #222

Before I write anything, I want to say that I appreciate the candor of your last post. It was refreshing.

I do not know the answer to that question. There was replacement. As we do not see what was then. The Bible speaks of a flood destroying the earth, which is the standard Adventist answer. Some of the layers seem to be turbidites, and there are great gaps, millions of years, between layers at any given site, without erosion or very little. But the fossil record does not seen to support very well a flood model. But there are problems with any model. As I noted, population genetics are inadequate to account for the rapid changes seen in the fossil record.

A gradual repopulation would be a more ruin and restoration model, but that would then mean death before sin.

There was never a question about the depth of the conversation.

The Creation Story is significant in something more than its description of God’s acts at the beginning. It also teaches that the Creator is separate from his creation. He calls it into being rather than creating it from himself (as some of the ancient myths propose). His word is separate from him, and brings matter into being. Jesus’ commands of the wind and rain to be at peace also show that it is subservient to him, rather than part of him.

Our nature is another matter. We are “made in the image of God”, yet are made of matter. We die and cease to have existence, and decay is even with us as we live. The mind/body problem is a profound mystery. How is it that matter can at one moment be alive, and another dead? What happens when the body ceases to live, and yet looks just as it did a moment before?

I am a subscriber of soul sleep, an intermediate position between dualism and materialism.

As far as the Bible goes, I don’t see it as so difficult as you do. Yes, the cultures were different, but humans have not changed, and he Bible speaks to the human spirit. Why has it been so popular? Because of that.

Does the regular pew sitter understand all the cultural baggage? No. Are there sheisters? Sure. But there are plenty of warnings in scripture to be careful who you believe. The Bible teaches a high moral standard, and a judgment. Certainly things that would tend to preserve order.

Really? Besides, shouldn’t we all be allowed to read it and use our own minds to understand? Would you return to the middle ages where the Bible was only allowed in the hands of the elite? Jesus spent most of his time in the countryside, not the capital. He spoke to the common people. I guess he thought they could figure it out. Fishermen were not exactly the erudite of the nation.

The Bible has been a positive good to society, and where it is carefully studied, the people prosper. America was nourished by it, and its Fathers consulted it at its formation. We are the freest people in the world. That does not mean we were perfect. But if we had followed the Bible better, some evils would have been avoided.

Could the church do better? Sure. But it is called to give a message about the abolition of death. That is the gospel. Death has been defeated. That is a message worth shouting from the housetops. When we fail at that, we really have failed.


Well we surely do have devices on Mars right now to do that very thing: Search for possible signs of life or former life. If they find evidence of former life, than what? It would mean death has occurred outside of the earth, in contravention of the claims of the church. Now I myself doubt this would be a fatal blow to the narrative, as it will be twisted a little, and life will go on.


Sure. I think we are in agreement that Biblical narrative doesn’t advocate or describe pantheism. I didn’t either.

I hit reply to early :)… To Be Added Shortly.