Peer Review and Religious Truth Seeking

At first look, the two parts of my title would seem to be totally unrelated. Peer Review is a concept typically found in the process of publishing scientific articles. It operates in a world apart from religious truth seeking. However, in this article I will suggest that crucial components of Peer Review actually transfer over to the world of religion and would be a beneficial aid in the truth seeking process.

First a definition. Wikipedia states: “Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people of similar competence to the producers of the work (peers). It constitutes a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards of quality, improve performance, and provide credibility.” It is typically used by technical journals to be sure a prospective article meets an appropriate standard of quality.

Note that there are some central (and not scientific-contextual) characteristics expressed or implied:

1. The reviewer has relevant competency. Contrast this with the sort of commenting that one often sees after online articles.

2. The review process, while collegial, is inherently somewhat adversarial. That is, the reviewer is concerned primarily with furthering “truth” in the field being written about. There are no a priori limitations or overriding relationships that should compromise this. If the article’s author misuses data or employs bad argumentation, the reviewer is obligated to push back on this.

Limitations and Universals

Some crucial differences between science and religion limit the effectiveness of peer review, if the process is attempted in a religious context. There are (at least) three notable differences:

1. Science does not endeavor to answer the “why” questions of life (teleology). It looks only at physical reality.

2. Science focuses exclusively on what might be termed “public knowledge” – as opposed to “private knowledge”. That is, science looks at the nature of a cosmos that is potentially verifiable (and falsifiable) when examined by different people (public). Conversely, much of religion is personal and thus private (e.g. faith in God, the efficacy of prayer). A consequence of this is that much in the religious sphere cannot be falsified.

3. Science makes no appeal to revelation. Religion, in contrast, has a heavy focus on exegeting the revelatory texts of the faith community. Thus a substantive difference is the primary domain of interest – external reality vs. revelation.

So, some sort of peer review, if applied to the religious sphere, would be limited by and re-targeted toward these differences.

Still, the universal aspects of peer review can be applied with great benefit.

1. There is overlap between science and religion. For example, the mechanisms and time-frame of how the cosmos came into existence and assumed its present state.

2. Most scientific papers go beyond pure data presentation. They also employ arguments to support the author’s hypothesis. Evaluating the quality (or lack) of argumentation applies equally well to both science and religion.

3. Science has its data – the cosmos – which it investigates. Religion also has its data upon which it focuses – the revelatory texts.

Truth Seeking and Denominational Religion

My title uses the phrase “truth seeking.” And, for theists, truth involves both the physical and metaphysical realms. But the seeking is done by fallible humans, whether the quest is scientific or religious. Therein lies the need for rigorous process to maximize objectivity.

Religious denominations, such as the corporate Seventh-day Adventist Church (the denomination I am most familiar with), arose and declared an identity separate from existing alternatives, ostensibly because the pioneers believed they had discovered more and better truth. Thus each new organization creates its unique religious identity – formed by doctrine and culture. But it is my observation that denominational identities, once solidified, begin to turn attention away from truth-seeking and concentrate instead on apologetics – proposing arguments why the denomination’s current belief-set is true. Now I have no quarrel with apologetics, per se, any more than I would want to deny a defendant, in some legal case, the right of competent counsel. Apologetics advocates. But this is different from truth seeking. It assumes that truth has already been fully uncovered and the task legitimately and necessarily now should shift into protection mode. But such an assumption is historically unwarranted and dangerous.

And, I would argue, the more a denominational identity is bound up in the self-perception that the group presently has the truth, the more apologetics rises and further truth-seeking (which can result in creative destruction of old “truths”) – wanes.

The Current Adventist Landscape

If one looks around at the current Adventist scene for endeavors that resemble Peer Review intersecting with the SDA denomination, I think the landscape looks bleak. I wouldn’t be surprised if SDA theologians engage in some limited form of this, when writing for theological journals. I don’t know and would be happy if so. But I would be very surprised if there was any such review where the fundamental beliefs received challenge. The recent TOSC effort might loosely qualify as Peer Review to some extent. But this group was not comprised completely of peers and also not critically evaluating some existing Adventist doctrine. And, in any event, the results were not used to inform the 2015 General Conference Session. Perhaps the Faith and Science conferences in 2002-2004 would qualify. But, at the end of that extensive and expensive effort, the organizing committee created and passed a final report that set aside the science concerns.

One might point to independent organizations like Spectrum and Adventist Today (on the left), or various conservative websites on the right, as places where traditional positions might be more critically investigated. But here one encounters the issue of credibility – most notably that liberals discount the credentials of conservative commentators, and conservatives question both credentials and loyalty of liberals.

But with the denominational administrative organization proper, I see no substantive efforts to examine fundamental Adventist belief in any way that could reasonably be called Peer Review. Why? I think it is easy, especially among the left-leaning segment of Adventism, (and doubly so under today’s conservative GC administration) to charge leadership with promoting a hostile climate for exercises like Peer Review. But, however true or not such charges might be, I think it is also fair to note that there is very little upside for church administrators to engage in any such “let the chips fall where they may” type of investigations. In my experience the great majority of members do not want this. They prefer apologetics. Because apologetics produce reasons to support theology that the Adventist majority has a prior commitment to and is already (often deeply) invested in. It is almost Psychology 101 to recognize that people more generally seek belief confirmation. Belief disconfirmation is destabilizing and, for many (especially longtime) Adventists, any such pursuit is often distressing and thus resisted (and messengers sometimes “shot”).

But, understandable as this might be psychologically, it leaves the organization exposed. Unless you are prepared to accept the proposition that the church has presently arrived at 100% truth (and how would you validate this?) there is no institutional effort resembling Peer Review that would expose faulty doctrine or practice (likely derived from doctrine) and venture into repair-and-replace territory.

The Shape of Peer Review – Some Possibilities

· Given denominational realities and human nature it doesn’t seem possible for some sort of Peer Review style theological project to take place under official church control. But then, whatever organization sponsored it would have both a credibility issue and risk of political consequences to its leaders. Thus it would seem most plausible to have such a venture be lead by respected and retired theologians and scientists. Or at least people not exposed to termination of their church employment.

· Such independence would also be mandatory because some potential participants would need anonymity, to allow them to consider their subjects without also needing to keep one eye out for employment risks.

· Some of the issues most likely to warrant attention are exactly those which the church has struggled with for years. This would include: faith and science, the role of women, homosexuality, eschatology, Ellen White’s authority, hermeneutics and the limits of literalism.

· While an initial (pre-publication) review would be private – and likely each reviewer would be anonymized – the published results should be placed on a public website that would grow the topical conversation between vetted authors. It would be expected, just like in a formal argument, that a paper would first constitute the author’s initial position, which would then invite other qualified participants’ responses. The entire church would thus be able to track the “progress” of the theological critiques and doctrinal argument evolution. The church public would be able to comment, as with many websites, but the actual topical dialog would take place only among people with demonstrable qualifications.

· Since the religious sphere is far less falsifiable than science, it is unlikely that clear consensus would form. But, among the multiple perspectives that would arise, some would gain more strength than others, as the underlying arguments resonated more with peers, as well as at-large readership, due to better argumentation and sound use of data.

Conclusion

I certainly understand that this sort of project is highly unlikely to succeed, or even get off the ground. But idealistic or unrealistic as it might be, the alternative is the near-random walk the church has been doing forever.

And, if you dislike or are suspicious of such a Peer Review proposal; if you would be distressed should, somehow, something like this actually happen; I would ask: what is it you are afraid of? It certainly is distressing to consider the possibility that we might have believed some things in error. But if a belief is solid, an open and critical review should not dislodge it. The deeper, underlying question to consider is this – are we really truth-seekers?

Rich Hannon, a retired software engineer, is Columns Editor for SpectrumMagazine.org.

Previous Spectrum columns by Rich Hannon can be found at: https://spectrummagazine.org/authors/rich-hannon

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8797

Forget ‘peer review’.
What about ‘review from the pew’ ?

A few years ago, the local ordained male SDA pastor in my county told me that the
’Gospel Commission’ was given only to ordained pastors. Besides such an idea being against the SDA GC ‘Total Member Involvement’ philosophy, and the Desires of Jesus, Himself, Ellen said it crystal clearly in this easy quote from the missionary book – not a heavy theology textbook – The Desire of Ages:

“The Saviour’s commission to the disciples included all the believers. It includes all believers in Christ to the end of time. It is a fatal mistake to suppose that the work of saving souls depends alone on the ordained minister. All to whom the heavenly inspiration has come are put in trust with the gospel. All who receive the life of Christ are ordained to work for the salvation of their fellow men. For this work the church was established, and all who take upon themselves its sacred vows are thereby pledged to be co-workers with Christ.”
{DA 822.2}

How can the pew ‘wag’ the pulpit ?

I don’t.
As an SDA, I simply stay away from SDA churches.
Ironically it seems that my life depends on my absence.

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It is interesting to see this article appear at a time when the science community is becoming increasingly critical of its own peer review process:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1420798/
michaelnielsen.org/blog/three-myths-about-scientific-peer-review/
https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/.../why-peer-review-in-science-often-fails
https://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/47538/title/...Peer-Review/

I’m wondering how many of us are clamoring for this institution to make such an effort - which most likely would include a very “institutional” criteria for anyone to be regarded as a “peer”. Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t consider myself to be a follower of the institution.

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@efcee The challenge, IMO, is to create a system that does a better job of filtering out human biases. These systems are always, in a way, institutional. There isn’t a perfect system to do this, so we’re always going to be looking for ways to improve any process that at least aspires to limit the influence of human subjectivity in the search for truth. In religion I don’t even see much desire for such a process, much less any hope of realizing one. There’s a reason our knowledge of the world has expanded exponentially in the past 300 years. Science, while not perfect, is the most effective method we currently have for seeking truth. If the project of religion is also to seek truth, then I think we should at least try to apply similar methods of empirical investigation to religious topics. Particularly when the truth claims we’re investigating are related to our observable world. The trouble is always human nature, though. If we honestly want to find truth, then we honestly need to be willing to admit error when data shows that we are mistaken. People rarely want to do that, especially religious folks who are used to truth defined by authority, rather than evidence.

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Isn’t The Biblical Research Institute tasked with the functions you suggest are absent? Would you expect to get different results? Do you think they are capable of doing the job?

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I know you are addressing your question to Rich Hannon, but if you will forgive me, I can’t keep silent:

15 years ago, when I was still an ‘apostate’ SDA, I was greatly enjoying my independent, amateur, studies combining the sciences of Human Anatomy and Physiology with Bible Maps, Scripture and Ellen. Then I stumbled across some mind-blowing information just emerging onto the news stands regarding the ‘heart’ of the brain.

As I followed those rapidly-emerging “paradigm-changing” science developments, I slowly began to realize that they strongly reinforced the Biblical teachings that had begun emerging 130 years ago among a few SDAs, though too many SDA leaders wore those few down and effectively silenced them. So, for 130 years, the SDA GC has been leading backward, or nowhere, in regard to those ‘historical’ religious teachings that were 130 years ahead of today’s ‘science’ proofs. And, as Ellen would say,
‘Satan has stolen a march on us.’ Many, many, many . . . marches.

Going back to my personal experience:

Upon stumbling across the new science discoveries, I was so excited to show SDAs what was becoming available to them to support their religion, that I brushed aside my worst memories and visited a local SDA church in 2003, hoping to find someone who would listen to the great news. Instead, I found a deeply divided congregation fighting over ‘chocolate’ !

The pastor was Russian and could barely speak English, let alone handle the extremist factions in the congregation. Once he generously loaned me a copy of a book on ‘righteousness by faith’ that had been the best thing to come to the Russian SDAs after their long isolation. Its author was Billy Graham. (Not an SDA ?)

In 2008, when I found a great new 2007 book on body ‘maps’ that had 2 chapters devoted to the new brain science, I bought an extra copy and gave it to that pastor’s church. In 2010, still, no one showed any interest, but I had met that pastor again, and he told me to write a letter to the Biblical Research Institute. I did, and also sent that pastor a copy. (Neither have yet replied.)

Around 2013-14, after intercepting two newer female converts running away from the SDA church in my county, my wife and I were angrily accused of ‘stealing them’ by their pastor. So, after email battles failed, I tried what Jesus did at Jacob’s Well to disarm the Samaritan woman – I asked a favor. I asked that ordained, male, SDA ‘pastor’ to please help me get the new science information – showing the way it supported the 130-year-old, neglected SDA teachings – to the broader SDA church I had rejoined in 2009. We agreed to meet on a Sabbath afternoon at his church.

Instead of help, that ‘pastor’ and his ‘head elder’ used the opportunity of close proximity to blast myself, my wife, those two women, and every past SDA scholar that supported that 130-year-old SDA teaching we 4 were enjoying ! When he was asked if he had ever studied it in the SDA seminary, he said, “No.” When I told him it had been several years since I had sent a letter to the ‘Biblical Research Institute’ regarding the new science supporting those teachings, he excused them as being ‘too busy’. . . So, there’s your answer.

I also found Herbert Douglass’ website in 2010. He had posted his phone number, so I called it. He said he was ‘too busy’. . . and Herbert Douglass was ‘friendly’ to that 130-year-old teaching ! And, I have tried repeatedly to notify other SDA leaders who have claimed to be ‘friendly’ to the same, only to be ignored, ridiculed and told to ‘repent’ . . . ! ?

The first ‘somebody’ SDA, and official SDA publication that I have witnessed referring to the new science discoveries I had begun trying to draw the attention of SDAs to – even as an ‘apostate’ – for 15 years, was Dr. Susan Allen of Andrews University who wrote briefly on them in the April 2018 edition of The Lake Union Herald, just as the SDA theologians at the same University published their ‘scriptural’ opinions against that new science. But God’s Word both Created and inspired scripture, so how can God’s word be divided against itself, and ‘stand’ ? No, it is we SDAs that have ‘fallen’.

So, to put this whole 130-year-old tragedy into a heart-level perspective:

Imagine that you were an ancient farmer, tending your olive grove on the hills outside of ancient Jerusalem. You swat a mosquito, wipe the sweat from your eyes and stand straight to stretch. Off in the distance, above far hills you notice an unusual cloud of dust slowly growing into the hot sky. Mesmerized, you ponder what it might mean. Then you jump into action, leave your tools on the ground and run to Jerusalem to give the warning to the ‘watchmen on the walls’, who are still too low down to see what you have seen from a higher vantage point. But, they are ‘too busy’ to listen to a sweaty ‘farmer’ or to spread the questionable news that an army is fast approaching Jerusalem.

So, finally discouraged, you head back to your farmhouse away from town, just in time, and watch from a distance as Jerusalem, its palace and its Temple turn to ash and rubble. And you wonder, as the ruling families of Judah are chained together and marched off to be castrated and serve in foreign rulers’ households . . . ‘What more could I have done to get them to take the time to listen ?’ ‘Perhaps if I had enrolled in their schools and gotten a high degree ? . . . But, no, there was no such time to waste. I didn’t even have time to pick up my tools, or change clothes.’

The SDA church has no efficient system in place for handling ‘new light’ from the pulpit, let alone from the pews. And especially when that ‘light’ comes from ‘science’ in support of our Biblical teachings. Where is the ‘Biblical-Science Research Institute’ ?

I once wrote a letter to Jay Gallimore – former president of the Michigan Conference – asking him if he knew of such an SDA group that combined the study of Scripture Word with Creation Word, and he referred me to the (same) local (Russian) pastor ! (The SDA ‘Circumlocution Office’.) And, this was after President Gallimore had refused to let
La Sierra’s choir perform in Michigan because ‘evolution’ was being taught there ! ?

What is NOT wrong with this ‘official’ SDA picture ?

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What is this “paradigm-changing” science that supports EGW? It appears that you have been silenced by some church leaders suggesting that they may not have viewed it as very supportive of church positions. Very briefly can you relate a summery?

You report that a church was divided over “chocolate?” I know a church that was divided over a picture of Jesus, in which it appeared that his fingers made some kind of papal symbol. Many members left the church, refusing to return. While the remaining were, for years, bitterly divided over the meaning of Jesus’ fingers. This may sound ridiculous, but it was anything but that to the members!

We need “peer-review” of every individual church in the the USA. Recently I was walking by a SDA church in a super-wealthy area (every home worth over 1 million) of San Jose, CA. The church had no office hours and is always locked up, lights out. No involvement in local community. The phone message reported that since there was not a church secretary it may take long time for anyone to respond to your message. Although I have not visited this congregation, I would suppose it is DEAD as it appears from the outside. While the Catholic Church, down the street, displayed announcement banners with open doors. (Maybe it would be a good idea for Catholics to conduct the peer-review of our churches!)

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The Adventist Church has a process to “peer review” churches that want it. It’s called Natural Church Development. It is very scientific and thorough. We had it done at a church I used to attend in Oregon. They do a survey of a representative group of church members. They have trained observers secretly visit the church. They recruit community non-Adventist to visit the church without disclosing their involvement with the process. They reviewed the census data of the community and compare it with the demographics of the church. You get the idea, they are thorough. They compile the result and present it passionately. I don’t know if the passionate presentation is typical as I have only been involved with this once. They told us we were not in a good place. Most of the members objected to the findings. While others fervidly agree that the findings were indeed correct. The team went on to point out that the last church that had results like ours was now being used as a thrift store.

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Long ago, brain scientists were able to ‘map’ out the functions of the outer cerebral cortices by removing pieces of skull bone in conscious human subjects. When they probed the brain, the subject could actually tell them, in real time, what they were experiencing. And so, the old textbook ‘homunculus’ ‘map’ was developed for the outer brain cortex that handles the outer ‘flesh’, generally-speaking.

But the first portions of brain cortex to appear within an embryo-fetus skull are soon buried deep under the cerebrum during gestation, and it would have killed a conscious human to rip apart the outer brain lobes to probe and ‘map’ the functions of the original cortices. . . and that’s why the new discoveries regarding the right ‘insula’ (right ‘AIC’) and right anterior cingulate cortex (right ACC) – which have only been made possible recently with powerful new hi-tech functional scanning tools – have now recently forced a ‘paradigm change’ in brain science. Former conclusions regarding inter-related brain function were based on incomplete data.

And, along with this paradigm change in brain science is linked a necessary, but greatly lagging, paradigm change in the realm of religion, simply because science is now exploring ‘religion’s’ moral-emotivational ‘center of all human behavior, and possibly of consciousness, itself’, as a leading scientist has stated. More than this, the right AIC has been described by a New York Times science-writer as the place where ‘mind-body-emotion’ ‘co-emerge’. (In an automoblie this would be the ‘drivers seat’ where all data inputs and control outputs are centered.) And, Ellen’s description of ‘true education’ involves ‘mens, spiritus, corpus’ – simultaneously, and harmoniously – as cast in bronze at the gate of Andrews University.

One of Ellen’s first visions involved Jesus going deeper ‘in’ to be close with the Father in a holier place. She also recommended the teachings of Jones – to Jones as he was leaving her – at the 1893-1897 GCs. In his own sermons Jones referred to the ‘citadel of the soul’, and the ‘heart’, where the ‘perfect law’ is written by the ‘perfect King’ in the ‘perfect Kingdom’ and also referred to Jesus saying that the ‘kingdom of God is within you’ (not ‘here’, nor ‘there’, but ‘within’).

This is ‘Jerusalem’ language, and when a person overlays the recently ‘mapped’ functions of the newly-discovered AIC-ACC connection – which handles the deeper ‘inner man’ organs beneath the ‘flesh’ – with the moral-governing functions of ancient Jerusalem dealing with ‘all human behavior’ . . . well, those functional ‘maps’ match like the old home ‘Doctor Book’ transparency overlays of various anatomical systems such as bones and muscles. . . match.

So, what we now have coming from brain science regarding that ‘heart’ of the human brain is proving the existence and functions of what Ellen tried to describe as a ‘soul temple’ . . . BUT, since Dr. Kellogg’s ‘Alpha’ regarding the ‘Living Temple’ (written just as ‘flesh’ ‘DNA’ was about to be discovered as ‘the boot-maker in the boot’), SDA ministers simply don’t get into studying and preaching ‘science’, and SDA scientist-physicians don’t control the GC and its religious doctrines.

But now that SDA separation of focuses is a ‘fatal mistake’. Because ‘science’ has been invading the realm of ‘religion’. So, it was a Doctor of Nursing – a scientist – at Andrews who, alone, was able to comment recently on the ‘mirror neurons’ located on the AIC and ACC and their ability to actually change human behavior – simply ‘by beholding’ – and not the theologians, And, as a result, the whole SDA GC has embarrassed itself, unwittingly, by its century-old ‘blind-spot’ toward ‘The Science of Salvation’ as Jones preached as being ‘the chief of all sciences’. (This is all on the official SDA GC 1893-1897 session records you can see at Andrews in the James White Library.)

This is glaring proof – to anyone daring to watch recent developments in both ‘science’ and ‘religion’, simultaneously – that our current SDA ‘paradigm’ of study and teaching needs to change very rapidly, before we embarrass ourselves anymore.

We SDAs now have the futuristic past teachings to explain to the world – backed by science – that by studying beyond the mere structure, and furniture, and other ‘types’ of the ancient sanctuary service, and beyond the actual geography of ancient Jerusalem on which the moral ‘passion plays’ occurred . . . the world can now begin to study science in harmony with the SDA religion, and learn that every individual human already ‘owns’ a ‘Jerusalem’-- a moral-‘Driver’s Seat’ – in which the Spirit of God wishes to be ‘tabernacled’ and included there with our submissive ‘self’. And we submit ‘self’ simply ‘by beholding’ Christ and His cross in intelligent, heart-felt admiration. But, we SDAs have not yet exhausted the study of ‘the sanctuary’ and its ‘Jerusalem’ setting, ourselves.

So, try to imagine what might be if we SDAs would move back and onward:
If each individual human already ‘owns’ the anti-typical, real ‘Jerusalem’, and its ‘soul temple’, in ‘the place of their skull’ . . . then there is no need to fight over today’s Jerusalem ‘real estate’. . . And, such a new-paradigm science-religion doctrine adopted by SDAs would set us clearly apart from the Evangelical Christian right, which is willing to sacrifice millions of ‘soul temples’ in a false ‘Armageddon’ centered at Jerusalem, right now, today. So, the sooner the SDA scientists and religionists get together and investigate the latest science developments, side-by-side with the prescient SDA teachings of 130 years ago, the better off the world may be, today.

I’m so sorry that I have such a limited vocabulary and to take so long to express what are mere ‘glimpses’ in my own imagination. Just last week I tried to contact 3 SDA artists about collaborating with me to develop visual illustrations that might be worth more than a thousand words in describing these latest developments linking SDA past theology with modern science . . . no luck !

But, I can link this Nova scienceNow video on the mirror system Dr. Susan Allen was writing about.

Thanks for your patience !

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Religion is fraught with mental images of spiritual beliefs. For this reason, religious beliefs are solid only because all go through predictable developmental mental progressions as we grow and since religious beliefs are derivatives of our growth and development, similar themes or patterns can be discerned. They are solid to the extent that the foundations from where they are constructed are similar.

For instance the doctrine of Investigative Judgement (Johnny, wait til your father comes home…) is based on the developmental milestone of taking responsibility for our behaviors. So the theory resonates with most, excluding those with antisocial personality traits. Is it solid? Yes! Is it divinely inspired? We can only believe but the physical and mental evidence is on psychology. Right Dr. Tichy? @GeorgeTichy

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A few years ago, we had some brutally cold winters here in northern Michigan, when Lake Michigan was almost frozen over solid. As far as I know, so were the local SDA church doors, when many other local churches opened up their doors for the homeless to spend the brutal nights. And, by the way, that congregation did finally get rid of the anti-chocolate ‘right’.

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So far, the closest to a peer review we have seen as a denomination resulted in the publication of Questions on Doctrine.

I remember this. Members objected to this due to its cost and its non-SDA origin. It was also without teeth–no follow up. Nobody was made accountable to make any changes. It was soon forgotten. It was very complicated, with many questions that left room for false positive answers.

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I’ve been thinking along a similar line. It seems to me that the different states of consciousness roughly map to the the sanctuary.

Outside. => Everyday Beta counsciousness
Courtyard => Alpha
Holy => Theta
Most Holy => Delta

Of course you would have to have some sort of interest in the different levels of consciousness to get the connection. Making use of this would involve the dreaded m - word, so I don’t expect it to go any where in Adventism.

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I don’t think very many SDA’s really want to change anything. Any big changes would require too much effort, and too much upheaval. Nobody’s interested in that. People are comfortable, even if it is not particularly spiritually fulfilling. There aren’t a lot of other options for the SDA. The Sabbath is the headline and the raison d’etre.

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Religious ‘eugenics’, crucifying anyone like Jesus, the ‘peer’ of all humanity and yet ‘God with us’, of whom it was said by the more ‘competent’,

“(And the Jews marvelled, saying,)
How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” John 7:15

What if I want to believe something completely irrational, and progressive, such as believing that Jesus could feed a crowd of more than 5,000 from a kid’s lunch box, or that He could part a sea 1800 feet deep for millions of His peers to escape through ?

Would such progress in understanding and ‘truth’ be honored ,or pilloried, in a religious class battle until one side decided upon ‘truthicide’ of the other side, as being the best option ? ( As Leonardo DiCaprio’s Grizzly-ravaged ‘Hugh Glass’ character in The Revenant said, “I ain’t afraid of dyin’. I already done that.” But, are 6 million more Jews or SDAs still afraid ?)

SDAs already submit to religious ‘peer review’. It is called ‘accreditation’.

As I recall a few years back an SDA seminary student at Andrews who had converted from Catholicism was surprised to learn that he was required to listen to 2 Jesuit priests give their lectures to his class for 8 hrs. His letter of protest to SDA ‘authorities’ was posted on the internet, and it asked why SDAs had ‘converted’ him to the truth regarding the ‘beast’, only to require him to learn from ‘it’ in the SDA seminary. Good question.

And then, other SDAs did their homework and searched out who was on the ‘accrediting’ board for Andrews University. At the time they did their search, and posted the results on the internet, there were at least 2 scholars from Jesuit institutions found to be in the group.

So, before SDAs can even think about ‘peer review’, we need to decide who our ‘peers’ in fact are, and if that group of ‘peers’ includes an ‘uneducated’ carpenter from Nazareth, a group of crude fishermen from Galilee, a sickly teen-aged gal from Maine with no college degree. . . or highly-educated non-SDA scholars whose origin and purpose is the ‘counter-Reformation’ of that protest movement that brought in the ‘rebirth’ of the search for truth, both religious and scientific, after ‘ages’ of oppressive ‘dark’.

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Thanks for your efforts in explaining brain science. I have a hard time understanding your explanation or importance of the subject. I can’t see what EGW has to do with this discovery.

In regard to EGW’s “true education” as harmonious development of mental, physical and spiritual, she was a leader in teaching these concepts. Yet, we should note that most of her applications of “true education” we disavow. For Example:

  1. “Novel and storybook reading are the greatest evil.”
  2. “The only safe course is to shun the theater, the circus and every other questionable place of amusement.” (chapter on Proper Education).
  3. “The Lord has repeatedly shown…we should not pattern after the popular schools. Ministers of other denominations spend years in obtaining an education. Our young men must obtain theirs in a short time…”
  4. “Schools should be established, not such elaborate schools as those at Battle Creek and College View (Union College, Nebraska), but more simple schools with more humble buildings and with who will adopt the same plans that were followed by the Schools of the Prophets…”
  5. “The work done in our schools is not to be like that done in the colleges and seminaries of the world…”

There are hundreds more comments EGW makes on true education, most of them we either ignore or find them impossible to embrace. I think we teach EGW as we do Moses, while we totally ignore the theology (laws) of the Torah.

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Don’t at all think that ‘God’s truth’ can only be ‘sliced’ one way ! The more I have followed my own interest in comparing human anatomy and physiology with Biblical maps and history, the more intersecting branches I’ve found.

Imagine a squirrel navigating through an oak tree on its ‘true’ way home to its nest. Every trunk has intersecting limbs, which has intersecting branches with intersecting twigs . . . and, as Benoit Mandelbrot proved to the world, these ‘self-replicating’ patterns are found throughout Creation, and can be exploited for our benefit. (Nathan Cohen’s tiny, wide-range ‘fractal antenna’ used in cell phones is an example.)

So, if self-replicating patterns exist within one species, such as an ‘oak’, do they also ‘mirror’ and compare well with the self-replicating patterns within another species, or another line of thought, such as your interest in the states of consciousness. In my experience the answer has been a huge, spine-tingling YES !

We humans thought we had something with ‘tic-tac-toe’ . . . then came 3-D tic-tac-toe . . . then what ? In how many facets can a diamond be cloven to demonstrate its brilliance, and still be a diamond ? How long is the coast-line of England ? In Mandelbrot’s ‘rough’ ‘fractal geometry’, the answer is limited only to the ‘size’ of your measuring device.

Another thought:
Like Mandelbrot, Jesus also understood the natural fractals, and this enabled Him to teach His Spiritual lessons of truth from any ‘branch’ of human study of nature that He chose. Same ‘Truth’ different parables.

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I sense that there are also other allusions as well.
The porch-physical.
The holy-mental
the MHP-emotional/spiritual

When you examine the items placed in and the different things performed in the respective rooms of the three-room tent, the analogy holds.

I recall provocative conversations with Bill Liversidge on this line of thinking.

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In the promise to Abraham, note the potential analogy of quantum and astrophysics to describe the limits of promise. Take the smallest thing-a mere grain of sand, take the largest-a star; neither limits the magnitude of illilimitable promise.

The speed of light (is God somehow constrained by this “natural law”?) is dependent on the total breadth of the universe. Our “stuck in chronos” understanding of universe has necessary boundaries, but i suspect that the understanding of “the size of the universe” (the size of the yardstick) by a kairos God is not so hobbled.

Thanks for sharing some of your thoughts here, @DogTail

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