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August 08, 2011

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Dr. Miller,

How is it that empirical realities have not convinced the sinless perfectionists in Adventism that the doctrine is a fiction based on shoddy Biblical scholarship or worse.

Again, an excellent article that examines past mistakes that have occurred when churches ignored empirical reality.

Regarding transitional fossils, does Dr. Miller think Neandertals or other related hominids were present on the Ark? Or was it only homien sapiens that made it on board? Did God create all those different hominid groups or are there fossils transitional to higher forms of hominids? What about protfeathers preserved in amber? Are they transitional forms of feathers from dinosaurs to birds?

The search for truth continues.

Your agnostic friend
Ken

"I believe that it comes nowhere close to meeting the same level of certainty or demonstrability of either Christ’s failure to return in 1844, or Galileo’s proofs of the place of the sun in our solar system."

Dr. Miller, Here is an example of you, a theologian "NOT LISTENING". You select a few stray statements that support your position and refuse to deal with the facts.

Look around you and you will see that Evolution is a fundamental principle of the universe as surly as is gravity, electromagnetic and strong nuclear forces. You might find the terms: "Emergence, or "Diversification" to be more acceptable.

Every scientific discipline agrees, that "Emergence" is a fundamental law of the universe, starting with physics and the progression of energy from the big bang, to subatomic particles, to hydrogen, to protosuns, to complex atoms, to galaxies and planets. Astronomers have even shown us that the complex molecules of life, peptides and nucleotides form in the nebulae even before the suns and planets form.

Paleontologists have shown us how hominid skeletons have evolved through many species. We have complete sets of skeletons showing the intermediate forms of whales evolving from land mammals.

Geneticists and cellular biologists have shown us how the genetic code is "designed", if I may use that word, to evolve or differentiate.

In Medicine we know that the antibodies in your own body, that you personally depend on to keep you alive are generated using evolutionary principles.

We have even, now, created life, denovo in the test tube from scratch.

Horticulturists have used evolutionary techniques to make wonderful varieties of fruit like sweet grapefruit and seedless water melons that didn't exist even 40 years ago when I was a kid.

I look out my window and see the city evolve. I listen to the radio and here our language evolve. I even see humanity evolving spiritually. Listen as the world condemns the genocides of Rwanda and Darfur. That is is a huge improvement over the general acceptance of genocide that existed from Bible times to World War II.

As a theologian, you need to get together with your buddies, and start figuring out how you are going to accommodate the new reality. It doesn't matter how many Biology teachers you fire, you aren't going to make the DNA sequencing labs go away, nor are you going to make the fossils and geology go away.

Here is a suggestion as to where to start:
1. God is the creator, God is eternal, God changes not, therefore God must be eternally creating, therefore we would expect to see ongoing creation over time.
2. If God doesn't continue to create, then He is breaking his own law, that Sabbath commandment, by not working 6 days a week. It really doesn't matter to me how God chose to create this world, or how long ago he did it, there are still lots of good reasons to keep the Sabbath.
3. As for evolutionary theory requiring death, God allows people to die everyday. If time lasts, he will allow you to die, and yet, I will wager that when it comes your time to die, that you will feel that it was a privilege to have lived. God even allowed his own son Jesus to die. If life is somehow good enough that God allows you and Jesus both to die, then why not the dinosaurs? Just because things die, it doesn't mean that their life was meaningless or their existence was miserable. Isn't one of our Adventist doctrines that Death is like sleep? You don't complain that you were not alive for the billions of years before you were born, why should billions of years after your death be any different?

I would dare say, you would not take offense if your children were smarter and better adapted to their new environment than you are. How is that a curse? Isn't that what you would expect from a loving God who loves diversity? I believe an evolutionary creation, always progressing, with life continually adapting to better meet the changing environment is exactly what I would expect from a loving, eternal, creator. And it really doesn't matter whether it started 6000 years ago, or 6 billion years ago, I expect God to continue creating throughout eternity.

Ron, although I can concede you some measure of reason to your comment, there is a point that completely denigrate God character and love. Death is not so pleasure as you attempt to describe. Death is horrible, painful, and destructive. The Bible says that death is an enemy. The implications of your comments about death are also destructive of Christian hope. Christian hope implies life and joy, but death implies sorrow and misery. Another point that lack of biblical sound is the way in which you relate God as creator in a continuous creative work and death. If God is an eternal creator (I agree, he is) and to create he needs death (because evolution needs death), therefore, death becomes an eternal tool in the Creator's hands. Then, there is not hope, there is not end for sin, there is no eternal life. Consequently, we are, in the words of Paul, "of all men most miserable." (1 Corinthians 15:19).
I would like to suggest that could be important to reconsider your arguments from a biblical point of view about God, Creation, and Death.
God bless.

First of all, many things have changed in paleontology since the publication (in 1977) of Gould's article "The Episodic Nature of Evolutionary Change" (from which you indirectly quote). You should definitely read more recent literature on the topic (like Neil Shubin's "Your Inner Fish").

Secondly, why not go a step further in your historical illustration and show us how Adventists used "empirical data" in establishing their interpretation of whatever happened in October 1844. To call that piece of prophetic interpretation "historicist" (when a heavenly sanctuary clearly lies outside any verifiable history) is a gross misnomer.

PS. Strictly speaking, evolution does NOT require death, it only requires sex and birth.

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Memory, Meaning & Faith is a blog covering Christian history in light of contemporary issues.

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