Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Creation 7th day folly


There is an interesting article and conversation on Atoday.com regarding the trademark violations of the self described Creation Seventh day Adventist church (sometimes identified with 7th instead of seventh, hereafter CSDA). The article's title and opening line reads:

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Submitted: May 16, 2012
By Andrew Hanson
Should the Seventh-day Adventist Church seek to put people in jail because of their non-violent religious beliefs? That is the bottom line to the long story of a little, independent congregation and the General Conference attorneys.
As a news article it begins somewhat poorly as the SDA church never set out to send anyone to jail as there really is no jail sentence available for trademark violations, they simply sought legal protection from the misuse of their trademark. The whole idea of jail comes from the CSDA members putting back up signs which the court had taken down. Thus the whole affair with jail no longer has anything to do with the SDA church but with violations of court orders. If the CSDA folks want to pretend to be martyrs for violating US and international laws that is their business but it is hardly something that can be blamed upon the SDA denomination.
For a background of the story see the video links on the above Atoday.com article as well as look at the actual findings of the court in 2006 against the CSDA group. Case No. D2006-0642 Here are a the main decision findings from that case:
The Panel does not believe that the freedom to practice religion or the deviation from fundamental doctrine constitute defenses cognizable under the Policy to invalidate the protection afforded Complainant by its registered Marks.
Therefore, the Panel finds that Complainant, for purposes of this proceeding, has enforceable rights in the Marks.
Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Domain Names are confusingly similar to the Marks in which the Complainant has rights pursuant to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(i).
The Panel finds that persons interested in finding religious information are Internet users and consumers within the meaning of the Policy. Respondent is using Domain Names which are confusingly similar for purposes of the Policy. Therefore, he is attracting Internet users and misleading consumers searching for Complainant.
The Panel finds that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Names pursuant to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(ii).
An additional factor found to support a finding of bad faith is Respondent’s actual knowledge of the Complainant’s Marks when Respondent registered the Domain Names. When considered with the attraction of Internet users using a likelihood of confusion, the Panel finds this evidence sufficient to support a finding that the Domain Names were registered and used in bad faith pursuant to the Policy, paragraph 4(a)(iii).
Respondent advises the Panel that he has been commanded by YAHWEH to employ the name Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church in describing the true religion and fellowship of His spiritual kingdom on Earth. Respondent must obey God rather than men.
The Panel finds that the defense of waiver offered by Respondent is not sufficient to nullify the bad faith of Respondent. 
 
Now it seems from the conversation on the Atoday website from CSDA members that their claim to not follow the judicial decisions of United States courts is because they feel that God has given them the name and they must follow God. The followers also make the point that because the CSDA group does not follow the courts ruling that they be held in contempt of court; they claim to be subject to being jailed because of the SDA church. Of course if there was no governmental action to back up a judicial finding there would be no reason for courts at all. That the government takes these actions is in the courts interest as well as in the plaintiffs interest thus the use of contempt recommendations by SDA Lawyers. I would rather see our courts maintain effectiveness by holding those in contempt when the court's ruling is violated. They can always appeal and when the court asks for simple and reasonable actions there is little excuse for the CSDA to refuse and expect no consequences for their contempt of court.
Here are some of the CSDA comments about why they must refuse to follow the courts ruling:
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2) We believe that He has given us a name that reflects this faith, and although it was always clear it would cause controversy, we did not shrink from this duty because of the fear of man's judgment.  The idea that Christ still speaks to His people seems to immediately trigger the adrenaline glands of some. --David Aguilar
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I would be pleased if you are willing to understand what the issue here really is.  We did not and will not just flip a coin and choose a "name for ourselves."  We have not co-opted a corporate name for our own benefit.  Those who make such accusations are deluded liars. (It actually hurts me to speak with such force of words.)

Two believers in Jesus and the Adventist message saw visions from God that commanded us to take the name "Creation Seventh Day Adventist" as the name of our faith and practice of religion. "Let every fact be established by two or more..."

Many believe Moses received tablets of stone on which the commandments of God were engraved with His own finger.  "Creation Seventh Day Adventist" is engraved in every heart of our brethren by the Spirit of YAHWEH.  If this were the case for you, would you give credibility to the advice of other "helpful souls?" -- Pastor Chick
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If one actually followed this kind of logic then anything regardless of legal finding would have to be accepted as part of religious liberty. “We were told by two of our members who saw visions from God that we should break into the video store to supply our church with audio and video equipment”? This is the real danger of these CSDA folks. They pretend to be standing up for religious liberty when they are not at all standing for it they are destroying it. Their arguments would make all laws useless and all deluded people free from prosecution. They would destroy the entire nation because of their selfishness. This logic is seen by another comment of Pastor Chick who misapplies the Roman/Jewish conspiracy against Christ 2000 years ago with the court case in 21st century America. He writes:
You posed the following questions for contemplation:--Should the Seventh-day Adventist Church seek to put people in jail because of their non-violent religious beliefs?
I would suggest a parallel question:  Should the Jewish Church have sought to have the Christ arrested because of His religious beliefs that led to His authoritative claims?
 
--Is it really necessary for our Church to put these two men in jail?
My parallel question:  Was it really necessary for the Jewish Church leaders to influence Pilate in arresting the Prince of Glory and putting Him to death?
 
--Do church members and pastors think that this is an appropriate way for the Church to deal with splinter groups?
My parallel question:  Did the constituency of the Jewish Church think the treatment of Christ by their leaders was appropriate for His dissident doctrine, divisive activities, and authoritative claims?
 
--Is there a Bible basis for enforcement efforts that go so far as to put people in jail?
My parallel question:  Was there an Old Testament basis for the efforts put forth by the “leading men” to have Christ arrested, scourged, and eventually killed?
Here again we see the self centered nature of their argument. To disagree with their positions is equivalent to the persecution of Jesus Christ. They assume they are the Christ position, they are the good and true followers. Again Pastor Chick when responding to the religious liberty position of a previous commenter:
Pastor_Chick
If you knew my Father, you would know me.  If you loved my Father, you would love me.  If you did the will of my Father, you would appreciate the works that I do, for they are the works of Him who lives in me.

There is no confusion in the Church of the Living God.  His people are perfectly untied as one with the Father and His Son.  They do always those things that please Him.  What they hear from the Father, they do. Amen.

Later he writes:

Good point!  After all, God's armies have always been the large ones, right?

Let's consider the days of Noah, for example.  The Messiah said it will be same when He comes back; so, you DO have a good 92% on your side.  But, I will rely on the prophecy of One who said, "
Few there be that find it."  I hope you understand -- this is no "riddle."  It is life and death – eternal.

Here is the argument that because they have been ruled against and that most people do not support their position they must be on God's side. The majority is the enemy so if one is on a minority side they are on the side of God.

We need to pray for and if you know any of these people help them learn how to actually think rather then to manipulate information. This does seem to be a true lunatic fringe, and there should be a good deal of concern for mainstream Adventists as well that our denomination seems to breed people that think so strangely. Has the teaching of Adventism over the last 100 plus years created these strange offshoots. Now that is an interesting question.











Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Response to When is logic illogical



There is a common problem we see with many Adventists as they talk about Genesis.  They assume if you do not accept the literalistic six days of creation then you don’t believe in God’s involvement at all. One would think that with the theory of Theistic Evolution that would not be a problem (“Theistic evolution is not a scientific theory, but a particular view about how the science of evolution relates to religious belief and interpretation” Wikipedia). It incorporates the divine supernatural activity of God in the direction of evolution. But most Traditional Adventists find it easier to create the straw man argument. That argument is that of naturalistic evolution where random chance and life from non life is the only explanation offered against their literal view of six day creation. That is why so many of them such as Clifford Goldstein and David Read so commonly present the opposition to their literal creationism as Seventh-day Darwinians or Darwinians respectively.  As this blog has pointed out in a previous article both of those terms are inaccurately used. Seventh-day Darwinians without even having a definition! Even when frequently used by Clifford Goldstein, he can’t be bothered to define his own term, it simply is meant as a slam against his opponents. Not based upon what they believe or espouse but upon his distortion of their beliefs. That is why his opponents are never mentioned by name or their statements are ever quoted.

This atmosphere in the Adventist media has pervaded the dialog so when Bruce Justinen wrote his response to my article “the need for logic” he presents logic as opposed to the supernatural. This technique allows them to buttress their literal creation story as supernatural and if you don’t accept their traditional literal version of the creation story you don’t accept anything supernatural. This is how Bruce expressed it:

For some, this is not good enough, they must know.  So they hypothesize, they imagine, they fill in the blanks, they logic that which it is not subject to logic.  “The fiery furnace, Jonah and the great fish, the sun moving backward, the axe head floating ...”

The Straw man arguments are logical fallacies, but they are a frequent method of manipulation…at least until the fallacy is pointed out and then it is clear that the logic of their position is in fact not logical but a fallacy stated as a fact. The art of propaganda is to keep repeating something long enough that people then accept it. But merely repeating a lie does no one any good. It does not lead to a good discussion and it certainly does not lead to any sort of reasoned argument and will never lead to a satisfactory conclusion.

But the original question is not is there or was there supernatural activities. The very term theistic evolution should disabuse someone of that idea.  That it does not, shows that their position is not based upon logic but upon misinformation. The use of misinformation is contrary to a well reasoned argument (logic). Let us remind ourselves of the definition of logic:
1. the science that investigates the principles governing correct or reliable inference.
2. a particular method of reasoning or argumentation: We were unable to follow his logic.
3. the system or principles of reasoning applicable to any branch of knowledge or study.
4. reason or sound judgment, as in utterances or actions: There wasn't much logic in her move.
5. convincing forcefulness; inexorable truth or persuasiveness: the irresistible logic of the facts.

That the logical principles should be overlooked because one claims supernatural beliefs is perhaps one of the strangest arguments one could make. As Bruce wrote:

What I think he fails to see is that logic has not been cast aside by.  It is that Adventism has always chosen the logic of the Supernatural over the logic of science.   We simply turn to the Supernatural.  If I may paraphrase Webster “not subject to explanation by Me...or anyone I know.”

“But as Christians we make choices as to what we will believe.  We realize we do not have all of the information – all of the time.  The Bible does not claim to give us all of the information on Creation or a host of other subjects, it gives us what it gives us, there may be more, there probably is – a lot more.  I don’t know.  And there lies the conundrum – I don’t know.”

First there is no logic of the Supernatural. We can’t study the supernatural we study what others have said about the supernatural and with logic we make inferences of possible relationships between the natural and the supernatural. Theistic evolution supposes supernatural activity that correlates with the physical evidence on the planet and the visible universe.  Thus life is still produced by God but the technique used is not that assumed by traditions.  As science learns more we have redefined our interpretations, as we see evidence which makes our previous belief seem less probable.  God is not removed but his methods of activity are interpreted in less traditional ways.

If Christians were more logical they would see that their interpretations of the Bible have indeed changed through time as people learn more. As Bruce says he does not know. When one does not know something the logical thing to do is not to simply stand on the traditions but to acknowledge that there may in fact be other methods of interpretation of the Biblical stories. So as he says the Bible does not claim to give us all the information on Creation so why do so many Christians feel that their traditional interpretation is the only possible solution. If they don’t know, if their answers are clearly inadequate why not allow for the possibility of other methods of interpretation and other theories of origins.

The false logic of only accepting the tradition of a literal 6 day creation or young earth creation and then distorting other Christian theories of origins is the problem.  The discussion gets nowhere because one side is trying to use logic and the other refuses to use logic, pretending that they are, but in fact treating their beliefs and traditions as if those things represent logical arguments. This is not to say that this is the problem of all Christians, for there are people working in Creation Science or Intelligent Design or Theistic Evolution, all these can work on understanding the Creation yet none of them have or are likely to present a scientific theory of origins, since each has to use the supernatural and the supernatural is outside of our investigative processes.

We can’t just resort to supernaturalism as a belief on origins because then we have nothing more than a series of religions each with their own supernatural origin beliefs. To make the case that way we would have to prove our particular belief to be the only possible religion and once we have proved our religion alone is right then we would submit that are particular belief is the correct view of supernatural origins. Our logic then will be used to set forth our particular religion or denomination or church as the correct and only true and verifiable belief. That is a losing task, and it deflects from God to a religious tradition which is usually simply a group of narrowly accepted interpretations.

We will ultimately get nowhere if we ignore sound reasoning and following logical explanations for our beliefs. To ignore the scientific evidence is not logical or persuasive, we must do better, and we must, as Bruce said admit we don’t know and if we don’t know we can’t exclude options and possibilities and alternative explanations. Right now our church is at that threshold…will they be humble enough to go forward and seek to progress in understanding or go backward and assume that only our tradition is the acceptable belief for our church and its members.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

When is Logic Illogical; guest Comment


                                       WHEN IS LOGIC ILLOGICAL
                            (A response from Bruce Justinen 5/2012)

As we punt, bat and kick around the continuing debate over the validity of the Creation story of Genesis 1 and 2, as literal or not, we should consider the logic of the supernatural.  Is it possible that our purported logical thinking is in fact illogical?

Webster’s Dictionary defines “supernatural” as:
“...not subject to explanation according to natural laws;”  “Being beyond, or exceeding, the power or laws of nature, miraculous.”  In other words, not necessarily subject to logical explanation or analysis.   Stephen J. Gould, the now diseased Harvard biologist was quite comfortable acknowledging that there were things he did not know and in fact were not knowable to him by the science (logic) for which he was so esteemed.   He termed it “non overlapping magisterium.”   He was right in his basic premise, but perhaps na├»ve in feeling a neat line could be drawn between the realm of faith and that of reason.  And of course, he and others wished to draw that line far into what most Christians would complain was in fact God’s territory!

1 Corinthians 1: 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:  “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”  20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

This verse is only applicable in the context of the “supernatural”.  That is, it would be “foolishness” to label everything we merely disagree with as “foolishness” just because we have these handy-dandy verses available to us as Christians.  It is only when there is a conflict with the Supernatural, the “not being subject to explanation...” that we can lay hold of I Corinthians 1:18-20.  The formula applies only when Science is contrary to the Supernatural.

We do not seek to be silly here.  Science, Physics, Genetics, Paleontology, etc. all have merit. In fact, our standard of living, the comfort of our homes, our jobs and lifestyles are dependent on the sciences.  I am not debating science or even evolution, I do not understand nor do I act as an apologist for God in this debate, He does not need one.  There is simply too much I can say “I don’t know” and “I haven’t heard all God has to say on this yet”.  And I probably won’t hear His side until after Jesus comes.

For some, this is not good enough, they must know.  So they hypothesize, they imagine, they fill in the blanks, they logic that which it is not subject to logic.  “The fiery furnace, Jonah and the great fish, the sun moving backward, the axe head floating ...”

Ron Corson wrote recently “What appears to be happening in Adventism today is that logic has been cast aside. When we lose that we have nothing. We have no reason to exist and we have no reasonable way to fulfill a mission for God and no way to fulfill that mission because we have lost the key elements to communicate.”

What I think he fails to see is that logic has not been cast aside by.  It is that Adventism has always chosen the logic of the Supernatural over the logic of science.   We simply turn to the Supernatural.  If I may paraphrase Webster “not subject to explanation by Me...or anyone I know.”

But as Christians we make choices as to what we will believe.  We realize we do not have all of the information – all of the time.  The Bible does not claim to give us all of the information on Creation or a host of other subjects, it gives us what it gives us, there may be more, there probably is – a lot more.  I don’t know.  And there lies the conundrum – I don’t know.

I will be forced to wait for my explanation.  I willingly suspend judgment or leave in God’s hands those areas I cannot know.

Do I understand the different climates of the Galapagos Islands?  No!  Does the earth seem very old?  Yes!  Do I possess Megaladon teeth both serrated and non-serrated teeth that would suggest that their teeth “evolved” over a long period of time?  Yes!   Do I understand how Jonah could live for three days inside a whale?  No! 

In 1999, the National Academy of Sciences, in answer to the tensions between science and religion, made this statement in a publication it titled “Science and Creationism”.  “Scientists, like many others, are touched with awe at the order and complexity of nature. Indeed, many scientists are deeply religious. But science and religion occupy two separate realms of human experience. Demanding that they be combined detracts from the glory of each."

Adventism believes that they occupy one realm and that they glorify each other and that where one must make a choice which to believe and this is not often but does happen.  When we have to choose which to go with, where to place one’s faith in, we choose the Supernatural.  We do this, having faith that all of the answers may not be apparent to us but that the answers do exist.

But I know that in the world of the Supernatural, things don’t always seem as they appear.  Even though science is ever before me in all its logical wonder, so is the magic of the Supernatural and it has the greater sway over me.  Not that I mistrust science, I don’t.  It is just that I know the One that invented science controls it and I trust Him more.

However, I do have enough to say to a dying world: “Trust the Supernatural, there is hope there.  The logical world, for all I can see, has not delivered on its promises.”

So am I held up to possible ridicule?  Possibly.  But given a choice of trusting my logic, your logic or anyone else’s logic or trusting God, I choose the Supernatural God.  If that is illogical, so be it.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The need for Logic


Recently I received a comment on this blog from Adventist Today Editor J. David Newman, in part he wrote:
You write well although you and I will never come to any sort of agreement because your logic is beyond me just as my logic is beyond you. It seems that we are speaking two different languages.

A couple years ago I had an extended dialog with David Newman on the subject of death before sin and he could not fathom anything other then taking the Genesis chapters 1 and 2 as literal method of interpretation. You know the perfect world with talking snakes thing, with trees given names like the “tree of life” and the “tree of knowledge of good and evil”.

His claim was that we were talking past each other, basically what he is saying in the above comment. I would have liked to have posted those conversations but he did not want me to. I think the reason he did not want them posted is not because we were speaking a different language but because we were speaking with different presuppositions and facts. But his facts were mostly beliefs and when you compare beliefs with actual factual information beliefs don't seem so compelling.

Not long ago there was a news program and Rachel Maddow was making a statement about the supposed wage gap between men and women. To this another panelist Alex Castellanos stepped in to explain some of the reasons for wage differences. Her response was: “Wait wait wait, don't tell me the reasons do women make less then men...” If one rejects reasons to focus upon statistics do the statistics really matter anymore? No in fact they become excuses. We see a lot of this type of miscommunication in the world of politics, but it is also just as frequent in the world of religion.

It is most frequent with the fundamentalist mindset that claims that the Bible is the word of God, so if God wrote the story of Genesis through the hand of some person, God was telling the literal, historical and scientifically accurate truth. That presupposition precludes any logical or reasoned variance with their belief. Their belief is not even accurate as the Bible does not claim to be the word of God (click this link for more) in the first place but that does not really matter as their belief is the primary thing. When people refuse to use logic then logic has no effect on them. When people want you to ignore logic then their arguments have no effect on the person who wants to be logical; who wants to have well thought out reasons for their positions. Thus Newman's statement is somewhat true. “...I will never come to any sort of agreement because your logic is beyond me just as my logic is beyond you.” The problem is that we could communicate if he was using logic. That is the reason for the existence of what we call logic. That way people can get together and discuss and work out ideas and effectively communicate.

What appears to be happening in Adventism today is that logic has been cast aside. When we lose that we have nothing. We have no reason to exist and we have no reasonable way to fulfill a mission for God and no way to fulfill that mission because we have lost the key elements to communicate. For Adventism to progress it must begin to think critically once again. (see the following quote on Critical Thinking):

Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally. It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. Someone with critical thinking skills is able to do the following :
  • understand the logical connections between ideas
  • identify, construct and evaluate arguments
  • detect inconsistencies and common mistakes in reasoning
  • solve problems systematically
  • identify the relevance and importance of ideas
  • reflect on the justification of one's own beliefs and values