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Sabbath School for a New Generation

Among Seventh Day Adventists, Sabbath School is a time for discussion and learning. It is the belief of this site that Sabbath School should be an exciting venue for the discussion of new ideas, instead of rehashing old arguments. So welcome to a virtual Sabbath School, a Sabbath School for a new generation.

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I am an Electrical Engineer, working at Intel in the Portland area. I received my undergraduate degree from Walla Walla College and graduate degrees from the University of Southern California. The views expressed on this website are my own and do not reflect the viewpoints of anybody else. I reserve the right to change my mind at any point in time.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Atoday on the IJ

As many of you know, Atoday is doing a special commentary on this quarter's sabbath school lesson. The series is well done with several different viewpoints represented. However one of the comments to the editor really irked me.
So, if those who don't believe that 1844 is even supported in Scripture, they need to be honest and get out of Adventism. There is NO middle ground on this.

I've heard this from many different people on several different issues. Cliff Goldstein made a similar comment concerning Creationism/Evolution. It's reproduced here, but I believe the original article was in the Adventist Review.

Unfortunately it is not that simple. If I could only join a church if I agreed with all of its doctrines, the only church availiable to me would be the First Church of PerpetualStudent, which is definitely not the best option from the spiritual growth and nuturing perspective. There needs to exist room in any healthy church for discussion and possible change and there definitely needs to be room for a healthy disagreement.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Peer Review Revisited

Earlier, I discussed some of the difficulties of peer review and how much I dislike it when people try to invoke a conspiracy to explain why their paper wasn't accepted. This particularly happens among Creationists and ID proponents. This last week, I read an article in Discover that talked about Mordahai Milgrom, who has proposed a rather controversial reformulation of gravity. His proposal would totally alter our concept of gravity and cosmology. Of course he has had trouble publishing his ideas, but through effort and research and several tries, he was able to finally get all of his original papers published in The Astrophysical Journal. At this point, it is too soon to tell if his ideas will gain wide acceptance.

I would have more respect for the Discovery Institute, if they followed this path of doing research and attempting to publish it. However they have chosen to try to have their ideas included by launching a PR offensive. This is not how science is done (if you consider ID science.)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Global Warming

The topic of global warming has been going around the Adventist blogosphere (see Spectrum Magazine and Ryan Bell's site.) I am sitting here watching a Discovery special on the subject, hosted by Tom Brokaw. Although I was already convinced, I had no idea just how overwhelming all the evidence is. Glaciers are melting, sea level is rising (estimated at 4 to 10 inches in the last 100 years), and carbon dioxide levels are at the highest they have ever been in thousands of years. Also carbon dioxide is highly correlated with global temperature. The implications are quite frightening. However I think Americans are starting to wake up to the danger and that gives me hope. Documentaries such as this one and Al Gore's movie are contributing to this as well as over-the-top movies like The Day After Tomorrow. Hopefully this will lead to more action.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Book review: Misquoting Jesus

I just finished reading Bart Ehrman's book, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. The title of the book is probably the most provocative portion of the whole book. In fact I refused to buy it for just that reason. The book store is full of fantastical "history" that has no basis in reality (i.e. Holy Blood, Holy Grail and many of the books on the Gnostic Gospels.) This book is not one of those books. However there wasn't much that surprised me either. Maybe that is because my Bible has footnotes that point out variant readings and seperates out whole segments that aren't in our earliest manuscripts (like the story of the woman caught in adultery.) So I am familiar with some of these issues.

There are several types of errors, which are discussed. In Bible class at the Adventist schools that I have attended, we discussed errors that were simply mistakes (skipping a line, mispelling a word, or writing a line twice.) However some of these changes were intentional. Scribes would change the wording so that it made more sense to them and sometimes they would change the wording because they didn't like what it said. For example they would take a text that implied that Jesus was only human and changed it to highlight his divinity.

The book is also somewhat biographical. Dr. Ehrman believed in the doctrine of inerrancy. This belief led him to the study of Biblical Languages and the development of the texts of the Bible. That study convinced him of the error of inerrancy (much to his own surprise.) At this point he considers himself to be an agnostic.

I would recommend the book for anyone who wants to more about the history of how the Bible came to us. You don't have to agree with all of his conclusions about what the changes mean, but it is important that we understand the human factors of how the Bible came to being.