Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dr. Pitman Responds

Editor's note: This is in response to an earlier post.

Hi Andy,

Feel free to post my response or use it as you see fit.

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you regarding your letter and request for conversation on the topic of origins (one of my favorites as you know). I have been very busy of late. Just got back from giving a series of talks on origins and my work is also quite busy. In any case, I'd like to respond, in particular, to something you said in your letter that struck me as especially interesting. You wrote:

"I stand in awe of the natural world. Its mysteries amaze, confound and inspire me, and I want to understand it as completely as my intellect permits. However, scientific discoveries in no way influence my personal religious beliefs. They are moral choices, influenced primarily by my understanding of the life and teachings of Christ and an inner voice."

In this passage it seems like you suggest that your beliefs regarding the workings of the natural world in no way influence or affect your religious beliefs. This is interesting to me because many of what I would call my own religious beliefs are in fact influenced by what I think I understand about the natural world. Morality, on the other hand, is not the same thing to me as "religion" in my understanding of the term. After all, even atheists can be morally upright "good" people - many of whom we will no doubt see in Heaven someday...

Because of this, I don't believe that morality is based on knowledge, but on motive. Useful religion, on the other hand, is based on knowledge. This is because religion, at least the Christian religion as I understand it, is based on the understood reality of the Gospel's "Good News". One doesn't have to like or appreciate the Gospel in order for one to understand its reality. After all, we are told that even the devils believe, and tremble (James 2:19).

It seems then that a solid rational basis for a belief in the Gospel message of hope in an eternally bright literal future for all who live according to the Royal Law (a motive-based Law by the way) must be based on some sort of empirical, physical, universally-available evidence.

If one doesn't have or understand this evidence, one may be a very good and moral person indeed - and therefore in a saving relationship with God. However, such a person will not have a conscious hope in the Gospel's message. While such individuals will no doubt find themselves in Heaven someday, and be very surprised to be there by the way, how much better would it have been for them in this life to have understood the reality of the Gospel's message of hope? How much more tolerable the trials and struggles that we all experience? How much closer a relationship with God here and now?

It is for this reason that I work so hard to spread the message of hope that is found in the Gospel as more than a good moral fable... but a solid reality based on the significant weight of generally available empirical evidence.

Thanks again for your thoughts and time.

Sincerely yours,


P.S. If you have a specific question or comment regarding something I've written on my website, by all means feel free to send it over...

No comments: