Is It Possible to Demonstrate the Supernatural in the Health Writings of EGW Using Scientific Methods?

Speaker: Categories: Sep 12, 2009


[1hr, 14min, 13sec / 28min, 57sec]


This month's topic again takes a more objective look at previously published SDA information as did the August presentation by Mike Scofield. One might ask whether such examinations of printed material already in circulation is healthy? Is setting the record straight by taking a look back productive? If such published materials were NOT cited for modification, would the SDA church membership be less stressed and more likely to feel relaxed in what had been read weeks or months or years earlier?

Dr. Willey notes:"Two recent books,Acquired or Inspired? Exploring the Origins of the Adventist lifestyleby Don S. McMahon andThe Prophet and Her Criticsby Leonard Brand and Don. S. McMahon employ the logic of science while attempting to establish that Ellen G. White's health principles could only have originated from divine inspiration. Not surprisingly, McMahon and Brand focus much of their criticism onProphetess of Health: a Study of Ellen G. White, first published in 1975 and now in its third edition, written by Ronald L. Numbers, a historian of science and medicine at the University of Wisconsin."

"McMahon,"continues T. Joe Willey,"introduced his research findings to Numbers by explaining via email;'If they (The White Estates) could refute what you have done, they would not have accepted my work. So it is because of you that I have been welcomed as a satisfactory compromise between the two extremes on the inspiration as expressed by Ellen White."As is well-known, Numbers discovered that scattered through Mrs. White's health writings were footprints of literary dependency from coeval (contemporary) health reformers. He also found that Mrs. White embraced antiquated notions on inherited or acquired human characteristics and occasionally gave advice later shown to be wrong. Throughout these two books published by the Pacific Press, Brand and McMahon seem particularly annoyed by Numbers'failure to grant a role for divine inspiration in the historical production of Mrs. White's writings."

"The San Diego presentation", assures the September SDAF presenter,"will focus on how well McMahon and Brand advanced their scientific ambition to reveal the supernatural in Mrs. White's health writings and whether or not their new methods adequately grapple with the issues raised by Numbers'earlier historical analyses. Despite claiming a supernatural finding, McMahon warned Numbers that"When you have [read my book] you will have discovered that I have not proven Ellen White to be inspired in the fashion that you and I were led to believe in our youth."What were McMahon's findings?


Dr. T. Joe Willey confesses that he has become rather totally engaged in historical studies of nineteenth-century Adventism. He received his PH.D. in neuroscience from the University of California, Berkley, and has taught at Loma Linda Medical School, Walla Walla and La Sierra Universities. He was a fellow with Sir John Eccles (Nobel Price Winner) at the State University of New York-Buffalo, and a research fellow at the Brain Research Institute at UCLA, Los Angeles. He has shared his research with San Diego Adventist Forum on two previous occasions: April, 2005, and October, 2007.

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