To: me, Earl, tstandish (May 21, 2009)
A frank assessment of the meaning of Whisbey's letter from a colleague.
ugh - Art, have you read this letter? it is very bad, scary. apparently
the biology faculty is fully supported by the president of LSU because
"LSU is an excellent setting for examining evolutionary process - a
subject that is foundational to the modern biological and behavioral
sciences.... [because of it's] growing importance in biomedical
applications." in other words, turns out the bible was wrong after all,
and they are REALLY educating the students.
LSU is lost
You don't know me from Adam but I do believe you have communicated with
my son, Shawn Brace, at some time in the past. It was from he that
I received your email address.
No doubt by now you have received emails both pro and con as a result of
what is being termed your "open letter" and the recent response by the
La Sierra president. I have read both.
I just wanted to send along this email to encourage you in this, what
may now be, the "joined battle." I appreciate that someone who has
a degree of influence within the denomination is finally speaking up for
what has been taking place for many decades now. It is long
After having read Dr. Wisbey's response I wrote him a kindly email that
essentially, with I hope Christian love, told him that after reading his
reply I was more concerned than before. Rather than allaying my
fears, he buttressed them!
We have a huge challenge on our hands in this denomination we love so
deeply, and I have no doubts that Dr. Wisbey loves it as well.
However, unless these issues are dealt with now I fear for the future
and for God's honor and reputation.
One of my old seminary profs who helped greatly to shape my theology,
Dr. Carsten Johnsen, used to say, "academic freedom is nothing more than
eros." I think we are witnessing a modern example of this right
Again, thank you for your public stand. May God give you strength
and wisdom in the future. May we go forward in the spirit of
"malice toward none and love toward all." And let us hope this
issue is not ignored.
If I can be of any assistance in this matter, don't hesitate to let me
know. I would be glad to join my voice.
Southern New England Conference
Co-host: Portraits of God radio ministry
Assistant editor: New England
May 21, 2009
Below is a letter from David Ekkens, Ph.D. and professor of biology at
Southern Adventist University, regarding the open letter from Randal
Wisbey, president of La Sierra University, discussing why the Darwinian
perspective on origins is actually being promoted by science professors
Here are some thoughts on Wisbey's letter. In my humble view, he
said a lot of nice-sounding words but without a whole lot of
One thing that bothered me was that he appears to be attempting to
paint all the SDA colleges & universities with the same brush. "This
letter undercuts the educational work and ministry of La Sierra
University, and indeed the broader system of Adventist higher
education, rather than seeking better understanding and
clarification of the concerns noted by the writer." He sent this
letter to all the university/college presidents, appearing (to me at
least) to say to them--Brothers, we need to unite to stop this kind
of attack on our academic freedom. In my view, he is wrong on that
score. At the SDA universities that I know about, organic evolution
is not being taught as THE explanation to the exclusion of
special creation. If his idea is that "everyone's doing it," he is
going to be sadly disappointed as he is abandoned by his brother
What he left unsaid was probably more important than what he said.
He didn't say that he had personally talked to biology profs and
that they assured him they believe and teach that the best available
evidence refutes a materialistic origin of life and is compatible
with the SDA position.
He didn't say that he had personally talked to current and past
biology (and theology) students and that their faith in God had been
strengthened at LSU.
He didn't say that he had personally talked to current and past
biology students and what they understood from their classes was
that more scientific evidence supported special creation than
He didn't say how teaching only organic evolution that denies basic
beliefs of the SDA church constitutes a "supportive, Adventist
He said, "I want it to be clearly understood that those of us who
teach, those of us who have the privilege of serving at an Adventist
university, take our mission and our responsibilities towards our
students seriously." He possibly believes that but I don't think he
is speaking for many on his staff. There are three possibilities
He knows what they are doing and is covering it up or
He doesn't understand the issue while claiming that he does or
He has a different meaning of "take our mission and our
responsibilities towards our students seriously" than most of
the rest of us have.
It is interesting that when he says "We support the mission of the
Seventh-day Adventist Church in powerful ways, such as..." and gives
examples of wonderful mission projects that students participate in.
These are good but they are not evidence of support of the mission
of the church when basic beliefs are being undermined. Using those
examples is basically a smokescreen to cover the real issue that
needs to be dealt with: is the teaching of organic evolution and the
exclusion of God and any Divine activity supportive of the SDA
He gives laudable evidence of students being baptized. That is
wonderful. We could all come up with wonderful stories but again
that obscures the real issue.
He makes another statement that I think is a smoke screen: "In
particular, this letter charges that 'naturalistic evolution' is
taught at La Sierra University - even while suggesting that
evolution should be taught at our Adventist colleges and
universities." In my opinion, he is again confusing the issue. He
seems to be suggesting that the letter’s author is confused—charging
that evolution is being taught at LSU but at the same time saying
that it should be taught.
Just my thoughts.
On May 26th, 2009
I wrote him [Wisbey] a personal email, pointing out what he did:
Dear Mr. Wisbey: This letter is in regard to your letter about
“naturalistic evolution” being taught at La Sierra University. I
graduated from LSU in 2005, and in my last year I took a biology
class that did teach naturalistic evolution. There was no discussion
of divine guidance or intervention. Natural selection was taught as
being the primary catalyst for the evolutionary process. Sir, I
think you have committed a straw man fallacy in your letter, and
have thereby avoided the issue.
David said naturalist evolution is being taught at LSU.
You said that implies atheistic evolution is being taught.
You said, “We reject this implied atheistic charge.”
You then seem to conclude the accusations are false, or at least
undercut the education being offered.
You never denied that naturalistic evolution was being taught.
Instead, you denied atheistic evolution was being taught. Do you
honestly believe theistic evolution is compatible with the Bible? Do
you believe the biblical account of creation is
literal? Naturalistic evolution is being taught, and I am a witness
to it as are many others. In effect, your letter is misleading. Will
you write a letter specifically denying some teachers at LSU are
teaching naturalistic evolution as fact?
don't really know
corresponded via e-mail a few times. We have a number of mutual
friends and acquaintances. And, in the grand scheme of things, I
am just a "nobody" whose voice is hardly heard. But I do want to
voice my support for him.
By now, many people have, no doubt, read
the letter he wrote to Jan
Paulsen, Don Schneider, and Ricardo Graham about his
concern that La Sierra University - a Seventh-day Adventist
institution - is openly teaching and promoting Darwinian
evolution. It is not that they are presenting it as one
scientific theory. They are presenting it as the
authoritative theory, with little mention of any alternative
views (ie., intelligent
design or creationism).
never meant for the letter to get a public viewing. And it is
too bad that it has seen the light of day. But now that it has,
his thoughts and sentiments are open to debate, I suppose. And
many people have and will address them.
What he basically argues is that it is unethical and dishonest
for a professor at a Seventh-day Adventist university to be paid
to teach one thing, and yet teach another. When people sign
their name on a piece of paper that says they will uphold the 28
Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (with
number six being the belief in a literal, six day creation), and
then they turn around and teach the opposite, such is a grossly
unethical practice which would be grounds for dismissal or legal
action in any other corporation or setting.
And, contrary to popular opinion, the idea of a literal, six day
creation (which, as mentioned above, is officially affirmed by
Seventh-day Adventists in our statement of
28 Fundamental Beliefs) is not a "minor" issue. We are not
talking about women's ordination here, or whether or not a
person should be able to wear a wedding band. The belief in a
literal, six day creation is foundational to our Adventist
identity and mission.
Of course, there will be many who try to claim that Adventists
are a people of "new light" and progressive truth - and if this
weren't the case, we would still be practicing indulgences and
worshiping on Sunday. Fair enough. But we want "new light," not
some stale scientific theory that is heralded by a community
whose agenda is to do away with God.
And, aside from that, though I am no scientist, the more I
understand about Darwinian evolution, the more I realize it is
simply bad science,
with philosophical and theological agendas and presuppositions.
And it is hardly "objective" at all (Darwinian naturalists
declare, before they even begin, that there can only be
"naturalistic" answers. Limiting the field by 50 percent before
one even starts can hardly be classified as "objective." Excuse
my gross analogy, but it would be like a detective, starting on
a murder case, declaring that only a Canadian American could
have committed a murder before he even looks at one shred of
Assherick's letter has
gone public, the
president of La Sierra sent out a formal letter addressing his
for a text version of the letter - which is below
letter) four days ago. Essentially, what I got from it is that,
at La Sierra, they are baptizing a number of students this year,
and they go on a lot of mission trips, but there was scant
mention of the issue at hand. The only thing that seemed to come
close is that, for some reason, professors at universities are
allowed the privilege of so-called "academic freedom."
But I wonder: is it really "academic freedom" when you're simply
regurgitating what 98% of biologists in the world are already
saying? It sounds more like "academic slavery" to me than
freedom. Of course, if those same biology professors would ever
dare try to teach intelligent design in a biology class at a
secular university, they would find out just how quickly
"academic freedom" is not a two-way street (see
Expelled as Exhibit A).
All in all, what Asscherick
is hoping is that someone in a position of significant influence
will step up to the plate and say "enough is enough." And I
applaud him. He has put himself out there - especially now that
his letter has become public. But we need more people who are in
positions of influence within our church to confront this issue.
It is not going to die quietly in the night. Unless it is
addressed head-on, the teaching and promoting of Darwinian
evolution is just going to gain more and more momentum. (And,
again, we are not talking about shutting down the teaching of
good science. We're talking about putting an end to the
promotion of bad science that is saturated with subjective
So will someone step up to the plate? Someone? Please.
Dr. Warren Ashworth - Theologian, PUC (retired)
May 22, 2009
Words, words and pious platitudes. Interesting and of great
significance is the total absence of reference to the Word of God as the
foundation of all learning at LSU, and commitment to it as fully
inspired and accurate when it addresses history and science as well as
Apparently he has bought into theistic evolution along with his
Trying to evoke pity as the wronged and "persecuted" by some in the
church is without redeeming value.
You'll receive no help from that quarter!
Pastor Kevin Paulson
May 27, 2009
Subject: Creation VS Evolution
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Many of us by now have perhaps had the chance to read the links
provided yesterday by John Williams to the recent letter by David
Asscherick to church leaders regarding the teaching of evolution on one
of our major North American campuses, together with the reply by the
president of that institution.
There are those who may view as a waste of time any active engagement
over these issues. I think not. It is my hope that what follows will
both arouse the convictions and responsibilities of the faithful, and
inspire the lurkers and slumberers among us to a newfound sense of duty
on behalf of God's church.
The reply offered by the chief executive of this particular
university is, in my belief, significant. And for the following
1. His willingness to place himself--and by implication, the
institution he leads--in the crosshairs of a controversy likely to
inflict serious injury on his own denominational reputation and that of
the school he governs. This is, after all, an issue few if any in the
church will set aside as minor or peripheral, and the position receiving
implicit defense in this reply is by no means a popular one, certainly
not among the laity and probably not among the majority of pastors
2. The affirmation notably missing from his letter of fundamental
Adventist beliefs regarding creation and the origin of natural
life--hardly inconsequential when one considers this man's position and
the public nature of his words.
3. The reply's bold support for the freedom of church employees and
members to hold and promote varying views on this pivotal issue of
Christian doctrine. It should be noted from the outset that as crucial
as it is for Adventist institutions to maintain the integrity of our
distinctive beliefs, what we are addressing here goes far beyond
this--to the very core of Christian theology in general and the doctrine
of salvation in particular.
Why this reply was written and publicly circulated in this fashion
may be arguable. From the present writer's standpoint, it could well
signal the movement of the present conflict within Adventism to a higher
and more intense level. It must be remembered that the letter to which
this reply is addressed was authored by one who is both a gifted
communicator and widely popular among the church's young, not to mention
a prominent voice within a new and growing movement among Adventist
youth that poses a dire threat to the popular assumptions and accepted
paradigms of contemporary Adventist youth ministry.
Now, to the reply itself:
For starters, the reply raises a false issue at the very beginning
with its claim that "'naturalistic evolution' is a phrase that either in
code or direct definition implies a perspective of 'atheistic
evolution.'" One can argue about semantics, perhaps, but the letter in
question said nothing whatsoever about ATHEISTIC evolution being taught
on the campus in question. Atheism is not the issue here, nor has it
ever been in the efforts of certain ones to blend the Darwinian account
of origins with the teachings of the Bible.
The fact is that belief in macro-evolution (as distinct from the
mutation and multiplication of species since Creation, which no one
disputes) is fundamentally at odds both with the Genesis creation story
and the overall theological message of Holy Scripture. The whole notion
of sin, righteousness, and salvation loses its meaning if one accepts
the Darwinian trajectory of natural history and mankind's assumed place
within it. Moreover, the brutal and merciless process of natural
selection--otherwise called the survival of the fittest--is viewed by
this theory as both the norm and the ultimate good in the saga of life.
The Christian imperative of mercy to the weak and defenseless finds no
place in such a scheme. The reply's mention of the need for "unity in
love" within the church, and the reference to a sculpture illustrating
the "Glory of God's Grace," become an absurdity if one accepts the
premises of Darwinian evolution. The cruel process of natural selection
knows nothing of love or grace.
For the reply in question to focus mistakenly on the issue of atheism
in relation to evolution is at the very least to imply that THEISTIC
evolution is an acceptable option for teachers and students at a
Seventh-day Adventist university. Such a conclusion, if in fact
reflective of the position held by the author of this reply, places him
and those whose "freedom" he defends clearly outside the limits of the
church's Fundamental Beliefs, which clearly uphold a literal seven-day
creation week as taught in the book of Genesis.
Sadly, this is but the first of a variety of non-issues addressed by
the reply in question. To speak of the goal of integrating science and
faith, the number of baptism and mission trips witnessed and carried out
by the university, the institution's alleged contributions to scholarly
dialogue and denominational life--all miss the point. Conspicuously
absent from the reply, as noted above, is the slightest acknowledgement
that the university, its administration, and its faculty hold
unashamedly to the Biblical account of a literal seven-day creation week
as upheld in Number 6 of the church's Fundamental Beliefs. The reply
simply states that the school strives for a "supportive classroom
environment that values the Seventh-day Adventist contribution to the
understanding of biblical creation."
Such ambiguity offers no clarity to anyone seeking assurance that the
campus in question holds to the Biblical view of how the natural world
began. To "value" something is not necessarily to believe it. Such
statements raise many more questions than they answer, and will do
nothing to allay the concern which prompted the letter in the first
Furthermore, the reply's salute to what it calls a "spirit of
openness" and the necessity of welcoming "new light" give every
impression of upholding a belief in unqualified academic freedom and the
unfettered tolerance of ideas in the Adventist educational system.
Indeed, the reply offers not the slightest clue as to the boundaries and
limits maintained by the institution he leads when it comes to the
interchange of ideas, acceptable conclusions, or tolerated practices.
Aside from overt atheism, the reply gives no hint whatsoever as to any
beliefs or teachings which would be forbidden to faculty members or
officials of the university.
Moreover, thoughtful church members will be appalled and plainly
disgusted by the suggestion that Darwinian evolution might be "new
light" for the church to consider. Darwin's theory is neither new nor
enlightening, whose hallmarks in the human story have included such
blessings as industrial brutality, economic oppression, even genocide.
Some will doubtless raise the counter argument that conservative
Christianity offers a similar history, and they would be right. What
Christian advocates for evolution fail to consider, however, is that if
Darwin's theory is embraced, cruelty and lack of mercy cease to be
aberrations, becoming instead both normative and necessary for the sake
In sum, the reply in question represents what can only be called an
open declaration of defiance against a key and fundamental doctrine of
Holy Scripture and of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. The
imperative now rests with all church members in the Pacific Union
Conference (the constituency of the university in question) to write the
strongest possible letters of protest, both to the president of the
university and to the board chairman, the president of the Pacific
Union. The trustees of this institution must be urged, even commanded,
to muster the courage necessary to call to account both administrators
and professors as regards their faithfulness to Biblical creationism and
the fundamental beliefs of the church they claim to serve and belong to.
The reply's stated commitment to "scientific integrity" is a tragic
misplacement of priority. Biblical integrity is what counts. To elevate
nature over the God of nature is one of the oldest sins devised by
rebellious humanity. It has no place in the remnant church of Bible
We live in momentous times. The conflict before us is not for the
faint of heart, nor for those yearning for the false peace of fabricated
unity. It is my prayer that this letter and reply will sound an alarm
of no uncertain tones throughout the ranks of God's people.
May the Lord find us faithful!
May 27, 2009
Again, "A house divided against itself cannot
stand." If someone disagrees with the Church, just go
and join a different group that is more in line with one's own ideals.
Easy. No big deal.
Why get so worked up if some crazy organization doesn't agree
with you and doesn't want to pay you for your contrary ideas? - why
should it? What right do you or Wisbey or the LSU professors have to
demand that crazy people give up money to those who wish to tell them
and everyone else that they are crazy?
Thank you Sir. May I have another?
May 27, 2009
Say I want to buy a certain very expensive product. I like it. That’s
what I want. I don’t care if anyone else likes it or not. So, I put my
money on the table and take my product home. But, when I get home, I
notice it isn’t what I wanted to buy at all. In fact, it is quite the
opposite. So, I take it back to the store and ask for my money back. But
the management at the store tells me that they don’t have to give my
money back - that I should actually be grateful because they gave me an
even better product than what I wanted. They tell me that they only
advertise the product that I wanted in order to get people who want that
product to experience something even better. But I don’t agree. I don’t
like their “better” product. I want what the product that was actually
advertised - not some wannabe substitute.
Isn’t it my right to get what I actually thought I purchased with my own
money? Should I not be upset by false advertising and call those
responsible to task for their deception at my own expense? - and a great
deal of expense at that? No? I should just eat it and be grateful?
Thank you Sir. May I have another?!
As requested by David Asscherick, the following are my thoughts (for
FIG) re: John Jones' letter (listed below) -
regarding the recent query by Pastor Doug Batchelor. I hope you
don't mind if I respond line-by-line:
John R. Jones:
We've never met, but since your query has made its roundabout way to me
(along, I am sure, with a number of others of my colleagues at La
Sierra) I'll try to say a quick word in response. Yesterday afternoon I
spent an hour and a half in a meeting with President Wisbey and the
biology and a number of other faculty discussing these allegations. I am
on the religion faculty so can't speak with any particular expertise
either on the subject itself or on the biology faculty member's
teaching, from a standpoint of personal experience.
This is interesting. Jones admittedly has no personal experience
with this issue. He has not talked to the students involved nor has he
sat in on the classes under consideration. Yet, he feels qualified
to respond substantively to the concerns in Asscherick's letter
regarding the promotion of Darwinian-style evolution over billions of
years within the classrooms of LSU?
But from President Wisbey's report of his lengthy conversations with the
biology folks, and from their participation in the meeting yesterday, I
think I can honestly and sincerely say that the answer is Yes -- in the
sense that they teach ABOUT evolutionary theory, as I'm sure you would
want any responsible Christian biologist to do. But that of course is a
very different matter from advocacy. Our professors are dedicated
believers who really do teach with great integrity, and who help our
students find their way through the issues and see the ways in which
genuine faith can and does work in their teachers' lives.
Has Jones actually asked the science teachers if they are or are not
specifically promoting the existence and evolution of living
things on this planet, in a Darwinian manner, over the course of
hundreds and thousands of millions of years of time? That is a yes or
no question. Simple. Did Jones ask the LSU science teachers,
"Are you teaching your students this theory as the most likely
explanation of origins? Yes or no? Or, are you actually promoting
the SDA position that the origin of life on this planet is indeed the
result of rapid creation by God over the course of a single literal
creation week in the resent past? Yes, or no?" Did Jones ask
those specific questions?
I can tell you for a fact that Jones is not reporting on this specific
type of investigation into the issue at hand at LSU. I know this
because of my own personal experience with the teachers employed there
and from the personal testimonies given to me directly by numerous
current and former LSU students - dozens of them.
Anything less -- in either direction -- would be indoctrination. And
a serious university, a serious Adventist Christian university -- that
accepts the sacrificial tuition payments of our church members has no
business shortchanging our students with mere indoctrination on either
side of such important issues. Truth can stand objective and faith-based
What is the difference between a church-sponsored school and a public
school? Why should anyone send his/her child to one vs. the other?
- at a great deal of personal expense? Many of the S. California
public universities I know of and have actually visited on a regular
basis (to include science and religion classes) are among the finest in
the country. Their professors are concerned caring individuals -
just as concerned and caring about their students as the LSU
So, what is it that would cause parents to prefer to send their children
to LSU at greater expense? As far as I have been able to tell, SDA
parents usually choose to sacrifice more to send their children to an
Adventist school because they actually wish their children to be
"indoctrinated" with the SDA perspective on life in general - to include
the unique SDA perspective on origins. SDA parents usually
consider the fundamental SDA doctrines to be of more than passing
interest for themselves and for their children. They want their
children to be exposed to these doctrines in the most positive light by
those who actually believe in them and actively promote them with the
highest quality of teaching possible.
If teachers are simply there to present both sides of an issue with
equal weight and simply let the student determine, without any weight of
influence of the teacher, which side is likely to be correct, why not
simply send the child to a less expensive public university that does
the same thing?
Beyond this little issue, both side of the equation are not being
presented to the LSU students in their science courses. They are
in fact only being presented with the Darwinian story of origin in many
of their science courses. That's a fact. No discussion, much
less promotion, of the concept of young-life, a literal creation week,
or a world-wide Noachian flood is presented in these science classes -
only the Darwinian perspective. And this is not "indoctrination"?
Please . . .
I would like to salute you for taking the initiative to go to someone at
La Sierra directly, in accord with the principles of Matthew 18. It's
the only Christian way to behave. Unfortunately those who have seen fit
to level these charges have not conducted themselves as responsibly as
you have. Thank you for caring so much about La Sierra, and the
community of faith that we seek to foster on our campus.
This issue has been ongoing at La Sierra University for decades. A
few of LSU's teachers have also been promoting the Darwinian story of
origins for a very long time - even before they were hired at LSU.
Many more private attempts have been made to address this issue to
include private discussions and letters with the teachers and leadership
at LSU. The usual response, at least in my own experience over the
past 5 years, is that, "We all believe in God here at La Sierra
University. We are all creationists here and support our students
in a protective environment as they ask questions about both science and
religion and how they compliment each other."
The problem of course is that these professors who make these arguments
are, at the very best, theistic evolutionists. While they claim to
believe in God as the ultimate creator of the universe and of life on
this planet, they also believe and teach that God used Darwinian
mechanisms in the process of his creative acts - which did in fact take
place over billions of years of time in a progressive Darwinian manner.
That theistic version of God and interpretation of the "creation week"
mentioned in Genesis just so happens to be diametrically opposed to the
very clearly stated and reaffirmed SDA view on origins - a view that
specifically claims that the creation of all life on this planet took
place over a litter week of just six days and that the Noachian flood
was a literal world wide catastrophe in the recent past.
This doctrinal position is openly considered to be so antiquated and out
of data by the science professors of LSU that it is quite literally
dismissed, out of hand, in class. While this dismissal of a key
fundamental position of the Church at LSU is no doubt done with the
greatest sincerity of heart and purpose, sincerity alone does not an
After my first lecture on Creation vs. Evolution at LSU about five years
ago, almost 100 students signed a petition to have the creationist
perspective actually presented and promoted in their science classes.
Of course, nothing came of this. There was a lot of talk, a few
letters back and forth, a few nice words and promises, even promises to
conference presidents, here and there, and then . . . nothing. The
same old things continued as before.
So, given Jone's reference to Matthew 18, what should concerned parents
and conservative SDAs in general do about this continued apparent
disregard, open disregard, for the clearly stated position of the SDA
Church on these matters? More of the same? Not according to
the Bible. Public open sins by those who have been continually
addressed and made aware of the problem, and which are causing a great
deal of public harm, harm that has reached many members of my own
family, should be addressed in a much more public and a much more
In this line of reasoning, letters have been written again, and this
time at least some have become more generally distributed and read by
concerned members and parents within the SDA community across the
country, and even the world. Was this a mistake? Perhaps.
Only time will tell. But it is no mistake that something needs to
be done to change the current state of things at LSU.
More information can be found at:
I'm taking the liberty of copying your query (and this little reply
of mine) to President Wisbey, with the idea that he might want to add a
word of his own.
Likewise . . .
John R. Jones, PhD
Associate Professor of New Testament Studies
The School of Religion
La Sierra University
Sean Pitman, M.D.
La Sierra University Does Promote Evolution - But
May 28, 2009
A La Sierra University student writes in support of the promoting of
Darwinian-style evolution at LSU as something that can be believed
in combination with belief in God and the Bible (
As a SDA biology student at La Sierra I have had many classes from
Dr. Greer. It outrages me that people make assumptions based on
fallacies rather than actual knowledge on this subject. Yes, Dr.
Greer is an evolutionary biologist, but he has never once tried to
challenge a student’s faith. Dr. Greer always tells his students not
to believe anyone that claims that you must choice either religion
or science. The truth is that the two can actually coexist. People
who claim evolution is unsupported by data have closed their minds
to the scientific community around them and the fossil record. I
think it is vital for people to know both sides of the argument. I
believe the Bible is the word of God, but it was created by man. Men
are not flawless. Science is also based on research which is
performed by man which also makes it imperfect. The good thing about
science is that it is self correcting. When new data is found, old
assumptions are thrown out and replaced with updated information.
Science is adapting faster than religion which is one of the main
problems. Christians understand that not all parts of the Bible are
relevant in society anymore.
Adulteresses are not stoned, arranged marriages practiced, and so
on. It would be a major mistake to take everything in the Bible in a
literal sense. Clearly, the world is a different place then when the
Bible was written. Also, what about the Creation story found in
Genesis 2? Why does everyone seem to overlook this account of
I am not only upset, but also saddened by these accusations. Does
Christianity not teach love? This website is filled with hateful
accusations, none of which demonstrate a Christ like behavior. Dr.
Greer is simply showing his students information that is well known
around the scientific community. Students graduating from La Sierra
University shouldn’t be taught one-sided information or they will
never be taken seriously by other scientists. I believe La Sierra’s
teaching methods are wonderful; they present Evolution and Creation,
but don’t tell students which belief to choose. Instead, they teach
us that we can believe both. Otherwise, there would be no SDA
scientists. Loma Linda is well known for its medical research which
has saved thousands of lives. Creation scientists are making new
discoveries each day. It would be a shame to prevent students from
entering a scientific career based on the assumption that we must
either choose religion or science.
Dear "Anonymous" LSU Student,
You write, "I believe La Sierra’s teaching methods are wonderful;
they present Evolution and Creation, but don’t tell students
which belief to choose. Instead, they teach us that we can
That's the problem. The SDA Church, as an organization,
has taken a very specific stand on the issue of origins.
That very specific stand does not make room to believe both
Darwinian evolution and the SDA view of origins. You might
be able to be a theistic evolutionist - able to believe that God
used the evolutionary mechanism of random mutations and natural
selection to produce life and all of its variety over thousands
of millions of years on this planet. However, theistic
evolution is not supported by the organized SDA Church.
Right or wrong, that is the Church's stated position on this
As nice as Lee Greer is, and I know by personal experience that he
is a very nice, sincere, and honest young man, he is directly
undermining the position of his employer, the SDA Church, when
he argues before his students that they can believe in
Darwinian-style evolution taking place over billions of
years and still be supportive of the SDA Church as an
organization at the same time. That's simply not true.
And, it is a moral wrong for him to expect a paycheck from the
organized SDA Church to promote this sort of thinking - a
position that is directly antithetical to what the SDA Church is
trying to promote - the truth of a literal creation week of all
life on this planet in the recent past.
You may think that the position of the SDA Church is clearly
mistaken - and it may or may not be. That's really not the
issue here. The issue here is that the SDA Church is free
to be right or wrong and to promote whatever it wants to
promote. And, it is also free to hire only those who hold
the same views as itself - however erroneous you or anyone else
might think those views to be. In this light, it is simply
dishonest, a form of stealing, for someone like Lee Greer to
take money to directly undermine such a clearly stated position
of his employer. The most honest thing to do would be for
him to go and work for an organization that has stated views
more in line with his own. As must as I like Greer personally,
I certainly don't want my tithe and offering monies going to
support him in his efforts on this issue - as honest and sincere
as he may be.
Is it unloving to expect to actually get the particular product
that one has actually paid a great deal of money for? - and to
be just a bit upset when something else entirely is received
Sean Pitman, M.D.
Another Open Letter: Pastor Steve Dayen:
May 29, 2009
For several weeks I have read, with great interest and equally great
concern, the ongoing “internet dialogue” concerning the teaching of
evolution at La Sierra University. The responses I have seen so far from
LSU leaders, regarding the issue of whether or not Darwinian evolution
is being taught as fact at La Sierra, have quite frankly been very
My perception of this current situation, as La Sierra's leaders attempt
to recover from a P.R. nightmare, is that they are circling the wagons.
The problem with this approach is that they are not circling the wagons
to defend against hostile attacks from "fundamentalist" enemies. We are
part of the same Adventist church family! We are not enemies, but simply
brothers and sisters who are asking for some accountability regarding
the education of our own children.
I have spoken directly to several church leaders who have been close to
this situation and there is not a doubt in my mind that the description
of the crisis at La Sierra, described in detail by Pastor David
Asscherick and Dr. Sean Pitman, is quite accurate.
Less than a week ago I had a lengthy telephone conversation with a
former faculty member from La Sierra. He happens to be a friend of my
wife's parents and they provided me with his home phone number. This
former faculty member, now retired, assured me that everything David
wrote in his now infamous letter is absolutely accurate. In fact, with
great sadness in his voice he expressed that the problem goes far beyond
the La Sierra campus and is infecting other schools as well.
Many of us believe that all Seventh-day Adventist schools, from
elementary through to the university level, have one prime directive,
and that is to educate students within a thoroughly Biblical context. La
Sierra is not simply an academic institution. It is an academic
institution that was raised up to uphold the message and mission of the
church that established it, the very church that gave LSU its reason for
What really concerns me most deeply about all of this is that so many
people seem to be oblivious to the spiritual implications of teaching
evolution. Many years ago, a very close member of my family went through
a personal spiritual crisis. He had grown up in the church. His parents
and grandparents were Adventist missionaries. In his twenties, he began
to seriously explore evolution while doing graduate studies at a secular
university. In the end, his faith was ultimately destroyed and he now
considers himself to be an agnostic.
I have been a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for 30 years. During that
time I have had many opportunities to recommend many of our colleges to
potential students within my congregations. As you can imagine, I would
never personally recommend a college or university to a prospective
student unless I had complete confidence in the institution. A strong
academic program is certainly very important. However, I would never
recommend a school if I sensed that the spiritual foundation was shaky.
For me, as for most Adventist pastors, this must include a solid
affirmation of the fundamental doctrines of our church.
30 years ago I graduated from Pacific Union College to begin my career
in pastoral ministry. That year happened to be the last full school year
that Desmond Ford taught at PUC. I witnessed firsthand the theological
soul-searching that many of us went through as we would listen to some
of the greatest minds in the church sort out issues relating to
salvation and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I sensed that year that the
church was facing a crisis, which indeed reached its climax at the
Glacier View conference, just a few months after my graduation. Many of
my college friends and ministerial colleagues no longer fellowship with
us, as a direct result of the fallout from that theological controversy.
Now, 30 years later, I sense that our church is facing a challenge that
can cause even greater harm to the cause of Christ. I am neither a
prophet nor the son of a prophet, but please heed these words. If we, as
a church, do not meet this issue head on, this has the potential to
divide us more quickly and more deeply than the theological crisis we
faced in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
Biblical creation is part of the bedrock of our Adventist faith. Chisel
away at it and several of our doctrines begin to crack under the strain.
Abandon the truth of creation completely and the entire theological
house will soon crumble.
We have the awesome privilege of serving the great God of creation, if
we choose to. Our God was able to create a very real world in a very
literal six days. Because of this theological foundation, it is not
absurd to believe that the same Jesus who created the world would be
willing to shed His blood to redeem the children of His creation.
Because I believe in a God who could work such a miracle as creation, I
am able to believe in all of the miracles that Jesus performed in His
life of ministry. Because I believe in the God of creation, I can
believe in the God of the resurrection, and the fact that the same Jesus
who came forth from the tomb is fully able to raise His people from the
dead at the second coming.
The bottom line is this. You and I are called to worship the God of the
miraculous. If our spiritual eyesight is bound by what we observe in the
natural world, without the inspired guidance of the Holy Scriptures, we
are like ships in a storm without a compass. Mr. Darwin tried to find
the answers to our origins without consulting the God of origins. If we
do the same, we are destined to make shipwreck of our faith.
Without Biblical creation…
…the fallen nature of man is ridiculous.
…the motivation for worship is lifeless.
…the Sabbath is meaningless.
…the second coming of Christ is needless.
…the plan of salvation is pointless.
…the gospel is powerless.
…the Bible is useless.
…the future is hopeless.
Thank God that Biblical creation is true!
May God bless each of us as we pursue the course of truth.
Pastor Steve Dayen
Response to Spectrum Magazine's article:
So we've started a "witch hunt"? You know, I'm wondering
what the response must have been when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses
to the front door of the Church at Wittenberg? I wonder if his
tactics or methods weren't questioned? If he wasn't accused of
breaking the advice of Matthew 18 (as per the suggestion of Dr. John
Jones). Or, perhaps he was even charged with "persecuting" those
who happened to hold differing views from his own? Yet, I
wonder if the wrongs addressed in his 95 theses would have ever been
taken seriously or actually resolved at all had he not gone so public
with his concerns for the public missteps of the Church of his day? -
missteps which involved and interested a great many people?
But hey, if the SDA Church wants to make public policy such that its own
fundamental doctrinal positions are really nothing more than 28 nice
suggestions, that's fine. It just should be publicly stated
that way so as to avoid any semblance of false advertising. It
should be clearly stated that the SDA Church really takes no definitive
stand on anything as an organization and that its own paid
representatives are perfectly free to say and do anything they please
without any sort of remonstration on the part of the Church leadership
or "government" whatsoever - especially when it comes to those
"suggestions" that form the very basis of the name of the SDA Church
itself. After all, as long as everyone loves everyone else, the
actual basis of the Christian hope in the future or the discovery of new
doctrines or the maintenance of old foundational doctrines are really of
no consequence - right? After all, everyone wants complete
"academic freedom" - right?! It sounds sooo good! Who could
vote against freedom?!
After all, didn't our early Church founders wish to avoid the problems
of doctrines and "creeds" which are set in concrete as unmovable
mountains? Didn't John Loughborough argue, in the
Review and Herald in 1861 that, "“The first step of apostasy is to
get up a creed, telling us what we shall believe. The second is to make
that creed a test of fellowship. The third is to try members by that
creed. The fourth is to denounce as heretics those who do not believe
that creed, and fifth, to commence persecution against such.”
Yet, the authors of this Spectrum
article who quote Loughborough forget what Loughborough later said
regarding the basis for Church order and discipline:
Consider again the following comments and quotes by JN Loughborough in
his The Church, Its Organization, Order and Discipline (1907):
"When those who back in the "sixties" [1860s] witnessed the battle of
establishing church order now hear persons, as conscientious no doubt as
those back there, utter almost the identical words that were then used
by those opposing order, it need not be wondered that they fear the
result of such statements as the following: "Perfect unity means
absolute independence, - each one knowing for himself. Why, we could not
have outward disorganization if we all believed in the Lord. . . . This
question of organization is a simple thing. All there is to it is for
each individual to give himself to the Lord, and then the Lord will do
with him just what he wants to, and that all the time. . . . Our only
safety, under God, is to go back to the place where God is able to take
a multitude of people and make them one, without parliamentary rules,
without committee work, without legislation of any kind." - General
Conference Bulletin of 1899.
God Requires Rules:
"Superficially considered, this might seem to be a blessed state, a
heaven indeed; but, as already noted on a preceding page, we read of
heaven itself and its leadings that "the god of heaven is a god of
order, and he requires all his followers to have rules and regulations
to preserve order." - "Testimonies for the Church," No. 32, page 30.
"As our numbers increased, it was evident that without some form of
organization, there would be great confusion, and the work could not be
carried forward successfully. To provide for the support of the
ministry, for carrying on the work in new fields, for protecting both
the church and ministry from unworthy members, for holding church
property, for the publication of the truth through the press, and for
other objects, organization was indispensable."
As it turns out, the leaders of the early SDA Church at first thought
that no enforcement of any kind was needed to keep the Church from
fragmenting. This was true as long as the Church was small and
made up of originally like-minded people. However, as the Church
grew larger, this view soon became obviously untenable.
was one of the main proponents of this sort of church order
and discipline - along with James White. Very quickly all of the early
Church leaders changed their minds regarding Church order and discipline
when they saw that their original ideas of completely hands-off freedom
of Church representatives were quickly failing to do what they
thought they would do. So, the leadership started issuing cards of
commendation signed by James White or John Loughborough.
Of course, those who were not considered to accurately represent the
views of the Church did not receive these cards of commendation.
And what was the attitude of such persons? - according to Loughborough?:
"Of course those who claimed "liberty to do as they pleased," to
"preach what they pleased," and to "go when and where they pleased,"
without "consultation with any one," failed to get cards of
commendation. They, with their sympathizers, drew off and commenced a
warfare against those whom they claimed were "depriving them of their
liberty." Knowing that it was the Testimonies that had prompted us as a
people to act, to establish "order," these opponents soon turned their
warfare against instruction from that source, claiming that "when they
got that gift out of the way, the message would go unrestrained to its
`loud cry.' "
One of the principal claims made by those who warred against
organization was that it "abridged their liberty and independence, and
that if one stood clear before the Lord that was all the organization
needed," etc. Upon this point, when church order was contested, we read:
"Satan well knows that success only attend order and harmonious action.
He well knows that everything connected with heaven is in perfect order,
that subjection and thorough discipline mark the movements of the
angelic host. . . . He deceives even the professed people of God, and
makes them believe that order and discipline are enemies to
spirituality; that the only safety for them is to let each pursue his
own course. . . . All the efforts made to establish order are considered
dangerous, a restriction of rightful liberty, and hence are feared as
popery." - "Testimonies for the Church," Vol. I, page 650.
Sounding familiar? Be careful when you use Loughborough to try to
support the notion of pure "academic freedom" within Church schools and
a hands-off approach to Church government. Not only does there
have to be at least some very specific direction and discipline within
the Church government to maintain order and viability, as with any
viable organization, it turns out to be a truly loving path to travel as
well. A Church without discipline and enforcement of rules on its own
representatives, like a home without discipline, is a very unhappy, even
angry, Church and family.
One more thing. I just want to thank
Spectrum Magazine for this article. I think it helps to
highlight a very important issue in our Church today and is relevant to
a great many people who are either directly or indirectly affected by it
within the SDA Church. And hey, there's no such thing as bad
publicity - right? ; )
P.S. By the way, wasn't Einstein a college dropout? - and Bill
Gates too? ; )
A Scientist and Creationist