Back in 2009 EducateTruth.com appeared online to fan a little breeze over a peculiarly fragrant petunia – theistic creation/evolution – being furtively nurtured in the Department of Biology hothouse at La Sierra University, an institution that, as a seedling, had been rooted upon Genesis 1.
Inasmuch as one of the principals (Dr. Pitman) was a scientist (medical), a hematopathologist, who had also intensely studied the evolution-creation conflict and concluded that the weight of evidence is for Creationism, I expected attention would center on the validity of creation, and also on whether deviation therefrom should be tolerated at a Bible-based institution. As it turned out the heaviest attention was not on heresy but Academic Freedom. Galileo was cited.
At mention of LSU and the Academic Freedom business, I perked my ears because I had graduated from said LSU (’48, then LSC, a College) with a major in biology, and am an old medical scientist (LLU school of medicine ‘53).
I noted that the posting protesters were not the scientists but science activists, and seemed to accept as a given that good science should operate totally without restrictions of any kind by anybody, ever. To hear them tell it, what EduTru was advocating was that the LSU scientists – most popular (if secretive), highly awarded, role models, – be shackled, chained, enslaved, gagged…by ecclesiastical authority yet. Evil had irrupted all right. It was not what the professors had taught, but that they were to be gagged. The heroes of freedom are not, say, Moses who had the courage to stand against Pharaoh, and the Reformation guardians of Mosaic scripture who once stood against the same ecclesiastical authority that Galileo faced, but the new revolutionaries who have the courage to reject it. The gagged Galileo is the patron saint of academic scientists, the gag being the magic carpet upon which he ascended to sainthood, like the chariot that wafted Elijah. The gag is to scientists as the Shroud of Turin is to relic-reverencing religionists – the symbol of their passion.
Scientists themselves know better. Galileo was a loner, but nowadays no scientist is a lab unto himself. All are ensconced in some science department in some institute or university, there to function under the university’s constraining worldview and funding, plus science’s Scientific Method, a bundle of rules self-imposed in the 18th century when science matured, whereby good science is recognized and fake unregulated science disgraced. The mother institution is itself funded by and thus beholden to multiple donors, foundations intrinsic and extrinsic, and loans governmental and local, besides the increasing number of regulatory government agencies that somehow have acquired
jurisdiction over everything from the earthworms in the campus lawn to the sexual orientation of janitors and scientists. Oh yes, individual research projects may be funded by grant money, assuming their experimental protocols (more rules) were approved, as I witnessed as a research fellow for a couple of years at Washington University. Behold this serried host, layer upon layer of increasingly heavy thumbs all bearing down on our essentially enslaved scientists, and that’s the norm.
Now then, behold LSU, tithe-funded and founded on the premise (a component of the Scientific Method) of God and Scripture, specifically Genesis 1 and teaching science accordingly, its Constitutionally guaranteed right, yet now somehow a violation of Academic Freedom. Just down the road the University of California Riverside, tax funded,
operating under evolved science, and accordingly teaching Darwinism – Darwinism, once a theory and now the law, which has evolved into the most implacable slave master of Academic Freedom on the planet, declaring itself tenured and immune to all censure.
Anyway, the storm abated. EduTru moved on to other matters, notably its overriding focus on the mounting scientific evidence for Creationism.
But now, 8 years after La Sierra University (LSU), the Academic Freedom storm has struck Adventist academia again. This is where we came in. But ground zero this time was not the science department but the School of Theology, the Seminary, the very heart of Adventist theology, at Andrews University. And this time coverage has been assumed by spectrummagazine.org, known for its disposition towards Philosophy emergent and ancient, analogous to the loyalty LSU feels Darwinian science warrants.
Apparently evoked by EduTru’s disclosure, the GC’s response to the science rumble had been measured and way short of shackles. But its response to the seminary revolt was vigorous, and the heavy equipment was rolled out, sirens blaring, cordially reported and spun by Spectrum. I’ve studied 3 Spectrum articles (Link, Link, Link). If articles in EduTru were no-nonsense scholarly and could have appeared in the American Journal of Pathology, for which EduTru had been spanked, Spectrum, to my ears, sounds like a London tabloid, to a standing ovation.
According to Spectrum, The IBMTE (International Board of Ministerial and Theological Education), A GC entity, as Spectrum took pains to point out, issued a 35-page sacerdotal bull requiring teachers of religion to sign a pledge – termed a “process of endorsement” — to work within guidelines, including “the 28 Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists,” the “Code of Ethics for Seventh-day Adventist Educators, Academic and Theological Freedom and Accountability,” and established SDA Methods of Bible Study. Also, teachers would be required to submit copies of all of their publications for review.
This deluge of paper simply added fuel to the inferno. As Spectrum reported, “The Presidents of Adventist Colleges and Universities in North America, in an unprecedented act of solidarity, unanimously voted a statement saying they are “fundamentally unable to support the proposed IBMTE endorsement process.” Stoking the fire, Spectrum adjudged the process “a stunning betrayal of Adventist Identity,” “Utterly Alien to the Soul of Adventism,” “corrupt and corrupting.” Not to mention Adventist Academic Freedom, and for good measure, Adventist culture, global culture, relevant mutant mores, throw in Galileo, multipurpose stuff routinely applied across the spectrum.
Backing off from the heat, the GC apparently ordained the seminary itself to issue its own regulation, the wording of which, as I read it, was rather less incendiary, perhaps a little diffident. Bearing the title, to Spectrum oxymoronic, “Delimitation of Academic Freedom,” it proclaimed that the regulations had been generated within the Seminary
itself, which “values and promotes academic freedom… our freedom,” but expects “firm support of and commitment to the beliefs and lifestyle of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” This the faculty was invited, not required, to sign. Spectrum shuddered, seeing even the seminary’s delicate invitation to reaffirmation as enslavement, morally (and sinfully, only sin isn’t an academic property), not to mention academically, unacceptable. And so forth.
To me these two Revolts for Adventist Academic Freedom seem but vegetarian imitations, provincial and nationally ignored, of the big-time universally reported irruptions from UC Berkeley to the Sorbonne to Oxford, using such modalities of higher learning as childishly worded protest signs, megaphones, bricks, screaming, and fire.
But all such Academic revolts are sequels of the world’s first Freedom Revolt at the Garden of Eden, the first institution of higher knowledge, with the first visiting professor challenging the established paradigm, alas, successfully. Rolling his eyes and uttering the first Socratic questions, he asked, “Did God tell you that? Do you not catch it? He wants freedom for Himself, not you. For you He wants suppression! Suppression of a better knowledge by which you shall be like gods! Seriously, the scientific evidence is all against everything He told you. And I can prove it — on myself!” And he did. The megaphones and Molotov cocktails would come later.
Actually, the revolt for freedom, any crazy kind, began untold eons before that, in heaven itself, with Satan The Father of all Revolts-for-Freedom using the same arguments he would use in the Garden of Eden, U.C. Berkeley, LSU, Andrews U., and Zuccotti Park.
Adventists have had a trademark doctrine, to wit, The Great Controversy, (I see it as the Great Cosmic Academic Revolt), to be terminated only with the termination of the provocateur in the lake of fire. Only then can God-created, God-defined, untweaked and unmutated and unspun freedom – the freedom to listen to God without our conversation being jammed and scrambled – only then can that pure and honest freedom happen again.
That’s the Freedom I yearn for.