@Professor Kent: Leaving aside the issue of publishing in journals …

Comment on Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes by David Read.

@Professor Kent: Leaving aside the issue of publishing in journals that disallow discussion of creation or design (which George is responding to), my concern is that believing scientists not endorse Darwinism.

And since you’re saying, Jeff, that “I would agree with you wholeheartedly that an SDA-employed scientist should never promote the view that the world was accidentally self-created. I don’t think doing so would be okay” are you thereby saying that we should not hire any Darwinist professors? If that’s what you’re saying, then I agree with you, and wonder why you’re so hostile to this website.

You now seem to be agreeing with me that SDA institutions should not hire Darwinist professors, nor allow Darwinism to be taught as truth, and you’ve repeatedly said that you yourself are not an evolutionist. So I am left to wonder why you so passionately defend La Sierra?

David Read Also Commented

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
@pauluc: “Science has no opinion on whether God or the supernatural have never intervened . . .”

Not true, Paul. When science insists on abiogenesis, even though there is no empirical or logical reason to believe that it could happen, science is expressing an extremely strong– in fact absolute–philosophical opinion that if God exists, to exist is all God has ever done. If Science were open to the existence of a Creator God who had ever created or otherwise intervened in nature, science could easily say, “God created the first life forms, then evolution took over.”

But, of course, the entire purpose of evolutionary science is to be able to deny the existence of a Creator God without looking foolish. It has not been entirely successful. Because when people claim that life can accidentally self-assemble, or that the genetic code somehow wrote itself, they look foolish.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
@Professor Kent: Jeff Kent says, “Recognizing the error in much of apologetics does not equate to blind faith. Twisting every fact to fit a theory about a supernatural event that cannot be duplicated by the naturalistic approach of science is simply misinformed belief based on a fragile faith devoid of the surety . . .”

But twisting every fact to fit a naturalistic theory is okay? Because that’s exactly what mainstream science does.

For example, everything in human existence, absolutely without exception, shows that you never get a code without a codemaker. You never get music without a musician, writing without a writer, computer code without a programmer, etc. Yet mainstream science insists that we got the genetic code, which is more complex than all of the foregoing, without a designer. That’s what I call “twisting every fact to fit” into science’s philosophy of naturalism.

Why is it okay for mainstream science to twist facts to fit its theories but not for creationist to construe and interpret the data of nature in accordance with revealed truth?

God wants you to be fully converted, in both heart and mind. And it doesn’t matter which is converted first. Some people have a heart experience that eventually results in them changing their views on origins, while others see design in nature and it leads them to the God of nature. Either is okay.

But you seem to be “halting between two opinions.” You believe in God and have a relationship with Christ, but that relationship has not converted your mind or your approach to your profession. You insist on doing your scientific work in a way that effectively denies what you claim to believe. It would be too rude to say you lack integrity, but clearly your Christian beliefs are not integrated with your work life; there is no integration between your faith and your work.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
@Professor Kent: “What do you think is the single most compelling geological, fossil, or biological evidence that life arose via fiat creation?”

I think it is the genetic code. Coded information–written books and articles, computer programs, musical compositions, etc.–never arises accidentally but always has an author. And the genetic code is a language of such complexity and genius that we’re still trying to figure it all out. I don’t think the genetic code wrote itself any more than I think “War and Peace” wrote itself, or “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” wrote itself.

The second best evidence is life itself. Even single-celled organisms are so staggeringly complex that accidental self-organization and self-vivification would involve a miracle. Science cannot do this in a laboratory much less come up with a generally agreed upon “just so story” (that passes the laugh test) as to how it could have happened accidentally.

The other thing in the realm of biology I would point to is the difference between humans and animals. The gap there is very large, and supports the biblical teaching that man was created in the image of a Creator God, whereas the animals were not.

The fossil record is ambiguous, but the Cambrian Explosion fits the Flood model far better than it fits the Darwinian model. It’s not what Darwin expected at all; he even admitted that the fossil record from the Cambrian on up should be matched by an equally long fossil record leading up to the Cambrian. (This doesn’t directly bear on fiat creation, but does compare Bible history to the natural history Darwin posited.)

Recent Comments by David Read

LSU Responds to Issues Regarding Dr. Diaz and WASC
@Professor Kent: Jeff, the messenger of the Lord for our time is Ellen White, and you should be familiar with her warnings regarding Lyellism and Darwinism. If not, some of the more pertinent passages are set out in chapter 7 of my book, “Dinosaurs — an Adventist View.”

In promoting an atheistic origins narrative in opposition to the biblical, Adventist view of a creation in six literal days a few thousand years ago, La Sierra is flagrantly disregarding the Lord’s messenger for our time. I should think this would be obvious to you.

The Rise of Theistic Evolutionism – The Salvation of Christianity?
Lydian, I think Jeff Kent is right that church administrators prefer to work quietly, behind the scenes. But there are a couple of other reasons that I think are probably more important.

First, as I noted above, there are effectively two Adventist Churches, and one of them doesn’t have a problem with what is happening at LaSierra. So you may not have an administrator who feels motivated to do anything. But even if the particular administrator is a traditional Adventist believer, his task will be greatly complicated by the fact that many of his constituents and fellow administrators are part of the other Adventist Church.

Second, the church is not organized in a top-down chain of command organizational structure, like the military or a corporation. The church has elements of that, but also very important elements of local control and organization. For example, the local church controls its own membership. If the local church says someone is a member, she’s a member, and no one at the conference, union, or GC can do anything about it.

The colleges are affiliated with the unions, so no one at the GC level can really do much about the colleges. (There are exceptions; I believe that Oakwood, LLU and the Seminary at Andrews may be General Conference institutions, not union, but most Adventist colleges are union colleges.) The colleges are controlled by their boards, and the board chairmen are the union conference presidents. The boards are designed to have a preponderance of church officers, ensuring indirect church control, but it is control at the union level, not at the GC level. The only leverage that Ted Wilson has over colleges is that Adventist schools (in addition to secular accreditation) are all accredited by the Adventist Accrediting Association (AAA), and (I believe) the GC President can exert control over the AAA by appointments to the board. So the only influence that Ted Wilson can exert over LaSierra is the somewhat indirect influence of accreditation through AAA.

A third factor is that in the modern Western world, including America and especially including California, it is very difficult and costly to fire people. And academic tenure adds another level of protection for teachers. So even if the stars align, and you have traditional believers at all the control positions, it will still be very difficult to make changes that involve changes of personnel.

About a year ago, Shane posted an anonymous article that outlined the fact that what has happened at LaSierra is the result and fruition of more than 30 years of planning by a liberal faction of professor who wanted to take LaSierra, if not outside the SDA Church altogether, at least outside the effective control of the church. With Fritz Guy and Lawrence Geraty, they’ve had presidents who were sympathetic to their ideological perspective. (President Wisbey may actually be relatively conservative, compared to those two.)

So, the bottom line is that making real changes to LaSierra is going to be a long, slow process.

La Sierra University gets 3-year AAA Accreditation
@Beatrice: Beatrice, I note that you have posted here a copy of your post at ADvindicate.com.

It’s interesting that you say that John Perumal replaced Lee Grismer as department chairman “a long time ago,” but the first news of that change was your own comment at ADvindicate a couple of days ago. There was no public announcement, and no news from any of the usual sources: the Review, ANN, Spectrum, ADvindicate, or Educate Truth. When I was researching my story, there was nothing on La Sierria’s official website to indicate that the chairmanship had changed; the website was not updated to reflect the change in chairmanship until after my article was posted at ADvindicate on October 17. Am I “lazy” if I don’t telephone La Sierra every couple of months and ask if Wisbey has had a change of heart and demoted the hardened Darwinist that he promoted to department chair two years ago?? I cannot help but wonder why this change in departmental leadership was a closely held secret until AFTER my article started making the rounds and being read by Adventist opinion leaders, but some mysteries will likely remain mysterious.

It’s hardly an excuse for wrecking the Adventist faith of those who take upper division biology courses at La Sierra that most students do not take upper division biology courses. But the information that has been provided by LSU students like Louie Bishop is that even a seminar science-faith course intended for a broad non-specialized student audience–specifically the one instituted in response to the 2009 controversy over the teaching of origins–was destructive of Adventist faith; LSU religion teachers, including John Webster who (at that time) was chairman of the religion department, told students that the Adventist hermeneutic was unhelpful, and that the Genesis narrative should not be taken literally as a description of the creation.

If AAA has witnessed a change of direction at La Sierra–and I very much doubt that–then it is up to them to say what they saw, and why they voted the way they did, in connection with their vote to extend Adventist accreditation for a further three years. There is a very public controversy about La Sierra’s blatant undermining of Adventist beliefs, and if AAA is, in the face of that controversy, going to certify that LSU is fulfilling its Adventist mission and upholding its Adventist identity, then AAA must publicly explain its vote, and justify it by outlining the changes that it observed.

You say that I “have not taken the approach Jesus advocated” and I assume that by that you are referring to Matthew 18. That passage does not apply. No one at La Sierra has wronged me personally; I have no personal stake whatsoever in the matter. The issue is that LSU is publicly undermining Seventh-day Adventist beliefs, and the response to that issue needs to be public. The relevant passage is 1 Tim. 5:20: “Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.” Please look at Testimonies, v. 2, pp. 14-16.

It is not my desire or goal to undermine unity in the church, but there can be no unity except on the basis of sound biblical truth. La Sierra has been sowing the seeds of a very profound disunity, as it has for a generation been training Adventist youth at an Adventist institution (AAA approved!) to lightly regard the word of God. It has been telling the Adventist youth entrusted to it that God’s claim to have created the world in six literal days and rested on the Sabbath day (Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 20:11) is unsustainable nonsense. This can only lead to disunity on the most fundamental level, as one group, raised and educated in the SDA Church, has an entirely different conception of what the Bible teaches and God requires than another group also raised and educated in the church.

Lay people are under an obligation of conscience to see that those who live off the tithe uphold the religious mission of the church. One very highly placed Adventist official has instructed us to “hold them accountable,” and he is right. In the absence of a vigilant laity, the SDA Church will lapse into corruption as did the post-apostolic Christian Church.

The Rise of Theistic Evolutionism – The Salvation of Christianity?
Something important that SDA compromisers with Darwinism ought to acknowledge is that Adventists need Genesis to explain our doctrine of the state of the dead. We need Genesis 2:7 “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Based upon this text, this is our formula for a soul:

Dust of the ground + breath of life = soul

Once the breath of life returns to God who gave it, and the dust returns to the ground, there is no more soul. The soul does not continue on, as a disembodied consciousness, because a necessary constituent of a soul is the “dust of the ground,” i.e., a physical body.

But theistic evolution reverses this biblical formula. According to theistic evolution, a humanoid creature had been evolving for hundreds of thousands of years, and thus had had both a physical body and the breath life for hundreds of thousands of years. At some point when God was satisfied with the progress, he inserted a “soul” or “souls” into these beings and they became human. Under that scenario, the “soul” is clearly something external to both the physical body and the breath of life, so it makes perfect sense that, when the body dies, the soul just goes somewhere else, maybe to heaven, maybe to hell.

So theistic evolution lends itself very naturally to erroneous ideas about the nature of man, the state of the dead, conditional immortality, and the annihilation of the unsaved as opposed to an eternally burning hell. Adventists rely upon Genesis 2:7 to come to a correct understanding of these issues.

The Rise of Theistic Evolutionism – The Salvation of Christianity?
Wendell, there are effectively two Adventist churches now, the traditional Adventist Church and the liberal church-within-a-church. Depending upon where this pastor is located, his boss in the conference office may agree with him, and hence reporting him will do no good. Or the conference president may not agree with him, but may not be able to do anything about him because he has a powerful protector higher up in the church structure.

I once listened to a sermon by an Adventist pastor in an Adventist church in which the pastor very forthrightly denied the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement. Substitution is the doctrine pursuant to which Christ bore our sins on the cross and we are saved by His righteousness. I reported this to the conference president and nothing was done. That same pastor is still preaching in the Southern California Conference.

There are effectively two Adventist Churches, and you might be surprised at which one is in control of the levers of power at your church, your conference, your union, your union-sponsored college, etc.