La Sierra Silent on Six-day Creation

By Shane Hilde

La Sierra University’s bias toward the theory of evolution becomes increasingly clear as Adventist colleges and universities across the U.S. affirm their belief and teaching of a literal six-day creation. Professors and presidents from Walla Walla, Southwestern, Southern, Oakwood, Andrews, Loma Linda, and Atlantic have affirmed that the biblical six-day creation is being taught in their classrooms. This contrasts deeply with LSU’s statements.

In LSU’s first public response President Wisbey said: “We reject this implied atheistic charge. Every one of our science faculty share the goal of students experiencing a vibrant Adventist Christian faith while pursuing their education in the sciences.” He neither denied nor gave assurances that the professors in the biology department believed and taught a literal six-day creation.

Not even LSU’s website gives such assurances (emphasis added):

Will study with professors who all deeply believe in God as the Creator of everything.

Will be introduced to Seventh-day Adventist understandings of Creation, centered in the Genesis account, which reveals the Creator as a personal and loving God.

Will be introduced to theories of evolutionary process, focusing on speciation and adaptation, with which students are expected to be conversant as they prepare for success in graduate school and career.

Sean Pitman, author of DetectingDesign.com, had this to say in response to LSU’s claims:

This advertisement claims that the LSU students “Will study with professors who all deeply believe in God as the Creator of everything”, but this ad fails to mention that the LSU professors will explain to their students that God used the Darwinian mechanism of random mutations/natural selection to create everything over hundreds of millions, even billions, of years of time of cruelty and “Survival of the Fittest”…

Of course, the ad does mention that LSU students “Will be introduced to Seventh-day Adventist understandings of Creation, centered in the Genesis account, which reveals the Creator as a personal and loving God.” If so, this introduction is most brief indeed, and only presented to the students in order to explain to them that the stated SDA position on origins, which includes a literal creation week for all life on this planet, is clearly mistaken. That is definitely what the LSU science professors are telling their students about the stated SDA position on origins – that it is just plain wrong. If you don’t believe me, try asking McCloskey, Bradley, Grismer or Greer if they believe in a literal creation week or if they promote this story of origins to their students as the most likely explanation for the origin of life on this planet. Or, go and read their syllabi and lecture notes at: http://www.educatetruth.com/category/la-sierra-evidence/

Yet, this LSU ad goes on to suggest that the LSU professors will “help students navigate issues of faith and science, in and out of the classroom, so that their faith in God is strengthened.” But faith in what kind of God? Certainly one can beleive in some form of God and be a theistic evolutionist. That’s certainly not a problem – especially if you’re Hindu. However, the stated SDA perspective on God is fundamentally at odds with the perspective being presented in the LSU science departments. They simply aren’t the same – not even close.

LSU’s claim that these professors will help our students navigate issues of faith is further called into question when one reads an interview from Inside Higher Ed with one of the biology professors: “I am not OK with getting up in a science course and saying most science is bullshit.” This professor went on to say that those who believe God spoke the world into existence a few thousand years ago are the “lunatic fringe.”

Larry Becker, Executive Director of University Relations at LSU, immediately released a statement in which he applauded the professor’s 38 years of service, yet made it clear that the professor did not speak for the school. If that wasn’t disturbing enough, how about a biology professor who does not believe in the divinity of Christ?

trinityOn December 30, 2005, a debate called “The Trinity: Truth or Tragedy” was filmed by Michael Hawkins and M.G. Dockery. The debate took place at First Congregational Church in Riverside, California. According to the excerpt posted with the debate, the discussion was “between conservative Trinitarian and Unitarian Christians who both share a high respect for the grammatico-historical method of hermeneutics (exegesis and interpretation).” The site lists Lee Greer (begins talking at 00:58 of the video), current LSU biology professor, as one of the Unitarian disputants: “Biblical Unitarian disputants in the debate are Lee Greer, director of The Jesus Institute Forum (http://www.jesusinstituteforum.org)….” It should be noted that Greer was not representing LSU or the Seventh-day Adventist Church in this debate; however, how is a professor of biology who questions the divinity of Christ and believes and teaches the theory of evolution as the best explanation going to  help our students navigate issues of the Adventist faith?

President Wisbey continues to support and cover for his biology professors. This was made clear in the interview from Inside Higher Ed: “Bradley says he’s felt no pressure to change anything about his course, and says bluntly that he doesn’t plan to turn his class into a theological seminar, or to present evolutionary theory only to then dismantle it for students.”

One has to wonder why LSU refuses to be transparent. As the veil is being pulled back, some parents are realizing LSU is not the place for their children. One such parent, Karen McPherson, said: “My daughter went to La Sierra. When I discovered they were teaching naturalistic evolution – I transferred her to Pacific Union College. The transfer was for this reason alone!”

While we applaud the church leaders for giving public affirmation of the church’s position on creation, there has been no public call for action to hold LSU accountable. Amidst the statements affirming a six-day creation from seven universities and colleges, LSU remains silent. According to two sources, LSU held two emergency board meetings on September 11 and 14. There has been no public statement issued to give assurances that something is being done as of the writing of this article. These meetings have preempted President Wisbey’s statement to EducateTruth.com that this issue, along with the petition, would be discussed in executive committee November 12, 2009. Hopefully this is a sign that corrective measures will be taken in the near future.

If you would like to sign the petition calling for full disclosure of what is being taught, please click here. Over 4,000 other Adventists have added their name to the list.

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