By Educate Truth Staff
President of La Sierra University Randal Wisbey respondedÂ on May 18, 2009,Â to David Asscherickâ€™s concerns regarding LSU biology professors teaching â€œnaturalistic evolutionâ€ as fact, or â€œas the preferred and normative worldview.â€ Instead of clear denouncement of the charge, Wisbey made the following statement:
‘Naturalistic evolution’ is a phrase that either in code or direct definition implies a perspective of ‘atheistic evolution.’ 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.
The charge was never addressed directly. Not once did Wisbey deny â€œnaturalistic evolutionâ€ was being taught as fact at LSU. He goes on to say it is the university’s â€œcommitment to responsibly address difficult issues” and to “consider a variety of views.â€ Is it safe to say heâ€™s referring to naturalistic evolution in the “variety of views” he mentions? In essence, he appears to be saying this commitment to consider a variety of views “grows from our churchâ€™s commitment to ever be open to new light.â€
Wisbey states our schools provide â€œan excellent setting for examining the evolutionary process â€“ a subject that is foundational to the modern biological and behavioral sciences.â€ These are statements of fact. There is an evolutionary process. It is foundational. Is Wisbey admitting he believes naturalistic evolution is fact? Is this part of the “new light” we should be embracing as Seventh-day Adventists?
If the Bible isn’t clear enough about the origins of life and the earth, Ellen White’s insights will certainly shed light on the subject:
Inferences erroneously drawn from the facts observed in nature have, however, led to supposed conflict between science and revelation; and in the effort to restore harmony, interpretations of Scripture have been adopted that undermine and destroy the force of the word of God. Geology has been thought to contradict the literal interpretation of the Mosaic record of the creation. Millions of years, it is claimed, were required for the evolution of the earth from chaos; and in order to accommodate the Bible to this supposed revelation of science, the days of creation are assumed to have been vast, indefinite periods, covering thousands or even millions of years. Education p. 128
Even in Mrs. White’s time, evolution was taught at all levels of education. She said, â€œThus the study of science, which should impart a knowledge of God, is so mingled with the speculations and theories of men that it tends to infidelityâ€ (Education p. 227). It is through â€œpleasing sentiments of higher criticism,â€ like evolution, that the â€œenemy of righteousness is seeking to lead souls into forbidden pathsâ€ (New Life p. 54).
Clearly, the theory of evolution is not new light, but a dark shadow that has robbed many believers of truth.
On November 21, 2008, Wisbey gave a speech for the Adventist Society of Religious Studies, titled â€œNurturing the Adventist Mind.â€ In his speech, he explains how Adventists can integrate â€œAdventist thinkingâ€ with a â€œvast array of intellectual disciplines.â€ He then went on to tell how the church â€œneedsâ€ to be integrated, quoting from Ellen White and director of Geoscience Research Institute James Gibson:
One example of how the church needs this integration is in the vexing issue of the relation of Adventist thinking to the natural sciences as pertains to the history of life on planet Earth. On the one hand, for more than a hundred years Adventists have believed that “the book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other. They make us acquainted with God by teaching us something of the laws through which He works” [White]. On the other hand, we recognize that “creationists do not have an adequate explanation” for “radiometric dates of many millions of years . . . . The most difficult question is probably the apparent sequence of radiometric dates, giving older dates for lower layers in the geologic column andÂ younger dates for upper layers” [Gibson].
What Adventist colleges and universities can do is to provide a supportive environment and conceptual assistance not only to their students but also to the whole church in addressing this issue effectively by reexamining our understanding of both the “book of nature” and the “written word.” In the process, Adventist colleges and universities can be examples of thinking faithfully.
Who does Wisbey cite as one “recent example of the way in which other faith communities are engaged in this discussion”? He points to Karl W. Gibersonâ€™s book,Â “Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution” as an example of “thinking faithfully.” Is this what Adventists should be doing, discussing how we can be Christians and believe in evolution?
Perhaps there is a gorilla in the room no one is willing to acknowledge. How can change occur with faculty when leadership endorse what faculty teach about evolution? This issue goes beyond individual teachers. Itâ€™s important to know where our leaders stand. It seems Wisbey has made his stance clear. It is no wonder La Sierra administration has never addressed this issue before, because they are sympathetic to the scientific world view of their biology professors. Firing these biology professors would only be a temporary solution.