LSU memorandum confirms Educate Truth’s allegations

By Educate Truth Staff

La Sierra University released a memorandum on its website March 9, 2011 from The Creation-Evolution Study Group, an ad hoc committee of the La Sierra University Board of Trustees, tasked to investigate the allegations against the LSU biology program.

The memorandum includes an interim report, accepted by the board Nov. 2010, that states the biology department “generally” supports and respects the faith of students, explains the strengths and weaknesses of evolution, but should make a greater effort to present and support the church’s view of creation. This report is in significant contrast with the Adventist Accrediting Association’s (AAA) findings, which was given to LSU Feb. 2011.

The Adventist Accrediting Association’s visiting team reported the biology department disrespects and marginalizes some students for their position on creation, supports and teaches evolutionary processes as the plausible explanation of life, and inadequately presents the church’s position on creation. Without AAA’s findings, the ad hoc committee’s memorandum would have had little substance, as it relied almost exclusively on a student survey created by the university provost.

In the process of investigating the allegations, the committee examined four documents: a student survey, an informal report on the creation-evolution issue, and the Adventist Accrediting Association’s (AAA) draft report and consulting letter.

The Survey

Educate Truth has several concerns regarding the validity of the survey and its ability to accurately represent student perceptions as a whole. There were 49 comments from students, none of which were included in the memorandum, and given the seriousness of the situation, it seems LSU should have assigned the survey-creating task to an unbiased party. Many of the questions do not address the allegations, and in some cases the language requires insider knowledge of the church’s beliefs in order to answer accurately. It’s shocking the committee gave “a great deal of weight to the survey results” instead of interviewing faculty, reviewing curriculum or interviewing the creationist students who were humiliated and punished for exposing what was occurring in the biology department.

LSU said the survey was created to determine student perceptions of what is actually being taught at La Sierra. It was delivered to 369 general biology and biology major students from the past four years plus students from 2000. Only one in four individuals completed the survey; twenty-six percent of these individuals were non-Adventist, according to survey question number 20.

The committee was concerned with the results of survey questions six, eight and nine, which had to do with many students thinking evolution was touted over creation or that creation wasn’t taught at all. But the committee claimed the only way to benchmark results was to have the same survey conducted by La Sierra’s sister institutions in North America. However, LSU isn’t being benchmarked by other schools, but by the stated position of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The survey fell short, but luckily AAA picked up the slack in their observations of the biology department.

The AAA Report

In an unscheduled interview with the biology faculty during AAA’s Nov. 2010 visit, the AAA team made some revealing observations, six of which are listed here:

1. Some biology faculty use evolution to explain creation.
2. Some faculty seem averse to sharing the position of the church on creation.
3. Biology faculty are honest in admitting the struggle to reconcile faith and science.
4. La Sierra’s reputation on this issue was damaged by public statements by some biology faculty. La Sierra exacerbated the problem by using some of these same faculty to teach a course meant to help address the church’s view of creation. That further damaged the school’s credibility with respect to the teaching of the Adventist view of creation.
5. Faculty from the School of Religion have not helped to clarify the issue and may have added to the controversy.
6. Some faculty statements could be construed as intimidating to those students believing in a Biblical creation, and students are given little classroom support of their faith.

AAA made three recommendations that deserve highlighting. First, they recommended the biology department ensure high quality science within the Adventist faith-based context. Obviously “the Adventist faith-based context” was not being promoted, or AAA wouldn’t have recommended that it be done. In Nov. 2009, the LSU Board said, “The board is committed to assuring that the teaching of the theory of evolution takes place within the context of the Adventist belief regarding creation.” After the board made this statement, the biology faculty continued to teach evolution to the exclusion of the Adventist view of creation.

The second recommendation was that the new seminar class (BOIL 111A), which is supposed to support the Adventist view of origins, include professors who are overtly creationist. The seminar class had been exposed in 2010 for promoting theological ideas contrary to the church’s position on creation. How could it be otherwise, when the class was taught by known evolutionists? In an interview with the Adventist Review, LSU Board Chair described the course, saying, “We realize the first iteration of it did not really have the results we desired. So, we will be looking at that for revision.”

In the third recommendation, AAA appeared to acknowledge LSU’s questionable PR campaign in their statement, “Be honest in all your communications.” Over the last two years LSU has made numerous misleading PR statements.

What seemed to be lacking from AAA’s recommendations, as presented in the memorandum, was a timeline for immediate action to ensure that evolution is taught in the context of Adventist beliefs. A cursory look at Attachment 4 in the memorandum, a report provided by the provost about what they are doing regarding the teaching of evolution, also reveals no action ensuring immediate change. Words like “continuing,” “ongoing,” “beginning,” “refine,” “recommend,” and “discover” are sprinkled throughout the attachment. There are no voted actions or deadlines that show how and when the professors will change the way evolution is presented in their classrooms. But the conundrum remains: How can LSU biology professors promote creation when they don’t believe it’s true?

The Informal Report

An early 2010 report prepared by several LSU Board members, regarding how evolution was being taught at LSU, was never published and was only referenced once in the ad hoc committee’s memorandum. It appeared the ad hoc committee initially thought the document worthy of review, but after giving vague and unsupported reasons relating to its inability to evaluate curriculum, the report was given “little weight.” Instead of evaluating the curriculum itself, the committee waited to see what AAA would do. However, the AAA team didn’t review the biology curriculum by direct examination of syllabi and lecture notes either, but in significant contrast to the committee’s approach was AAA’s three-hour interview with the entire biology faculty. This had not been done by the committee. Not surprisingly, both groups came to different conclusions in key areas.

Conclusion

The ad hoc committee’s memorandum concluded that the board should leave the curriculum management to the faculty and administration, which is interesting when the administration denied there was a problem for two years and would still be denying it had the pressure been lifted.

LSU said summer 2010, “It should be pointed out that the theory of evolution is discussed, but not promoted, at La Sierra University,” according to a document passed out at the GC Session in Atlanta. Contrast this statement with a AAA statement that the biology faculty support and teach evolutionary processes as a plausible explanation of the origin of life.

The committee also told the board should focus on more positive aspects of the university, and to affirm its support for the LSU President and his administration and their ability to handle this situation. Is the committee suggesting the president and administration be left responsible when they have covered up the truth and continue to shield and support professors who are destroying student faith in Biblical creation?

In the memorandum’s conclusion, the latest “findings” of the ad hoc committee supported AAA research. LSU’s subsequent and belated apology is a nice first step, but only came after having its arm twisted to the breaking point. What happens now?

The full AAA board must still accept or reject the AAA visiting team’s recommendation that LSU receive maximum accreditation. It’s unclear why the visiting team would recommend LSU receive maximum accreditation, considering how biology faculty and administration have handled themselves the past two years. The theory of evolution is still being promoted after all administration’s diplomatic promises, and students are still leaving LSU with their faith shaken or entirely gone. Educate Truth is very grateful the church appears to be taking this seriously and that AAA has put investigative effort into this issue.

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56 thoughts on “LSU memorandum confirms Educate Truth’s allegations

  1. “The theory of evolution is still being promoted after all administration’s diplomatic promises, and students are still leaving LSU with their faith shaken or entirely gone. Educate Truth is very grateful the church appears to be taking this seriously and that AAA has put investigative effort into this issue.”

    The only thing you guys could do was expose the situation at LSU. At least some of us doubt that anything substancial will be done in the end. None the less, individuals who become aware of the issues will be held accountable to God for what they do, or don’t do.

    The church is necessarily fragmenting because of a major identity crisis caused by the leadership over the last few decades. So that churches today in the SDA movement do not reflect each other and at best we have parallel and contrast in each church community.

    This simply means we don’t represent each other in the Adventism of today. A city with half a dozen churches will present as many different spiritualities as there are churches.

    Perhaps the only singular declaraction of faith is the 7th day Sabbath. I would suspect this one unifying doctrine is soon to be attack more openly in the near future. After all, if evolution is even worthy of a discussion as to its possible validity, isn’t it equally obvious in this light, that many may well consider the Sabbath more obscure as a moral imperative to salvation?

    We already know the liberal forums gather to themselves many of these anti-Sabbatarian spirits and thrive on their incessant attacks on EGW and basic SDA beliefs. And some still attend SDA churches and use their influence to undermine the historic teachings.

    So all you guys can do is keep hammering out what has and is happening more and more throughout the denomination. I don’t see “the church” changing. The political structure is too secure and immoveable.

    Bill Sorensen




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  2. Even though recommendations were made to begin the correction process, it is still Adventist politics as usual. No one is going to do the real work and get rid of people. The only way to really fix this problem is to stir the pot and get Wisby, Graham, and a few others out. You don’t leave foxes in charge of the hen house. I don’t believe for a minute that they are repentant or wanting to change. They will just get more subtle in their evil and continue to destroy the young people of our church. WHAT IS NOT BEING SAID IS THE CHANGES THAT NEED TO BE MADE IN THE RELIGION DEPARTMENT TOO. they are just as guilty of the problems as the biology department and the apostasy at LSU covers more Fundamental Beliefs than creation/evolution. More certainly is in store.

    Thanks Shane. You put up with a lot of attacks and now you have been vindicated. Thanks for being tough.




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  3. This “memorandum” looks like nothing more than a stalling tactic to put off the real changes that need to be made. Much more “arm twisting” will be needed to see any true changes.

    As stated in the article, the lack of any “action” is an indication of how serious this matter is being considered. They have simply avoided the underlying issue, which is, as stated, how can someone be “forced” to teach that which they personally do not believe. Until this issue is really addressed, no “solution” is possible.




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  4. @Bill Sorensen, Although the Sabbath may be a “unifying doctrine” it is also under attack in many of our “progressive” churches. Undermining a doctrine usually occurs in small steps so as not to attract too much attention from the higher ups.




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  5. Dr. Stone said…..

    ” Undermining a doctrine usually occurs in small steps so as not to attract too much attention from the higher ups.”

    And this was my point in my post above. And some of the “higher ups” are involved in the change and attacks on the message.

    As we near the end, the issues will eventually bring a final polarization. Everyone will eventually “lock” into what ever view they subscribe to. We see this more and more on the forums. Nobody changes their mind.

    Those who “lock” into the bible will necessarily band together and those who attack it will do the same. This is really the final test. The creation/evolution discussion will culminate in the near future with many simply acknowledging they don’t really believe and accept the biblical account. Not only on creation, but more than a few other issues as well.

    Politics will cease and truth will be defended without the ongoing patronizing of all those who attack bible Adventism. The bible is not as ambiguous as many would like to claim. So, while the Sabbath is still a unifying doctine, it will also be the devisive factor as well.

    Those who believe and understand historic bible Adventism, also know it will stand against opposition from within as well as without. But the struggle will intensify and as EGW has well said, “Everything that can be shaken, will be shaken.”

    Isn’t this the scenario today? Looks like it to me.

    Bill Sorensen




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  6. Bill Sorensen: And some of the “higher ups” are involved in the change and attacks on the message.Bill Sorensen

    You’re so right, Bill. In the case of LSU, we see some of the “lower” higher ups actually involved directly IN the problem, and others simply putting their heads in the sand to avoid doing anything to stop it. I won’t name names, since we all know who I’m referring to!




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  7. 3-27-11

    I did not realize until today that there was any way to keep up with he “Evolution” debate since EducateTruth closed down. (I am not a big fan of either Facebook or Twitter although I am a member of both–one of my granddaughters enrolled me in both during her Christmas vaacation–and periodically posts something on one or the other but I, personally, have never contribute or follow either one.) But I’m glad I found this today.
    I have been waiting somewhat patiently (and impatiently) for some word in the Review or other church paper letting the laity know what took place following the AAA meeting with LSU. After all, a lot of young people are graduating from high schools or our academies and they and their parents need to know where it is theologically “safe” to go to college. (Since I am almost 87 my own children are approaching retirement and their children are all almost out of college–it’s a non-issue with me personally.) But, as far as I am concerned, the silence has been deafening!
    And, now that I have found a place where things are reported I am absolutely heart sick over what I read. I truly thought we had elected leaders who would actually get in and do something about the situation. But, once again, I am terribly disappointed (and outraged!) over the way things seem to be more or less swept under the rug akain. LSU having been lightly slapped on the hand, and will show some slight attempt to change a bit here and there. And then we will, once again, return to business as usual. More and more I am coming to believe what my Grandmother used to say: “Honey, in the long run, every tub will go to heaven on it’s own bottom!” There will be faithful Adventists there AND probably many MORE faithful non-Adventists who never saw the wonderful light God has so graciously given us and we have so ungraciously disregarded.
    Just look up creation and evolution on the internet. There are a lot of non-Adventist’s out there speaking up plainly and emphatically for creation while our own “voice” is barely a whisper . One site even has a group of dedicated creation-scientists who will go hold a series of meeting on the subject at any church or other group for a very reasonable price.
    They asked me if I would like to have them come to my group (they didn’t know I was an SDA) but I graciously declined. I would love to have heard what they had to say but I simply could not deal with a group of Sunday-keeping, non-Adventist coming to an Adventist church to teach US about Creation!!! If creation “goes” there goes the Sabbath and the rest of the Bible (and the Adventist church along with them.)

    “How far hast thou fallen from heaven, O Adventist church!!”

    There’s not a shadow of a doubt in my mind but what the great “shaking” we have been warned about is “just around the corner” and each of us need to be examining our own hearts to see whether or not WE will remain unshaken!




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  8. “Just look up creation and evolution on the internet. There are a lot of non-Adventist’s out there speaking up plainly and emphatically for creation while our own voice is barely a whisper.”

    So true, Lydian, and really remarkable. There are several creationist ministries, organizations, think tanks, institutes, etc., staffed by Sunday-keeping Christians, and they are all more dynamic and more effective than anything the Adventist Church has ever fielded. There is a sickening irony in the fact that our denomination was founded in large part to call Christians back to the biblical Sabbath, which is a memorial to God’s creation of the earth in a literal week, yet we are a whispering voice in the area of creationist apologetics.

    Our colleges should be platforms for scientific creationism, but instead they are becoming platforms for Darwinism, which is merely an apologetic arm of atheism, an alternative version of earth’s origins that leaves God out of the picture. Adventists academics feel pressure to conform to what is being taught in secular universities, but that pressure must often be resisted. It is an adulterous generation that doesn’t understand that friendship with the world means enmity against God. James 4:4 And nowhere more so than on the issue of origins.




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  9. David Read: There are several creationist ministries, organizations, think tanks, institutes, etc., staffed by Sunday-keeping Christians, and they are all more dynamic and more effective than anything the Adventist Church has ever fielded.

    Many of these websites defend creationism with scientifically incorrect material. Just ask Sean Pitman if this is true. In many cases, the websites reflect gross ignorance or frank dishonesty about the evidence. Again, ask Sean Pitman if this is true. Or ask Dr. Arthur Chadwick, who happens to be a trained paleontologist.

    Do we really have to shore up faith by “proving” that the rocks and fossils declare His glory? And if we do so, is it okay to repeat “evidences” even if the interpretation (as opposed to data) is highly subjective, or worse yet, backed by faulty claims?




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  10. David Read: Adventists academics feel pressure to conform to what is being taught in secular universities, but that pressure must often be resisted.

    I am told by two very well placed SDA biologists that, although there are some exceptions, the vast majority of the Church’s university-employed biologists ARE faithful. They DO resist.

    I wish that EducateTruth readers would offer a little praise rather than continually casting suspicion on its Church scientists. Yes, there is pressure to conform, but the vast majority DO NOT!




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  11. By the way, how many of you have known someone who learned all the “evidence” supporting creationism, and then, after leaving our schools and engaging the real world, left all of their faith on the table? Personally, I know of many dozens who simply could not resolve what they learned in the real world with what they were taught in their youth. What was their faith based on — “evidence” or a personal, abiding relationship in Jesus Christ?

    Which will serve one better in the long term: faith based on a relationship with Jesus, or faith based on science and human reason? Personally, I think the greatest error our families, Churches, and schools make is when we fail to emphasize and better develop the former.




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  12. And in the end, we need to understand that Evolution is simply a “religion” based on human speculation with little basis for any viable conclusion supporting it.

    They have less than one percent of their findings to support a conclusion that is pure conjecture. What the call “proof” is no proof at all.

    And then society endorses these wild conclusions as fact and it is taught as being so in public schools.

    Pure bigotry.

    Bill Sorensen




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  13. @David Read, You’re absolutely correct, Dave. Instead of coming out of the world, LSU and some others are leading us back into the secular humanistic philosophies which pervade our society and which ultimately teach us that “God is DEAD” or never actually existed in the first place!




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  14. “Many of these websites defend creationism with scientifically incorrect material. … In many cases, the websites reflect gross ignorance or frank dishonesty about the evidence.”

    Mainstream science condemns anything that allows a divine foot in the door, that is not strictly naturalistic and materialistic, so every creationist interpretation of the facts will be “scientifically incorrect.” I think sites like Answers in Genesis have been reasonably vigilant about rejecting and discouraging the use of the poorer arguments–and, make no mistake, it is all argument–and I don’t see dishonesty as a significant problem.

    Frankly, “Professor Kent”–and please do not take this as an insult–I don’t trust your judgment on this issue, because like most trained scientists, you have a limited ability to separate fact from interpretation. The facts and interpretations have been conflated and taught together as an undifferentiated body of knowledge for hundreds of years, and it is extremely difficult for someone trained in the disciplines to disentangle fact from interpretation.

    Controversialists who are trained generally, without reference to a specific discipline, in separating fact from interpretation (mostly lawyers) have an advantage when it comes to the origins controversy, which is just another case in which there is a corpus of facts, and each side puts a different spin on the facts.




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  15. David Read wrote:

    David Read: Our colleges should be platforms for scientific creationism, but instead they are becoming platforms for Darwinism, which is merely an apologetic arm of atheism, an alternative version of earth’s origins that leaves God out of the picture.

    Actually SDA colleges still have many science professors who believe in scientific creationism. However, many find it a bit tough to find time and money to do anything other than teach heavy loads for 15-25% less than what the denomination pays primary and secondary school teachers, and many like myself wind up moonlighting to pay off overspent credit cards.

    SDA colleges can’t even afford to send professors to professional meetings. My institution, for example, provides only $500 a year to attend a professional meeting. I would be happy to attend the creation meetings hosted by the SDA Church, but travel and lodging anywhere these days for a 3-5 day meeting easily exceeds $1000.

    Furthermore, origins-related research isn’t free. Where does one apply for a grant to fund origins research? It’s much easier for biologists to get $$$ for studying obscurities like slime molds and deep sea shrimp than to study the age of ice layers in Antarctica.




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  16. Eddie, I couldn’t agree with you more about the need to pay our college professors better. I know how difficult it can be for our college teachers because my father taught at an Adventist college for many years, and, no, he could not support a family of four children on what he was paid, and, yes, he was forced to moonlight. I know exactly what you’re talking about and it is a real problem.

    You also are correct about the need to adequately fund professional travel and development. We should not only be reimbursing our professors for the full cost of travel to creationist conferences, both Adventist and inter-denominational, we should be promoting and hosting such conferences. Not only would this better educate and ground our own professoriate in the relevant research and arguments, it would provide tremendous opportunities for Adventist diplomacy and outreach to other conservative Christians.

    Regarding grant money, the Geoscience Research Institute (GRI) has some grant money for research, but funds are limited: http://www.grisda.org/research/.

    Additionally, ICR has the “National Creation Science Foundation”: http://www.icr.org/ncsf/.

    But this is an area that needs much more attention and thought. Because most sources of grants and funding are closed to explicitly creationist research, I would like to see an Adventist foundation created solely to fund creationist research. There are journals that publish such research (Origins, Answers Research Journal, Journal of Creation, etc.), but the research funding needs more attention.




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  17. Eddie, let me add that no additional funding of Adventist higher education makes any sense unless we know that the administrators and professors are 100% committed to the mission of the church.

    I can’t imagine asking anyone to give sacrificially to support better funding for our colleges and professors if we are retailing the same worldly philosophy available at any of hundreds of public colleges and universities. But if our colleges are committed to supporting our church’s mission, then no amount of monetary support for our colleges is too much.




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  18. Frankly, I do not believe pay is the main problem. If we all should sacrifice why should profs be exempt? If anyone accepts a church salary and benefits he should accept its teachings.

    But we see on certain liberal blogs that there are those accepting denominational employment while dissing its doctrines. They just don’t seem to get it. Or maybe believe its their mission to change the church.




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  19. @ David Read

    David Read: I don’t trust your judgment on this issue, because like most trained scientists, you have a limited ability to separate fact from interpretation.

    Sorry, David, but many people at this website have made very bizarre statements about what I believe or don’t believe, and this statement by you has to be the most humorous statements of all. I have a limited ability to separate fact from interpretation.

    So tell me, Mr. Read, as one well trained in the study of law, is your statement itself fact or interpretation?

    I’m continually amused by those like yourself who have absolutely no understanding or training on how to properly design an experiment, how to analyze data statistically, and how to interpret the findings, can claim to have so much expertise on so many things scientific. Unless you have taken multiple courses on the statistics used by scientists–the statistics required in the vast majority of papers before they can be accepted for publication–you have no clue on how to interpret the quantitative data that forms the basis for much of your understanding about the natural world. All YOU ever read about is INTERPRETATION; are you claiming that you understand fact when you have no idea what the actual data themselves can tell us?

    By the way, you are not alone; I can guarantee you that Sean Pitman himself lacks this training as well. I’ve worked with MDs who do research and publish experimental studies, including a physician trained at Loma Linda, so I know firsthand their limited knowledge of research design and analysis. I know what classes they do not teach in medical school.

    You guys don’t have a clue how to run, or interpret the findings, of some of the most basic statistical tests like analysis of covariance, logistic regression, discriminant function analysis, principle component analysis, and the like. You don’t know the distinction between practical significance and statistical significance, and why one might be more meaningful for interpretation than the other. You don’t use it, you don’t teach it, and you certainly don’t understand it when you read it. You are totally ignorant about the most elemental tools that are required for the interpretation of science.

    And yet, you have the arrogance to proclaim that someone uses these tools on a daily basis, teaches students how to do use them, publishes multiple papers annually using these very tools, and reviews multiple original research manuscripts annually at the request of journal editors, is incapable of separating fact from interpretation.

    You write a number of posts that I agree with, and I respect your knowledge and training. But if you think that you can separate “fact” from “interpretation,” which you can’t even do so with an original research report, you have deluded yourself. To think that any research findings are truly “fact” reflects your lack of understanding. You just lost a lot of my respect.




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  20. What I meant to write was, “But if you think that you can separate “fact” from “interpretation” better than practicing scientists, which you can’t even do so with an original research report, you have deluded yourself.

    It’s like me, a trained biologist, telling you that my training makes me better prepared to interpret the language in a lawsuit than you are. I respect your law school training to understand “legalese,” but not your claims to understand better than scientists the most fundamental tenets of science.




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  21. GMF: Frankly, I do not believe pay is the main problem. If we all should sacrifice why should profs be exempt?

    GMF,

    I’m afraid you do not understand reality. I recall Eddie telling us before that the Church pays its pastors and even its less well trained elementary and secondary school teachers more than it pays its university professors. Why is it so many of our students want to go into medicine and other health-related careers? Do you suppose money has anything to do with this? Why is it I have read about SDA hospital administrators making close to a million dollars in annual compensation? Why is it some of our pastors have left denominational employ to become hospital administrators? Why is it that the SDA Church fought, and lost, three branches of the U.S. government so that they could discriminant against women by paying them less wages for the same work than men?

    So who, exactly, is doing the sacrificing, and why are the very highest trained individuals (those with doctorate degrees) in the Church expected to sacrifice the most?




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  22. Kent, what is your full name, where do you work, what is your area of expertise, and what is the subject of the papers you’ve published? Are you a paleontologist?

    Have you ever divulged even these basic things about yourself?

    You seem to be saying that because you are a statistician or mathematician you have a keen ability to separate fact from interpretation in areas like geology and paleontology. I don’t see the connection.

    What I know about myself is that when I read any book or article written by Darwinist, I can very easily spot assumption resting upon guesswork, resting upon unproven axiom. I can also see how most of the actual facts fit better in a creationist framework. I’m not impressed by mainstream origins “science,” and even less impressed with the ability of those who are impressed by it to separate fact from interpretation.




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    • @David Read:

      “What I know about myself is that when I read any book or article written by Darwinist, I can very easily spot assumption resting upon guesswork, resting upon unproven axiom. I can also see how most of the actual facts fit better in a creationist framework”.

      Good then perhaps you could give us your analysis of this paper and how the data supports your creatonist perspective?

      1. Liu GE, Alkan C, Jiang L, Zhao S, Eichler EE. Comparative analysis of Alu repeats in primate genomes. Genome Res 2009 May;19(5):876-885.

      fulltext

      What are the “actual facts” here?
      What is the guesswork and what is the unproven axiom.
      What is the creationist interpretation of this?

      I have no doubt that you will be able to generate a convincing response to this question as you are a lawyer and you are trained not for any objective analysis of data but to use the material that you can gather to produce the best available response. Your highly developed skill in this is manifest in your book on dinosaurs. But is it science?

      Pauluc




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      • @pauluc:

        perhaps you could give us your analysis of this paper and how the data supports your creatonist perspective?

        1. Liu GE, Alkan C, Jiang L, Zhao S, Eichler EE. Comparative analysis of Alu repeats in primate genomes. Genome Res 2009 May;19(5):876-885.

        What are the “actual facts” here?
        What is the guesswork and what is the unproven axiom.
        What is the creationist interpretation of this?

        The facts:

        SINEs, to include Alu repeats, are indeed short interspersed sequence elements of ∼300 nt in length, propagating within a genome through retrotransposition and account for ∼10% of the human genome sequence. They also have an impact on phenotypic change via alternative splicing, genomic rearrangements, segmental duplication, and expression regulation causing disorders like Hunter syndrome, hemophilia A, and Sly syndrome.

        The guesswork:

        The proposed evolutionary relationships over deep time based on nested hierarchical patterns is just-so story telling without scientific value. Such stories have no useful predictive value nor are they effectively falsifiable.

        Part of the problem here is that the paper you reference treats SINE insertions as “homoplasy-free character states in cladistic analyses of primates.” The assumption isn’t true. According to Cantrell, et at., SINE insertions are simply not homoplasy-free phylogenetic markers since they are subject to hot-spot insertions independent of phylogenetic relationships.

        Cantrell, Michael A. and others. 2001. An Ancient Retrovirus-like Element Contains Hot Spots for SINE Insertion. Genetics 158:769-777.

        In any case, there really are no “foolproof” genetic markers of common decent. All of the ones proposed so far to be foolproof have been shown to have significant flaws. The prediction that pseudogenes, transposons (SINEs and LINEs) and other shared mutational mistakes are conclusive evidence for common descent has not held up. For example, consider the following excerpt from David Hillis’ paper entitled, “SINEs of the perfect character.” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1999:

        What of the claim that the SINE/LINE insertion events are perfect markers of evolution (i.e., they exhibit no homoplasy)? Similar claims have been made for other kinds of data in the past, and in every case examples have been found to refute the claim. For instance, DNA-DNA hybridization data were once purported to be immune from convergence, but many sources of convergence have been discovered for this technique. Structural rearrangements of genomes were thought to be such complex events that convergence was highly unlikely, but now several examples of convergence in genome rearrangements have been discovered. Even simple insertions and deletions within coding regions have been considered to be unlikely to be homoplastic, but numerous examples of convergence and parallelism of these events are now known. Although individual nucleotides and amino acids are widely acknowledged to exhibit homoplasy, some authors have suggested that widespread simultaneous convergence in many nucleotides is virtually impossible. Nonetheless, examples of such convergence have been demonstrated in experimental evolution studies.

        Beyond this, the assumption that SINEs and other such sequences could not have originally served any beneficial purpose (i.e., that no reasonable designer would have deliberately included them within the primate genome) has also been shown to be false.

        In a Science article by Wojciech Makalowski, the following comments are made that seem to echo what design theorists have been saying for a very long time:

        Although catchy, the term “junk DNA” for many years repelled mainstream researchers from studying noncoding DNA. Who, except a small number of genomic clochards, would like to dig through genomic garbage? However, in science as in normal life, there are some clochards who, at the risk of being ridiculed, explore unpopular territories. Because of them, the view of junk DNA, especially repetitive elements, began to change in the early 1990s. Now, more and more biologists regard repetitive elements as genomic treasure.”

        Makalowski, Wojciech. 2003. Not Junk After All, Science 300:1246-1247

        As it turns out, a lot of beneficial and even critical functionality has been identified for SINEs, LINEs, pseudogenes, and other various kinds of genetic sequences that were once thought to be “Junk DNA”; remnants of mistakes of a long evolutionary history of trial and error. There are also sequences which don’t seem to have any function, yet remain identical between very different species.

        For example, in May of 2004 Haussler and Bejerano used computers to compare the human genome with the mouse and the rat genomes. They were surprised to find long stretches of shared non-coding “junk” DNA that were exactly the same in humans and rodents.

        “There were about five hundred stretches of DNA in the human genome that hadn’t changed at all in the millions and millions of years that separated the human from the mouse and the rat,” says Haussler. “I about fell off my chair. It’s very unusual to have such an amount of conservation continually over such a long stretch of DNA.”

        Many of these stretches of DNA, called “ultraconserved” regions, don’t appear to code for protein, so they might have been dismissed as junk if they hadn’t shown up in so many different species. Haussler “confirmed that negative selection is three times stronger in these regions than it is for nonsynonymous changes in coding regions.” As far as Haussler is concerned, “It is a mystery what molecular mechanisms would place virtually every base in a segment of size up to 1 kilobase [i.e., 1000 bp] under this level of negative selection”. That’s 500 regions of DNA up to 1000 bp that are identical between rats and humans – up to 500,000 identical genetic sites in DNA?! What is also surprising is that these same regions largely matched up with chicken, dog and fish sequences as well; but are absent from sea squirt and fruit flies. Note that the last supposed common ancestor for all of these creatures was thought to live some 400 million years ago.

        “From what we know about the rate at which DNA changes from generation to generation, the chance of finding even one stretch of DNA in the human genome that is unchanged between humans and mice and rats over these hundred million years is less than one divided by ten followed by 22 zeros. It’s a tiny, tiny fraction. It’s virtually impossible that this would happen by chance.”

        Of course, this is in light of an interesting experiment described by Nóbrega et. al. in a 2004 issue of the journal Nature where the authors demonstrated that large-scale deletions (two large non-coding intervals: 1,511 kilobases and 845 kilobases in length for a total of 1,243,000 bp) of non-coding DNA could be tolerated by mice without any detectible functional effect. “Viable mice homozygous for the deletions were generated and were indistinguishable from wild-type littermates with regard to morphology, reproductive fitness, growth, longevity and a variety of parameters assaying general homeostasis.” What is especially interesting here is that these particular non-coding sequences are conserved between humans and rodents. The authors argue that, “Some of the deleted sequences might encode for functions unidentified in our screen; nonetheless, these studies further support the existence of potentially ‘disposable DNA’ in the genomes of mammals.”

        The problem here is the question of why such “disposable DNA” would be so conserved over many tens of millions of years? Functional or non-functional, it still poses a problem for standard evolutionary theory. If functional, it isn’t non-functional remnants of evolutionary trial and error history and fits well within design theory. If non-functional its high degree of conservation doesn’t seem to fit with the idea that many tens of millions of years have actually passed since the ancestral origin of either humans or rodents (or chickens, dogs, and fish).

        Even so, those like Haussler and Nóbrega still believe very strongly that humans and rats do in fact share a common ancestor that lived a hundred million years ago or so. The idea that perhaps humans and rats might have actually been individually created, deliberately, does not even cross their minds.

        In short, such patterns do not falsify the ID-only hypothesis since they do not even address the origin of high levels of functional information within the genomes of living things. Also, the age of various genomes is often calculated based on mutation rates that are actually calculated based on prior evolutionary assumptions. Real time studies of mutation rates have shown that these assumptions are off by as much as 20 or even 100 fold.

        http://www.detectingdesign.com/dnamutationrates.html

        Then, there is also the problem of the rapid degeneration of the functional elements in the genomes of slowly reproducing species – humans, other primates, and all other mammals for that matter. All such gene pools are devolving, not evolving. They are declining in quality – i.e., they are headed for extinction at a fairly rapid rate.

        http://www.detectingdesign.com/dnamutationrates.html#Detrimental

        Such evidence calls into serious question the validity of these just-so stories of mainstream scientists when it comes to their explanation of the nested hierarchical patterns that they find in various genomes.

        For more information on this topic see:

        http://www.detectingdesign.com/pseudogenes.html

        http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/daniel-fairbanks-cherry-picks-data-on-pseudogenes-to-prop-up-common-descent/

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • @Sean Pitman:

          Sean your response includes several excellent descriptors of your assessment of the indaquacy of the paper and evolutionary models. The following give a flavour of your response.

          “The assumption isn’t true.”

          “…. there really are no “foolproof” genetic markers of common decent.”

          “…..conclusive evidence for common descent has not held up”

          “…..has also been shown to be false”

          “….it still poses a problem for standard evolutionary theory.”

          “…..do not falsify the ID-only hypothesis since they do not even address the origin of high
          levels of functional information within the genomes of living things.”

          “They are declining in quality – i.e., they are headed for extinction at a fairly rapid rate. ”

          “Such evidence calls into serious question the validity of these just-so stories of mainstream scientists”

          Nowhere however do you answer the real question that was posed to David Read. You are implying that the creationist argument is correct simply because the alternative is deficient. I know this is the SOP but I had hoped that you would be proactive in telling me whey this data is best interpreted from a creationist perspective which was David Reads contention ie

          “I can also see how most of the actual facts fit better in a creationist framework”.

          How can the apparently unplanned but cobbled together and functional mess that is the genome be best explained in a creationist framework? It cries out chance and contingency which is precisely what evolution would predict and why it is increasingly seen as the most compelling by most genome scientists. As you know you will not replace this dominant model by carping about minor or major deficiencies because in science you know a model is not replaced because it is deficient but because there is a better model.

          The onus is on you to produce a better more compelling model. As Clausen has indicated they are currently lacking. For these published observations on the distribution of alu repeats you must show the superiory of you model not the inadequacy of the existing model. To be real science you must then go on to test the predictions of your model experimentally.

          Pauluc




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        • @pauluc:

          You wrote:

          Nowhere however do you answer the real question that was posed to David Read. You are implying that the creationist argument is correct simply because the alternative is deficient. I know this is the SOP but I had hoped that you would be proactive in telling me whey this data is best interpreted from a creationist perspective which was David Reads contention.

          Nested Hierarchical Patterns (NHPs) can be explained by both common descent with mindless modification over time and by deliberate design. Many human designed systems, like object oriented computer programming for example, show NHPs.

          So, how does one tell if a given NHP is the result of mindless mechanisms or the result of deliberate design? Well, one must actually investigate various features of the pattern itself to see if all of the features associated with the pattern can be adequately explained by any known non-deliberate mechanism. If some aspect of the pattern cannot be explained by a known non-deliberate mechanism, but is still within the realm of deliberate design, the ID-only hypothesis can rationally be invoked at that point. Once it is known that deliberate design was most likely involved with the production of at least some aspect of the NHP in question, it is also reasonable, at that point, to suggest that the overall NHP itself may have been deliberately designed as well.

          In the case of living things, they are indeed generally arranged in a NHP – a “Tree of Life” (ToL) so to speak. Again, the NHP itself can be produced by mindless mechanisms or by deliberate design. So, what aspect of the ToL would be beyond the realm of any known mindless mechanism? – given that the NHP itself can be produced by mindless mechanisms?

          As noted previously, the functional differences between living things and even subsystems within living things, beyond very low levels of functional complexity, can only be explained, at the current time, by intelligent design. There is no currently known mindless mechanism that can produce qualitatively novel functional information beyond very low levels of functional complexity.

          Since every living thing demonstrates very high levels of functional complexity, the ID-only hypothesis can rationally be invoked to explain the origin of life. And, since many different types of living things have qualitative functional differences as well, these high level qualitative differences can also be most rationally explained by the ID-only hypothesis.

          Once one demonstrates that intelligence was most certainly in play in the origin of numerous aspects of the ToL, one can also rationally propose that the overall NHP was also the likely result of deliberate design.

          How can the apparently unplanned but cobbled together and functional mess that is the genome be best explained in a creationist framework? It cries out chance and contingency which is precisely what evolution would predict and why it is increasingly seen as the most compelling by most genome scientists. As you know you will not replace this dominant model by carping about minor or major deficiencies because in science you know a model is not replaced because it is deficient but because there is a better model.

          Real science demands that models be at least theoretically falsifiable. That means that a particular model can be shown to be false even if there is no other model with which to replace the current model. A false model is a false model. It’s as simple as that.

          Beyond this, your notion that the genome is a hodge-podge poorly planned jumbled mess is a view that is at odds with the currently emerging view of the genome – a fractal view if you like where the more closely it is investigated, the more and more intricate and complex it appears. What might initially appear to be a “mess” of circuits, wires, and microchips might later turn out to be a cutting edge supercomputer designed by the most advanced minds in computer science. The only reason why someone might initially interpret their work as a “mess” is because of the initial ignorance of the observer.

          In other words, the concept of a “mess” is subjective – it is in the eye of the beholder. This “messy” notion of yours certainly isn’t objective science. Just because you wouldn’t do it that way doesn’t mean it wasn’t intelligently designed. And, if you can’t do as good yourself, you probably aren’t qualified to describe something as “a mess” or “poorly designed” to begin with. Richard Dawkins got into this embarrassing situation when he described the inverted human retina as an obvious example of poor design… later shown to be an ingenious design (to include the fairly recently discovered fiber-optic Mueller cells).

          In light of your “poor-design” argument, consider the following thoughts of Erika Hayden on the intricacies of the genome and how clueless modern scientists have been in their understanding of it:

          “We fooled ourselves into thinking the genome was going to be a transparent blueprint, but it’s not,” says Mel Greaves, a cell biologist at the Institute of Cancer Research in Sutton, UK. Instead, as sequencing and other new technologies spew forth data, the complexity of biology has seemed to grow by orders of magnitude. Delving into it has been like zooming into a Mandelbrot set — a space that is determined by a simple equation, but that reveals ever more intricate patterns as one peers closer at its boundary….

          “It seems like we’re climbing a mountain that keeps getting higher and higher,” says Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist at the University of California, Berkeley. “The more we know, the more we realize there is to know.”…

          Researchers from an international collaborative project called the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) showed that in a selected portion of the genome containing just a few per cent of protein-coding sequence, between 74% and 93% of DNA was transcribed into RNA. Much non-coding DNA has a regulatory role; small RNAs of different varieties seem to control gene expression at the level of both DNA and RNA transcripts in ways that are still only beginning to become clear. “Just the sheer existence of these exotic regulators suggests that our understanding about the most basic things — such as how a cell turns on and off — is incredibly naive,” says Joshua Plotkin, a mathematical biologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

          Erika Check Hayden, Human genome at ten: Life is complicated, Nature 464, 664-667, Published online 31 March 2010

          See also:

          http://www.detectingdesign.com/pseudogenes.html#Fractal

          The onus is on you to produce a better more compelling model. As Clausen has indicated they are currently lacking. For these published observations on the distribution of alu repeats you must show the superiory of you model not the inadequacy of the existing model. To be real science you must then go on to test the predictions of your model experimentally.

          Again, real scientists don’t need a new model before they can question the validity of the current model. Beyond this, the basis of a new model is not based on the NHP of the ToL, but on the functional aspects associated with the NHP that cannot be explained by any known mindless mechanism while being within the realm of the powers of intelligent design at a very high level.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • @Sean Pitman:

          To summarize the issues in your long response.

          1] NHP as you have articulated do not offer any possibility of deciding between relatedness by descent and “God made it that way”

          2] ID only hypothesis; Has never been formulated in any rigorous way that has been subject to testing. I do not even know what you mean by “ID-only”. Most scientists would understand ID as code for “We dont understand this except God did it”.

          3] Hypothesis testing you say

          “Real science demands that models be at least theoretically falsifiable. That means that a particular model can be shown to be false even if there is no other model with which to replace the current model. A false model is a false model. It’s as simple as that.”

          Unfortunately it is nowhere near as simple as that as you would know if if you had bothered to try to understand science beyond your sectarian base. Although the poperian model of science as hypothesis testing and a requirement for falsifiability is still the dominant understanding it is much more complicated than that. The discussion by Alistair McGrath in “A scientific theology vol 3 theory” pg 192-214 of the Durham – Quine theory and the nature of hypothesis testing would be a useful start to understand hypothesis testing and falsifiability. In summary however the theory suggests that a thesis such as quantum mechansisms, origin of life by evolution by common descent is surrounded by a group of agregated interrelated hypotheses. These might include Darwinian natural selection. In reality as Jerry Fodor has suggested in his book “What Dawin Got Wrong”, the Darwinian hypothesis can be rejected based on evidence without at all rejecting the core evolutionary hypothesis. As he says in his eassy “Fodor against Darwinism” found on his website

          “None of this should, however, lighten the heart of anybody in Kansas; not even a little. In particular, I’ve provided not the slightest reason to doubt the central Darwinist theses of the common origin and mutability of species. Nor have I offered the slightest reason to doubt
          that we and chimpanzees had (relatively) recent common ancestors. Nor I do suppose that the intentions of a designer, intelligent or otherwise, are among the causally sufficient conditions that good historical narratives would appeal to in order to explain why a certain kind of creature has the phenotypic traits it does (saving, of course, cases like Granny and her zinnias.) It is, in short, one thing to wonder
          whether evolution happens; it’s quite another thing to wonder whether adaptation is the mechanism by which evolution happens. Well, evolution happens; the evidence that it does is overwhelming. I blush to have to say that so late in the day; but these are bitter times.”

          The response to data that would falsify one of the hyptheses is to change that hypothesis to better account for the new fact without at all changing the original thesis.

          A recent review on evolution of cellular complexity by ratchet like mechansisms rather than selection also critiques Darwinian selection as the mechanism of generating complexity but does not question the well established rubric of evolution of cellular complexity. (Gray MW, Lukeš J, Archibald JM, Keeling PJ, Doolittle WF. Irremediable Complexity? Science 2010 Nov;330(6006):920 -921). This is the model of scientific advance you are confonting. Science could completely reject all darwinian mechanisms but the thesis of evolution would remain because of the absence of a better theory.

          Your approach of pointing out the problems you see with some aspect of the evolutionary model completely misses this point. You are approaching science and knowledge from the approach to truth you hear from the pulpit and from fundamentalists like Bob Ryan. You cannot be a christian unless you believe in the literal creation. You cannot have a sabbath unless the literal creation is correct. There can be no second coming unless the creation is literally true. This is not the mindset outside the inclaves of fundamentalism. The pillar talk of people like this engender the idea that failure at a single point destroys the whole edifice. This does not pass the test of realism.

          You cannot hope to change the scientific paradigm that is the thesis of evolution by pointing out even a multitude of errors or inconsistencies in the surrounding interrelated hypotheses without a compelling alternative core model. You have to provide both an overarching alternative to evolution as a thesis and to each of the surrounding interrelated hypotheses each of which provide support for the overall hypothesis.

          I know you have taken the view that you can and must personally understand everything related to origins and have published critiques in all conceivably related fields. This is all well and good but these have to be both credible and well informed in each field.
          for Eg do you seriously want us to believe that geo biodiversity can be accounted for by a model of plate tectonics that suggests that in 6000 years south america moved >11000 km from Gwondanaland. This is incredible; minimal rate of nearly 2 Km per year! The constraints imposed on the model, a 6000 year earth history makes your task of credibility virtually impossible. But if you move away from the “about 6000” of divine relevation you are on your own and well away from the mothership of the church.

          You have a problem in that your core thesis that God created everything 6000 years ago was the dominant model some 150 years ago but this has been tested and progressively rejected as untenable because of accumulating evidence for the alternative model over the last 150 years. It is extremely unlikely that this will ever be a scientific thesis although it will always remain as a faith statement which is outside the magesteria of science and hypothesis testing. People like Prof Kent seem to recognize this.

          4] The organization of the genome;

          “Beyond this, your notion that the genome is a hodge-podge poorly planned jumbled mess is a view that is at odds with the currently emerging view of the genome”

          I think it interesting that you would take a journalists view, albeit published in science, as the best evidence for “currently emerginf view of the genome”. Even given this caveat I do not read this review as supporting your contention of design on which it is completely silent. Unless of course you see in a Mandelbrot and all complexity the finger of God.

          If you had read the chicken defensin gene paper you would have an example of what I mean by messy. Within this gene family
          a] Why are the introns of different length ie different ?random intronic lengths
          b] why are the intergenic distances variable?
          c] why does the gal13 have partial repeat sequences
          d] why is the orientation of the gene seemingly at random?

          This does not to me seem the carefully ordered regular precise structure I would expect of intelligent design. If you suggest that we do not yet know but that all of this nonetheless reflect careful thought or that it reflects interference and corruption from the devil as David Read woudl suggest I would have to conclude that your ID concept is vaccuous has not explanatory value and is far from scientific.

          In contrast the evolutionary model of common origin and ancestory has extraordinary explanatory and predictive value. It predicts that changes between species will reflect this history of origin by descent from common ancestors.

          I ask you to take any published analysis of a multigene family and ask the same questions. Do they objectively support order and design or are they best accounted for by contingency and chance with a mere modicum of selection.

          5] I have dealt with “real science” and new models above but your statement

          ” … but on the functional aspects associated with the NHP that cannot be explained by any known mindless mechanism while being within the realm of the powers of intelligent design at a very high level.”

          is a faith statement, a non-sequitur that does not get to the point of this dialogue which was why the genome is as it is and can you honestly say it is best accounted for by “design”.

          Pauluc




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        • @pauluc:

          You wrote:

          I do not even know what you mean by “ID-only”. Most scientists would understand ID as code for “We dont understand this except God did it”.

          The ID-only hypothesis is the testable hypothesis that the phenomenon in question can only be explained by intelligent design on at least the human level of intelligence. In other words, the origin of the phenomenon in question is indeed not currently understandable using mindless mechanisms alone while being currently understandable using at least human-level design.

          You go on to write:

          Although the poperian model of science as hypothesis testing and a requirement for falsifiability is still the dominant understanding it is much more complicated than that… In summary however the theory suggests that a thesis such as quantum mechansisms, origin of life by evolution by common descent is surrounded by a group of agregated interrelated hypotheses. These might include Darwinian natural selection.

          This argument is often used to suggest that certain peripheral elements of modern evolutionary theory may be challenged and even falsified, but the core truth of common descent remains intact as an unshakable fact of science.

          Let me suggest to you that nothing is absolutely provable in science. Hypotheses, theories, and even the laws of science are not facts. They are explanations or interpretations of the facts that are potentially wrong. They are and must be open to testing and the potential of effective falsification. If they are not, they leave the realm of science and move into the realm of religious-style dogma or empirically-blind faith.

          If the Darwinian mechanism of RM/NS is effectively falsified as having the creative potential to produce the qualitative functional diversity that we see in living things, beyond very low levels of functional complexity, you have a theory of common descent without a reasonable mindless mechanism. If only intelligent design is a known force that can reasonably explain the existence of such diversity of functionally complex information systems, what you have is creationism. The only argument left is over if the creation of life and its diversity happened slowly or rapidly.

          It is for this reason that evolutionary scientists are clinging so desperately to the Darwinian mechanism – despite its very clear statistical limitations to very very low levels of functional complexity (even given trillions of years of time). They cling to this untenable mechanism because they simply do not want to accept the obvious implications that a lack of a viable mindless mechanism has – i.e., the need for a very intelligent designer. Also, the other suggested mechanisms, like your reference to a ratchet-like mechanism, are no more tenable than RM/NS and are, effectively, variations on the same basic theme.

          Yet, you write:

          Science could completely reject all darwinian mechanisms but the thesis of evolution would remain because of the absence of a better theory.

          A theory of origins without a viable mechanism is a stack of cards. You know it, I know it, and pretty much all mainstream scientists know it. That’s why they don’t want to publicly acknowledge the very clear limitations of RM/NS.

          Also, the underlying theory of common descent must also be falsifiable if it is truly a scientific theory. The ID-only hypothesis is very easily falsifiable. How about the theory of common descent? Not falsifiable? Really?

          Again, if an idea is not effectively falsifiable, even in theory, it isn’t scientific. It really is as simple as that.

          Your approach of pointing out the problems you see with some aspect of the evolutionary model completely misses this point. You are approaching science and knowledge from the approach to truth you hear from the pulpit and from fundamentalists like Bob Ryan. You cannot be a christian unless you believe in the literal creation. You cannot have a sabbath unless the literal creation is correct. There can be no second coming unless the creation is literally true. This is not the mindset outside the inclaves of fundamentalism. The pillar talk of people like this engender the idea that failure at a single point destroys the whole edifice. This does not pass the test of realism.

          You don’t seem to understand my position. I repeat, yet again, that this isn’t a moral issue. One can be a very good Christian, living like Jesus lived, and not understand the truth of origins… and be saved in Heaven someday. The only reason why a correct understanding of origins is important is because it helps to provide a solid rational basis for the credibility of the Gospel message of hope here and now. While hope, by itself, doesn’t save anyone, it is nice to have hope here and now if one can find a solid basis for hope.

          You cannot hope to change the scientific paradigm that is the thesis of evolution by pointing out even a multitude of errors or inconsistencies in the surrounding interrelated hypotheses without a compelling alternative core model. You have to provide both an overarching alternative to evolution as a thesis and to each of the surrounding interrelated hypotheses each of which provide support for the overall hypothesis.

          If the foundational struts holding up any theory can be shone to be false, no other theory is needed to argue that the current theory is simply wrong. Thomas Edison, before his invention of the light bulb, came up with hundreds of false theories that looked great on paper, but just didn’t work when put to the test. The same thing is, or at least should be, true of any scientific theory.

          Beyond this, I repeat, there is a very good well supported theory of origins to replace the modern theory. It is the Biblical model of origins that has the weight of empirical evidence.

          Do you seriously want us to believe that geo biodiversity can be accounted for by a model of plate tectonics that suggests that in 6000 years south america moved >11000 km from Gwondanaland. This is incredible; minimal rate of nearly 2 Km per year! The constraints imposed on the model, a 6000 year earth history makes your task of credibility virtually impossible. But if you move away from the “about 6000″ of divine relevation you are on your own and well away from the mothership of the church.

          Why do you think that a very rapid initially catastrophic movement of continents is so unreasonable and inconsistent with the currently available evidence? Why hasn’t there been more coastal erosion if the continents really did split up some 200 million years ago? That’s enough time to erode all continents on all sides more than 2,000 kilometers. And they still fit?

          Consider that Japan just moved 12 feet to the east within minutes with just a 9.0 earthquake. What would happen if the Earth was hit by a large meteor 100 kilometers in diameter?

          I don’t think you’re comprehending the degree of energy that was released during and even after the Noachian Flood.

          You have a problem in that your core thesis that God created everything 6000 years ago was the dominant model some 150 years ago but this has been tested and progressively rejected as untenable because of accumulating evidence for the alternative model over the last 150 years.

          The Biblical model wasn’t really rejected by mainstream science until Darwin proposed his RM/NS mechanism of origins. The uniformitarian model of geology, which is currently failing, also contributed to this drift from the Biblical model. If these models failed within mainstream science, the Biblical model would again gain dominance.

          The real problem here is the secular mindset of many which think that any consideration of a Biblical model is inherently anti-scientific and irrational. That’s simply not true.

          This does not to me seem the carefully ordered regular precise structure I would expect of intelligent design. If you suggest that we do not yet know but that all of this nonetheless reflect careful thought or that it reflects interference and corruption from the devil as David Read woudl suggest I would have to conclude that your ID concept is vaccuous has not explanatory value and is far from scientific.

          Again, you’re basing your notion of intelligent design on how you would have done things. That isn’t the correct basis for determining if something can only be rationally explained via intelligent design. Just because a child’s soap box car might not fit your notion of an ideal design does not mean that it doesn’t clearly invoke the need for intelligent design.

          This is why design-flaw arguments are meaningless – a red herring. Beyond this, you somehow think to question the designed origin of systems that are functionally complex on a level far beyond your own design capabilities. That, in itself, should give you pause – should cause you to think that you are perhaps being just a bit arrogant to think that you can effectively critique a system of function that you cannot come close to matching.

          In contrast the evolutionary model of common origin and ancestory has extraordinary explanatory and predictive value. It predicts that changes between species will reflect this history of origin by descent from common ancestors.

          The theory of common descent can only effectively explain, on the same level as intelligent design theory, the similarities between creatures. It cannot effectively explain the qualitative functional differences beyond very very low levels of functional complexity without invoking intelligent design.

          So, you see, the failure of the mainstream theory of origins isn’t in explaining similarities. It is in explaining the differences.

          I ask you to take any published analysis of a multigene family and ask the same questions. Do they objectively support order and design or are they best accounted for by contingency and chance with a mere modicum of selection.

          Again, you’re looking at patterns of similarities. The same gene families with the same basic qualitative functionality can easily drift via mutations over time, very rapidly, while still maintaining the same basic type of functionality.

          This is the reason why neutral, near neutral, or even evolution of the level of the same basic type of function isn’t a problem at all.

          The problem is when you start talking about the origin of qualitatively unique types of functions within living things beyond very low levels of functional complexity. It is at this point that the mainstream theory of origins fails and the ID-only hypothesis comes into play.

          5] I have dealt with “real science” and new models above but your statement

          ” … but on the functional aspects associated with the NHP that cannot be explained by any known mindless mechanism while being within the realm of the powers of intelligent design at a very high level.”

          is a faith statement, a non-sequitur that does not get to the point of this dialogue which was why the genome is as it is and can you honestly say it is best accounted for by “design”.

          It is not a blind-faith statement at all – devoid of the weight of empirical evidence. As already noted, there is no currently known viable mindless mechanism to explain the origin of the novel functional aspects of the NHP of the ToL beyond very low levels of functional complexity. It is at this point that the only known mechanism that can explain such qualitatively novel functional complexity is deliberate intelligence on at least the human level or beyond.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • @Sean Pitman:

          Sean and David

          Thanks for the responses. It looks like it is about time for me to move on since there is really no response to “God said it I believe it”. I have seen the future of adventist education and I worry for the impressionable mind that you would control. I am no more sanguine than I was on past visits although I must confess the responses have been more cordial and vitriolic has been absent but so have some of the usual faces.

          Good luck with your research. I look forward to seeing your testing of the 24/6/6000 model and specific interrelated hypotheses. Sean perhaps this paper is a useful point for you to start critiquing the CUA model since you seem to have a bent for the statistical.

          Regards

          Pauluc




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      • @pauluc: What is the unproven axiom?

        The unproven axiom is that the mega-evolution story is true. It is further assumed that primates share a common ancestor. Obviously, there is no attempt to prove this, it is simply an assumption that is taken for granted in this study and in the previous studies cited in this one.

        Another unproven assumption is that scientists will be more successful in using the genetic characteristics of various species to tease out assumed evolutionary relationships between species than they were using gross anatomical and morphological features. This hasn’t been the case so far, but it has provided endless opportunities to get research funding and publish papers, and to use genetic data to re-arrange clades originally based upon gross anatomical characteristics. But the conflict between clades based upon genetics with clades based upon gross anatomy just underscores the speculative nature of all Darwinian phylogenetic theories and conclusions.

        Another assumption is that genetic mutations occur at a constant rate through time, a sort of biological uniformitarianism. The authors of this study assume “a substitution rate of 2.5 × 10−9 substitutions/site per year.” All “molecular clock” studies assume both common ancestry and a constant average rate of genetic mutation through huge tracts of time. Interestingly, if these authors’ analysis of their data is correct, retro-transpositions of Alu repeats are 10 times more common in the lemur line than in the human line, which doesn’t seem consistent with the assumption of a steady rate of genetic mutations.

        What are the “actual facts” here?

        Alu repeats are found in the genomes of all primates, but they are slightly different in the various species. It isn’t clear to me that there were any other facts in this article.

        What is the creationist interpretation of this? How does it support the creationist perspective?

        The article recognizes that Alu repeats probably have a function that has yet to be precisely determined:

        “Recent work increasingly recognizes that Alu elements have a greater impact than expected on phenotypic change, diseases, and evolution. Alu elements were demonstrated to mediate insertion mutagenesis, ‘exonization’ by alternative splicing, genomic rearrangements, segmental duplication, and expression regulation causing disorders like Hunter syndrome, hemophilia A, and Sly syndrome.”

        It is a prediction of creationism and design theory that junk DNA would prove to have non-obvious, but eventually discoverable functionality. The authors seem to concede that this is the case with Alu repeats.

        The authors also believe that the rate of Alu retro-transpositions was much higher in the distant past than today in the anthropoid or human line. This coincides with the longstanding creationist theory that genetic diversification was much faster and more extensive during the immediate post-Flood centuries than today or in the recent past.




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  23. “To think that any research findings are truly “fact” reflects your lack of understanding.”

    Kent, I don’t think that research findings are truly “fact.” That was my whole point. I totally agree with you that research “findings” are not facts. They are facts (if we’re lucky) combined with interpretation, and the interpretation is heavily influence by the theory or hypothesis the researcher is assuming to be true. And if that is true with regard to experimental, repeatable, observable science, think how much more true it is when it comes to the singular, complex, unrepeatable events of the distant past.




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  24. David,

    I have explained previously why I do not wish to reveal personal details about myself. You can think of me as a zoologist; that’s what my PhD is in, and that’s the discipline I’ve taught and published within for decades. I’ve made this clear as well, though perhaps not in recent months. And there is additional reason for maintaining anonymity: I have nothing personal to gain in this debate. I have no desire whatsoever to build a reputation, gain accolades, or sell a book (though I have authored several). I am a humble professor of Christ. I like to walk with and speak of Christ. I think we need to do more of this, and rely less on our own reason. You apologists seem determined to distract us from our personal communion with God.

    You remarked, “You seem to be saying that because you are a statistician or mathematician you have a keen ability to separate fact from interpretation in areas like geology and paleontology. I don’t see the connection.

    Sorry, but I have made no such statement. When dealing with areas outside my expertise, I’ve consistently and humbly disclosed that I am not a trained geologist or molecular biologist, for example, and rather than state my objections to certain creationist claims as fact, I’ve stated them based on my opinion–and I often back up my opinion by citing original publications rather than news stories and books and the like.

    I’m objecting, David, to your bold and bald (silly terms I see a lot at this website) assertion that you understand science fact versus interpretation better than trained scientists, in spite of the fact (not interpretation) that we are taught from day one in graduate school to understand the process by which we move from data to interpretation. We are also taught that science cannot deliver us truth–although I agree with you that there are scientists who seem to think otherwise. I’m simply pointing out that your opinion of your discernment skills is a bit inflated, and that there is no need to put down others to put yourself in a position of authority.

    That’s a problem I see with many of you apologetics advocates–you want us to place our faith in science and reason, rather than a simple “Thus saith the Lord.”




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  25. David Read: Kent, I don’t think that research findings are truly “fact.”

    David, your post on this is very reasonable (in my interpretation), and I appreciate your clarification.




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  26. David,

    There are creationist websites (including this one) which assert that the “general lack” of bioturbation in the fossil record is a major problem for mainstream geologists and paleontologists.

    There is a book published in 2004, however, that provides a nice compilation of articles on the topic of bioturbation (The Application of Ichnology to Palaeoenvironmental and Stratigraphic Analysis, by D. McIlroy, editor). As one author put it, “The use of trace fossils for palaeoenvironemtnal analysis is commonplace, and can be applied to ALL PARTS of the geological column, including extinction-recovery intervals (emphasis supplied).” The book provides detailed examinations of bioturbation in many layers of the geologic column and at many localities. Yet, the authors point out that our understanding of bioturbation in the fossil record remains rudimentary. As the same author quoted above noted, “We have only just begun to scratch the surface.” I just now did a literature search at ISI Web of Science and found 200 articles with the keywords “bioturbation, fossil.” Seems to be a lot of scientists finding a lot of material to study in the fossil record.

    Are you comfortable taking a stand on the bioturbaton argument? In your judgment, if we use the argument of a “general lack” of bioturbation in the fossil record as evidence in support of a recent creation, and we eventually learn that there is a lot more bioturbation present than we formerly believed, and that there are bona fide reasons why significant bioturbation might be absent under certain ecological conditions associated with preservation events, should we then abandon our faith? In other words, should we allow science to dictate what we believe?

    And, as a reminder, I claim no expertise in paleobiology.

    PK
    Until the whole world hears




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  27. GMF: Frankly, I do not believe pay is the main problem. If we all should sacrifice why should profs be exempt?

    Excuse me: SDA profs often get paid LESS than primary and secondary school teachers in SDA schools across the street!!! Do you seriously think it is fair for a professor with a PhD degree to be paid less than a teacher with a BS degree? Whenever a vacancy occurs in a SDA college or university, there are very few applicants and often the only applicants are fringe SDAs who superficially support the church’s mission. Can leaders be blamed for not hiring conservative SDAs when none apply? Why is it that so few conservative SDAs seek a career as a professor?

    If you don’t believe me, simply ask any biology professor at Educate Truth’s two favorite universities why they can’t find suitable candidates for their vacancies, which they continue to advertise for year after year.

    How can the SDA church expect to staff SDA colleges and universities with professors dedicated to the mission of the SDA church when nearly all students interested in science wind up in health care professions? Has the church ever asked health care professionals to sacrifice?

    Out of curiosity, Sean, if educating truth is so important for you, why did you pursue a career in medicine rather than education?




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  28. Kent, the general lack of bioturbation on surfaces in the geological column that are thought to represent secession of deposition for millions of years is an argument I’m familiar with. It is an indicator that the hiatus in deposition might have been hours rather than mega-years. I didn’t use this argument in my book, but I’ve heard it used by qualified paleontologists like Kurt Wise.

    If it later turns out to be a bad argument, then the better informed creationists will discard it. It certainly wouldn’t have any effect on my faith, because my faith is in God and His Word, not in any particular apologetic argument. Darwinists have frequently had to discard arguments–“vestigial organs”, “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”, Piltdown Man, etc.–and they haven’t lost faith in their theory, so I’m puzzled why you think my faith might depend on some argument or another.




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    • Eddie wrote, “Whenever a vacancy occurs in a SDA college or university, there are very few applicants and often the only applicants are fringe SDAs who superficially support the church’s mission. Can leaders be blamed for not hiring conservative SDAs when none apply? Why is it that so few conservative SDAs seek a career as a professor? If you don’t believe me, simply ask any biology professor at Educate Truth’s two favorite universities why they can’t find suitable candidates for their vacancies, which they continue to advertise for year after year.

      Anyone have an update on what’s going on at Southern and Southwestern this year? Are they having better success at finding “creationist” biologists than they did last year? Did Sean Pitman apply for either position?

      Why isn’t the Church doing more to address this issue which Eddie keeps pointing out and everyone here seems to ignore?




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  29. David Read: If [the bioturbation issue] later turns out to be a bad argument, then the better informed creationists will discard it. It certainly wouldn’t have any effect on my faith, because my faith is in God and His Word, not in any particular apologetic argument

    Thank you, David. I can really respect your position on this.

    David Read: …so I’m puzzled why you think my faith might depend on some argument or another.

    I asked because the official EducateTruth position is that our faith must be based on empirical evidence (science and human reason), otherwise it’s useless.




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  30. Sean Pitman: Such evidence calls into serious question the validity of these just-so stories of mainstream scientists when it comes to their explanation of the nested hierarchical patterns that they find in various genomes.

    Sean, you’ve made it clear in the past, and again here, that you despise phylogeographic and taxonomic methodology based on sequence data. Perhaps you could take a look at the following paper on the spread of HIV using the same approach many systematists use. Do you think the story told by sequence data in this case is a “just-so” story as well?

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2742553/

    Gray, R. R., et al. 2009. Spatial phylodynamics of HIV-1 epidemic emergence in east Africa. AIDS 23(14):F9–F17. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e32832faf61.

    And here, Sean, is another study based on sequence data that examines whether a viral component to lymphomagenesis exists. Again, the same general methodology is used by other scientists whose conclusions you are quick to dismiss. Is this another “just so” story?

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0008153

    Salemi M, et al. 2009. Distinct Patterns of HIV-1 Evolution within Metastatic Tissues in Patients with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. PLoS ONE 4(12): e8153. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008153




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  31. Nearly two weeks have transpired, Sean, since I asked whether the molecular methods used by epidemiologists to study disease are any more reliable than the exact same methods used by systematists to examine evolutionary relationships–whether within a single species (as is the case for many studies) or across multiple species or taxonomic groups. Are you having trouble getting a grip on this issue? Surely you have considerable expertise (perhaps even training) in phylogenetics and phylodynamics.

    Since science is your ultimate source of authority, as opposed to scripture, I’d like to better understand your basis for disputing the methods and conclusions of molecular systematists. I believe you reject them for one simple reason: their conclusions go against your a priori beliefs, and therefore their methods must be flawed.




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  32. I am all for what “can be observed”.

    But the blind by-faith-alone storytelling of evolutionism has to do with “what cannot be observed or tested”.

    To continually position what can be observed with the storytelling of evolutionism as if the two are the same – is to gloss over the glaringly obvious paucity in fact when it comes to evol fictions.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  33. The opening article said

    ===========begin quote
    “The second recommendation was that the new seminar class (BOIL 111A), which is supposed to support the Adventist view of origins, include professors who are overtly creationist. The seminar class had been exposed in 2010 for promoting theological ideas contrary to the church’s position on creation. How could it be otherwise, when the class was taught by known evolutionists? In an interview with the Adventist Review, LSU Board Chair described the course, saying, “We realize the first iteration of it did not really have the results we desired. So, we will be looking at that for revision.”
    ==============end quote

    Here is the real underbelly of the beast. “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still”.

    They have the same foxes guarding the same hen house as before – and are expressing “surprise” that they keep getting “the same results”.

    Notice that the committee emphasizes the point that Bradley’s honesty did not help the school or the LSU board. Indeed honesty is not the best policy if the agenda is subversion. All the effort so far has been in the form of approving existing fox-administration refusing to blame any past policy or individual for current results, and finding new ways to “dress up” evolutionism within a more politically correct, better defended structure now that some of their work in darkness has come to the light of day.

    Still the LSU subcommittee tasked with following up on the AAA recommendation refused to budge when it came to doctrines on origins in evolutionism being promoted against the origins teaching God explicitly identifies in creationism. The LSU committee flatly states that they themselves are incompetent to review the matter and that it is “innappropriate” for even the LSU board to look into it!

    Smoking gun my friends.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  34. BobRyan: I am all for what “can be observed”.

    No, you’re all for that which “cannot be observed:” a literal creation that took place 6,000+ years ago. I’m all for that as well.

    You and Sean need to stop pretending you believe because you can observe incontrovertible “evidence” for it. You accept on faith that a human can be manufactured from dust and that a herd of sheep can appear instantaneously on a verdent mountain pasture. You accept on faith that God can do in six days what evolution cannot do in 600 million years.




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  35. @Bob Ryan, You’re absolutely correct Bob. The statement, “…did not really have the results we desired…” is total hypocrisy. What result did they expect when you teach “evolution as fact?”

    Oh, I forgot–we gotta get less students “perceiving” the “wrong” thing and more “feeling” the “right” thing is being taught.




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  36. Professor Kent, I think it’s time to concede that Sean Pitman has been right all along. Our beliefs must be based 100% on empiricism and 0% on faith. All scientific data, without exception, prove beyond doubt the Biblical truth that all life was created in 6 literal, 24-hour days about 6000 years ago, and Noah’s flood covered 100% of the Earth’s surface. Any SDA professor or administrator who disagrees must resign or be fired. In fact, anybody who disagrees is not even SDA. Seventh-day Darwinists are not SDA and never can be, unless they repent and agree with Sean. The sooner we stop arguing the better, so this ignominous website can finally be closed.




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  37. “But the committee claimed the only way to benchmark results was to have the same survey conducted by La Sierra’s sister institutions in North America.”

    As any parent will tell you, their teenagers say: “But all the other kids are doing it. Why can’t I?” Even if it were true, it’s no excuse or justification.

    However, we do need to make the concern more general. The other schools need to be held accountable, too. My son lost his faith at an SDA college and it wasn’t LSU.




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  38. Lydian Belknap: Sounds to me like the fox are still guarding the chickenhouse!

    You’re absolutely correct. Except for the Central California Conference, just about the whole of California is run by the “foxes!”




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  39. Lydian Belknap: Sounds to me like the fox are still guarding the chickenhouse!

    If you look at the history of LSU, you will find that the “foxes” (Fritz Guy, Lawrence Geraty, and Randall Wisbey) have been RUNNING the henhouse at LSU since its inception.

    What “result” could we have except exactly what we have–a “pseudo-SDA” institution which has been undermining our SDA Church, with the administration’s approval for many years!




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  40. Larry Williams: However, we do need to make the concern more general. The other schools need to be held accountable, too. My son lost his faith at an SDA college and it wasn’t LSU.

    Agreed – however LSU is going to set a precident one way or the other. I have no doubt that if our denomination were to botch up the management of the LSU problem – we would soon lose lost 3 or 4 other teaching institutions in a few short years.

    A lot is riding on how this is managed and the degree to which our leaders can see the big picture. I continue to pray for their success on this regard each day.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  41. Ron Stone M.D.: Oh, I forgot–we gotta get less students “perceiving” the “wrong” thing and more “feeling” the “right” thing is being taught.

    Ok, well that may be their idea of a “Marketing solution” to the problem, but I prefer a solution with a bit more substance.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  42. When the point is made that belief in evolutionism undermines Christianity, undermines the Bible and specifically undermines SDA fundamental Belief #6 we get the side comment below —

    Eddie: Professor Kent, I think it’s time to concede that Sean Pitman has been right all along. Our beliefs must be based 100% on empiricism and 0% on faith.

    I find a certain paucity in logic that leads to the conlusion above just because we admit to the same thing found in 3SG 90-91, and also admit to Darwin’s own observation on the fact that evolutionism and the Bible are mutually exclusive belief systems.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  43. There is no question but what the situation at LSU and, if I understand it correctly, at at least some of our other universities are also in dire need of some real changes. This has been long overdue and we need to really pray for our leaders as they struggle with these very real problems.

    However,as I see it, the problems start long before our children reach university status and unless something is done




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  44. Unfortunately, my computer was “shaken up a bit” earlier this week due to the fact that we live in an area where a series of tornados went through earlier this week. God was good to us and none of our family was hurt nor were our homes so a “messed up” computer is a small price to pay–especially when there were many homes destroyed and many deaths and even many very serious injuries very close to us.
    Even our gardens and lovely trees were spared while the beautiful trees and gardens of many of our friends were decimated. Many are left with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Surely the signs of death and destruction all around the world tell us that the end is very near.

    As a result of my computer problems my computer blanked out and the message I started was cut off in the middle of a sentence and unfortunately was posted that way. I’m afraid to go back and copy the first part for fear something else will happen in the process. So (if I can remember what I wrote) I’ll try to start over in the morning.




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  45. BobRyan: Ok, well that may be their idea of a “Marketing solution” to the problem, but I prefer a solution with a bit more substance.in Christ,Bob

    I’ve asked this question before–what will happen if, in the next “survey” only 30% of the students “misunderstand” what is being taught?

    Will that be enough for Ricardo Graham to state that the “adjustments” have worked and all is A-OK?!




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