The following news release was sent to my E-mail account this afternoon:
First off, the argument that Dr. Diaz is a “baptized member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church” is effectively irrelevant to the point of concern. After all, it is my understanding that Dr. Lee Grismer, the chair of the biology department at LSU, is also a “baptized member” of the SDA Church – as is Dr. Erv Taylor, a frequent guest lecturer at LSU (who has referred to himself as a “Christian Agnostic” and has noted in public that he wouldn’t know what to tell his own granddaughter if she asked him for evidence of God’s existence). Yet, as everyone who has spent any time with these men knows, neither one of them believes in or promotes the Adventist position on origins – and neither does Dr. Diaz. Also, despite Mr. Becker’s claim to the contrary, Dr. Diaz is certainly not known for frequenting church services on Sabbath – with his primary hobby interests in punk rock/heavy metal and horror/B-movies it would be hard to find the time (despite his “baptized member” status).
The basic fact of the matter is, despite being “baptized members” of the SDA Church, all of these men believe in and promote the idea that life has existed and evolved on this planet, in a Darwinian manner, over the course of hundreds of millions of years from a common ancestor. Their position on origins is quite open and matter of fact in this regard.
Larry Becker, LSU’s PR man, should know better than to try to misdirect here with the insinuation that Dr. Diaz (and by default Dr. Lee Grismer) is the type of evolutionary biologist who only deals with and promotes the truth of low-level or so-called “micro” evolution – a type of evolution which the church itself recognizes as a pre-programmed potential for variability over time within the limits of a specific “kind” of gene pool (such as the low-level evolution of various forms of antibiotic or antiviral resistance or various forms of Mendelian variation, etc). Mr. Becker knows full well that Drs. Grismer and Diaz are full-blown neo-Darwinists who believe, publish, and teach, as the true story of origins, mainstream Darwinism right down the line.
In fact, I challenge Mr. Becker, or anyone else for that matter, to find any publication or statement by any one of these professors that is actually supportive of or in agreement with the Adventist position on origins (such as a literal seven-day creation week or a recent worldwide Noachian Flood).
If anyone is being dishonest and disingenuous here it is Larry Becker and LSU at large. This seems to be a general pattern. After all, who originally reported the truth of what was happening at LSU a few years ago now (2009) while Mr. Becker was vigorously denying that there was any problem? The same is true today. Dr. Diaz should have been vetted much more carefully if he is to represent the church in one of our schools. Just go and visit his publicly accessible Facebook page (as of today) and his published articles, papers and news items to get an idea of the type of “Adventist” professor LSU has just hired. I’m sure he’s a great guy and all from a secular or nonsectarian perspective. I’m sure we’d have a great time on the golf course or chasing lizards, etc. However, despite how fun, intelligent and generally gifted and well educated Dr. Diaz may be, he cannot effectively represent the Adventist perspective on origins and other key issues. I think that’s quite clear to anyone who candidly considers the position of Dr. Diaz.
As far as WASC is concerned, I’m very glad to hear that they will actually be allowing the church to remain in some control of LSU. That is truly encouraging news. I suppose then that WASC would have no problem if the church stepped in and required all professors, to include science professors, to teach “about” mainstream evolutionism while, at the same time, actively promoting the credibility of the church’s position on origins for their students? – as a position based on something more than empirically-blind faith that should only be presented in religion classes? If so, I would love to publish this most wonderful news!
However, as it is right now, LSU has been openly antagonistic toward the Adventist position on origins for decades – as I know first hand (and so does Larry Becker). I’m sorry to say that I for one do not see any good evidence for a reversal in direction here – to include the recent appointment of Dr. Diaz.
I’m hoping that the General Conference leadership and our own Adventist Accrediting Association (AAA) will carefully consider what direction our church schools should be taking if fortifying the faith of our young people in our own schools is still important these days . . .