From the NCSE article: “LSU tried to pick between the two …

Comment on NCSE Report: Adventist Education in the Midst of a Sea of Science by David Read.

From the NCSE article:

“LSU tried to pick between the two competing sets of compliance demands, with the result that the institution found itself in danger of having their carefully constructed pathway between the two come crashing down on them . . .”

That’s rubbish. In fact, the liberal faction at LSU–most recently and most ham-handedly, Randal Wisbey–has actually been conspiring to use secular accreditation through WASC to separate LSU from the church. That isn’t my opinion; that is a fact.

Perhaps the most ironic fact is that WASC hopes to re-organize LSU’s Board of Trustees to get rid of all the pastors who are ex-officio board members, but the strongest Adventists on the board were the three laywomen who Randal Wisbey arranged to kick off the board. I could pick a board of trustees composed entirely of non-Church employees who could fix the problems, whereas the union president and conference presidents on the board are clearly not up to the task.

David Read Also Commented

NCSE Report: Adventist Education in the Midst of a Sea of Science
@Charles: I have no doubt that Coppedge’s outspoken creationism led to his being fired by JPL. His creation/evolution news blog at “creation safaris” was one of the better ongoing creationists blogs on the internet.

NCSE Report: Adventist Education in the Midst of a Sea of Science
@Shayne: Shayne, that’s a good question. And the answer is, WASC is really on very thin ice demanding that a sectarian school teach against the beliefs of its denominational sponsor. And I think they understand that. La Sierra would be a very sympathetic plaintiff if it filed a lawsuit against WASC on First Amendment freedom of religion grounds, complaining to the court, “hey, WASC is abridging our freedom of religion and freedom of association rights.”

So WASC is not trying to directly dictate on the level of teaching. The approach WASC is taking is a more oblique, indirect approach of “institutional autonomy,” meaning that they are saying that university must have certain freedom to operate regardless of denominational affiliation. So they are demanding changes in the make up of the Board of Trustees. The goal is the same: to allow the college, with the complete support of Randal Wisbey, to continue to teach Darwinism without having to answer to a Board of Trustees that might be sympathetic to traditional Adventist beliefs.

Our colleges (with a few exceptions) are affiliated with the denomination at the union level, and the union conference presidents are ex-officio chairmen of the boards of the colleges. (So Ricardo Graham, by virtue of being president of the Pacific Union, is chairman of the Board of Trustees of La Sierra.) The conference presidents of the constituent conferences of a union are also on the board of a union’s college. Thus, church employees form the core of the boards of all our colleges, effectively giving control of the institutions to the church.

Now, this is what WASC is saying is inappropriate; they want to change the structure of the board to have fewer church employees and more independent directors, which they are arguing will give the University more operational autonomy. (Unfortunately, Ricardo Graham made something of a misstep by directly forcing the “LSU Four” to resign. He should have gone through proper channels, and insisted that Wisbey do that. If Wisbey would not fire the four, Graham should have used his political skills to get a majority on the Board of Trustees to agree to fire Wisbey. The way Graham did it, going around Wisbey, just gave a nice lever to Wisbey and WASC to make the charge that La Sierra does not have enough autonomy, and the board must be changed.)

Now, think about what happens if Wisbey and WASC are successful in forcing a change to the composition of La Sierra’s Board of Trustees: a precedent has been set, a blueprint has been drawn up for how to separate all of the Adventist colleges from denominational control. This is a very high stakes game; it is winner take all, all of SDA post-secondary education. I wonder if people realize how high the stakes really are.

Now, I do not want to be too hard on our church leaders. The situation that we’re facing at La Sierra (and will face again and again and again in coming years) is greatly complicated by the fact that the Adventist church is now composed of constituencies at cross purposes. There’s a large constituency of non-believing, cultural Adventists who WANT Darwinism taught at La Sierra. That’s what they believe, and they claim to be Adventists, so why shouldn’t it be taught at an Adventist university? This constituency probably preponderates in the Pacific Union, which is why we have the situation we do at La Sierra. On the other hand, the larger church is still literal-week creationist, and we probably still preponderate in North America, and we don’t want Darwinism taught as truth in Adventist institution. So the leadership is being torn apart from two directions. I pity them.

NCSE Report: Adventist Education in the Midst of a Sea of Science
@Sean Pitman: Sean, the idea of using WASC to separate LSU from denominational control is an idea in the ether, in the public domain, so to speak. Wisbey certainly did not have to be part of the “four” to know about, well understand, and begin to implement the strategy they discussed. Everyone knows about it. I’ve seen it discussed on Spectrum by two or three different people. I certainly hope it is ground for firing, but we’ll probably see.

Recent Comments by David Read

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@Pauluc: I do not agree that science must be naturalistic, but if that is your bottom line, it will not trouble me much where it concerns most day-to-day science–the study of current, repeating phenomena. But a rigid naturalism applied to origins morphs into philosophical atheism. Hence, mainstream origins science is not science but atheistic apologetics. This is what should not be done at an Adventist school, but sadly what has been the rule at La Sierra.

Dr. Paul Cameron and the God of the Gaps
@Pauluc: The Adventist doctrine of creation is that God created the world in six days and rested on the Seventh day and hallowed it. (Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 20:11) Do you believe that doctrine? It won’t do to say that you accept some vague “Christian doctrine of creation.” The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a very specific mission to call people back to the worship of the creator God, on the day that He hallowed at the creation.

You say you believe that the “core doctrine of Christianity is the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ,” but what was Jesus Christ incarnated to do? Wasn’t his mission to redeem fallen humanity, to be the second Adam who succeeded where the first Adam failed? And doesn’t your view of origins make nonsense of a perfect creation, a literal Adam who fell, and the need for redemption because of Adam’s sin? You seem to want to gloss over all the very profound differences you have not only with Seventh-day Adventist dcotrine, but with the most basic reasons that Seventh-day Adventism exists.

The syncretistic hodgepodge religion you’ve created for yourself, combining elements of a biblical world view (the incarnation) and elements of a pagan worldview (a self-created creation) is not Adventism. It is anti-Seventh-day Adventism.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@Holly Pham: Holly, I will try, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@Pauluc: Since no creationist could land a job as chairman of a biology department at a public university, it seems entirely appropriate that no Darwinist should be given the chairmanship of a biology department of a Seventh-day Adventist college.

The SDA educational system doesn’t exist to expensively duplicate the public university system. It exists to provide a uniquely biblical and Seventh-day Adventist education to interested young people. If mainstream origins science is correct in its assumptions and conclusions about our origins, the entire enterprise of Seventh-day Adventism is an utterly foolish waste of time. So at Adventist institutions, our professors should assume that Darwinistic science is false, and that creationistic science is true (just the reverse of how it is done at public universities), and proceed accordingly.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@gene fortner: What I like about your list of topics, Gene, is that it points out that many disciplines are implicated in the necessary change of worldview. It isn’t just biology and geology, although those are the main ones. History, archeology, anthropology and other disciplines should also be approached from a biblical worldview. The biblical worldview should pervade the entire curriculum.