By Sean Pitman
On a rather notorious pro-evolution website, “Panda’s Thumb”, there is an interesting blog presented by mainstream professors who were asked to speak at both La Sierra University and Pacific Union College. Here is what they had to say about their experience at our universities:
Regarding La Sierra University:
Last fall I gave several guest lectures on evolution, geology, and magnetic stratigraphy to the LSU campus, and found that the biology faculty were all legitimate biologists who practiced normal science and rejected all vestiges of YEC in their teaching and research. Several were quite successful in getting NSF grants for their research, and had a good track record in legitimate peer-reviewed publications on herpetology, molecular biology, etc.
They would teach classes which were completely in line with conventional evolutionary biology, always forced to introduce their material with nods to Church teaching but demanding that their students understand legitimate evolutionary biology and be able to show their understanding on exams and papers, even if they didnâ€™t agree with it.
Itâ€™s scary to see these legitimate scientists now threatened by the Neanderthals in the LSU board who want to drag it back into the Middle Agesâ€“something that none of them thought would happen when I met with them last fallâ€¦
Dr. Prothero is a Professor of Geology at Occidental College and Lecturer in Geobiology at Caltech. He is the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of 21 books and almost 200 scientific papers, including five leading geology textbooks and three trade books. He has served as an associate or technical editor for Geology, Paleobiology, and Journal of Paleontology. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, the Paleontological Society, and the Linnaean Society of London.
Regarding Pacific Union College:
In 2006, Wes Elsberry and I were invited to come to PUC and debate evolution for part of a student-organized speaker series. We were initially hesitant, since we are generally skeptical of debating creationists. However, after some discussion with the organizers, we grudgingly signed up, since it seemed like there was some chance for a reasonable discussion rather than just a Gish-gallop debate. Wes and I drove up to PUC â€“ but, aware of the YECiness of Adventists, we went in as armed to the teeth as academics can be, with huge powerpoint files solely devoted to putting evidence for the age of the earth and common ancestry as bluntly and non-deniably as possible. When I spoke, I popped the slides up one-by-one and used the basic refrain, â€œHere are the hard facts. If this evidence has been hidden from you before now by your teachers and professors, you should ask yourself why.â€ It was pretty much a go-in-with-blazing-guns strategy.
However, as the discussion ensued, the students, and some of the professors, had some news for me. â€œYouâ€™ve got us all wrong,â€ they said. â€œWeâ€™re not all old-fashioned young-earth creationists and anti-evolutionists here, thatâ€™s an old stereotype about Adventists.â€ (Note: this is not a direct quote, rather it is just the gist of what I remember hearing.) Subsequent discussion indicated that many of the students & profs were reasonably well-informed about evolution and not really skeptical of it. After some interesting chats, Wes and I drove home, shaking our heads and commenting that if Seventh Day Adventists were becoming OK with evolution, we should keep our eyes open for flying pigs and freezing hells.
So, anyway, the point is: watch out Hilde & McPherson! It looks like Pacific Union College isnâ€™t safe, either! Light the torches and sharpen the pitchforks!
Nickolas Matzke is currently a doctoral student in evolutionary biology at the University of California, Berkeley.Â HeÂ is the former Public Information Project Director at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) and served an instrumental role in NCSE’s preparation for the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial.
Dr. Wesley Royce Elsberry is a marine biologist with an interdisciplinary background in zoology, computer science, and wildlife and fisheries sciences. He has also become publicly involved in the creation-evolution controversy.
Note: For those who might be interested, I’ve personally debated Nick Matzke regarding his theories on bacterial flagellar evolution (see review).