We encouraged our son to go to a “Christian” college, as the other members of our family did. He had been offered a full scholarship at a public university, and though we are not wealthy, we do believe in Christian education and so supported AJ’s decision to enroll at La Sierra. That was a couple of years ago.
He enrolled. He began attending classes. I drove from Arkansas to Southern California to visit him, and as we were walking, he told me some of the things his biology class professor had said in a recent class session. He said the teacher had referred to a “time when the earth’s oxygen was less than it is now….” He also made other references that made it sound like he believed in theistic evolution.
I found it hard to believe, so, wanting to be sure AJ hadn’t misunderstood something, I decided to try to contact his teacher to get the scoop. When I tried to reach him, he was “out”. So I asked to speak with the department chairman who was also “out”. I left messages and waited to hear back from someone. AJ’s teacher called me within a short period of time and I asked him whether or not AJ had misunderstood him. He evaded my question. I finally point blank asked him if he believed in theistic evolution. He replied that “was one possible explanation” on a broad continuum. I asked again, “Yes, I understand it is ONE possible explanation, but what do you believe?” He said what he believed was not the issue. I said I disagreed, that what the teacher believes usually comes through to the students in small comments, body language, and unintentional ways, and that we sent our son to a college where we thought the teachers believed in a literal 6 day creation week, as described in Scripture. He asked me which account of creation in scripture I believed in–the first one or the second one. I said I didn’t find the accounts in Scripture to be at odds with each other. He said I wasn’t doing my son a favor by shielding him from the truth. I replied that if that was the “truth” that was being taught at La Sierra, we would not be sending AJ back the next semester. We didn’t. He is now nearing graduation from the University of Central Arkansas where, at least he was expecting to meet up with evolutionary theory. And surprisingly, the professors he has had here address the issues more straightforwardly than the teacher at La Sierra did. At least you KNOW where they stand right up front.
After talking with AJ’s teacher at La Sierra, the Department Chairman also called me back. I explained my concerns and went into detail about the conversation I had had with AJ’s teacher in that department. I was surprised to hear the Department chairman support the same position as did the teacher I spoke with. Although he assured me that he and the others in the biology department believed in a Creator God, and that there are many things that just cannot be biblically explained, he clearly came down on the side of a long period of earth’s history–i.e. theistic evolution, rather than a literal “creation week”.
I have a Master of Science degree. My husband has two masters’ degrees and a doctoral degree. We are not sheltered. We do not expect that everything will fit neatly into nice little boxes when we study the issues of creation/origin of man. What we did expect and did not get, was teachings that present evidence supporting intelligent design as the position we, as SDA’s espouse. I have studied many of these on my own and I know there is information supporting both sides. But the students know which side their professors lean toward, and it is very confusing for them to think they’re in a class taught by a teacher who believes the biblical account, only to discover the teacher is teaching the same kind of things being taught by secular professors.
I did contact the President’s office at La Sierra and told the nice lady I spoke with what my concerns were, and that our son would not be attending there any more. I was very sad–not just for my son, but for the other kids who were probably more than confused by what they had been taught in the past, and what they were now hearing from their teachers.
If these professors really believe in a Creator, they need to present that evidence so that it comes through loud and clear. If they don’t believe in a Creator God, and the biblical account of creation, then let them present their rationale to the SDA adult community! What I object to, is our church taking one position, and the professors at La Sierra telling our kids that our church members are basically “sheltered” or “unsophisticated” or downright ignorant of the “facts”. Let’s get the “church” and our biology professors on the same page. We don’t need one undermining the other. If our church’s scientific community doesn’t find evidence supporting the biblical account…then let’s hear their evidence! Maybe our beliefs need an overhaul–maybe we’ll all become theistic evolutionists! But let’s not confuse our kids by teaching them contradictory information.
Teresa Regester, RN, MS
AU & LLU alumnus