Open Letter to Board of Trustees by Christina R. Harris, Ph.D.

spaceChristina Harris is a Ph.D. research chemist. She obtained her BS from Oklahoma State University, Ph.D. at the Univeristy of Colorado Boulder campus and did post-doctoral work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY, NY. She was baptized at Advent Hope in NY, NY after the Net98 series and is a graduate of the ARISE program (2003) directed by David Asscherick and Nathan Renner. She may be contacted at: crharris7@gmail.com

June 8, 2009

Dear Pastors Paulsen, Schneider, Graham, and Officers of the Board of Trustees (Arnold Trujillo, Ted Benson, Kelly Bock, Tony Anobile)

Undoubtedly, you are aware that the evolution-creation debate is a growing point of concern in our Adventist educational system among various church leaders, pastors, and lay-members. This open letter addresses my concerns about theistic macro-evolution being taught at La Sierra University as the preferred worldview.  I am a converted Seventh-day Adventist Christian, a Ph.D. scientist, and Creationist according to the Genesis account-a literal creation week consisting of seven literal, contiguous, consecutive 24-hour days.

To further clarify my own position, the point of controversy is not about whether science students should be informed concerning mainstream scientific beliefs.  Evolution (as a concept) should be taught.  Indeed, evolution on a micro-scale with minor adaptations and variations within a species, is testable, observable and documented in the scientific literature.  The point in this controversy is that a Seventh-day Adventist higher educational institution should, at minimum, be supportive of the 28-Fundamental Beliefs.

However, a quote taken from a presentation (Biology 112) of one of the science classes currently taught at LSU states: “There is nothing ‘theoretical’ about the evidence supporting evolution. The research about evolution is ongoing and continues to support and refine Darwin’s original ideas. No data have been found to refute the idea. It is the single unifying explanation of the living world, and nothing makes much, if any, sense outside of this unifying theory.”  Really? There are multiple publications to the contrary that have been written by reputable scientists and philosophers.

On several occasions, a local Christian university has solicited for an organic chemistry professor.  Part of the application process requires the applicant to commit to uphold the beliefs of that organization, which include the following: “We believe in the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ, the bodily resurrection and final judgment of the just and the unjust, the everlasting blessedness of the saved and the everlasting, conscious punishment of the lost.” While I could consent to many of their doctrinal beliefs, I could not in good conscience uphold their belief about an eternally burning hell.  Therefore, I did not apply for the organic chemistry professorship position.

While it is conceivable to believe in God and hold to the idea of Darwinian-style evolution occurring over the course of billions of years, for a Seventh-day Adventist in a Seventh-day Adventist setting, these beliefs are untenable and irreconcilable.  Consequently, those professors finding themselves unable to accept and promote these fundamental beliefs should naturally seek employment elsewhere–perhaps at a public or other non-SDA college or university-there are many options.

Having taught chemistry at the university level, I am acutely aware that young adults of college-age are greatly impressed by what their professors think, say and believe.  Those parents who want a truly Seventh-day Adventist education for their young people should be able obtain what their hard-earned dollars have paid for; otherwise, a public institution of higher learning would be more suitable and less expensive.

As Seventh-day Adventists, with a clear statement of our belief in creation posted for the world to see, why do we not strive to be the head in this important debate? God has designed that His ambassadors be the head and not the tail; why should we clearly take on a position that will place us at the tail?

I challenge the leadership of LSU and the leaders and laity of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to hold to and support the Bible truths that our name represents.  I close with the following quote taken from the pen of inspiration:

“Since the book of nature and the book of revelation bear the impress of the same master mind, they cannot but speak in harmony….Inferences erroneously drawn from facts observed in nature have, however, led to supposed conflict between science and revelation; and in the effort to restore harmony, interpretations of Scripture have been adopted that undermine and destroy the force of the word of God. Geology has been thought to contradict the literal interpretation of the Mosaic record of the creation. Millions of years, it is claimed, were required for the evolution of the earth from chaos; and in order to accommodate the Bible to this supposed revelation of science, the days of creation are assumed to have been vast, indefinite periods, covering thousands or even millions of years….Such a conclusion is wholly uncalled for.  Education, pp. 128-130.

Sincerely,

Christina R. Harris, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist
Kalamazoo, Michigan

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