Jeff Kent, Educate Truth readers know that I do not …

Comment on The Physiology of It – Faith vs. Evidence by David Read.

Jeff Kent, Educate Truth readers know that I do not think that the Adventist view of origins is “without any real support from empirical evidence beyond what exists for Santa Claus or garden fairies or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.” They know that I wrote a 600 page book that spends many pages exploring how the evidence supports the Adventist view of origins. They know that the evidence is very important to me, and that I certainly do not advocate anything like a “by faith alone” approach to believing in the veracity of the Genesis narrative.

It is precisely because I know that empirical evidence is important that I disagree with the teaching of Darwinism as truth at Adventist colleges. It is because I understand that origins is within the realm of faith that I understand that Darwinism is NOT science but merely atheistic apologetics posing as science. Obviously it is grossly inappropriate for professors at an Adventist college to be make apologetical arguments for atheism.

I share with my good friend Phil Brantley a very high view of Scripture; I disagree with Phil only in that Phil doesn’t seem to realize that mainstream origins science is nothing but atheistic apologetics, and he sees no harm in teaching it to Adventist young people.

I advocate teaching creationism in Adventist colleges because I want our young people to be shown how the data of nature can be interpreted and understood in a way that supports our biblical faith. Sean and I are on the same page with regard to that bottom line. Sean may argue that creationism is science, I say it is closer to being a specialized area of Christian apologetics, but an essentially semantical debate isn’t likely to be very useful.

David Read Also Commented

The Physiology of It – Faith vs. Evidence
Pauluc, I didn’t mention Skara Brae in my book . . . but I wish I had. It has very tidy stone walls with built in stone furniture and, apparently, a sewage system. I did mention nearby Maes Howe, which is a passage grave in which a long passage is oriented toward the sunset at the winter solstice.

These remarkable monuments, and many others like them, show that man has not always been on an upward trajectory, as Darwinian theory would indicate, but has had peaks and valleys. The earliest people to inhabit Scotland had a level of civilization much higher than what would be achieved for thousands of years afterward.

The Physiology of It – Faith vs. Evidence
Ken, thanks for the link to that article about feathers in amber. The idea that any of the feathers were dinosaur feathers is speculation, but the article for lay readers including its headline and a short video clip embedded in the article, report that speculation as though it were fact.

Maybe they were dinosaurs feathers, maybe not. The scientists don’t know and neither does anyone else. It’s a good lesson on being careful about believing headlines, especially headlines of lay articles about scientific findings.

The Physiology of It – Faith vs. Evidence
I’m not sure the faith vs. evidence routine is really all that germane to the LaSierra controversy.

Origins is within the domain of faith. No one has ever had, now has, or ever will have the slightest idea how we and the world and the universe got here. Anyone who claims he does is just showing that his faith is so strong it has blinded him to the fact that he’s even exercising faith. You believe what you decide to believe and organize the evidence accordingly. I know Sean hates to hear that, but it is no less a fact for him hating it.

The problem with LaSierra is that it is sponsored by a religious denomination, the SDA Church, that has a very definite and extremely important belief about origins, but some of the LaSierra professors are promoting and proselytizing for a different belief about origins. (Some of those professors might believe that their faith is actually dictated by the evidence but, as per the above, that only indicates that they believe so strongly in Darwinism that they don’t realize they’re exercising faith.)

The bottom line is that the Adventist faith has to prevail at Adventist-sponsored institutions. If it doesn’t, if those institutions are used as platforms for promoting an alternative and in fact opposite faith, there simply isn’t any reason in the world for them to continue to exist. As Sean and Shane have repeated many times, Ford doesn’t hire salesmen to sell GM vehicles, and Coke doesn’t hire people to sell Pepsi. This isn’t rocket science.

Recent Comments by David Read

La Sierra University gets 3-year AAA Accreditation
@Beatrice: Beatrice, I note that you have posted here a copy of your post at

It’s interesting that you say that John Perumal replaced Lee Grismer as department chairman “a long time ago,” but the first news of that change was your own comment at ADvindicate a couple of days ago. There was no public announcement, and no news from any of the usual sources: the Review, ANN, Spectrum, ADvindicate, or Educate Truth. When I was researching my story, there was nothing on La Sierria’s official website to indicate that the chairmanship had changed; the website was not updated to reflect the change in chairmanship until after my article was posted at ADvindicate on October 17. Am I “lazy” if I don’t telephone La Sierra every couple of months and ask if Wisbey has had a change of heart and demoted the hardened Darwinist that he promoted to department chair two years ago?? I cannot help but wonder why this change in departmental leadership was a closely held secret until AFTER my article started making the rounds and being read by Adventist opinion leaders, but some mysteries will likely remain mysterious.

It’s hardly an excuse for wrecking the Adventist faith of those who take upper division biology courses at La Sierra that most students do not take upper division biology courses. But the information that has been provided by LSU students like Louie Bishop is that even a seminar science-faith course intended for a broad non-specialized student audience–specifically the one instituted in response to the 2009 controversy over the teaching of origins–was destructive of Adventist faith; LSU religion teachers, including John Webster who (at that time) was chairman of the religion department, told students that the Adventist hermeneutic was unhelpful, and that the Genesis narrative should not be taken literally as a description of the creation.

If AAA has witnessed a change of direction at La Sierra–and I very much doubt that–then it is up to them to say what they saw, and why they voted the way they did, in connection with their vote to extend Adventist accreditation for a further three years. There is a very public controversy about La Sierra’s blatant undermining of Adventist beliefs, and if AAA is, in the face of that controversy, going to certify that LSU is fulfilling its Adventist mission and upholding its Adventist identity, then AAA must publicly explain its vote, and justify it by outlining the changes that it observed.

You say that I “have not taken the approach Jesus advocated” and I assume that by that you are referring to Matthew 18. That passage does not apply. No one at La Sierra has wronged me personally; I have no personal stake whatsoever in the matter. The issue is that LSU is publicly undermining Seventh-day Adventist beliefs, and the response to that issue needs to be public. The relevant passage is 1 Tim. 5:20: “Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.” Please look at Testimonies, v. 2, pp. 14-16.

It is not my desire or goal to undermine unity in the church, but there can be no unity except on the basis of sound biblical truth. La Sierra has been sowing the seeds of a very profound disunity, as it has for a generation been training Adventist youth at an Adventist institution (AAA approved!) to lightly regard the word of God. It has been telling the Adventist youth entrusted to it that God’s claim to have created the world in six literal days and rested on the Sabbath day (Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 20:11) is unsustainable nonsense. This can only lead to disunity on the most fundamental level, as one group, raised and educated in the SDA Church, has an entirely different conception of what the Bible teaches and God requires than another group also raised and educated in the church.

Lay people are under an obligation of conscience to see that those who live off the tithe uphold the religious mission of the church. One very highly placed Adventist official has instructed us to “hold them accountable,” and he is right. In the absence of a vigilant laity, the SDA Church will lapse into corruption as did the post-apostolic Christian Church.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@Paul Giem: Paul I will pray that you are right that there has been a sea change. But it will take more than a (until recently, covert) change in the biology dept. chairmanship to convince me of that.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@gene fortner: That’s a good list, Gene, but do not forget Arthur Chadwick (Ph.D, U. of Miami, geology/sedimentology) and Lee Spencer (Ph.D, biology/paleontology, Loma Linda) and Kurt Wise (Ph.D, geology, Harvard) and Marcus Ross (Ph.D, paleontology, U.R.I.).

The first two are Seventh-day Adventists and very strong creationists; the second two are creationists. Kurt Wise is a good friend of Art Chadwick and has come to SDA-sponsored events before.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
It will be interesting to see how much power John Perumal will be given, and will exercise, in reshaping the biology department. He should have veto power over new hires, and he should be able to recommend whether contracts for untenured professors are renewed or not, and whether tenure is granted or not. Typically the academic dean or provost has some say over this as well, but the department chair’s power is considerable.

LSU Removes Dr. Lee Grismer as Chairman of the Biology Department
@Paul Giem: Paul, your theory is indeed very reasonable, but I don’t think it is correct. First, I have argued that WASC’s concerns about autonomy were solicited by Randal Wisbey so that he could get bylaw changes that would give him greater autonomy from the church. One key item of evidence that has become public is that in 2011 one of Wisbey’s minions, then LSU board member Lenny Darnell, recorded himself saying that he planned to write WASC and demand that WASC recommend and insist on changes to the board structure that would dilute the power of the church officers on the board:

Second, the bylaw changes Wisbey wanted were approved by the constituency back in May, so WASC has no grounds to complain about the lack of institutional autonomy, and has indicated that it is pleased with what was done:

My theory as to why this change of department chairmen has been so hush hush is that, 1) Wisbey didn’t want his liberal base to know that he had thrown any sort of bone to AAA; he wanted them thinking he had gotten an unconditional surrender from AAA, and 2) Wisbey doesn’t want the wider SDA Church to know that AAA thought there was anything wrong at La Sierra that needed changing, much less that the chairman of the biology department needed changing.