Comment on Adventist Review examines LSU conflict by David Jacobson.
I saw this controversy about teaching of evolution at LSU. This is not a good time for Adventist higher education. I’m a former faculty member at Pacific Union College and a former SDA. (Yes, you may delete this posting if you believe that the opinion of former SDAs like me should not be heard, but I think I do have something constructive to add.)
Back around 1970 the issue of the implications of the fossil forest at Specimen Ridge on the western edge of Yellowstone National Park came up. In short, this is an area of repeated volcanic eruption. Each eruption kills the forest and many layers have been fossilized. After some time, new trees appear and grow. Some trees are upright, some are down, and there are upright stumps with the tops broken off. It is easy to find fossilized stumps where it is easy to count the rings. There are about 40 layers and the largest trees have about 700 rings. You can easily see that this implies a time span of over 28000 years. While very short by the time frames envisioned by evolutionists, this is still a big problem for the 6000 year age of the earth position.
Ervil Clark (of the biology department) claimed that these trees were floating during the flood (of Noah), became water logged, and settled down in the upright position. He said that they may have had rocks lodged in the roots that made the root-end sink first. The many layers came about because changing winds or whatever brought the trees in in batches.
Dowell Martz of the PUC Physics Department said, “We can test this hypothesis. If the they were broken away from where they originally grew, there should be broken roots. If the grew there, there, there should be fine root structure.
He organized a trip to Specimen Ridge. We got about a dozen SDA scientists, educators, and even a college president to come along. (But Ervil declined the invitation.) I was one of those on that trip.
We climbed up Specimen Ridge and looked at what we found. I was amazed at how well preserved some of the broken off stumps were. You could clearly count every ring. I measured the radius of one stump and the number of rings per inch. It multiplied out to about 700. We looked at the roots. There was plenty of fine root structure. It went out to finer and finer down to little things the size of a piece of string.
There was no way these stumps floated in. After you seen it with your own eyes, you just can’t believe anything but that they grew there.
Everyone on the trip seemed to agree that there was no way this could mean anything other then the obvious. Although some in high places (particularly the college president) were very guarded in what they would actually say.
One person who spoke in guarded remarks said, “I used to have some faith. Now it is all faith.”
This was one of the most important events of my life. I had to choose between honesty and the things I had been raised to believe. Honesty won. And I feel I did the right thing.
So, let anyone who is thinking of calling for a purge of the SDA educational system, first study the evidence carefully, and even try to take a look first hand. (Specimen Ridge is on public land.) I think you will come to appreciate that there can be good people, even devout people, who conclude that to be honest, they have to accept that the age of the earth must be greater than 6000 years.
— David Jacobson