General Biology Seminar 111A to be revised

Source: Adventist Review

Board Moving to Resolve La Sierra Evolution Issue
By Mark Kellner

Board Chairman: Ricardo Graham (Photo: Gerry Chudleigh)

The question of what students at La Sierra University, a Seventh-day Adventist-owned tertiary institution in Riverside, California, learn about the origins of life on Earth is being resolved, said Ricardo Graham, LSU board of trustees chair and president of the church’s Pacific Union Conference.

“The board is intent on resolving this issue as quickly as possible, recognizing we have to be methodical and precise, and that process is of vital importance in higher education,” Graham told Adventist Review in a telephone interview on May 19. “I am very, very hopeful of a resolution very, very soon,” he added.

The controversy, as Adventist Review reported in its April 15, 2010 issue, [read the original report] centers on the presentation of evolutionary theory as an explanation of origins. Some La Sierra students and alumni have complained that the school presents evolution in opposition to the Genesis accounts of creation, which the Seventh-day Adventist Church has affirmed as part of its “Fundamental Beliefs” statement.

When one student, Louie Bishop, protested the lectures, he was placed on “citizenship probation” by school administrators and initially not allowed to register for fall 2009 classes. Among other items, critics said a new 2009 class announced by the school as “guiding these [freshman biology] students through the ongoing dialogue between faith development and scientific investigation” presented and endorsed views contrary to the church’s beliefs.

The class, “General Biology Seminar 111A,” will be reviewed, Graham said. (Read more)

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35 thoughts on “General Biology Seminar 111A to be revised

  1. “The biology course which has come under attack … we realize the first iteration of it did not really have the results we desired. So, we will be looking at that for revision,” Graham said.

    The understatement of the year!

    Big surprise huh? After all, they put the very same professors in charge of this class as were responsible for attacking the foundational pillars of the Church in the upper division science classes to begin with…

    If you put the fox in charge of the hen house, what do you think is going to happen? If this is happening in the Freshman introductory class, what do they think is happening in the upper division science classes? All previous “iterations” of these classes have been far worse than this Freshman intro class – any revision in the offing for what started this whole thing off to begin with? Anything really substantive this time? I do understand Graham’s desire for caution and careful advancement, but it has been well over a year since this all started and absolutely nothing of any recognizable substance has changed at LSU when it comes to ending the active undermining of SDA foundational goals and ideals by the LSU science professors…

    Wisbey should realize by now that despite all the good things that LSU does for the community and the students in many different areas (which is all true), that allowing professors to attack fundamental pillars of Adventism isn’t what an SDA school should be doing – period. This isn’t why the Church has developed a school system – to undermine its own fundamental goals and ideals. LSU isn’t teaching students how to think for themselves here. It is teaching students to think that there really is only one valid scientific explanation for origins – the modern mainstream evolutionary story. This story is presented without even allowing for the SDA position on origins to be presented in its most convincing manner by those who actually hold to the scientific validity of the Church’s position on origins. And, LSU putting Louie Bishop on academic probation for publicly standing up in favor of the SDA position on origins (against what these professors are promoting in class) was just the last straw…

    I’m very pleased and very pleasantly surprised that the Adventist Review has taken such an interest and such a decided stand on an issue of this importance to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  2. I’m very pleased and very pleasantly surprised that the Adventist Review has taken such an interest and such a decided stand on an issue of this importance to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

    I agree with you Sean. I was very excited to see this article in the Review.




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  3. Again it’s a possitive anouncement, but again no real action has taken place.(meaning the teachers/administrators who believe contrary to our beliefs are still employeed and there is no indication they want to change or will be asked to leave). We can only hope and pray the board intends to do something real in the near future or all the talk is meaningless. That’s not to say progress has not been made, but we need to remember that good intentions are not the same as action. This site and many lay people voiceing their concern has done the first part of it’s job. Informing people of the situation. We still need to follow through and see that change is really made and not just talked about.




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  4. The proverbial 7,000 have not bowed the knee to Baal. Some of these are in positions of influence. I too, praise God that He has His.
    God bless,

    Rich




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  5. I’m also very pleased that the Review is covering this, but before we start congratulating each other, I would note that Mark Kellner’s article is a bit vague about what is going on at LaSierra. The article is easy to misread; if you’re not reading it very carefully, with good background knowledge, it sound as though Louie Bishop was complaining only about the new seminar class (111A), and hence Ricardo Graham’s decision that that seminar be reviewed and revised answers the whole controversy.

    But that isn’t the case. Louie Bishop was disciplined in the spring of ’09 and temporarily held out of school in the fall of ’09. The seminar class didn’t even exist until the fall of ’09, so of course it could not have been the reason Bishop was disciplined. He was disciplined for complaining about the biology faculty’s Darwinism, and the fact that they denigrate traditional Adventist teachings.

    And that’s also the reason why this site exists. Shane set up this site, and Sean and Shane got David Asscherick to write an open letter, because all of the biology instructors at LaSierra–all of them–are Darwinists and teach Darwinism as truth, in derogation of Adventist origins doctrine. Thanks largely to Shane, Sean and David’s efforts at publicizing this problem, LaSierra decided to create a special freshman seminar class (the now infamous biology 111A) that was supposed to help integrate science and Adventism.

    The seminar class was hosted by Lee Greer, one of the Darwinist biology professors, and simply became an additional venue, an additional opportunity, to inculcate Darwinism and denigrate Adventism. John Webster delivered a lecture in which he strongly implied that in the conflict between Darwinism and Adventism, Adventism has lost and is going to have to change its origins doctrine. He was immediately followed by Warren Johns, who lectured on a theory that the creation story of Genesis 1 does not describe the creation of the world, but rather the dedication of the temple/cosmos, and is to be understood figuratively, not literally. (See this page: http://www.educatetruth.com/la-sierra-evidence/presentations/biology-seminar-111a-class-videos/.)

    But, again, the seminar class was not the original problem, and was not the reason Louie Bishop was twiced disciplined, although he did complain about the seminar class once it became apparent what it really was. The underlying problem is the fact that Darwinism is promoted in all the other biology classes.

    So now we have two problems 1) Darwinist professors teaching Darwinism as truth in the pre-existing classes, and 2) a seminar class that tells the freshman that they need to try to understand Genesis in a new way, a way different from how Adventists have always understood it. Ricardo Graham has promised to review and make some “adjustments” to the seminar class (problem two). But the seminar could be completely eliminated, and it would not solve the underlying problem (problem one). It would only solve the problem created by LaSierra’s response to negative publicity.

    Unfortunately, the article is susceptible to being read as saying that the problem has been solved, when in reality, the underlying problem has not even been addressed.




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  6. The reporting that the Adventist Review has done on this issue is a blessing. It would have been very easy to have stories on this issue read like a press release from LSU, but that is not what has happened, for that I am thankful.




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  7. The bottom line is that we need to reestablish trust in the University. The only way to do that is to increase transparency. I don’t see any reason the classes can’t be video taped and made available for at lest a select commitee to review(scientist who believe in our held beliefs -in literal 6 day creation etc. Maybe they would be more careful what they say and how they say it! I’d even go so far as to say made available to everyone. If our teachers were doing a good job it would be helpfull for the rest of us who are interested to have access to good Bible based scientific presentations.




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  8. Wisbey always gives wonderful flowery statements, but never addresses the underlying problem nor what he intends to do about it. The wait continues…




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  9. Even if the Pacific Union Conference, or La Sierra’s Board decided to take definite and strong action, it would be very unlikely that that action would be publicly announced, but would rather be discrete. That would be the politically wise move, (although biblically, a definite and strong action similar *appropriate in principle* to that of Phinehas would be better. Num. 25).




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  10. Again: note that the LSU video lecturer, pivotal to this post, was Warren H. Johns, an out-of-the-closet theistic evolutionist, not to be confused with Warren L. Johns, a devoted supporter of Creationism. Being an old friend and colleague of Warren H., I value his reputation.




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  11. I agree, Doug, that we need to reestablish trust in La Sierra. But it is quite evident that making the lectures public will NOT increase trust but rather stir up an outcry and call for reform, which is really what needs to happen.

    I have worked in Adventist education long enough to know that the prevailing, underlying, and unwritten focus in that system is on the preservation of jobs. which means “no bad press” which means “there is no problem” or, if there is a problem then “it’s fixed” and they will try their best to add a class which is merely a cosmetic fix without addressing the underlying issues at all. Fire an entire Biology department? That would be very hard for an administrator to do, since faculty and administration have a very cosy yet strained yet dependent relationship, all based on an unwritten code of operation which is to keep the system running as long as possible to enjoy the benefits of a good job as long as possible.

    In the Review Article Simmons poses the concern that “My fear is the possibility that La Sierra, as with all of our colleges and universities, could move away from our Christocentric perspective.” I’m sorry, but this has already happened. And whatever Christocentricity is there is mainly there as adornment to cover a seeking after the world. So they teach evolution in Biology. What do they teach in English? Is the Great Controversy ever explored in the History classes? What humanism is taught in Psychology? No, it’s a worldly education with a christian tag on it.

    What benefit does the school offer the church? Where is the army of youth, rightly trained to take the Three Angel’s Message to the world? 99.9% of them are merely trained to get a good job and pay back their school loans and to get trapped into the fiscal machinery of the world. La Sierra may turn out some pastors, but they are trained to baby sit churches, not push the victories of the cross into unentered areas! The whole concept of “missions” is largely and nearly completely dead.

    Administration struggles over policy because they are focused on surviving, not fulfilling God’s purpose for them. If they would focus on finding and fulfilling His purpose for His church, there would not be so much delaying of duty, which is to fire the biology department and replace it with the likes of Walter Vieth, Robert Gentry, etc. who, as real scientists, know how to look at the real evidence that there is for the flood and young age of the earth.

    Our schools have lost their vision, their purpose, and now are losing their fundamental belief in a God who can do anything and who is worthy of obeying. Why is a 6-day creation so important? If God cannot create the earth, then He cannot recreate my heart.

    Shane, feel free to edit this rant….

    jon




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  12. I really don’t see Ricardo Graham taking any real action on this. He is not known for making necessary decisions of this nature. He would rather keep everybody happy, including both Darwinists and Creationists. That’s why he made such a neutral statement about “adjustments.” Union Conference presidents do not get where they are by offending anybody. They just tread water. If anything, it will be assigned to a low-power committee to make “recommendations.” Nothing will come of it.




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  13. So now we have two problems 1) Darwinist professors teaching Darwinism as truth in the pre-existing classes, and 2) a seminar class that tells the freshman that they need to try to understand Genesis in a new way, a way different from how Adventists have always understood it.

    I might take slight exception with what you say the two problems are (although I don’t disagree with you that they are indeed two fundamental problems), but the truth is that these teachers and administrators have another inspiration completely than what comes from scripture. With ephesians 6:12 we can say that “…we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].” Certainly there is evidence that spiritual wickedness (and rebelliousness) prevails in many of the teachers and administrators of LSU.

    In spite of this, we can all take solace in the thought that the events hoped for and longed for from ancient times are about to come upon us, for these happenings at LSU are without a doubt the beginnings of the shaking that will come upon the Church, as predicted through Prophecy, just before the return of Christ.
    “…look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”




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  14. “Certainly there is evidence that spiritual wickedness (and rebelliousness) prevails in many of the teachers and administrators of LSU.”

    But not here. Praise God for this website!




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  15. Although Sean is starting to talk with some backbone, David Read has it right on target! Nothing has been resolved, solved, or taken care of. Everything has been tabled, avoided, or denied. Graham is noted for being a great “politician” meaning doing nothing while talking eloquently and making things look like he and the Board are doing something.

    I predict this will continue the same or with some cosmetic changes, which do not address the real issues, for eons of time, while we sit here talking to each other.




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  16. According to Elder Graham “Dr. Wisbey said clearly it was the desire, plan and intent of LaSierra to remain an entity supportive and in line with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”

    Better to separate them from the church than to have them lead our youth astray and to mis-represent Bible truth and the teachings of our church to the world. Day by day this is just what is happening. We keep this discussion in a closed forum, away from the eyes of the world. But, the abomination is reported on and is spread around the world. How does that make God’s church appear? How does that make Christians appear? How does that represent Christ?

    I am not personally offended, but God is. It is His Word, it is His church, it was His school. My concern is that my God is being hurt. How can we remain quiet when we see such injury being inflicted upon His name? [color=maroon]Jesus Himself never purchased peace by compromise. His heart overflowed with love for the whole human race, but He was never indulgent to their sins. He was too much their friend to remain silent while they were pursuing a course that would ruin their souls,–the souls He had purchased with His own blood. He labored that man should be true to himself, true to his higher and eternal interest. The servants of Christ are called to the same work, and they should beware lest, in seeking to prevent discord, they surrender the truth. They are to “follow after the things which make for peace” (Romans 14:19); but real peace can never be secured by compromising principle. And no man can be true to principle without exciting opposition. A Christianity that is spiritual will be opposed by the children of disobedience. But Jesus bade His disciples, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.” Those who are true to God need not fear the power of men nor the enmity of Satan. In Christ their eternal life is secure. Their only fear should be lest they surrender the truth, and thus betray the trust with which God has honored them. DA 356[/color]

    I cannot remain quiet. Can you?

    Richard Myers, administrator remnant-online.com




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  17. I completely agree with all that has been said above. We are in the last days of earth’s history and we are seeing it in a very sad way right in our own institution. I agree that very likely the outcome will have a vague result that will not please God. I feel that web sites like this are necessary in order to get the truth out so that people who are raising their children to be the ones who ‘dream dreams’ and ‘see visions’ in the last days will not send their precious ones to institutions like LSU that no longer believe in the Word of God, yet claim to be ‘ministering’ for Him…very dangerous.




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  18. Are there not any teachers who can see the amazing work of a Creator in the natural world and transmit this knowledge to students without embracing evolution?




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  19. Some interesting remarks:

    “We keep this discussion in a closed forum, away from the eyes of the world.” NOT TRUE. NOTHING “CLOSED” ABOUT THIS.

    “But, the abomination is reported on and is spread around the world. How does that make God’s church appear?” A VERY BICKERING BUNCH OF PEOPLE

    “How does that make Christians appear?” MEAN-SPIRITED, JUDGMENTAL, AND VENGEFUL

    “How does that represent Christ?” POORLY




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  20. Jon said: “I have worked in Adventist education long enough to know that the prevailing, underlying, and unwritten focus in that system is on the preservation of jobs. which means “no bad press” which means “there is no problem” or, if there is a problem then “it’s fixed” and they will try their best to add a class which is merely a cosmetic fix without addressing the underlying issues at all.”

    I think that this website, EducateTruth.com, is doing a tremendous work for God. When people look for La Sierra University on the Internet, they will find this website. For high school students and their parents, the Internet is a primary source of information. Let this march of truth continue unabated.

    In that way, this site is fulfilling a prophetic role, not unlike the Old Testament prophets who spoke to the “church” and the “academics” of their day. Isaiah 58:1 (NIV) says, “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins.”

    Here there is a serious issue that requires the voices of those who are concerned, and we should praise God for what the creators of this website have done.

    When the university, with its cavalier attitude toward the sacred things of God, begins to disintegrate or come apart from the church, it will be because people here have cried aloud, and spared not.




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  21. Yes, there are, Christopher. There are many both in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and others. What we see here is a publication of a teaching that is contrary to what most in our church believe and teach. We are sorry that this is happening at La Sierra and great efforts are being made to put an end to it. It will either stop or the school will no longer be attached to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.




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  22. Jonathan Taylor, You’re absolutely correct that nothing substantial will come from Graham and the Boards’ “adjustments.” More than worthless adjustments are needed, but this will not be coming from Graham, the Board, the SECC, or the Pacific Union Conference.




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  23. David Read wrote: “all of the biology instructors at LaSierra–all of them–are Darwinists and teach Darwinism as truth, in derogation of Adventist origins doctrine.”

    How do you know, have you personally quizzed each one of them?




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  24. Does anyone have a clear picture as to how we can remove the Board and President at La Sierra? This should be our primary goal if they refuse to dismiss these instructors!!




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  25. I am shocked that LSU’s Chairman Graham thinks that revising the Biology course material is the solution to the problem. How shallow is that type of thinking!!! Surely the course material is a reflection of the thinking of the author and therefore, the problem is the course’s author. Surely he see that. If not, there is no hope for LSU without a total change in LSU admin. starting from the board chairman down.




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  26. I just want to correct a statement written earlier about all Biology professors at LSU being Darwinist. One of their professors, who was previously a professor at a university I attended, never promoted evolution while there and I have no reason to believe he’s changed his viewpoint now that he works at LSU.




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  27. I am shocked that LSU’s Chairman Graham thinks that revising the Biology course material is the solution to the problem. How shallow is that type of thinking!!! Surely the course material is a reflection of the thinking of the author and therefore, the problem is the course’s author. Surely he see that. If not, there is no hope for LSU without a total change in LSU admin. starting from the board chairman down.  (Quote)

    Graham is a politician par excellent, so he and the Board will do nothing, unless they are forced (as backs against the wall!) as they are a major part of the LSU problem. They have allowed this problem, as well as others, to continue on without any response. As such, I personally see no hope unless Wisbey and others at LSU are removed along with Graham and the present Board. We can see they are completely incompetent.




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  28. Does anyone have a clear picture as to how we can remove the Board and President at La Sierra? This should be our primary goal if they refuse to dismiss these instructors!!  (Quote)

    I completely second this idea, and the sooner the better!




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  29. @Ron Stone M.D.:

    There are a number of present board members that have been instrumental
    in the pro-creation effort at LSU. Prayer and patience might be in order
    in support of their efforts, rather than to throw them out indiscriminately. Trust that the Lord will finish what He has started!




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  30. I think many are misunderstanding the teachings of “evolution” at LSU.

    I believe that in no way is God the Creator being undermined! Also, it is not evolution OVER creation that is being taught! Neither is “anti-creatioN” and “pro-evolution” the idea at hand…its a theological approach to the possibility of evolution and creation existing together. I don’t believe that LSU teachings deny or undermine creation or God the creator. Yet, it does address the existence that “evolution” is real. Why can’t it be possible that God creates…and let’s it evolve as well?

    This is all from my experience as a Alumni that has taken science classes as a pre-med student and recieving my BA in Religious Studies.

    PLEASE do not take this comment as an attempt to built conflict and argument…but rather take it as as a understanding and perspective from a proud graduate of LSU. Thank you.

    [LSU isn’t challenging the general concept of God as the ultimate Creator. The problem is that LSU is challenging the SDA position that God created all life on this planet in 6 literal days – not with the aid of an evolutionary mechanism of “survival of the fittest” that requires the suffering and death of billions of sentient creatures over vast periods of time. It is how God created that is at issue here.] – Sean Pitman




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  31. Much has been said about the controversy taking place at LSU, but we have not seen a definitive position statement, complete with basis both from scientific evidence and the Bible as the rule of faith. I attended WWC and I recollect there having been one of the faculty at LSU having been there. There were rumors of liberal teachings on the subject of origins circulating among the students back then. I was not a student in that department so do not know first hand what was being taught.
    What I can say is what the scriptures state. Psalms 33 leads me to believe that there was no element of evolution in creation. I am not here to debate the scripture. The text suggests to me that God made it and it stood fast, meaning it was done when he spoke, there was no other process whereby it was made. God did not step back from his creation and leave it to its own devices or to evolve, but rather he is intimately involved with us and in our salvation and in the creation of the world. “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was [done]; he commanded, and it stood fast. The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.”
    There are some details of just how God created that are not entirely revealed in scripture and in those areas silence is golden. We can get into arguements and debates on some aspects but it doesn’t do any good. We do not know for example if there were elements present on the planet before God started making life on it before or not. The earth was without form and void. Just what does that mean? That there was nothing there or that it was devoid of life and structure? Some of these details we do not have much more said in the word. God did not reveal it. However, when he made the sun and the moon, that would imply that perhaps he created these out of nothing, converting energy into matter. That is my personal thinking, but there is room for the possibility that some matter existed prior to the 6 days of creation.
    There is permutation among the species but that is not evolving from one to another or to make a different life form. God is life and the author of it. The devil was able to make the magicians in Pharoah’s court throw down their rods and they became what appeared to be snakes but if you read inspiration you will find that they were not living creatures. They were swallowed up by the Lord’s creation. God is the Creator and the Living God. He is the God of Abraham, the I Am. WE dare not attempt to bring Him down to our level and attempt to say things just evolved or just happened, ignoring the divine power and authority of His holy and mighty name and His creative power. Give God the glory and the power and honor due Him.




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  32. It is difficult to understand exactly what the issues are without hearing it first hand. What we have been reading is second hand information as to the
    situation. In reading the comments again, it appears that some details
    of the mechanics of how God created are being discussed and other options
    presented. There are areas as I said where the word does not give a complete explanation such as what without form and void means. Was there nothing there
    which is what many believe or was it just without shape and structure? I do not claim to know any more than anyone else in the matter. Anyone can read the Bible and study it for themselves.
    We are reading an English translation which may require reading the original text in an effort to understand fully what was revealed. Beyond
    that, we have to wait for further revelation to know some of these details.
    Where there is revelation as in the Psalms, I understand it to mean that
    God made it and that is how it was, it stood fast. However, maybe I don’t
    understand what the issues are because we have not had them well explained to us. Some of the comments indicate that we don’t know what the issues are and this is where better communication would be helpful.
    There may be areas where we do not have a complete revelation of the details of how God created or just what took place. If we don’t know we should simply say so. In some of these areas, there is room for various opinions which will have to wait for heaven to know further. We cannot know exactly how God created or all aspects of God as we are not God and his ways are past finding out. Romans 11 tells us this, but the scripture does tell us that God created everything. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable [are] his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, [are] all things: to whom [be] glory for ever. Amen. ”
    The question in this matter is, are we dealing with scholars who are presenting the various options in areas where inspiration has not revealed all the details attempting to fill in the blanks? Some measure of intellectual freedom to discuss these options is healthy, however where there is a clear thus saith the Lord no discussion is necessary. Is this a scientific question about how to interpret scientific evidence or is this a question about the meaning of scripture and what has been revealed about creation? Or something else? In the end we should come to a deeper respect and awe for the God who made us.




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  33. Pingback: Educate Truth - Evolution vs Creation at La Sierra University

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