Phil Brantley is unquestionably correct in his attitude toward Scripture. …

Comment on Biblical Interpretation and Credibility by David Read.

Phil Brantley is unquestionably correct in his attitude toward Scripture. The problem is that Phil’s attitude toward science and science education in an Adventist setting do not build upon, and effectively conflict with, his stated attitude toward Scripture.

Phil holds that naturalism is the indispensable ingredient in science, including origins science. But if, as Phil writes, science and indeed all human knowledge must be tested by, and held in subjection to, Scripture, then origins science should not be naturalistic but should assume the truth the Genesis narrative as a starting point. Instead, mainstream origins science assumes that there has never been any supernaturalistic intervention at any point in natural history.

And yet Phil argues that creation science is “a farce,” and mainstream origins science should be taught at Seventh-day Adventist Universities, which is the exact opposite of placing all human knowledge in subjection to Scripture. It seems Phil is not practicing what he preaches. He preaches the superiority of Scripture to human reason and knowledge, but in practice regards mainstream science as sacrosanct and untouchable.

I don’t disagree at all with Phil’s attitude toward Scripture, but I would REALLY put human science in subjection to Scripture by developing an origins science–i.e. “creation science”–that assumes the truth of the biblical narrative.

David Read Also Commented

Biblical Interpretation and Credibility
Sean, I think people ultimately have to accept Scripture on faith. There are several arguments to be made in support of the proposition that Scripture is the inspired word of God, and we should make those arguments. They include prophecies fulfilled, the spiritually elevating tone of Scripture, the elevating effect of Scripture on those who read it, the unity and consistency in the themes and truths of Scripture despite having been written by many different writers over the course of many centuries, the many geographical places mentioned in Scripture that have been verified by history and archeology, etc.

But ultimately these arguments are not sufficient to coerce the skeptic; ultimately one must make a faith decision to believe that Scripture is the inspired word of God. So faith can never be replaced by sight. Faith is a necessary ingredient in the Christian walk, without which it is impossible to be saved.

I’m also a little unclear about whether you regard the recent creation and the Genesis Flood as being verifiable or falsifiable. I don’t think they are of that character. The data that bear on these things are subject to interpretation, and how one interprets the data determines how one feels about the historicity of these events.

For example, the data of the geological column and the fossil record can be interpreted as evidence of the Genesis Flood, or as evidence of the long, slow development of life across immense ages of time. The common genetic language can be interpreted as evidence of common descent or as evidence of common design. One can choose to interpret them either way, and the choice of interpretive filters is essentially a religious choice.

Obviously, the faith choice comes before the interpretation of the data. So if one interprets the fossil record as being evidence of the Genesis Flood, and then uses the reality of the Genesis Flood as evidence of the inspiration of Scripture, one is reasoning in a circle. (Likewise, the skeptic who interprets the fossil record as evidence of slow development of life across long ages–in derogation of clear Bible teaching–and then says “see, evolution proves the Bible is wrong” is also reasoning in a circle; he began with an anti-biblical premise and ended with an anti-biblical conclusion.)

There really is no substitute for faith, which I think is probably why faith is emphasized so frequently in Scripture. (See, e.g., Hebrews 11).

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.