Dr. Pitman, the boilerplate language is intended to address broad …

Comment on La Sierra Univeristy Fires Dr. Lee Greer; Signs anti-Creation Bond by Phillip Brantley.

Dr. Pitman, the boilerplate language is intended to address broad First Amendment concerns. The funds are not being used to build a divinity school, classrooms for religious instruction, or a house of worship. Short of that, nobody is going to care if the science teacher in the particular building financed talks about Intelligent Design or scientific critiques of neo-Darwinism. None of that material would be considered sectarian instruction, in my opinion, because the Seventh-day Adventist Church does not take a position regarding the scientific merits of ID, neo-Darwinism, or the critiques of neo-Darwinism.

La Sierra has fully disclosed in the bond issuance document that it is a Seventh-day Adventist university and that its religious perspectives are evident in every classroom. This disclosure is not inconsistent with the boilerplate language, in my opinion.

This is much ado about nothing. I am not aware of anyone associated with La Sierra who has argued that current pedagogy in the La Sierra science classrooms has been dictated by the financing of the science complex.

Phillip Brantley Also Commented

La Sierra Univeristy Fires Dr. Lee Greer; Signs anti-Creation Bond
I have just now read the responsive statement made by La Sierra University that is posted on the advindicate.com website.

Might I suggest to the critics of La Sierra University that a sheepish retreat and a period of self-examination might be appropriate?

La Sierra Univeristy Fires Dr. Lee Greer; Signs anti-Creation Bond
Finally, let me state my opinion as an attorney that the sharing of Seventh-day Adventist religious views about origins in science class, hanging a beautiful picture of the Garden of Eden on the wall, or engaging in the type of philosophical musings science teachers in public universities are allowed to engage in does not rise to the level that would justify an allegation that the building is being used for “sectarian instruction or study or as a place for devotional activities or religious worship.” Neither the terms of the bond or First Amendment concerns would be implicated, in my opinion.

La Sierra Univeristy Fires Dr. Lee Greer; Signs anti-Creation Bond
I followed up by posting this comment on the advindicate.com website:

Seventh-day Adventist beliefs are not based on science. They are based on Scripture. The Church does not have a sectarian approach to science, anymore than it has a sectarian approach to volleyball or mathematics. Accordingly, financing the science building with revenue bonds is no more remarkable or problematic than financing the gymnasium and mathematics building with revenue bonds.

I have previously established in various comments that there is no such thing as creation science. I do not see how the bond issuance significantly advances the argument for not teaching creation science in science class, because the argument has always been and is unrefutable. To suggest as this story does that La Sierra administrators have tied their hands by undertaking the bond issuance in order to pursue a pedagogical approach that is unsound or contrary to Church beliefs is absurd.

Recent Comments by Phillip Brantley

Strumming the Attached Strings
Dr. Pitman, you (or some other editor) unfairly edited my last comment and the comment that I responded to, so I am forced to wipe the dust from my shoes and leave you and others to stew in anger and confusion.

[Attacks on Shakespeare and the like are off topic and are distracting to the purpose of this website and will not be published – not even in the comment section. The same is true for other topics that many often attempt to post on this website – such as those dealing with homosexuality, abortion, women’s ordination, the personal morality of one’s opponents, etc. – ET Staff]

Strumming the Attached Strings
I appreciate the comment posted by Richard Myers, because it reflects the often-overlooked fact that a major basis for the agitation against La Sierra University is fundamentalist opposition to university education. []

Critics of La Sierra University should ponder whether their agitation is based on knowledge or the fear that accompanies ignorance. I sense a lot of fear. Fear is not conducive to cerebral thought and learning. Fear also stunts one’s self-awareness ego.

Critics of La Sierra University should adopt the meekness of a criminal defendant. You have to place trust in someone, particularly your attorney, even if you do not fully understand everything your attorney knows.

Strumming the Attached Strings
Dr. Pitman, I do not expect you to fully understand the California Supreme Court opinion or my explanatory comments. You have never learned how to think and reason like a lawyer. The law is much more mysterious to you than you realize.

I can explain a legal matter to you in all crystal clarity, but I cannot understand it for you. To respond to your last comment on the merits is fruitless, because I would just be repeating myself. I suggest that you read again the comments I have made on the various websites regarding this matter and La Sierra’s responsive statement.

Strumming the Attached Strings
Wesley Kime, you could learn something from Sean Pitman. He quotes what I wrote and does so fairly in one of his essays in which he mentions my name and discusses my views (regarding biblical hermeneutics and the relationship between Scripture and external science data). In contrast, you do not quote anything I wrote regarding the bond agreement. Instead, you misrepresent my views (in the eighth paragraph of your essay) in the strange lingo that you apparently find amusing.

It is elementary that boilerplate language has meaning that requires serious attention. The serious attention I give to the entire language of the bond agreement is evidenced by my review of the California Supreme Court opinion that explains what that language means. See, http://charitygovernance.blogs.com/charity_governance/files/california_supreme_court_2007_revenue_bond.pdf.

In your essay, you do not cite the Court’s opinion or quote and discuss the relevant language in the opinion. Instead, you invite innocent readers to surmise in their ignorance that La Sierra University is to be justly criticized for participating in the bond program.

Readers need to be reminded that the authority on California law is the California Supreme Court, not some novice who lacks appropriate feelings of embarrassment for making declarations on matters that are clearly beyond his expertise.

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
Drs. Guy and Bull are to be commended for the thoughtful book they have written. They are entitled to respect.

Their thesis faces significant headwinds:

1. It is an open question whether their view of ancient Israelite cosmology is correct. In the 2011 spring edition of the Andrews University Seminar Studies journal, Drs. Richard Davidson and Randall Younker have an essay that elaborates on Dr. Younker’s quote above. A fuller treatment of what they wrote is promised. I anticipate that Hebrew cosmology will be rigorously studied rather than assumed in future scholarship. Future scholarship is necessary, because all of these authors’ writings on this matter are at present thin.

2. I spoke to Dr. Walton in Texas last fall when he shared with me his scholarly version of his book The Lost World of Genesis 1. I asked him if there were any refinements. He mentioned a couple, including his view of Raquia. In Chicago, he offered that he was not sure whether Raquia was like the air in the balloon or the solid membrane on the perimeter. In Texas, he stated that he now believes that Raquia is the air in the balloon but finds one verse in Job (I don’t have the specific cite off hand) that depicts the solid dome. I find it risky to base one aspect of Hebrew cosmology on one verse in Scripture. But I find it interesting he has abandoned the view that Raquia is a solid dome.

3. Drs. Guy and Bull were smart to limit their focus to Genesis 1. But the problem remains: how does their thesis accord with the rest of Scripture?

4. There is a hermeneutical problem as well. The innocent reader may be shocked to learn that how the author and his contemporaries understood the text is not dispositive concerning what the text means. 1 Peter 1:10-12 reflects that the ancient rabbis did not always understand the meaning of what they wrote. We see here that Peter introduces a hermeneutical principle that to ascertain the meaning of the text, original intent is insufficient.