By Educate Truth Staff
When David Asscherickâ€™s letter appeared on the web in May 2009, it was not widely known that La Sierra University biology professors were promoting the theory of evolution, and excluding the evidence for a recent creation. The news was met with much caution from the LSU Board of Trustees. Responses ranged from â€œI believe that this issue needs our prayers, more than ever beforeâ€ to â€œI believe that our professors need to continue to grow in their understanding of the expectations we hold for faithâ€ to â€œI’m not interested in being a part of a witch hunt.â€
While many others believed the initial allegations, there were still many who questioned its validity. A common response was â€œthey are teaching evolution, but strong evidence in favor of a recent creation is also being presented.â€ However, as weâ€™ve learned since then, this is entirely untrue.
President Randal Wisbey took a slightly different approach in his response to Asscherickâ€™s letter: â€œWe reject this implied atheistic charge. Every one of our science faculty share the goal of students experiencing a vibrant Adventist Christian faith while pursuing their education in the sciences.â€
Wisbeyâ€™s defense was, â€œThe professors are not atheistic.â€ However, such an allegation was never made, and Wisbey succeeded in not addressing the real issue.
Soon after Wisbeyâ€™s letter, the evidence began to surface. Students at LSU began sending class syllabi and presentations for the public to see on Educate Truth. After further digging, two things became clear: at least four of the biology professors expressed their personal belief in the theory of evolution, and openly taught it in their classrooms, as the â€œsingle unifying explanation of the living world…â€ (McCloskey).
In June 2009, Louie Bishop published his experience with the biology department. He said:
[One biology professor] talked about the Biblical Creation accounts in detail [at a worship breakout], and concluded that Genesis chapters 1 and 2 are contradictory accounts. The message I received was a message of doubt toward the Bible, which is no doubt what many other students were led to feel. I can now believe this is happening on a Seventh-Day Adventist campus, because Iâ€™ve seen it with my own eyes!
It is a fact that Evolution is being taught and promoted by professors of Biology on the La Sierra University campus. They are obviously welcome to hold such views, yet I believe they have come to the wrong place to promote those beliefs.
Since this controversy has been made public, LSU has given no evidence its professors are presenting creation positively in their science classes, or at all. Bishop said, â€œ[O]nly Evolution is presented and studied at an objective level. My teacher this quarter has spoken openly of the glory of God in nature, and for that I am thankful! But evidence for a young-age earth, in support of the Biblical account, is not presented for study. The objective support of the Bible is not touched on.â€
Carlos Cerna, 2009 LSU alumnus, recently said of his experience in the senior biology capstone class:
Whenever the topic of Creation would come up (from a student, not a professor) the student would be â€œattackedâ€ by one or both of the professors, and there was a lot of deriding, belittling, and ridiculing in their retorts to the idea of Creation. So I believe that whether or not Creation was mentioned in that class, it was not something to be taken as plausible in any shape, case, form, or fashion.
Teresa Regester, mother of former LSU student AJ, pulled her kid out: â€œI did contact the Presidentâ€™s office at La Sierra and told the nice lady I spoke with what my concerns were, and that our son would not be attending there any more.â€
Maritess Gay Asumen, a former teacherâ€™s assistant said:
Yes, I can attest that La Sierra University teaches and advocates for evolution. In fact I took many of these classes from professed evolutionist professors. I was the teacherâ€™s assistant for many of these classes and was influenced to some degree. I think the church should stand up for its beliefs, because it makes the students very confused and frustrated. These non-SDA beliefs are not only found in biology classes, but also taught in the school of religion and many core classes that students are required to take in order to graduate. NSCI (scientific foundation courses) 405, 406 and 407 are some of the classes.
Ezequiel Vasquez said: â€œI attended LSU and I am fully aware of the controversy first hand. As I attended LSU I was a fresh convert to not only Adventism but Christianity. The debate on this issue really shook my foundation, because I didnâ€™t expect it. I was not taught evolution as a competing theory, but as the only valid one.â€
There are more students with similar stories.
Does LSUâ€™s promotion of the theory of evolution sound neutral? These testimonies clearly show how students are being affected.
In a letter to Wisbey, Carlos Cerna said:
When I came to La Sierra University and began studying evolution, my thinking was, â€œyeah right, this ridiculous theory Iâ€™ve heard all my life, â€˜that we come from monkeys,â€™ is plain ridiculous.â€
Well, Dr. Wisbey, itâ€™s hard for me to admit it, and I donâ€™t even like talking about it, but when I studied the theory, as it was presented in class, plus the studying of the books for the class, I actually started questioning Creation myself. Iâ€™ll never forget it. I would say to myself, â€œnow Carlos, you know that this is all junk,â€ but at the same time Dr. Wisbey, I was reading the data from the Biology book, and getting indoctrinated by the faculty so much that I genuinely and sincerely had started to question Creation.
I also remember asking myself, â€œif Creation was in the Bible and it didnâ€™t actually take place the way itâ€™s written, then what else could there be in the Bible that is false.â€ To put it bluntly, I questioned the Bible, religion and the existence of God.
It is not guaranteed students who are presented the theory of evolution as fact will struggle with their faith or even lose it. However, why does it seem La Sierra is willing to take the risk? For the professors who teach these classes, the answer is because they believe what they are teaching is truth. The university has not admitted this much, so we can only speculate why they continue to support the promotion of evolution.
Alfredo Lee, a pastor in the Southeastern California conference, feels frustrated and betrayed by La Sierra University. In a note to Educate Truth last year, Pastor Lee said, â€œMy daughter is a major in Biology at La Sierra this summer. She told me at least three years ago about this situation. Sadly, now she believes in evolution, as some of her teachers at La Sierra. I am a pastor, and I sent my daughter to a Christian and Adventist University, never expecting this. I feel frustrate and betrayed.â€
Others have said their lack of belief in a recent, six-day creation was due in part to their education at LSU. According to Julie Cook, a non-Adventist student once told her that she no longer believed in the creation week because of LSU. Cook said, â€œNot only did the school have a responsibility to uphold Adventist doctrine, but to protect the faith of all Christians that attended it.â€
Not only are Adventist students being influenced, but also Christians from other faiths. How ironic it is that an Adventist university is destroying the faith of other Christians in a recent, six-day creation. Chris, a former student at LSU, said last year he walked out of the biology class because of the unbiblical things the professor was saying. Other students have resorted to sleeping through class in order â€œnot to lose their salvation,â€ according to Michelle Doucoumes.
Adventist parents are well aware of the potential dangers of having the theory of evolution promoted at an Adventist university, but many are still unaware of the situation at LSU. Here are reactions of parents to LSUâ€™s promotion of evolution:
My daughter is attending LSU and is a biology major. I home schooled her all her life and raised her in the Adventist belief. I had no idea when I put her in to La Sierra that they would be teaching evolution as truth. I am so disappointed and sad. They have raised doubt in her mind. -Cynthia Salvador
I have two granddaughters now attending La Sierra and one is now questioning Creation. My prayers are for the people who allowed these professors to have a captive audience. -Verah Huso
Although I graduated from LSU, I am not comfortable sending my daughters to learn this brand of science. They have attended public community college for their first 2 years and have learned enough about evolutionary theory. I expect our Adventist education system to show how science strongly supports short creation and a Master Designer. -Marlin Gimbel
When my children are ready for college, we will be looking for a school that teaches Biblical principles. -Andrea Griggs
We have a daughter at Southern, and will soon have a son there also. I would be furious if we were to find out that our children were charged the enormous tuition fees for classes that misrepresent Biblical truths. They can receive THAT kind of education anywhere, … and for much less expense. We expect MORE from our educational institutions than what one would find elsewhere. -Taletha Robinson
My daughter went to La Sierra. When I discovered they were teaching naturalistic evolution – I transferred her to Pacific Union College. The transfer was for this reason alone! -Karen McPherson
My daughter is preparing to attend La Sierra University in a few weeks and I am very concerned to hear that evolution is being taught there. The reason I am sending her to an Adventist college is to keep her away from this apostasy. If I hear it affects her curriculum I will remove her. -David Hunzelman
My daughter is a senior at Great Lakes Adventist Academy. She is now looking for a college to attend. La Sierra is now off that list! -Patricia McClain
And the list goes on and on of parents who have discovered what is being taught at LSU and are appalled, no longer interested in sending their kids there.
What is LSU more concerned with, preserving and building the faith of their students or employing evolutionary biologists? The only action LSU has taken to address this issue was creating a one-unit seminar class for freshman. Ironically, the professors teaching the class are the very ones promoting evolution. This seminar class had absolutely no affect on the classes and professors called into question, besides increasing the workload of students and teachers.
How long of a list must be complied of students whose faith has been destroyed by the promotion of evolution at LSU? One student? Five students? Ten? The LSU biology department has ceased to be an adequate representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Churchâ€™s belief in a recent, six-day creation. If LSU is unwilling to meet the needs of its constituency and to align itself with the biblical teaching of creation, then it is left to the Pacific Union, North American Division, and General Conference to do their part in assuring that Adventists get what they pay for.
The church is going to lose much more than a few professors if LSU goes unchecked. It will continue losing a generation of youth. Enough is enough. This is not a time to pander to the whims of a few, who blatantly defy the historicity of Genesis. This is not the time to let these professors linger in our classrooms, while failed attempts at redeeming them are made, and more souls are being lost. Those who have the responsibility and power to influence LSU must exercise their God-given leadership for the sake of LSU and its students.