I am writing this as an Adventist scientist saddened that …

Comment on La Sierra schism widens by John Testerman.

I am writing this as an Adventist scientist saddened that the “Educate Truth” staff are so certain about exactly when and how God went about creating the world that they are willing to risk a major witchhunt and all its attendant ego-driven evils, splitting schools and churches in the process, just to get rid of me and others who hold a different view of what it means to believe in God as Creator. Do you really want to force the many professional scientists among us to choose between science and Adventist Christian faith as if they were incompatible alternatives? Was Genesis really written to trump scientific investigation in the 21st century, to be an alternative source of knowledge about Geochronology or Molecular Genetics?

What does it mean to believe in God as creator, to accept a certain timetable of events? If we want to know how old a rock is, can’t we just ask the rock without getting permission from the theology department? If we want to know if two organisms are related, can’t we just look at their genes without having our Christian faith questioned by self-appointed guardians of doctrine who are apparently capable of only concrete,literal thinking?

In a view accepted by many in the field of science and religion, Genesis and Geology (and Biology too, for that matter) do not offer competing views of natural history, but rather complementary views, the Bible explaining who and why and science describing the what and when. Thus it is misguided to force people to make a false choice between them. To paraphrase Galileo, “science tells us what matter does, the Bible tells us what matters.” Whether you agree with this view of science and religion or not, it is one that enables many of us to follow where the data lead without pretending to know the answers in advance. That is what scientists do. This is how we think and work. We can’t pretend we are doing science if only certain answers are allowed. Can we not have scientists in our schools, or is that ruled out by “fundamental belief #6,” as you have implied? I would like to think we have not been “ruled out.”

Recent Comments by John Testerman

LSU Faculty Senate supports biology department
I wonder if those who are in such a rush to get rid of science professors at La Sierra for teaching evolution, have considered that these professors might be performing a valuable role in keeping many of our most talented young people in the church? Large numbers of educated young Adventists worship God as their creator and redeemer as a matter of religious faith, but do not, however, try to turn their religious faith into scientific theories. They would like to be both Adventist Christians and at the same time practice good science–which means going where the evidence leads. They do not believe that scientific evidence for a very long history of life on this planet and the relatedness of all life conflicts with their relationship with God or undermines the Sabbath. These young people, and there are a lot of them, need good role models in our schools, professors such as those at La Sierra, who are both good Adventists and good scientists, which means willing to follow where the evidence leads. If we mistreat or get rid of those role models, we will lose a lot of young adult Adventists who will get the message that they are not welcome in the church and that the church is hopelessly confused about what belongs in science and what belongs in theology.

But then what happens to those traditionalist young people who believe that their faith requires them to hold to certain beliefs about natural history and the age of the earth? They will go right on believing that because that is what they think they must do to be Christians. Some of them will even write letters complaining about professors teaching evolution. Later, if reading or additional education have shaken that belief and they are tempted to give up their faith, they will hopefully remember their fine Christian professors at La Sierra who showed them a path whereby they could be intellectually honest scientists and Adventist Christians as well.