I congratulate Dr. Grismer for his inspiring work in science. …

Comment on The Reptile King by Phillip Brantley.

I congratulate Dr. Grismer for his inspiring work in science. He is a credit to La Sierra University and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Let’s imagine what kind of news story would be written about a science teacher that is highly favored by the agitators at Educate Truth:

Mr. Dimwit is a science teacher at one of our Seventh-day Adventist Bible colleges. This college is not accredited and none of its graduates are accepted in graduate science programs. He does not have a doctorate in any field of science. He has never published anything in a reputable peer-reviewed journal; he has a Hirsch score of 0. He teaches creation science and Intelligent Design, which according to the community of scientists are pseudo-sciences.

Mr. Dimwit does not teach mainstream science. Instead, the most charitable description of what he teaches is natural philosophy. He argues that the only science data that has any credibility proves that life suddenly emerged on earth 6000 years ago. He argues that all science data to the contrary is wrong and the product of atheists.

Mr. Dimwit rejects the historical-grammatical hermeneutic of biblical interpretation formally endorsed by the Church in 1986. He has publicly disagreed with the view of Mark Finley, Richard Davidson, and Phillip Brantley that to elevate God’s gift of human reason above God’s Word is catastrophic. Accordingly, he believes that the biblical account of creation is valid only insofar as it can be proven by science data. He feels the same way about the divinity, virgin birth, miracles, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Many of his students have left the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Upon learning that he has perpetrated a fraud upon them by representing that the material he teaches constitutes science, these students have protested by creating a website to expose his fraud. Many of my own family members have left the Church. They reason that if the Church is willing to commit fraud regarding matters of science, then the Church is probably willing to commit fraud regarding matters of theology.

Mr. Dimwit is a nice man. He prays with his students. He teaches the Sabbath School lesson in church where he presides as an elder. He does not watch movies, listen to opera, or wear brightly-colored ties.

At the college where he teaches, the English teachers do not teach fiction because the stories are not true. (One English teacher tried to teach Hamlet but was subsequently terminated for promoting ghosts). The college is nestled in a walled-in compound where every student is required to do chores, such as milking the cows and feeding the chickens.

Church leaders are very concerned about Mr. Dimwit and the cultic influence that he wields in the community. They are embarrassed. They would like to disfellowship Mr. Dimwit, but because he has such a large following of people who are profoundly ignorant regarding science and biblical hermeneutics, he has been able for political reasons to survive.

One wonders why the Church has tolerated Mr. Dimwit’s heresy for such a long period of time. Does the Church take no notice of this subversive activity? At the very least, his students should be warned that they will not receive a quality education in his classroom. If the Church is to remain God’s holy remnant people, then something must be done in opposition to the magnetic and charismatic heresy of this cultic science teacher.

Phillip Brantley Also Commented

The Reptile King
Bob Ryan, I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. You accuse me of arguing that the Bible is “nonsense” and “lunacy.” Aren’t you concerned that people might think you’re a bit out of touch with reality for making that accusation?

And you claim that I conflate hermeneutics with epistemology. Again, I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

If the study of hermeneutics is too difficult for you to understand, as it obviously appears to be, let me encapsulate everything in a nutshell for you:

The Seventh-day Adventist Church believes that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Accordingly, the Church’s hermeneutics, its interpretation of and regard for the sacred text, and its method of doing theology, demand consistency with that presupposition. To that end, the Church in 1986 formally rejected the hermeneutic of criticism, knowing very well that such criticism is inconsistent with the presupposition that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.

To everyone’s regret, you and other Educate Truth proponents together with the theistic evolutionists have embraced the hermeneutic of criticism regarding Scripture’s relationship with external science data. I can see that you are confused and are not fully aware of what you are doing. I do not want to be harsh with you but merely point out the inherent flaws of your methodology, which is unacceptable to Seventh-day Adventists.

I have otherwise enjoyed this discussion, which I think has run its course. This concludes my participation for the time being.

The Reptile King
Charles, if I correctly understand your questions, then my answer to each one is Yes. I do not claim that my arguments are strengthened by my personal doctrinal soundness. But you asked me the questions and I have responded.

You should be able to answer my good friend David Read’s convoluted query in no more than two sentences. Something like this: Conflict resolution literature and data that is external to Scripture has no evidentiary basis in our assessment of the truthfulness of Matthew 18. We accept the counsel of Matthew 18 at face value, understanding the contradiction that inheres in criticizing (putting to the test, critiquing, questioning, seeking to validate, seeking to invalidate) what we believe to be the Word of God.

The Reptile King
EMK, I invite you to read T. Joe Willey’s May 20, 2011 essay on the Spectrum Blog about the data compiled from the student surveys at La Sierra. His essay cites the raw data, which you can examine for yourself. I think you will conclude that despite press accounts to the contrary there is not much there that is disturbing.

I have seen little to no evidence that La Sierra science teachers are promoting theistic evolution, although I accept Professor Kent’s representation that such may have occurred in the past. I do not think that any of us should assume the role of prosecutor or defender of the science teachers at La Sierra. This role is best assumed by Adventist Accreditation Association, which is in the best position to gather evidence, interview people, and work in a constructive way with the La Sierra science teachers. I believe that AAA is entitled to deference.

Notwithstanding the deference I give AAA, I do opine that AAA has stumbled in effecting a resolution to the controversy. When you see the AAA site committee composed of Ted Wilson-quality conservatives recommend a full term of accreditation and the AAA board by secret vote reject that recommendation, then confusion predominates to everyone’s detriment.

I believe our limited role is to discuss what an Adventist science teacher should teach in science class and what faith-affirming steps can be undertaken on behalf of science students.

That Adventist science teachers should teach mainstream science and accord it factual validity to the degree warranted by the natural evidence is not an open issue. What is an open issue, something that someone with your experience can address, is what faith-affirming steps can be undertaken on behalf of students who study science.

The reason there is so much hysteria is that many Seventh-day Adventists are uneducated, under-educated, and mis-educated about the relationship between science and religion. This is dramatically illustrated by the posted article in which a perfectly appropriate lesson about what science tells us about the origin of birds is erroneously represented to constitute the promotion of theistic evolution.

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.

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?