Thursday, May 21, 2009

In Support of David Asscherick

I don't really know David Asscherick. We've corresponded via e-mail a few times. We have a number of mutual friends and acquaintances. And, in the grand scheme of things, I am just a "nobody" whose voice is hardly heard. But I do want to voice my support for him.

By now, many people have, no doubt, read the letter he wrote to Jan Paulsen, Don Schneider, and Ricardo Graham about his concern that La Sierra University - a Seventh-day Adventist institution - is openly teaching and promoting Darwinian evolution. It is not that they are presenting it as one scientific theory. They are presenting it as the authoritative theory, with little mention of any alternative views (ie., intelligent design or creationism).

Asscherick never meant for the letter to get a public viewing. And it is too bad that it has seen the light of day. But now that it has, his thoughts and sentiments are open to debate, I suppose. And many people have and will address them.

What he basically argues is that it is unethical and dishonest for a professor at a Seventh-day Adventist university to be paid to teach one thing, and yet teach another. When people sign their name on a piece of paper that says they will uphold the 28 Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (with number six being the belief in a literal, six day creation), and then they turn around and teach the opposite, such is a grossly unethical practice which would be grounds for dismissal or legal action in any other corporation or setting.

And, contrary to popular opinion, the idea of a literal, six day creation (which, as mentioned above, is officially affirmed by Seventh-day Adventists in our statement of 28 Fundamental Beliefs) is not a "minor" issue. We are not talking about women's ordination here, or whether or not a person should be able to wear a wedding band. The belief in a literal, six day creation is foundational to our Adventist identity and mission.

Of course, there will be many who try to claim that Adventists are a people of "new light" and progressive truth - and if this weren't the case, we would still be practicing indulgences and worshiping on Sunday. Fair enough. But we want "new light," not some stale scientific theory that is heralded by a community whose agenda is to do away with God.

And, aside from that, though I am no scientist, the more I understand about Darwinian evolution, the more I realize it is simply bad science, fraught with philosophical and theological agendas and presuppositions. And it is hardly "objective" at all (Darwinian naturalists declare, before they even begin, that there can only be "naturalistic" answers. Limiting the field by 50 percent before one even starts can hardly be classified as "objective." Excuse my gross analogy, but it would be like a detective, starting on a murder case, declaring that only a Canadian American could have committed a murder before he even looks at one shred of evidence).

Since Assherick's letter has gone public, the president of La Sierra sent out a formal letter addressing his concerns (click here for a text version of the letter - which is below Asscherick's letter) four days ago. Essentially, what I got from it is that, at La Sierra, they are baptizing a number of students this year, and they go on a lot of mission trips, but there was scant mention of the issue at hand. The only thing that seemed to come close is that, for some reason, professors at universities are allowed the privilege of so-called "academic freedom."

But I wonder: is it really "academic freedom" when you're simply regurgitating what 98% of biologists in the world are already saying? It sounds more like "academic slavery" to me than freedom. Of course, if those same biology professors would ever dare try to teach intelligent design in a biology class at a secular university, they would find out just how quickly "academic freedom" is not a two-way street (see Expelled as Exhibit A).

All in all, what Asscherick is hoping is that someone in a position of significant influence will step up to the plate and say "enough is enough." And I applaud him. He has put himself out there - especially now that his letter has become public. But we need more people who are in positions of influence within our church to confront this issue. It is not going to die quietly in the night. Unless it is addressed head-on, the teaching and promoting of Darwinian evolution is just going to gain more and more momentum. (And, again, we are not talking about shutting down the teaching of good science. We're talking about putting an end to the promotion of bad science that is saturated with subjective presuppositions.)

So will someone step up to the plate? Someone? Please.

83 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Shawn,

After reading David's email, I wondered how 'we' all could step up to the plate? What is the way for the church member in New England (or Tennessee for that matter) able to make his/her voice heard? There has to be a way to mobilize the thousands of voices that feel the same way.
Here's a thought:
"Some have been dissatisfied and have said: 'I will not longer pay my tithe; for I have no confidence in the way things are managed at the heart of the work.' But will you rob God because you think the management of the work is not right? Make your complaint, plainly and openly, in the right spirit, to the proper ones. Send in your petitions for things to be adjusted and set in order; but do not withdraw from the work of God, and prove unfaithful, because others are not doing right." 9T 249

blessings,

Steven

challengeruns said...

Hello Shawn,

I agree with you. La Sierra shoud have no business teaching this darwinian theory IF they are receiving tithe dollars form our church. We should get a campaign going on Facebook and the net in pushing the NAD to withdraw the tithe dollars they send to this university if they keep teaching this.

We are storng enough and plenty enough. We just have to massively advertise this. What do u think?

Andrew

bobxxxx said...

Hello, I just want to make a very minor correction.

It's not 98% of the world's biologists who accept the basic facts of evolution (for example, people and chimps share an ancestor). It's way over 99%, much closer to 100% than 99%.

Also, the incredibly small fraction of biologists who deny evolution have never contributed anything important to biology.

I understand your fear of evolution. The god business you're in requires you to deny evolution, because if evolution is true, you would have to get a real job.

Please click my name to learn about one of the millions of reasons why virtually every single biologist in the world loves and accepts evolution.

David Asscherick said...

Thanks, Shawn, for the support! It means a great deal to me. And, I believe, to God. Keep speaking up. If lots of people and pastors make enough (sanctified) noise about this, something may actually happen. And even if something doesn't change, since we are not the actual leaders/ policy-makers, our moral responsibility is not in changing things, but in speaking up. And the more voices the better. I don't know how any committed SDA member, who has heard of these things, can sit idly by. Our name, our doctrines, our reason for existence, our eschatology, and even our soteriology are in being undermined. And we are paying people to do it! The irony is outweighed only by the tragedy.

Thanks again, Shawn!

Warm regards,

David Asscherick

Darryl Swarm said...

Just for the record, I think this is an unfortunate overreaction without substantive ground work. It is easy for people to feel threatened and afraid on touchy issues that are foundational to church doctrine, but fanning the flames without actually going in and observing the instruction firsthand is shameful. I teach geology classes for La Sierra University. I also worked as a librarian for the Geoscience Research Institute for four years and have passionately studied the intersection of faith and science for over two decades. My curriculum is based on a strong belief in our awesome Creator, but as a service to the students, it is also important for them to understand traditional scientific views. My students often go on to attend secular graduate programs and must know both sides of the story in order to defend their faith for themselves and others. For example, I would expect theology students to study spiritualism, but would not make assumptions that this was a threat to our faith without looking at the greater context of the teaching. My colleagues at La Sierra University are believers, and while their curriculum may include current scientific trends, the students have a unique opportunity to study philosophy of science and explore difficult questions with world-class scientists, theologians and philosophers. It is a privilege to teach in a University setting where faith and prayer in the classroom is still very much a part of the campus climate.

Rich Constantinescu said...

"the incredibly small fraction of biologists who deny evolution have never contributed anything important to biology" - bobxxxx

Kindly note the "culminating figure of the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century" was Sir Isaac Newton. Sir Isaac Newton wrote what is arguably considered the greatest scientific book in the history of science: Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687.) This same contributor wrote Observations on Daniel and The Apocalypse of St. John (1733) and was a believer in the Christian God.

Respectfully, truth is of nonconcern to evolutionists, as are "real job"s or this web page. Nothing is measurable, there is no goal, or destination. Whether or not God exists, evolutionists have nothing to definitively say about it since their all is admittedly relative to nothing. Josef Fritzl deserves the same credit as Mother Teresa (or Isaac Newton.) That's criminal.

For free information on the prophecies of Daniel and The Revelation which inspired the scientific mind of Isaac Newton see www.amazingfacts.org to meet your Creator.
Regards,

Rich

Source: (Newton, Sir Isaac. (2009). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Student and Home Edition. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.)

Shawn Brace said...

Bob,

Who/what determines whether a person's contributions are "important"?

David Assscherick said...

Let's keep this really simple.

Point #1.
A SDA university would be--definitionally--a university that upholds and actively promotes the stated, actual, official, endorsed, sanctioned, accepted, authorized (insert other synonyms here ______________) teachings of the SDA organization.

Check? Check!

(By the way, this sentence works for any organization! Just insert "Mormon", "Baptist", "Reformed Presbyterian", etc. for "SDA" in the above sentence. Voila! See how easy this is?)

Point #2:
Does the SDA organization have a stated, official, endorsed, etc. position on, say, Creation?

In fact (surprisingly to some) it does!

And what is that position? That God created the earth in Six days. Literal, solar, continuous, contiguous days, that is.

Check? Check!

Now, maybe we're wrong.

Or, maybe we're right.

But one thing is certain: this is part of what it means, by definition, to be a SDA.

I happen to believe it (along with many other things that define SDA-ness) , thus I am a SDA.

No one is compelled to believe the SDA position on Creation (or anything else, for that matter), because no one is compelled to be a SDA.

For example, I think that the neo-Nazis are wrong about the supremacy of the white race. And therefore I am not a neo-Nazi.

Check? Check!

Olorin said...

Basically, you are asking La Sierra to choose between scientific honesty and the religious beliefs contrary to those of most Christian denominations. If you're complaining about academic freedom, then you have it backwards. Science is being discriminated against in this case.

"[T]he more I understand about Darwinian evolution, the more I realize it is simply bad science, fraught with philosophical and theological agendas and presuppositions."

Then your understanding started from a large negative amount, and has yet to reach zero. Acceptance of evolution is strongly correlated with increasing levels of education.

Roger said...

Olorin: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom"

I have 15 years of post highschool education. Most of it in State schools. I believe not in evolution but believe in the Word of God and his creation. Fit that into your correlation!

Roger said...

Dr. Swarm:

I am a life-long Adventist that never went to Adventist schools but instead went to state (public)schools. I learned from very young that I was never to look to my teachers for religious advice. My faith was based on my personal belief and my relationship with God. I always had this thought in the back of my head that Adventist schools were inferior in terms of teaching the hard science and giving me an opportunity for advancement in the "real world." I must admit that I often longed to be able to share my "strange" religious beliefs with my classmates like my collegues did at Adventist schools.

I went to UCR and learned evolution with the "big boys." I ate it for lunch and vomited it up again on their tests - earning an A+ and graduating top in my class.

The La Sierra biology slides are worse than I thought.

http://www.detectingdesign.com/#University

Not only does it promote Evolution but it does it in false ways with false science.

PDF #4 slide 16 states:

• The Hardy-Weinberg principle describes a population that is not evolving

• If a population does not meet the criteria of the Hardy-Weinberg principle, it can be concluded that the population is evolving

This of course is completely false because Hardy-Weinberg assumes random mating, no mutation (the alleles don't change), no migration or emigration (no exchange of alleles between populations), infinitely large population size, and no selective pressure for or against any traits. In other words, there are several OTHER reasons why Hard-Weinberg might not work. To suggest that when it doesn't you must conclude that evolution is occurring is ignorant at best. This represents a faulty support for evolution and it is being taught to our undergraduates. Is this really still being taught - this wouldn't even fly in a peer- reviewed state school. I mean if you are going to teach evolution, at least do it the favor of teaching it right.

It would be far better for our pre-med students to go to a state college knowing full- well that they were going to get a world-class education in evolution with their eyes wide open that flies in the face of their beliefs then to mix this poison (bad tasting at that) with a "Christian" education and deceive our very best. The syllabus can't even get express the wrong science correctly.

Roger Seheult, M.D.

Roger said...

If La Sierra wants to give its students a well rounded education in evolution, why doesn't it simply send them over to UCR for a class or two in evolution.

1) You can at least rest assured that UCR will teach evolution correctly.

2) You'll know that the faculty will at least beleive in what they are teaching (they're atheists)

3) They all come over every summer anyway to take the Organic Chemistry class at UCR. LOL

Roger Seheult, M.D.

Anonymous said...

IF our leaders don't step up to the plate and STOP this at schools like La sierra College,(yes i said College.)then we have to Lead from the REAR with our voices and dollars $$$$$ no more $$$$$ to any one supporting this! GET IT!!! They Won't until you do.

markk said...

A lack of time has prevented me from visiting as often as I would like. Sorry about that. However, after reading this story, I can't help but post my observations.


1. There is no actual difference between "belief" and "fact". Creation IS fact. If the people hired at LSU don't believe that, they should be summarily dismissed, and replaced with people who do. The inability to be true to one's beliefs counters scientific credibility, not "enhances" it, as a poster here would like you think.


2. There is a huge temptation to not be "outstanding" in any scientific discipline. Just look at the immense corruption of the scientific community intent upon silencing the critics of Global Warming theory.


3. The response from LSU is predictable and simply "political". Like far too many institutions, there is no courage at the top. While "defending the school" is top priority, the response completely avoids the details of the criticism. Either the leadership finds itself unable to address the issue due to lack of understanding, or else lacks the courage to address it in public.


4. Far too many of our institutions are headed by diplomats intent upon smoothing over the bumps, rather than warriors intent upon a righteous mission. Committees and boards lack vision, and administrators hired to be 'soothsayers' fail to serve God. If LSU doesn't serve God first, last, and in between, then it serves no function of any importance.


5. No historical scientists of note were famous because they accepted all the current scientific theories of the day. They're famous becuase THEY DID NOT. Science is advanced ONLY by disagreement with prevailing "thought".


6. Since when did our denomination become "democratic", requiring mass efforts and political play to influence the direction of our institutions? It should not be. Should the materials themselves fail to motivate the leadership of the church to take bold and decisive action, it seems that public campaigns are even more counterproductive, in that we end up at odds with the leadership of the church, more than with the school that needs some guidance. So, while I'm sort of sounding supportive, I'm also thinking that working up a "group", to influence what our denomination as a whole does should not ever work, in principle. They should never act "to please the demonstrators", but simply to carry out the mission of the Church and the institutions which bear its name.

Olorin said...

Roger said" "I have 15 years of post highschool education. Most of it in State schools. I believe not in evolution but believe in the Word of God and his creation. Fit that into your correlation!"

Everyone says that math scores are going down. But my son's score actually went up a lot last year! Obviously, everyone is wrong. Duh.

The question here may be how Roger managed to learn so little about biology in 15 years. A favorite trick of all denialists is to stress a small number of exceptions to a general trend. Global-warming denialists are experts at this. It lets them avoid any present hardships, while placing ever-growing burdens on the shoulders of their grandchildren.

Perhaps the only way to preserve both SDA beliefs and scientific honesty of the faculty at La Sierra is to eliminate the biology courses altogether. Along with other sciences that conflict with creationist beliefs, such as paleontology, archeology, geology, physics, astronomy, and cosmology. Maybe economics as well, since economists usually refer to capitalism as "Darwinian economics."

Shawn Brace said...

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts. I wish I could respond to everyone individually but time doesn't allow me to do that right now.

But Olorin, I have a question for you: could you share with me what evidence from Darwinian evolution you find so compelling to support common descent? So far, what I have been presented with that purports to support Darwinian evolution just doesn't seem convincing.

Thanks.

Olorin said...

Evidence to support common descent. Well, that was the subject of 1,750 peer-reviewed research papers last year alone. Briefly.there's the progression of fossils. There's the stuff in DNA that courts seem to find convincing when determining paternity and other relationships. There's the observations of speciation---you don't have to go back in time at all; just drive up the San Joaquin Valley, or circle Lake Superior to see it happening in front of your eyes. There is of course too much to relate here. Two books that are easily accessible to the layman are Neil Shubin's "Your Inner Fish" (Shubin is the discoverer of the Tiktaalik fossil---he didn't guess where it would be; he used evolutionary principles) and Daniel Fairbanks' "Relics of Eden," which concentrates on the newer discoveries in evolutionary genetics, and how they are used to noodle out common descent. (The same algorithm was used to reconstruct an original version of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" from the random errors in thousands of later copies.)

One thing you have to understand is that no scientific theory stands or falls on one piece of evidence. The more evidence, the firmer the theory. And you can't cherry-pick one observation or experiment; you must consider the totality. The defendant's shoe print was found at the scene of the crime? Not conclusive. A hair sample found on the victim? Could have gotten there some other time. The defendant stood to inherit a lot of money from the victim? Well, not all beneficiaries kill for that. But when you add those and a few dozen more clues together, you start to say, what are the odds? And you vote to convict, even though it is barely possible that little green men sneaked in and planted all the evidence. That is, the arguments for scientific theories are what we lawyers call "convergent." They are never totally proven in the mathematical sense, and are always subject to revision by new evidence.

One impediment is that most creationists do not understand what evolution is. In fact, the descriptions that many of them give sound more like intelligent design. (Maybe that's why they see no evidence for it.) In this regard, Errnst Mayr's "What Evolution Is" is a worthwhile book, although it is more advanced, and, published in 2001, already somewhat out of date. Another good book that does not preach at the reader is Sean B. Carroll's "Endless Forms Most Beautiful," a description of the entirely new field of evo-devo that studies common descent by means of the development of embryonic structures.

My biggest complaint against creationism, however, is not that it goes against the evidence. It produces no new knowledge, and certainly no new benefits to mankind. No papers. No experiments. No mathematical or computer simulations. No new drugs. No new oil fields. Nothing. And the reason is simple: When your answer to every question is "God did it," then why should you look any further, or pursue any deeper understanding? And how can you harness God to your will for technological applications? Isn't that called sorcery? So creationism is vacuous. Even if it were correct, it is of no practical use whatever.

Olorin said...

P.S.: Thanks for the soapbox, Shawn.

derrick said...

Hi Everyone,

Great discussion. Thought I'd add my two cents.

First, in response to Olorin I would say that the final paragraph is a great illustration of the old lawyer's advice that if the facts are on your side you stick to the facts, if the facts are against you you argue the law, and that if both the facts and the law are against you then you confuse the issues. Where to begin? "My biggest complaint against creationism, however, is not that it goes against the evidence." Here is an admission that scientific truth is not an evolutionist's guiding value. There is something more important. What, you ask? "It produces no new knowledge, and certainly no new benefits to mankind. No papers. No experiments. No mathematical or computer simulations. No new drugs. No new oil fields. Nothing." The reason of course is simple. These things are not produced by creationism or evolutionism. They are the products of human thought and labor. The supreme irony is that creationism was a necessary precondition for the (temporary) triumph of evolutionism. Fifteen hundred years of scientists attempting to think God's thoughts after Him resulted in such success that man imagined himself to be a god. So much so that he imagines that the patterns of global climate are under his control. It is no accident that in the entire history of the world (and it's even more impressive if the world is four billion years old) that it was only western civilization with the Bible as its foundational text that developed the modern scientific mindset. But muddled as the thought is, we see that benefit to man is the highest value. Moving on. "And the reason is simple: When your answer to every question is "God did it," then why should you look any further, or pursue any deeper understanding?" Turned around, When your answer to everything is "It just happened," what deeper understanding is possible? If man is not made in the image of God then he has no rational basis for trusting that he even has or can use reason. "And how can you harness God to your will for technological applications? Isn't that called sorcery?" Here we find a confusion of creationism with pantheism. When I turn on my car, or my lights, or my gas central heat I am not harnessing God to my will. Sorcery? Hardly, but "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." "So creationism is vacuous." The word 'so' implies that this is the logical consequence of what has come before. I don't see it, but perhaps I'm missing something. Vacuous would mean that it is without content. On the contrary, creationism has only too much content. Namely, a Creator to Whom every person is responsible. "Even if it were correct, it is of no practical use whatever." Here we meet the argument from human benefit again. The theory of evolution has produced no practical scientific progress. Science depends upon the way things are not upon the way things came to be. The practical uses of evolution are to be found, not in science, but in history. We see the practical uses in concentration camps, gulags, eugenics, totalitarian governments, world wars, and in countless other horrors which, with the bodies of hundreds of millions dead, litter the twentieth century and promise an encore in the twenty-first.

(To be continued)

derrick said...

(cont.)

Second, let's look at the issue of academic freedom. While it is true that he who pays the piper calls the tune, to rely upon such arguments will produce a cure that is worse than the disease and lead us to establish our very own inquisition which will not be content to simply address the issue of evolution. Besides, it is simply a crude variation of might makes right.

We must recognize that the issue of evolution differs not only in degree but in kind with every other issue facing the church. Arguments for academic freedom are quite valid but do not apply to this particular case. The issue of evolution must be approached, not as a matter of church teaching, but as a life and death matter of first principles. To accept evolution is to reject the Word of God. Period. End of sentence.
An attack upon any other doctrine is an attack by one interpretation of the Word on another interpretation of the Word. Whether it is the Sabbath or the sanctuary or music or dress or some other issue of doctrine or lifestyle all the combatants acknowledge a Word to which they must yield. They may wrest and struggle and distort but the only power their arguments can have is in the Word and they know it. For such, academic freedom is a necessity and a duty. Not so with evolution. In this debate there is no common authority to which appeal can be made. It comes down to God against man.

In dealing with this matter in the church Moses' question still stands. "Who is on the Lord's side?" This is not a dispute between Christian brothers, it is believers versus unbelievers and pagans and must be dealt with as such. Someone who does not believe and confess, "All things were made by him and without him nothing was made that is made," is in no sense a Christian.

Yours in Christ,

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised an atheist along with most people who are byproducts of the government school system. Evolution was fact, or so we were indoctrinated. It wasn't until my libertarian tendency to question everything the government/media/ mainstream says is fact, that I decided to investigate on my own. Being the byproduct of the government eduction system (most of you refer to it as "public" schools) I was well versed in evolution and Darwinian theory (again, indoctrination). I decided to find an investigative resource on the other side of the story (Intelligent Design. Creationism). Enter Lee Strobel's "Case for a Creator".

This book should be required reading in any curriculum contrasting the various theories regarding the creation of life. It shows scientific evidence defined through observation. It discusses both sides then presents the science behind each.

I was an evolutionist blindly following the mainstream (Remember evolution is not about humans coming from apes as much as the belief that Every living organism came from a single cell... EVERY). Once I started questioning the majority I realized that most just took what they heard at face value... including me!.

After this "journey" my world view changed.

LSU should teach evolution as a mainstream (majority) view since, well, it is. They should then dissect this view the way Lee Strobel does and educate these kids that there are much more logical and scientifically sound explanations out there.

... and remember that the entire theory of evolution hinges on the assumption that something came from nothing, which, based on the laws of physics, is not possible.

TWSS

Olorin said...

derrick says: "To accept evolution is to reject the Word of God. Period. End of sentence."

What rock have you been living under? The Catholic Church accepts evolution. The Orthodox Church accepts evolution. Most Protestant denominations accept evolution. A number of evolutionary researchers accept the Bible---Francis Collins and Kenneth Miller even wrote books about it.

History books must also be absent from your rock. Early Church fathers, such as Augustine, Origen, and Eusebius, explicitly cautioned against reading Genesis literally. There was no organized literalist group or movement until about 1900---only a century ago.

So saying that evolution denies the word of God flies in the face of the beliefs of most Christians today and of almost all Christians throughout history.

There are three other significant problems with literalism. First, it prevents you from understanding the real meaning of Genesis that God revealed to the original recipients, who were apparently more sophisticated. Second, it prevents you from appreciating God's marvels revealed through the understandings given by scientific discovery. Third, it has been noted that biblical fundamentalism is a significant source of new atheists. When children find out that their parents have been lying to them about evolution, they begin to think that maybe all the rest of their beliefs were lies as well. This is what happened to Richard Dawkins, for example.

Olorin said...

No Name says: "Being the byproduct of the government eduction system (most of you refer to it as "public" schools) I was well versed in evolution and Darwinian theory"

What a laugh! One of the major campaigns just now is to teach more than the barest skosh of evolution in public schools in the face of public resistance. (Would this resistance come from all those atheists who pervade public schools??)

So here's a really elementary question, if you're so well versed. What is the principle that the greatest genetic diversity of a species occurs where that species first arose?

Wait, here's another simple question, this one with important practical applications. How would you combine antibiotics to decrease bacterial ability to evolve resistance to them?

(BTW, I've never taken a biology course in my life.)

Olorin said...

derrick, quoting Olorin: "Where to begin? 'My biggest complaint against creationism, however, is not that it goes against the evidence.' Here is an admission that scientific truth is not an evolutionist's guiding value."

I'm struggling to see how you could possibly pull that conclusion out of your ascot from what I said. The evidence overwhelmingly favors evolution. But, as in all science, new evidence could conceivably be found. And this hypothetical new evidence may support a different theory, or even contradict evolution. So being contrary to present evidence is not an insurmountable obstacle. This has everything to do with seeking truth---with following the evidence.

Iter: "There is something more important. What, you ask? 'It produces no new knowledge, and certainly no new benefits to mankind.' The reason of course is simple. These things are not produced by creationism or evolutionism."

I'll agree, as I said, that creationism produces nothing. In fact, by it's very nature, it cannot produce any scientific value. But if you think that the study of evolution produces nothing, you are truly living under a rock. How did you think that flu vaccines are developed? (Maybe you should pray you never get the flu.) How did you think that DNA evidence works in court? (Maybe you should pray that you are never a defendant in a case where DNA evidence could clear you of, say, a false paternity charge.)

At a recent university seminar, I was seated at the Dean's table next to an evolutionary researcher who studies the origin of multi-cellularity. His research in quorum sensing among single-cell organisms has the promise of a new type of antibiotics that cannot become drug resistant. (Wouldn't that be nice?) Also within the past couple of months, a researcher overthrew the current theory of how tastes are sensed in the tongue. His reasoning? The old theory would not have been able to evolve taste buds. His new theory, based upon an evolutionary scenario, has led to the discovery of an new class of "taste modulators"---such as a sweetener that does not itself taste sweet. These are merely very recent applications that I have run across myself---and I don't even work in this field.

But creationists do not do any research. In fact, they seem not to do any research in any field. Michael Behe, for example, has not published anything supporting intelligent design. But also, since he hooked up with the Discovery Institute in the '90s, his total publication output has dropped from a respectable amount to almost zero. William Dembski, the mathematics doyen of intelligent design, the man his groupies call the "Isaac Newtron of information theory," has never published a single paper on any mathematical subject, let alone information theory, let alone one that supports design.

Therefore, yes, evidence is secondary to utility. Consider this example: Einsteinian relativity has replaced Nwetonian gravitation, because of new evidence. Yet NASA still uses Newtonuian theory to plot trajectories for spacecraft. Its utility persists, even though the evidence now favors Einstein. But I also said here that creationism is inherently incapable of producing any useful results. This is because, as the cosmologists like to say, a theory that explains everything explains nothing. If the answer to every question is "God did it. Period. End of sentence," then we are a fortiori at the bitter end of every causal chain.. There is nothing else, no deeper cause. If the purpose of science is to understand and/or control the natural world, then creationism is truly content-free.

derrick said...

Olorin wonders what rock I have been living under. In a sad case of confusion he mistakes silence about church tradition and history for ignorance. I made a statement about the Word and he answers not with the Word but with history and tradition. It is an unimpressive argument. "Let God be true, but every man a liar."
To arrive at "almost all Christians throughout history" from three fathers of the Western church is a feat of extrapolation on par with those of the greatest evolutionists. He seems not to be bothered by the fact that evolutions' "organized movement" is barely older than that of the much despised literalists.

According to him literalism prevents my understanding the "real meaning of Genesis." There is not a word about how to arrive at this "real meaning" but it is probably safe to assume that it does not involve a close study of the text itself. With his hermeneutic I can find anything that I wish. The Koran becomes a manual of auto repair, the back of my cereal box a treatise on Martian archeology. With this claim to knowing the "real meaning" of Scripture, Olorin reveals himself to be a modern day gnostic, an enlightened being who looks down upon the simple-minded who see only the plain Word.

I am baffled by the idea that my failure to worship at the shrine of evolution means that I cannot appreciate God's marvels. If evolution is true they are no longer God's marvels for the concept of God is totally unnecessary to evolution. Anyway, I'd rather appreciate His marvels through an understanding of His personal Word than through the bumbling trial and error of deceived and deceiving men. Show it to me through a microscope or a telescope and I'll appreciate it, just leave the crackpot theory of origins at the door.

Given my response so far you may be surprised to find me in total agreement with the logic of fundamentalism as a source of atheists. The logic is airtight. Allow me to slightly restate it. If children find out that God has lied to them about creation, they can be sure that He has lied about everything else as well. I have no qualms about setting aside the words of men, which may well be overturned with the next scientific breakthrough, in favor of the Word of God which endures forever.

derrick said...

A few comments of Olorin's statement that evidence is secondary to utility. He gives an example where an untrue theory remains useful. He has very helpfully disconnected truth and utility. With this one illustration the whole rant about the usefulness of evolution versus the uselessness of creation becomes irrelevant because he has ably demonstrated that what is useful is not necessarily true.

I don't know why cosmologists should be fond of saying that what explains everything explains nothing for such logic is also devastating to the theory of evolution.

The entire issue is about the authority of God's Word. Once you take the paste and scissors to it where does it end? By rejecting God's authority you show yourself to be god. Satan's voice in every age is the same. "Yea hath God said?" But,"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

Olorin said...

derrick: "There is not a word about how to arrive at this 'real meaning' but it is probably safe to assume that it does not involve a close study of the text itself."

Au contraire; it does involve a close study. But this does not involve merely reading it over and over with a preconceived set of beliefs. This error is so regnant that historians have a name for it; they call it "whiggism." Close study actually concerns investigating the context of the text, the history of its interpretations, a knowledge of the henotheistic pastoralists of 1000BC who wrote Genesis 2, and of the expat urban Jews who 500 years later.wrote Genesis 1: What was their concept of the world, what did they understand such stories to mean. Then too, the differences between the two creation stories, such as the open conflict as to when man was created, should at least offer a clue that they were not meant to be interpreted literally.

Shakespeare's plays contain great and enduring truths. Yet a close study of Shakespeare does not involve merely memorizing the lines in the plays. And we---most of us, anyway---are careful not to think of Shakespeare a 21st Century writer. We must be aware that customs have changed in the 500 years since he wrote---even the meanings of words have changed: "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" (As an indicator of credibility,you might tell me what that famous quotation refers to?)

To force your own interpretations upon others who live(d) in entirely different times and circumstances---especially without even knowing what their interpretations were---is the height of arrogance. If you ever deign to read books that you might disagree with, try Conrad Hyers' "The Meaning of Creation" (Knox Press 1984). He was head of the Religion Department at a Lutheran college where I served on the Board of Trustees.

Shawn Brace said...

There is a lot to respond to here, but I cannot at this time. I just welcomed my first child into the world last night at 10. I'm amazed at how God allows us to take part in creation!

But, I just wanted to respond to one thing that Olorin keeps bringing up. Like I said, I wish I had time to respond to everything, but there is this one thing that Olorin keeps getting stuck on. And it's the same mistake that so many other Darwinians trip over.

He cites the examples of formulating new drugs to combat mutations in various viruses and diseases. To quote him, he says, "His research in quorum sensing among single-cell organisms has the promise of a new type of antibiotics that cannot become drug resistant." I am not sure how this relates one iota to common descent. That certain diseases (ie., HIV) can mutate and become resistant to drugs is intriguing. And it certainly gives us insight into the idea of micro evolution. But this is no way informs us about the origins of life. It has nothing to do with one species evolving into another species.

That one organism can adapt and mutate has never been denied. But this doesn't somehow imply that, therefore, all organisms evolved from one single organism. Such is a HUGE leap - especially when these large scale changes have NEVER been observed or demonstrated in the fossil record (if I had time, I would elaborate on that).

And, I believe it was Derrick who made this precise point: what does a theory that supposedly helps us come up with new antiobiotics in the present have to do with something that happened in the past? So evolution's supposed present merits have nothing to do with past issues. It is a non sequiter to say that since there is small changes within species now, it shows that therefore all these species evolved from one common ancestor.

Like I said, there is a lot more I would love to respond to, but I must get back to my own creation!

Olorin said...

Congratulations on the new offspring, Shawn. A truly memorable Memorial day.

"[W]hat does a theory that supposedly helps us come up with new antibiotics in the present have to do with something that happened in the past?"

The origins of multicellurality arose in the past. Cell signaling is an explanation of how it arose. Today we can use the same mechanism that evolution used for the purpose of defeating bacteria instead of aiding them. Without evolution, this mechanism would not have occurred. Without studying evolution, it would not have been found. Certainly creationists would never look for it; they have no reason to suspect it might be be present. Evolution researchers have constructed a 450 million-year-old protein that all animals have in mutated forms. Today it is merely junk, but then it must have had a function. Who knows, the function might be useful today. Creationists, of course, would never try this, because nothing existed more than a few thousand years ago.

"It is a non sequiter to say that since there is small changes within species now, it shows that therefore all these species evolved from one common ancestor."

It is also silly to believe that microgravity, which causes apples, rocks, and buildings to fall to the Earth, can produce the effects of macrogravity, which keeps planets in their orbits. We can see and feel the small, immediate effects of microgravity. How can these small effects multiply themselves millions and billions of times to shove entire planets around, to collapse vast clouds of gas into stars, to hold entire galaxies together? No one has ever seen macrogravity. I don't believe there is such a thing.

Taking a small thing and multiplying it by vast amounts of time or mass can produce surprising changes. Large-scale changes, by definition, take more time than you or I can observe personally. But the fossils and the genetics point to common ancestry.

If you'd like to see an entirely new orgen in the middle of being developed right now, try to sneak up on a rattlesnake at night. You won't succeed. But if you could, notice the pits in its cheeks. Rudimentary heat sensors that are developing from ordinary nerves, as on our own faces, into hollows that can also sense the direction from which the heat (that is, its prey) is coming. A few million years ago, fossils show that the depressions were not pronounced, and therefore not as effective. In the future, they seem to be developing into cups having narrow orifices like pinhole cameras, for increased imaging power. But you will only see a narrow slice of this development over, say, 50,000 years. Sudden changes such as an eagle laying a robin egg, and hybrids such as intelligent design's beloved half-cat/half-dog, would be indicative of creation or design, not of evolution's common ancestry. Notice that we do not ever see such rapid transformations or strange chimeras. In fact, we see no evidence that any lineages were created separately from others; instead, these form a progression, which we call common descent.

Olorin said...

derrick: "[H]e answers not with the Word but with history and tradition."

Exactamundo. Everyone sees the Word from his own environment, from his own times, from his own milieu. If you think that the only proper interpretation of Genesis is from the perspective of a 20th Century scientific/industrial society that takes many things literally, then you are sadly mistook. You have not the slightest conception what these same words meant for the ancients to whom God gave them. What's worse, you don't wish to know. You believe that your narrow view is the only one possible, even though few other Christians do or have used them. (Even Derrick realizes that the three cited Church fathers were not the only ones having that view. Well, he probably realizes it. Or let's hope he realizes it. He hasn't cited any at all to the contrary, at least.)

Derrick also believes that the slightest non-literalism is a slippery slope to treating the entire Bible as myth or metaphor: "Once you take the paste and scissors to it where does it end?" Yet when Jesus says that we should forgive "seventy times seven," you probably don't think that, after forgiving someone exactly 490 times, you can then proceed to hack him into small pieces. You probably don't believe that Jesus was referring to a real tree trunk when he abjures you to remove a log from your own eye. Derrick has probably, contra Jesus' clear words, not abandoned his mother and father to follow Him. When David said that God is a rock, did he internd that God was literally a lump of silicon dioxide or calcium carbonate? When David accused God of sleeping, did he mean with closed eyes, unconsciousness, and perhaps a snore or two? No one thinks every word in the Bible is true with no room for metaphor, poetry, or story. Was there an actual Samaritan who helped an actual traveler set upon by real flesh-and-blood historical thieves? Was the pharisee who passed him by a real person with an actual name? Did Jesus relate this as an experience that someone actually witnessed? Have you ever, in contravention of the second commandment, drawn a picture of a bird, an animal, an oak tree, or a fish? Does this commandment mean exactly that, in haec verba? No images, nada? Or is some interpretation required? Do you believe Joshua's words as written that the Sun stood still, or do you substitute the modern understanding that the Earth normally rotates around the Sun, so maybe it was the Earth that stood still?

I'm certainly not going to reason you out of a position you didn't reason yourself into. If this were merely a matter of religious beliefs, I wouldn't bother. But you keep trying to dragoon science into your belief system, to deny and distort scientific evidence to force it to fit your preconceptions. That I object to. Remember the story about the scientist who claimed he could create life? God challenged him, so the scientist scooped up a handful of dirt. Whereupon God thundered, "Oh no you don't! Go get your own dirt." Well if you keep trying to make your own science, I say go get your own evidence.

derrick said...

A couple of observations.

I do not cite the fathers for two reasons. One, their opinions have no more authority than do yours or mine. Two, they were greatly influenced by Greek philosophy, which is every bit as incompatible with Genesis as is evolution. In an attempt to gain intellectual influence for Christianity they tried to soften the differences and narrow the gap. A perennial temptation is seems.

We meet a variation of the "real meaning" theme with the idea that it is impossible for me to understand Scripture with my modern experience. I can't know what the Bible says, but you can know what it doesn't say? Isn't it strange how my interpretation produces a view so out of step with modern thought, almost what one would expect of 2nd millennium BC pastoralists, while in your interpretation the 4th century BC priests who cobbled Genesis together might as well have been Richard Dawkins and J. S. Gould?

I also find it interesting that while calendars generally have an historical event as their starting point (the founding of Rome, the birth of Christ, the flight from Mecca), the people responsible for that subtle paean to the glories of evolution, otherwise known as Genesis 1, chose as their starting point the year before the creation of the world.

The literalist straw man that you constructed was magnificent and it was very entertaining watching you flail him to pieces with all your rhetorical might. No one has ever denied the presence of metaphor, parable, type, or any other figure of speech in the literature of Scripture. Nor has anyone denied the importance of the cultural milieu to an accurate understanding of the Scripture's message. But I am not stupid enough to believe that you believe that that parody of my beliefs is accurate.

Let the record show that neither I nor any other creationist to my knowledge has ever denied, absent indications of fraud or incompetence in the research, any piece of scientific evidence. I am quite skeptical of many scientific interpretations. Science has wonderful methods for dealing with questions of 'what' and with proximate causes. It is helpless in the face of ultimate causes.

derrick said...

In looking back over what I have written the thought occurs to me, What is the use? We can continue this discussion until the sun is a cold, burned-out cinder and be no closer to a resolution because we are talking past each other. We are both logical given our premises.

I said before that the real issue is the authority of Scripture but I now think I was slightly mistaken. The real issue is, What do we do about Jesus? If Jesus is the Son of God, true God and true man, if He lived as our righteousness and died as our substitute, if the Father raised Him from the dead and gave Him a name above every other, then all other miracles pale in comparison. What is speaking the world into existence next to overcoming sin and death? What is washing the world clean with a flood compared to washing a man's heart clean in the water of baptism? If all this is true and Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords then we must approach Him as our Lord and Master. We must dethrone ourselves and our understanding and seek to know His thoughts and His will. The supreme miracle is not an ex nihilo creation but an empty tomb outside of Jerusalem. When we have responded to that everything else will fall into place.

I am not suggesting that the church ignore the evolutionists in our midst. Far from it. But it is important that we recognize that their presence is an indication of our failure to fully communicate and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. The doctrine of creation is not unimportant, but the Person of Jesus is more important.

Olorin, thank you for your reading suggestion. I find I usually learn more from books I disagree with than from those I do. In return I would highly recommend to you the book "Historical Criticism of the Bible: Methodology of Ideology?: Reflections of a Bultmannian Turned Evangelical" by Eta Linnemann. You may find it interesting.

Shawn, congratulations on this great occasion. Thanks for the forum and God bless.

derrick said...

Shawn, I'd like to examine what can be done about the current situation.

The way I see it, institutions exist to protect their own. There are no exceptions. The odds of anyone in a position of authority standing up to oppose an institutional trends are approximately zero. Change starts from below, usually accidentally. Look at Martin Luther. He puts a note in Latin on the bulletin board looking for a friendly discussion with fellow professionals and what does he get? The Reformation. David Asscherick is in a similar spot. The next move is his. Church administrators will respond as church administrators have always responded. With soothing words. Something along the lines of, "God is watching over His church. You run along and don't worry about it." Perhaps he will do just that. Keep quiet. Go with the flow. Maybe he will say something when he retires. Or maybe he will decide that this is a battle God calls him to fight here and now no matter the consequences. And he must make no mistake. There are always consequences.

If he chooses battle he will need to outline his theories, goals, and plans. Here are a few of my thoughts toward that end.

Letter writing will not work. There are several reasons for this. One is that words result in more words. If you want actions you must take action. Two is that anyone to whom you write a letter is already aware of the problem and has not taken action. This makes them part of the problem. Three is that those who have taken no action are hirelings. Jesus warned us about them. Read the entire tenth chapter of John. The Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep, the hireling won't risk his paycheck. I'm not suggesting that everyone drawing a check from the church is a hireling. But the odds increase the higher up the ladder one looks because the higher one goes the more likely it becomes that he has overlooked some grave wrong in the interests of his career.

If the disease is hirelings then removing them is the cure. The best way would be to make into true shepherds. A tall order. If they were going to be shepherds they would be so already.

Removal may be from the top or from the bottom. From the bottom is more likely. This starts with individual members. They must be totally committed to the Word. They must choose as church officers and elders only those totally committed to the Word. They must remove those who are not and those who have the power to remove those who are not and don't. The delegates to every meeting must be totally committed and replace everyone at every level with those who are committed. The assumption must be that anyone not contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints is a hireling.

Working for such a process is difficult for an aspiring reformer. It takes control from his hands and gives it to the Spirit. It is the Spirit who must move each believer to uphold the teaching of the Word with every appointment to office and every vote. The most popular strategy for reform is to remain quiet and work within the system until one is in a responsible position and can do some real good. This is why we see no reform.


If a battle is worth fighting it is worth winning. If it is to be won then one must do whatever (with a few exceptions, of course) it takes to win. Almost by definition a hirelings' motivation is money. Remove the money and you have removed the hireling. But that is a topic for another day.

Yours in Christ,

Dingo said...

Wow. Go away for a while and come back to new life forms. Congrats.
Thanks for the demonstration on why a certain little old lady of the 19th Century advised that debate rarely accomplishes God's purposes even if someone should appear to "win"; but rather is an ineffective use of energy. The debates were interesting and instructive on both sides. It was also very instructive in that the written indicators of stress increased with every exchange. As passion increased, clarity and language skills decreased. I never noticed that before, but maybe that is part of the reason she said debate isn't a very healthy avenue for exploring differences. It couldn't be good for the blood pressure either.
My concern with the LSU issue is more ethical. When I, as a Seventh-day Adventist chaplain, took a job at a Roman Catholic hospital, my employers stressed that the hospital was open to all regardless of religious beliefs. Hospital policy stated that the sharing of doctrines (as opposed to personal spirituality) must be at the request of others, must be solely for the purpose of increasing our understanding of others' beliefs, and must not be done in a way that detracted from the belief system promoted by the hospital's church. There are ethical constraints in teaching in a religious facility of any kind.
If the situation is one where professors are giving students a quality understanding of prevailing scientific thought together with a quality understanding of scientific thought that agrees with the church's doctrine, with an approach that supports the church's doctrine, there is no problem.
However, that is not how the situation has been described - it has been described as professors teaching that church doctrine on this point is "ludicrous", untrue, etc.
If this is the case, it is ethically problematic for a professor to remain in his or her job.
On a different topic - Genesis 1 and 2 - the Bible offers several wonderful parenthetical passages that back up and give a magnified view of a detail out of a preceding text. The first two chapters of Genesis may well be the first. They harmonize very well when understood in that sense instead of conflicting as they do if they are understood as two independent accounts of origins.
So again, congrats on the new life and thanks for a very stimulating read.

Olorin said...

derrick: "In looking back over what I have written the thought occurs to me, What is the use? We can continue this discussion until the sun is a cold, burned-out cinder and be no closer to a resolution because we are talking past each other. We are both logical given our premises."

My relevant premise is that God would not lie to us by presenting misleading evidence in the physical universe. You seem to equate "evolutionist" with "atheist," which is simply not true, any more than saying that one who accepts the natural force of gravitation is an atheist because he does not include God in the equations for planetary orbits. Placing limits upon the process by which life was created is a denigration of the power of God. In my opinion. Of course.

Being less than perfect ourselves, we all must interpret the Bible. Even literalism is an interpretation, a view from a particular milieu. How are we to judge the validity of a given interpretation? How can we know whether there is in fact only one correct view? (Certainly the early Christians were all over the map as to the nature of Christ, the Trinity, faith v knowledge, and many other issues.) Having a background in both science and law, my bias is to find out what was the context of Genesis when it was handed down, and to prefer that to a modern context from 2000 years later and an entirely different social structure. You say that your interpretation is "out of step" with modern thought; but you have my argument backwards---my point was that literalism is in fact aligned with modern thought, but is out of step with the understanding of the ancients who received the text in the first place.

Ms Linnemann's book, "Historical Criticism of the Bible," is not available at either of the large libraries in my area. However, I can get it on interlibrary loan as soon as I pay some outstanding fines (uh oh). It has only two reviews on Amazon, both highly favorable.


Backgrounds do affect interpretations. When St. Agatha heard a disembodied voice, she questioned whether it was God or the devil. Had she lived today, she might instead wonder whether it was schizophrenia or LSD. My background is in science and law, and I often prefer their methodologies for sussing out Scripture than much of what passes for theology. Consider a slightly modified story about the blind men and the elephant. Three blind theologians feel different parts of an elephant. One says, "The nature of the Elephant is long and thin like a snake, with air coming out of two holes at one end. Another says," No, the Elephant is flat and thin, like a mat." The third says, "I believe that the Elephant is like a great wall that moves 8in and out." The theologians proceed to dispute with each other heatedly, each advancing his own view as the one true Elephant. Three scientists make the same three observations. But the scientists discuss their respective hypotheses in peer-reviewed journals, and come up with a theory. An elephant, they determine, has a huge body with a long appendage, both of which are involved in breathing. The large flat appendages need further observation and testing.

My prejudice is to follow the methodology of the scientists rather than that of the theologians. In that sense, we are talking past each other.

Steve, Samra and Anna said...

Hi Shawn,

I have been following this discussion since you posted it. It looks like you may use up your Comment quota on this one.

I would like to help out the LSU Biology professors by greatly simplifying their course materials. They can teach this in a day and skip all that work of grading research papers and tests.

Frog + kiss + 1 second >Prince = Fairy Tale

Frog + kiss + 300 mil yrs >Prince = Science

Really not that complicated. It's hard to see why such a rudimentary subject required 36 comments.

Have a wonderful time with your little bundle of joy.

Steve

shwinston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shwinston said...

No one is denying that evolution is being taught at La Sierra University. My question is, what can we do about it?

How do we make a stand for truth? What do we do if leadership fails to take action, again?

Doesn't this have to stop sometime? Or shall we just wait till our Lord comes and every knee shall bow? In the mean time the faith of thousands is assaulted with error.

Where is the "Do" in all of this Pastor Asscherick?

-Shane Hilde

Anonymous said...

Food for thought. . . See the back cover ad in the June 6, 2009 WORLD magazine -

Cedarville University is home to 3,000 Christian students, Cedarville is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist university of arts, sciences, professional, and graduate programs. Cedarville is located in southwestern Ohio on a beautiful 400-acre campus.

Cedarville is Christ-Centered

Our faith is not a label or a surface treatment, it is our lifeblood and permeates all aspects of the university, its programs and its people. Missions and ministry are integrated into every facet of the Cedarville experience.

* Unwavering commitment to the inerrancy and authority of Scripture
* Creationist approach to scientific research and study
* Required Bible minor a part of all academic programs
* Daily chapels with relevant biblical teaching and authentic praise
* Discipleship groups that provide opportunities for Bible study, mentoring, accountability, prayer, and open discussion
* Missions and study abroad opportunities that reach nearly every corner of the world

We are committed to maintaining complex balances without compromising our doctrinal or philosophical distinctives. We produce graduates who are trained to be "in the world, but not of it." We are ambitious, but not elitist. We are conservative, but not old-fashioned. We are relevant, but not relativistic

February 9, 2009

Cedarville, Ohio—Cedarville University’s Board of Trustees recently approved the formation of the Bachelor of Science in geology degree, set to begin in fall 2009.

Faculty will equip students for lifelong scientific leadership in career fields such as hydrogeology, environmental geology, petroleum geology and numerous other areas of expertise.

“The degree will offer a whole host of new opportunities for graduates,” shares Dr. John Whitmore, associate professor of geology. “Geologists help us find clean drinking water, petroleum, natural gas, coal and valuable minerals.”

The program will be unique in that no other Christian school, that holds to a literal six-day account of Genesis offers geology as a major for undergraduates. The course of study will be taught from both naturalistic and young-earth paradigms of earth history.

“It is extremely important to develop critical thinking skills within the minds of young scientists,” describes Whitmore. “We believe that using a two-model approach of earth history will be advantageous to our students, since others are only taught a one-model, naturalistic approach. Geologists are important when it comes to thinking about earth history, especially within a biblical context.”

Coursework will be rigorous and emphasize hands-on experience along with required field work. The geology major will include a wide range of liberal arts classes along with calculus, physics, chemistry, biology, physical geology, historical geology, mineralogy, petrology, structural geology, stratigraphy, sedimentology, geomorphology, invertebrate paleontology, and environmental geology among other upper-level areas of study. The major will prepare students for both graduate school and industry.
More Information

Learn more: www.cedarville.edu/scienceandmath, 1-800-CEDARVILLE (233-2784)

Olorin said...

"The program will be unique in that no other Christian school, that holds to a literal six-day account of Genesis offers geology as a major for undergraduates. The course of study will be taught from both naturalistic and young-earth paradigms of earth history.:

So that's how one school solved the problem. By sneaking in the real ("naturalistic") geology. You might ask yourselves how many oil fields, how many coal beds, how many water sources were discovered using the six-day model, versus the number using the naturalistic model. And then ask the students to judge between the two models. Good luck.

shwinston said...

Shawn,

Check this out:

www.ipetitions.com/petition/Sixdaycreation/index.html

It's a grassroots petition.

Shane

Anonymous said...

I think Orlin is right. Every living organism on earth came from the same cell... and that cell came from nothing. Makes perfect sense.

I also totally get that the cells that evolved into the Amoeba came to earth on the back of crystals, as the experts in "expelled" clarified.

...Last Word

J. David Newman said...

I don't make many comments on blogs, it takes so much time. But I am curious why no one has talked about the really fundamental issue and that is the assumptions with which we come to the discussion. One assumption is that of uniformitarianism: that no laws have changed so we can extrapolate back into the past to understand the past. What if we question that assumption? Genesis indicates that the entrance of sin changed some of the physical characteristics of this world. For example, death now existed when before it did not. Evolution teaches that death is the natural way. If some of the fundamental laws of science have changed since sin entered then we cannot accurately investigate the past beyond the time when sin entered.

J. David Newman

Olorin said...

Newman: "One assumption is that of uniformitarianism: that no laws have changed so we can extrapolate back into the past to understand the past. What if we question that assumption?"

Go ahead and question it. Many others have, over the past several hundred years. All you have to do is find some physical evidence. But, so far....

Newman: "For example, death now existed when before it did not."

W#hy do so many people say that, when it is patently not true? Look it up. We did not "know death" until the Fall. Can you spot the difference?

Andrew said...

just a quick question...

Shawn, did the seminary teach you about the Documentary Hypothesis Theory? Or about deutero (and even trito)Isaiah? Or the arguments against Pauline authorship for several of the epistles?

Now assuming that it did (and if it didn't then I really have to question how it can claim to teach a comprehensive academic biblical studies program), does this mean that the seminary, its lecturers and the Seventh-day Adventist Church believe this?

No, rather it is teaching you what large sections of the biblical studies community accept as fact. This allows you to understand and evaluate the literature/journal articles/conferences in the world of biblical studies and prepares you to interact with that world should you want to.

I would hope too, that the lecturers who don't subscribe to these views would also make the reasons for this clear and take the time (both in class and outside of it) to provide answers to questioning students.

To me this seems to be the correct approach. It prepares you for the academic world, it teaches you to question the presuppositions of many, and allows you to deal with any hard questions in a safe and nurturing environment.

Now swap "evolution" for "documentary hypothesis theory" and "biblical studies" for "geology" and you get what appears to be the case with LSU (at least that is what I understand from this and other websites).

All of a sudden this looks like a an overreaction caused by misunderstanding what was going on...

after all would you write a letter demanding that seminary students not be taught about the Documentary Hypothesis theory/etc?

Shawn Brace said...

Andrew,

Thanks for the question. Yes, we did learn all about the various schools of thought on the Pentateuch, Isaiah, etc. We heard it all. And I'm glad we did.

But, from what I understand, students at LSU are not merely being exposed to evolution, but being told that it is fact. No one is objecting to it being presented as a theory. David Asscherick certainly makes it clear that students should be exposed to it in the manner that you are describing.

What we are not excited about is that it is being promoted as fact. There is a world of difference between teaching about it as one theory and teaching it as the normative scientific theory on the issue of origins (to the exclusion of intelligent design theory, etc). It is the latter that we find so troubling.

Olorin said...

Shawn, you should get the terminology straight before offering recommendations.

Evolution is a scientific fact. The physical evidence from paleontology, biology, biogeography, and genetics establishes common ancestry going back to one or a few original life forms beyond any reasonable doubt. The ancestry is more complex than a simple “tree,” but there is no evidence of multiple origins, nor any evidence that would falsify a common origin.

Evolution is also a scientific theory. It brings together an array of facts under a mechanism or model to explain those facts. The mechanism, broadly, is heritable variation, overfecundity, and natural selection. (I’m using the latter term to include sexual selection, group selection, and other forms.)

Evolution is the normative theory of the origin of species---that is, of how species arise from preceding species in the chain of ancestry. There is no other theory that is supported by any credible scientific evidence. Intelligent design is not even a theory, because it proposes no model that can be tested. Biblical creationism can be tested, but the evidence is uniformly against it.

Evolution does not purport to explain the origin of life (see above). Common ancestry does not begin until the first living organisms have established themselves. The origin of life is a different field, investigated by chemists and physicists. There are several interesting OOL hypotheses, some more credible than others; but there is are yet no single theory supported by a weight of evidence. Current researchers divide as to whether metabolism preceded replication or vice versa; plausible mechanisms for each have been discovered in the lab.

Shawn Brace said...

Olorin, thank you for sharing a novel and unique idea with us. You are the first person who I've ever heard claim that evolution (macroevolution, that is) is fact. Well, I should say, you are one of only two people I've ever heard make this claim. The other is Richard Dawkins - so you're in good company, I guess.

Yes, "evolution," if the word is taken at its most basic definition, is a fact. My ideas are constantly evolving, for example. But I have never heard any biologist claim that "common ancestry" is 100% fact (again with the exception of Richard Dawkins). At best, they infer it as very likely. But even the most strident evolutionary biologist is humble enough to admit that it cannot be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Anonymous said...

Roger S, M.D. wrote:


PDF #4 slide 16 states:

• The Hardy-Weinberg principle describes a population that is not evolving

• If a population does not meet the criteria of the Hardy-Weinberg principle, it can be concluded that the population is evolving

This of course is completely false because Hardy-Weinberg assumes random mating, no mutation (the alleles don't change), no migration or emigration (no exchange of alleles between populations), infinitely large population size, and no selective pressure for or against any traits. In other words, there are several OTHER reasons why Hard-Weinberg might not work. To suggest that when it doesn't you must conclude that evolution is occurring is ignorant at best. This represents a faulty support for evolution and it is being taught to our undergraduates. Is this really still being taught - this wouldn't even fly in a peer- reviewed state school. I mean if you are going to teach evolution, at least do it the favor of teaching it right.

Roger,
Slides 22 and 23 from that same lecture make that point.
Slide 22:
-The Hardy-Weinberg theorem describes a hypothetical population;
-in real populations, allele and genotype frequencies do change over time.
Slide 23:
The five conditions for non-evolving populations (which are not often met in nature):
-extremely large population size
-no gene flow
-no mutations
-random mating
-no natural selection

It seems he made the very point you were criticizing him for leaving out.

Roger W, Ph.D.

Kay said...

Scientific Law: This is a statement of fact meant to describe, in concise terms, an action or set of actions. It is generally accepted to be true and universal, and can sometimes be expressed in terms of a single mathematical equation. Scientific laws are similar to mathematical postulates. They don’t really need any complex external proofs; they are accepted at face value based upon the fact that they have always been observed to be true

Hypothesis: This is an educated guess based upon observation. It is a rational explanation of a single event or phenomenon based upon what is observed, but which has not been proved. Most hypotheses can be supported or refuted by experimentation or continued observation.

Theory: A theory is more like a scientific law than a hypothesis. A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. One scientist cannot create a theory; he can only create a hypothesis.

In science things are held to be true until they are observed not to be true.
What scientist has ever observed a monkey turn into something more? even simpler has any scientist observed a single cellular organism turn into a multicelluler organism? You will probably say 'obviously not because it takes billions of years!' In studying the evolutionary process scientist make assumptions on what they observe presently to explain the past. For me evolution fits more with being a hypothesis, not even a theory. How do you test the evolutionary process in a lab?
"The Hypothesis of Evolution"- sounds a lot better :)

Kakeya Chinonge

Olorin said...

Shawn: “You are the first person who I've ever heard claim that evolution (macroevolution, that is) is fact.”

Perhaps. But multitudes of others have heard it. It is the title of an entire book: Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution Is True,” which lays out the lines of evidence to support the fact of common ancestry.

Your problem seems to be a misunderstanding of what science means by “fact.” Note that my comment above defines a fact as something supported “beyond a reasonable doubt” by the evidence. Others have used the equivalent criterion that “it would be perverse to withhold assent.” Neutrinos are a fact, even though no one will ever actually see one, because the evidence for their existence is now beyond doubt. “Light is a wave” and “light is a particle” are both facts; duality (Lambda=h/p) solves the apparent conflict. “Heat is a fluid” was a scientific fact; this was later shown to be incorrect, but only because the evidence of atomic theory overpowered it. (Nevertheless, caloric fluid is still treated as a fact by engineers in practical applications, because it is true enough.) Thus, although a scientific fact is well supported by known evidence, it is nevertheless subject to possibly contradictory evidence.

Scientific fact, which is contingent upon evidence, must be distinguished from theological fact, which is absolutely true by authority and revelation. “The world was created in six days” is absolutely 100% true. “The Pope speaks by divine revelation on faith and morals” is also true in an absolute sense. “Sun Myung Moon is the Second Coming of Christ” is an absolute truth, not subject to refutation “Christ visited America after His resurrection and revealed himself to the Nephites” is a fact.

So science has no “100% fact.” Unlike religion, it is never absolute; facts and theories can be disproved and falsified, but they can never be 100% certified, good forever and ever, saecula saeculorum. If that is not enough, you’ll have to sign on to one of the religious facts exemplified in the paragraph above. Take your pick.

Olorin said...

Kay: “even simpler has any scientist observed a single cellular organism turn into a multicelluler organism? “

If you have never observed this, it’s your own fault. One example is a single cell called an “alga,” and the multicellular organism it turns into is called an “algal mat.” There are other examples as well. If you just can’t wait thousands or millions of years, you could ask those who actually watched cabbage evolve into broccoli. Or go to Jamaica, where a 4-inch long, red & green, almost inedible herb evolved into the long, yellow, soft banana in two generations by autopolyploidy. Sugar beets accomplished the same feat. Or, if you don’t like waiting at all, you could drive around the San Joaquin Valley in California and observe the “ring species” that evolve right in front of your eyes. Or drive around Lake Superior, or go to Lake Victoria in Africa. If you'd like to see an entirely new organ in the process of evolution, go look at a rattlesnake---but don't get too close, because this new organ can find you even in the dark.

Kay: “Scientific Law: This is a statement of fact meant to describe, in concise terms, an action or set of actions. It is generally accepted to be true and universal, and can sometimes be expressed in terms of a single mathematical equation. Scientific laws are similar to mathematical postulates. They don’t really need any complex external proofs; they are accepted at face value based upon the fact that they have always been observed to be true”

Where did you get that pseudodefinition? “Law” is a synonym” for theory.” It is a mechanism or model that explains a number of related facts, and can be used to make predictions. Either can be expressed mathematically or nonmathematically. Laws are not universal; they do not purport to explain all facts. Laws are not similar to mathematical postulates; postulates are assumptions made or accepted without proof., whereas laws/theories can only be supported by evidence.. “One scientist cannot create a theory; he can only create a hypothesis.” Huh??? ” Newton’s theory of gravitation? Einstein’s theory of relativity? Vavilov’s law? Maxwell’s laws? Bizarre.

Kay: “In science things are held to be true until they are observed not to be true.”

Where on earth did you come up with that clinker? There is truly a great need for an 8th-grade level class in science---not physics or biology or chemistry, but something that teaches what science is and is not, and how it works.

Kay said...

Maybe I should define what i mean by evolution. Evolution as I see it is the change or transformation of a lower or less complex orgarnism to one of a higher or more complex organism. Is that a fair definition? I think most scientists would agree it is.

So from that defnition a baby born with an extra toe is not evolution the human baby remains a human baby. Neither is the development of a baby from the fusion of a sperm and egg. A zygote is not an organism but develops into an organism.

With that out of the way, lets get a little closer to algae. The division of a bacterial cell from one bacterial cell to form two(speaking simply) bacterial cells is not evolution. The single celled bacterial cell remains single celled its just becomes two single celled organism. note it is still singe celled.

The division of a single celled algae organism to more single celled algae organisms is not evolutin. I dare say the algal mat you refer to is not a single organism but a group of algae. As for the cabbage transforming into broccoli and all the rest could you please send a scientific source for me to look up. Somehow I have my reservations about it but I won't comment Until I've read it for myself.

I would like to disagree with you in saying that a law and theory are the same thing. By universal I meant to say if the same test was done in America, South Africa or China under the same conditions it would produce the same results.

What I meant by one scientist creating a law is that someone has to first hypothesis then once the hypothesies has been tested and holds up it becomes a law. A Law is not a law just because Newton or Eeinstien says it is.

I would love to explain further why I disagree with your use of law an theory but this is taking up to much of my time, need to go study, unfortunatly you can't get a medical degree by posting on the internet!

Kay said...

Happay Sabbath by the way, In this part of the world its Friday afternoon! only a few more hours away!

Shawn Brace said...

Thank you for sharing, Kay! Happy Sabbath to you. Now get that medical degree!

Olorin said...

Kay: “Evolution as I see it is the change or transformation of a lower or less complex organism to one of a higher or more complex organism. Is that a fair definition? I think most scientists would agree it is.”

Sorry. No scientist would agree with that definition. When you consider evolution as a bounded Markov process, it becomes obvious that complexity can increase, decrease, or remain the same. As a medical student you should certainly know that parasites often decrease in complexity to the point that they can no longer even live outside their hosts. Bacteria in the human gut are an example close to home.

Kay: “The division of a single celled algae organism to more single celled algae organisms is not evolutin. I dare say the algal mat you refer to is not a single organism but a group of algae.”

An algal mat forms when a large number of individual algal cells clump together, organize, and acquire different specialized functions. Biologists consider a mat a single organism. Certain primitive jellyfish also comprise individual cells that act together as a single entity, including movement. As a medical student, you should be aware of how disease-causing bacteria act as a single organism via quorum-sensing to delay infecting us until they can perform a coordinated attack to overwhelm our defenses. If this is not familiar, you should review your evolutionary biology, where this effect was discovered.

Kay: “As for the cabbage transforming into broccoli and all the rest could you please send a scientific source for me to look up.”

This has been common knowledge ever since our ancestors bred wild cabbage into broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and other forms, so a modern “scientific” reference is hard to find. Wikipedia uses them as an example of common descent (q.v., near the end). A college lab experiment involving this evolutionary tree can be found at http://serc.carleton.edu/genomics/units/cauliflower.html.

Kay: “I would like to disagree with you in saying that a law and theory are the same thing.”

In my 50 years’ experience with scientists and researchers of many different fields, they use "law" and "theory" idiopathically. Usually a law is mathematical, such as “Newton’s law” of gravitation; but “Einstein’s theory of relativity” is also mathematical. “Darwin’s theory of evolution” is not mathematical (although it does incorporate many equations on population dynamics), but “Vavilov’s law” (genetic diversity) is also not mathematical. On-line definitions disagree as to whether there is any difference, and, if so, what it might be. Seems to be a feckless word game.

Olorin said...

Kay: “What I meant by one scientist creating a law is that someone has to first hypothesis then once the hypothesies has been tested and holds up it becomes a law. A Law is not a law just because Newton or Eeinstien says it is.”

But that’s not what you said before. One person can both frame a hypothesis and test it, as Kepler {laws of planetary motion) certainly did, and as Darwin did with more than 20 years of research and investigation before publishing “On the Origin of Species.” I agree that this is a minor point, but it does point out a lack of knowledge of the subject.

In closing, here is an simple example of the importance of evolution to medicine. Physicians know that combining antibiotics can thwart drug resistance in bacteria. I have heard several tales, however, of physicians combining drugs that all attack the same biochemical pathway, when they should have employed antibiotics that each attack a different pathway. If you don’t know why this is true, you should review some elementary evolutionary biology, so you don’t make the same possibly life-threatening mistake.

Kay: “unfortunatly you can't get a medical degree by posting on the internet!”

My vicarious sympathies. My youngest daughter went through that experience 12 years ago. Fortunately, there are now few residencies that have 30-hour shifts of constant activity. Some of her classmates would hide in closets and give themselves saline IVs to stay awake. Bon chance!

Shawn Brace said...

Olorin: "This has been common knowledge ever since our ancestors bred wild cabbage into broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and other forms, so a modern 'scientific' reference is hard to find."

So you're saying an intelligent person bred cabbage into broccoli, and this passes off as an example of an unguided, random evolutionary process? Can you help me understand?

Olorin said...

Shawn: “So you're saying an intelligent person bred cabbage into broccoli, and this passes off as an example of an unguided, random evolutionary process? Can you help me understand?”

My pleasure. Note the definition of the theory of evolution I gave earlier. It has three parts. Heritable variation is random. (In the sense that the variations are indifferent to fitness; ultimately, they are governed by physical and chemical laws.) Overfecundity seems to be a universal tendency---a law, if you will. Selection is not random. It is guided by fitness for the environment in which that particular organism finds itself. The environment comprises available food and other resources, predators and other dangers, access to mating partners, and other factors. Humans may of course form part of the environment with respect to other animals and plants. For example, humans hunting antelopes induces selection pressure for faster speed, less visibility, tougher hide, and/or other possible variations in the antelopes. Breeding dogs for certain characteristics by limiting their access for reproduction induces a selection pressure; those dogs having the desired variations get to produce more offspring. Humans cannot breed for desired characteristics that are not expressed at all in the range of variation that already exists. No one can breed a cow to have claws instead of hooves.

Note, however, that humans cannot (yet, at least) control all the heritable aspects in the animals and plants that they breed. For example, breeding Keeshonds for their conformation and long coat carries an unwanted tendency toward epilepsy. Hip dysplasia and breathing problems are common among highly bred dogs. Human-selected animals and plants usually turn out to have decreased fitness for their former environments. Cows wouldn’t last long against predators in the wild. Corn (maize) would disappear off the face of the Earth in a few years without cultivation.

So biological evolution is only partly random. Selection is guided by the environment, in the same way that a light beam is guided by the geodesic of space in which it travels. Humans can provide artificial environments to select for (some) desired characteristics in the same way that humans can guide light beams with lenses and mirrors. But in either case the process remains subject to the same physical principles.

Olorin said...

Please pardon the length of the answer above. I am retired, and so have the time. In retirement, I have become a teacher, so have the inclination.

Micah said...

To me creation vs evolution is not even the real issue here sorry Derick and Olorin.

Being a private university people choose to attend this college with the understanding they will be taught Adventist values. I think we would all agree that this is the product of living in the great country that we do.

If you buy a product with a promise that was made by the manufacture and that promise is not kept there is a issue. This is true if you order something at Taco Bell or requesting someone to custom build a home for your family. Why should education be any different ?

If the professor was hired to teach at a Adventist University, there has to be something they agree on that they will up hold the standards of the church. With that standard the issue quickly turns into a integrity issue, and if the people involved cannot be trusted at there word on this issue what other issues can they not be trusted on and we just don't know about them ?

The greatest want of the world is the want of men--men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.---- ANON (Ellen G. White. 1882)

Olorin said...

Micah: "To me creation vs evolution is not even the real issue here sorry Derick and Olorin."

Micah is correct. The issue is one of ethics. When a school asks a biology professor to teach something that he knows is false, then that professor has an integrity problem. As I noted earlier, the only solution seems to be to close those science departments where the science conflicts with your religious teachings---such as biology, geology, astronomy, and physics. Then there will be no conflict, and the students will not be exposed to anything that might cause them to question their faith, so they can graduate as ignorant as when they came in.

You should probably look into state accreditation standards if you choose this approach. Other schools have encountered problems.

Anonymous said...

Take a look at this Baptist University. It is not compromising and is even adding a new degree in geology which they believe will be enhanced because they uphold to a literal six-day account of Genesis. They also require a Bible minor as part of all academic programs. Perhaps we can still learn from our Baptist friends. . .

Cedarville University is home to 3,000 Christian students, Cedarville is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist university of arts, sciences, professional, and graduate programs.

Our faith is not a label or a surface treatment, it is our lifeblood and permeates all aspects of the university, its programs and its people. Missions and ministry are integrated into every facet of the Cedarville experience.

* Unwavering commitment to the inerrancy and authority of Scripture
* Creationist approach to scientific research and study
* Required Bible minor a part of all academic programs
* Daily chapels with relevant biblical teaching and authentic praise
* Discipleship groups that provide opportunities for Bible study, mentoring, accountability, prayer, and open discussion
* Missions and study abroad opportunities that reach nearly every corner of the world.

We are committed to maintaining complex balances without compromising our doctrinal or philosophical distinctives. We produce graduates who are trained to be "in the world, but not of it." We are ambitious, but not elitist. We are conservative, but not old-fashioned. We are relevant, but not relativistic.

Cedarville, Ohio—Cedarville University’s Board of Trustees recently approved the formation of the Bachelor of Science in geology degree, set to begin in fall 2009.

Faculty will equip students for lifelong scientific leadership in career fields such as hydrogeology, environmental geology, petroleum geology and numerous other areas of expertise.

“The degree will offer a whole host of new opportunities for graduates,” shares Dr. John Whitmore, associate professor of geology. “Geologists help us find clean drinking water, petroleum, natural gas, coal and valuable minerals.”

The program will be unique in that no other Christian school, that holds to a literal six-day account of Genesis offers geology as a major for undergraduates. The course of study will be taught from both naturalistic and young-earth paradigms of earth history.

“It is extremely important to develop critical thinking skills within the minds of young scientists,” describes Whitmore. “We believe that using a two-model approach of earth history will be advantageous to our students, since others are only taught a one-model, naturalistic approach. Geologists are important when it comes to thinking about earth history, especially within a biblical context.”

Coursework will be rigorous and emphasize hands-on experience along with required field work. The geology major will include a wide range of liberal arts classes along with calculus, physics, chemistry, biology, physical geology, historical geology, mineralogy, petrology, structural geology, stratigraphy, sedimentology, geomorphology, invertebrate paleontology, and environmental geology among other upper-level areas of study. The major will prepare students for both graduate school and industry.
It is not a compromise if you teach both. Note what David Asscherick says: "This is not in and of itself a bad thing. Evolution should be taught at our denominational universities. But it should be taught as a competing and inimical worldview to the biblical worldview. We need our young people to know what it is they are up against, yes, but when naturalistic evolution is taught as fact or as the preferred and normative worldview, then we can be sure that the enemy has breached our lines.
The KEY is FACT and PREFERRED.

Micah said...

Olorin, While I am glad you agree with me. The Seventh Day Adventist Church should never let the state teach in our schools, that would then do away with the idea of private Education. In this case I am sorry but, it does not matter if you believe the belief of creationism as a 7 Day week is correct or not. It is still a belief of the Adventist Church and will be until the Coming of Christ. We as Adventists need to teach and protect this teaching in our schools. Olorin, I am sure you understand that if you throw out creationism you though out our core believe system in the church. We cannot allow this to happen, not because our church believes will fall apart. But Because it is not what Adventists believe is truth. Olorin, you can argue what you believe is truth until your blue in the face, but that doesn't change what the Adventist Church believes. The university exists to teach what the Adventist church believes not teach the other side of the argument as a believe of the Adventist Church. My point in the earlier post is the professor needs to find a new job at a different university and not at a different Adventist University clear and simple.

Olorin said...

Micah: "Olorin, you can argue what you believe is truth until your blue in the face, but that doesn't change what the Adventist Church believes."

You keep missing my point. I am suggesting a way out of the problem of the university asking a scientist to teach something that he knows is false. I am not asking you to change your beliefs.

Anon: "The program will be unique in that no other Christian school, that holds to a literal six-day account of Genesis offers geology as a major for undergraduates."

Yes, but notice two important points: (a) Cedarville seems to be the only accredited college offering such a program, out of hundreds of Christian colleges. (b) Cedarville teaches scientific geology as well as creationist geology---a "two-model approach." So they are not asking their science faculty to prostitute their intellectual integrity, as you are doing.

Micah said...

Well that is a suggestion, but I think a better one would be to teach what we believe instead of closing the departments. I mean it would not make since a school who belief system in creation closes doors on scientific departments ???? I can just hear it now 'they are closing the department cause the evidence is so strong towards evolution' It would be more logical to make sure they teach what they believe and not the opposite argument.

Olorin said...

Micah: "'they are closing the department cause the evidence is so strong towards evolution' It would be more logical to make sure they teach what they believe and not the opposite argument.

No, you want them to teach what you believe, not what they (the professors) believe. That's the problem.

You might also look into the case of Richard Colling, a biology professor for 27 years at Olivet Nazarene University, who was banned from teaching because he published a book asserting that it is possible to believe in God and still accept evolution.

Note that there uis another reason that Cedarville teaches both models of geology. If a college offers a major in a subject, it is logical to suppose that graduates would seek employment in the field of their major. But no one would hire a geologist trained only in the creationist model.

Two years ago, a court upheld Woods Hole firing a creationist biologist because his beliefs prevented him from performing his NIH-assigned project.

Olorin said...

Derrick (May 26), I did get an interlibrary loan of Eta Linnemann's "Historical Criticism of the Bible: Methodology of Ideology" and am about halfway through. If you're still around, I'll report when finished.

Shawn Brace said...

Olorin, this will probably be my last comment, but I just wanted to make something clear: there are plenty of biologists who accept intelligent design as a viable scientific theory over and against macroevolution.

Secondly, your explanation about breeding broccoli, etc., just proves what I already knew to be true: you are taking an example of something guided by an intelligent person and claiming this proves the idea that all organisms evolved from a common ancestor. There is a huge leap in logic and in the facts.

Lastly, I meant to comment on this a long time ago, but you made a statement quite a while back that also reveals the true logical fallacy in Darwinian evolution. You said (on May 25), "Large-scale changes, by definition, take more time than you or I can observe personally." This is the cop out of all cop outs - something evolutionists level towards those who advocate ID or creation. If I were to make the following statement: "Creation, by definition, took place so long ago that no one ever observed it," you would cry "foul" and say that this is bad science. Yet Darwinian evolution allows itself a privilege that they will not grant to any other theory of origins. This is extremely hypocritical and, in the end, shows just how much Darwinian evolution is not legitimate science at all.

No one is denying small scale changes. But, as I - and many others - have repeated over and over again: large scale change between species has never been observed (nor does the fossil record point to it), and any scientific theory or law or, whatever word one chooses to use, is based solely on observation. And if no one has observed it, we certainly cannot claim it to be fact, much less the theory of origins par excellence.

To steal a "clever" ploy from evolutionists, I may as well say that there is a flying spaghetti monster in outer space (even though I've never observed it). I could even claim that since we have smaller plates of spaghetti that people eat every day, which we can all observe, this inevitably leads us to conclude that smaller plates of spaghetti mean that there is a giant spaghetti monster in the sky. But since a spaghetti monster, by nature, lives in outer space, we will never observe it.

That's all I am going to share on this subject from here on out.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Olorin said...

Bye, Shawn. Thanks for putting up with me.

As Phil Plaitt (Bad Astronomy blog) once said, “You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into." Since 10% of Americans still believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth, it is not surprising that many do not accept evolution, and an even greater majority do not understand it. [1] Also, it is very easy for those not acquainted with the evidence merely to deny it. All you have to do is close your eyes and wish it were not true. Of course then you will never contribute to the advancement of knowledge. You claim that there are college-level biologists who believe in creationism. Yes, there are. You might ask how many of them have ever written research papers on any subject in their field---not just on creationism, but on any subject. The grand total seems to be --- Zero.[2]

Shawn: “If I were to make the following statement: ‘Creation, by definition, took place so long ago that no one ever observed it,’ you would cry ‘foul’ and say that this is bad science.”

If you think that, then you totally misunderstand the operation of the scientific process. I would ask creationists, as many others have, [3] to produce physical evidence to support their hypothesis. So far, much has been promised, but none is forthcoming. [4] How do we know how the Sun produces its heat? We can’t go there and observe it. Is the physics of the Sun therefore bad science? We did not observe the formation of coal beds. Would you say that geologists therefore cannot predict where to find them? Many criminals are convicted and even executed on circumstantial evidence alone. Would you refuse to render a guilty verdict unless an eyewitness could be found? None of the Gospel writers ever observed Jesus in person, and they wrote 40 years or more after the events described. Would you disbelieve their testimony for that reason?

Shawn: “But, as I - and many others - have repeated over and over again: large scale change between species has never been observed...”

This is just plain false, as I have stated many times, and given several examples above. Including an ongoing evolution of a new sense organ in snakes. The word is “denialism.” Some people deny the Holocaust---they just refuse to believe it happened The Flat Earth Society [5] denies that the Earth revolves around the Sun. If, given the evidence, you thank either of those beliefs is laughable, then you should look at creationism in light of the evidence. Darwin did not conquer the world as soon as On the Origin was published. Most scientists in 1860 believed that natural selection could not have such great effects. This continued until the 1930s (more than 70 years!) until the basis of genetics had been established , [6] the age of the Earth had been shown, [7] and the theory of population dynamics had been mathematically formulated by Wright, Haldane, and others. In other words, until tons of evidence had rolled in.

Shawn: “I may as well say that there is a flying spaghetti monster in outer space (even though I've never observed it). I could even claim that since we have smaller plates of spaghetti that people eat every day, which we can all observe, this inevitably leads us to conclude that smaller plates of spaghetti mean that there is a giant spaghetti monster in the sky.”

Olorin said...

Verily and forsooth. And I could claim that, because we observe that micro-gravity can cause apples to fall, and even tall buildings to tumble occasionally, then macro-gravity can cause the Moon to “fall” toward the Earth---even though I cannot experience any such huge force myself. You may (or may not) remember that it was the towering insight of Newton that in fact micro- and macro-gravity are the same thing, one merely multiplied by millions of times more mass than the other. The difference between Newton and Bobby Henderson is that verified predictions of planetary orbits support Newton’s theory, while the inference to His Noodliness the Spaghetti Monster from plates of pasta remains untested and untestable. This is precisely the difference between gravitation and pastafarianism.

It was likewise the revolutionary insight of Darwin that small changes that we all observe in decades can assume brobdingnagian proportions over millions of years. Numerous recent computer simulations have evolved complex eyes with lenses from simple light-sensitive spots in less than 400,000 years. It is no wonder that they have evolved so often.

Of course, you deny all physical, geological, and astronomical evidence of ages over a few thousand years anyway, so I’m wasting my breath.[9]

In today’s society, many important policy decisions hinge upon scientific findings. If you don’t know, or simply deny, those findings [10] then you will make incorrect wrong choices as to important matters: as to vaccinating your children, as to ethanol or mining oil shale, as to global warming, for example. (If you wait until global warming becomes so obvious you can’t possibly deny it anymore, it will be too late to do anything about it.[11]) So, your beliefs may lead to ignorant or perverse political decisions that affect me, my family, our country, and our world. To that extent, your personal beliefs are more than a matter of private concern.

===================
[1] A recent journal article (DOI 10.1007/s12052-009-0128-1) demonstrated that even many scientists do no understand the concept of natural selection, and listed half a dozen ways in which non-scientists commonly misunderstand or misrepresent it. In the Kizmiller v. Dover trial in 2005, none of the defendant School Board witnesses could define it; several even gave definitions that fit intelligent design!

[2] Michael Behe, the guidon of intelligent-design scientists, wrote over 40 papers before he started proclaiming ID. Since that time, he has written none. Not a single paper on any subject. Guillermo Gonzales was denied tenure at Iowa, not because he believed in ID, but because his professional output had dropped off a precipice after he took up ID. I would challenge you to find any contribution to their field by any biology professor---who must all pledge to uphold creationism---at Biola, Liberty, or Bob Jones universities. Not just papers supporting creationism, but any papers at all containing any original investigation. There is something about creationism that stifles research---all research.

Olorin said...

[3] Go to the web site of the American Scientific Affiliation, a group of Christian scientists interested in this subject.

[4] Evidence against certain aspects of evolutionary theory---or even against evolution in toto---are not evidence for creationism, of course. Logicians know this as the dichotomy fallacy.

[5] No, I didn’t make that up. http://www.alaska.net/~clund/e_djublonskopf/Flatearthsociety.htm

[6] People talk about the rediscovery of Mendel, but that is simplistic. There is even a body of evidence that Mendel’s object was to disprove Darwin, by showing that supposedly new traits were merely recombinations of pre-existing characteristics. (See Bowler & Morus, The Making of Modern Science, 2008.)

[7] The major objection to Darwin in his time was that the Earth had to be too young for such major changes. No less an authority than Lord Kelvin blustered that the Sun would burn out in only a few million years, even if it consisted totally of coal. (Then Becquerel and Curie came along...)

[8] Even bacteria have opsins, the proteins that sense light in animal eyes. The bacteria use them for transporting molecules through their walls. Contrary to popular belief, most proteins have multiple functions.

[9] You must note, however, that creationism requires evolutionary changes that are millions of times faster than scientists would allow. For example, since wolves and bears and sharks were vegetarians until the Fall, their teeth had to change from molars to incisors almost instantaneously. Since the Noachian flood necessarily wiped out the distinction between oceans and rivers, fish that can live only in fresh water had to evolve to tolerate salt in a few days, and then had to evolve back into salt-intolerance in an equally short period. Plants, most of which are also salt intolerant, had to similarly modify their entire metabolic cycles. Consult Answers in Genesis for other examples of hyperceleritous evolution required by young-earth creationism.

[10] As the Bush administration routinely did for eight years. See Chris Mooney’s The Republican War on Science, 2005.

[11] Did you think that hundreds of thousands are being killed in Darfur simply because of tribal jealousies? Their water supply is going away because of global warming. They are killing each other over what is left of it. But this is nothing compared to a billion people who will shortly move inland as their homes disappear under the sea. They will want the cropland and water that the people already living inland have. The latter, however, will probably want to keep their land. The refugees are already on the move in Bangladesh, as saltwater invades their coastal plains. Far away from home? Should the East River rise four more feet, all of the New York subways will flood, and Manhattan’s electricity and water will vanish. Dark. Cold. Silent.

Marco Mesa said...

HI

The argument has arrived to Europe. I am writing from London and I am a recent mathematics graduate student. I personally think the whole situation is quite disturbing at LSU. Teaching theistic evolution as a true fact is a blatant dishonesty to the SDA values. THEISTIC EVOLUTION should NEVER be promoted in any SDA institutions whatsoever.

If these people, including the president, are not willing to comply in accordance with the SDA values, they MUST find work somewhere else, as simple as that. This is the whole POINT.

VirtualEnder said...

I don't think any adventist will argue the biologically proven principles of micro evolution. We all accept and believe that life was designed in order to adapt and survive.

Every principle that has been mentioned in comments on this blog in support of evolution does not prove or disprove either theory as a whole. The real issue is evolution on a macro scale, which by its very nature is impossible to prove, as by it's definition it happens over extremely long periods of time, and we can only observe the universe in our very short lifetimes.

The scientific truth, which most biologists, geologists, and other scientists who deal with this every day readily admit to, is that neither side can actually be proven. There are tremendous gaps in the knowledge of both sides. Even the theory of evolution (notice even those foremost in their field still call it a theory) is constantly evolving.

Two competing theories that can neither be proved or disproved provide an educational conundrum. The only responsible answer is to provide the evidence for both sides, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each argument. Obviously teaching either system as fact would be leap of faith.

As christianity is based on faith, this is no real problem for those teaching a system based on a literal creation. However it becomes a tremendous problem when those teaching evolution declaim that is the intellectually superior and obviously factual principle. The entire scientific method brakes down when applied to the theory of evolution.

Again I have no problem with those who have decided to place their faith in evolution rather than a creator God, that is their choice. I just hope they can accept the fact that either way requires equal faith.

Evolution places the faith in ourselves and our inherent superiority as the dominant species that has survived and become intelligent from our own merit by our own strength. I even understand the appeal of this point of view, especially for intellectually oriented people who tend to work in scientific endeavors.

Literal creation places faith in a Creator God who knows us and created us for a specific purpose. It removes our inherent worth and places it outside of ourselves, which is particularly difficult to swallow for the our typical human nature.

Now as an Adventist institution I think LLU has a responsibility to emphasize the fact that our belief in the seventh-day sabbath and many of our other fundamental beliefs hinge on our acceptance of the literal week of creation, unless the church as a whole wishes to back down from this principle.

If LLU wishes to continue as an organization associated with the church it seems obvious that it must then adhere to the principles of the church. Neither points of which are remotely related to the accuracy or legitimacy of either point of view on the intelligent design/evolution argument.

Anonymous said...

I am a life-long Adventist, currently employed by an Adventist entity. I am neither a theologian nor a scientist, but I am interested in this debate.

A number of people have observed that this is simply a matter of integrity in employment. Does La Sierra University have the right to require its professors to teach in a matter compatible with the university’s Adventist mission? Yes, we all would agree that LSU does have that right. But who has the responsibility to exercise that right? Is it we, the people of the blogosphere, or is it the LSU board and administration? It seems to me that this comes down to many people’s desire to impose *their* vision of Adventism on the rest of the Church.

For example, many people decry that what is being taught at LSU is antithetical to Adventist beliefs. I looked at Fundamental Belief #6, pertaining to Creation, and here is what it says:

"God is Creator of all things, and has revealed in Scripture the authentic account of His creative activity. In six days the Lord made 'the heaven and the earth' and all living things upon the earth, and rested on the seventh day of that first week. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of His completed creative work. The first man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning work of Creation, given dominion over the world, and charged with responsibility to care for it. When the world was finished it was 'very good,' declaring the glory of God."

David Asscherick’s message earlier in this comment thread says that the Adventist Church has a “stated, official, endorsed, etc. position” on Creation. He then says: “And what is that position? That God created the earth in Six days. Literal, solar, continuous, contiguous days, that is.”

I agree that the official Adventist position is that God created the heaven and the earth in six days. But I do not see where the official position of the Church is that those were “literal, solar, continuous, contiguous days.” Is it possible that the professors at LSU are teaching in a manner which is consistent with the official Adventist position on Creation, but not teaching in a manner which is consistent with what some Adventist people would like the official position to be?

By the way, if one were to believe, as the Bible says, that the sun was created on the fourth day, how is it possible to believe that the first three days are properly measured as "solar" days? Is it possible that the Adventist Church was wise, in adopting its official positions, to permit its members to be led to different conclusions about, for example, the age of the earth. Why isn’t it genuinely Adventist to believe in a God who created the earth over a long period of time?

Before we are too quick to advocate a purging of the Church membership or employment rolls, perhaps we should be reminded of another fundamental Adventist belief: “Man and woman were made in the image of God with individuality, the power and freedom to think and to do.” (Adventist Fundamental Belief #7)

Thank you for the interesting discussion.

Shawn Brace said...

Anonymous, thank you for your thoughts. I did not plan on offering anymore responses, but I would encourage you to go here to see a supplement to the fundamental belief, voted by the Executive Committee of the General Conference in 2004. This is entitled a "Response to an Affirmation of Creation" and the first point states:

"1. We strongly endorse the document’s affirmation of our historic, biblical position of belief in a literal, recent, six-day Creation."

I hope that clarifies things.

Shawn Brace said...

Here is that link again.

guitarboy said...

Thanks, Olorin, for clarifying where you stand. Your statement--"none of the Gospel writers ever observed Jesus in person"--identifies you as a skeptic, not a believer.

If you deny that Matthew, Peter, Luke, James, and John were eyewitnesses to the life, death, and post-Resurrection person of Jesus, then whatever faith you may have in who Jesus was and is, what He did, and whether He actually conquered death or not, is not based on Scripture.

Like thousands of humanists, agnostics, atheists, and unbelievers, you have no hope of eternal life. So enjoy however many years of life you still have, and do whatever makes you happy, because if your world view is correct, death is the ultimate reality. I hope you find consolation in nihilism, but I never could. In the biblical world view, “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment.”

I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He was born as a man, that He lived in human flesh, that He overcame sin in the flesh by living the only perfect life that has ever been lived, that He died on the cross for our sins, and that God raised Him from the dead. I believe that Jesus is alive, and I believe that I, too, have eternal life because He has empowered me to overcome my former agnosticism to believe in Him. "Whoever believes in the Son has life." The opposite is also true.

So what that "99% of the scientists in the world believe in evolution"? In the first place, you’re exaggerating the percentages. In the second, scientists are fallible. In the days before Columbus, the majority of thinkers thought the world was flat. In George Washington’s day, scientists routinely leeched blood out of people to save their lives.

My faith is in Jesus whom Matthew, Peter, James, John, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Herod, Pilate, Paul and thousands of other people saw face to face.

Please read the Gospel of John one more time--this time without prejudicial explanations that deny its truthfulness, and see if anything in your soul responds at all. If not, best of luck. You'll need it!

As Watchman Nee said to a skeptic, "My God is alive. Sorry about yours!"

Alexis said...

What a smackdown.

I find it interesting how, when the creationist arguments utterly fail, the subject changes to calling Olorin a nihilistic skeptic that does not take the bible literally or simply silence.

Here is a summary of the comments here:

Creationist: Evolution is not needed to create new medicines.
Olorin: Yes it is (gives multiple examples)
Creationist: You are a nihilistic atheist!!! Read John with an open heart!!!

Or:

Creationist: Macroevolution does not happen.
Olorin::Yes it does (presents multitude of references, examples and supporting arguments)
Creationist: I won't give any more responses.

And lastly:
Creationist: Evolution is not a fact nor is it science.
Olorin::Science is both (explains how ID cannot be tested and how creationism can but evidence does not support it, while evolution has both areas covered)
Creationist: (silence)

Lastly it is interesting how the orthodox will always make calls to quell dissent or non-approved thought. This is sad. Really sad.

It is the aforementioned religiously induce attitude that kept humanity in the dark ages for so long. That threatened Galileo with fire at the stake. That has not produced any scientific advancement ever (like Olorin has constantly reminded everyone here).

One more thought, isn't ID as bad as evolution in SDA theology? How does ID square with 6 day creation?
Isn't ID nothing more than evolution with sporadic godly magic intervention?

Micah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Micah said...

Alexis,
One of my favorite Bible Character is Daniel, and I guess that it fits right here. The meaning of Daniel's name is God is my Judge. Attacking happens can happen in any discussion and your right it should not happen. The truth is, one has to decide am I going to put my Faith in a God I cannot see, or in man. Both take faith. I just choose Christ who has never let me down, I can't say the same about man.

P.S.
I thought this quote was great

"As Watchman Nee said to a skeptic, "My God is alive. Sorry about yours!"

John Turner said...

Olorin, It's taken me a while to read through this thread, but I have especially enjoyed reading your posts. I have learned a lot! Thanks!

Yuriy Nesteruk said...

David Asscherick is not trying to prove to you that you (evolutionists) are wrong. Time will prove it. But the problem is that we as SDA and as a Christians believe in CREATOR GOD WHO CREATED EVERYTHING. And we do not believe that because we can prove that or we should believe if we will be able to prove that. NO. We believe this because the BIBLE says so and we "we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). I have also more than enough evidences to doubt in the theory of evolution. The main evidence for me is complexity of life, human body, universe and many other things. The problem is that our ADVENTIST INSTITUTION which was raised by SDA Church don't believe the Bible anymore. SO HOW IT CAN CONTINUE TO BE SDA INSTITUTION and be FINANCED by OUR CHURCH? I don't need to read all the debate regarding evolution THEORY to know the answer to this question.