Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dangerous Reason

When your worldview is built on a foundation of ignorance, there is no greater threat than critical thinking skills. I think most believers, if they took the time to think honestly about this, know it to be true. They often get so close, but fail to take the final step. They can recognize the danger of reasonable, critical thought, but choose to avoid thinking rather than question their foundation.

I came across a beautiful example of this in the latest Westwind (Walla Walla Univeristy's alumni journal). In Ginger Ketting-Weller's (vice president for academic administration) interview with Dan Lamberton she asks this question:

I'm not ready to get into Professor Lamberton's responce. It is a bit better than the question, but still unsatisfying. He at least admits that core tenets such as the virgin birth are unbelievable, but then seemingly retreats behind an amorphous shield of the sense of wonder this produces.

For me it is the question itself is what is interesting. Intelletually fulfulling belief is not something to be valued. The implied goal of this educational institution is to shelter students - to strengthen indoctrination. This creates a house divided. It is impossible to provide real education and shelter ignorance. Reason is dangerous to cherished delusions.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Reality vs. Dogma: Adventist Education

Thanks to Tim for passing the latest on this story along to me. As I've become increasingly detached from my Adventist past I've failed to keep up with the controversy about evolution allegedly being taught at La Sierra University. I've also failed to devote much attention to the blog (probably also a result of my increased detachment).

Recently, however, there has been a little action involving the La Sierra biology curriculum. First, a pair of articles in the Adventist Review briefly covering the pro-evolution accusations and the resulting board action. Actual details are few though the school is careful to stress its young earth creationist position and distance itself from Professor Gary Bradley who bravely says "It's very, very clear that what I'm skeptical of is the absolute necessity of believing that the only way a creator God could do things is by speaking them into existence a few thousand years ago." That is the one bright spot in the entire affair. Things rapidly go downhill with Dr. Ricardo Graham, president of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, and chairman of the Board of Trustees at La Sierra University prioritizing Seventh-Day Adventism over education.

From there things get absurd and somewhat entertaining. As of 1 June 2010, the Michigan Conference will no longer provide employee subsidy for students attending La Sierra. Money quote from the memo released:
" Resolved: To encourage each Seventh-day Adventist college and university to continue to strengthen the principles of biblical authority and faith. In support of these principles we urge continued development of educational strategies and faculties which would move these institutions to becoming centers of excellence in promoting, cultivating and defending creation science. We define creation science in the context of the recent creation week of seven ordinary, literal, historical, consecutive, contiguous twenty-four hour days of divine creation and rest as described in Genesis ".
As I've said before, I feel like I got an excellent education (not in biology) at an Adventist school. And I'm sure that the Michigan Conference is not representative of all US Adventists. But I don't see how an Adventist education can continue to be relevant when dogma is given institutional support in the face of contradictory reality.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Avatar: Story of the Satanic Blue Cat People

This article was on the top banner of the Seattle PI website at lunch time today. Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll says Avatar is the most demonic movie he has ever seen. Regardless of what you think of the movie, I love this story getting exposure. I think it make him look ridiculous. Not that this tactic of using pop culture icons as a rallying point is new. As was pointed out I in the comments, it used to be the smurfs that were evil.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Auburn Adventist Academy Sex Scandal

A bit of excitement locally over the weekend. Bible teacher at AAA was allegedly fooling around with a 16 year old exchange student. See the Seattle PI article and comments. At least one former student posts there. If two students hold hands they get put on social restriction, but apparently unescorted visits to the teacher's place on the weekend doesn't get any attention from the other faculty. Nothing on the Auburn Website, but Scott Spies is no longer on the list of faculty.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Evolution Fallacy Seminar

I wasn't able to attend the Seminar that mentioned earlier in the week, but they were kind enough to post the audio on the church website very expeditiously. I haven't heard it yet, but I may give it a little listen if I get time.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This Weekend: Creation-Evolution Seminar

I just found out last night that the local SDA Church is having a 2 day Creation-Evolution seminar. It will be a presentation by the pastor John Kurlinski, who considers himself an expert on the subject, with a guest speaker Stan Hudson. The two have collaborated before. For example this program for Life Talk Radio charmingly called Sink the Beagle (page 9 of PDF). I have no idea who Stan Hudson is but he claims to have a Ph.D in "science" and maybe the author of this ranty little Spokesman Review article. Money quote:

Evolutionism is a faith-based theory of origins, just like creationism, and as such it is adhered to with religious fervor.

I doubt I'll be available or inclined to attend any or all of the seminar, so I can't comment on the content. I will say that I don't worship Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution is not a religion.

Evolution is based on the scientific method. There are tests that can determine whether or not the theory is correct as it stands, and these tests can be made. Thousands of such tests have been made, and the current theories have passed them all. Also, scientists are willing to alter the theories as soon as new evidence is discovered. This allows the theories to become more and more accurate as research rogresses.

Most religions, on the other hand, are based on revelations, that usually cannot be objectively verified. They talk about the why, not the how. Also, religious beliefs are not subject to change as easily as scientific beliefs. Finally, a religion normally claims an exact accuracy, something which scientists know they may never achieve.

Some people build up religious beliefs around scientific principles, but then it is their beliefs which are the religion. This no more makes scientific knowledge a religion than painting a brick makes it a bar of gold. So the answer is no, evolution is no more a religion than any other scientific theory.