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.

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