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La Sierra Board Makes a Statement

I would say it’s a statement on creation and evolution, but I’m not quite sure what it is.

Earlier (Seventh-day Adventist Education and Evolution) I wrote about the concerns about the teaching of evolution in biology classes at La Sierra University, a Seventh-Day Adventist school in California. (I was raised in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and educated in its schools, though I am no longer SDA.)

The Spectrum blog has a link to the Board of Trustees statement (PDF), which does not seem to me to answer any questions. After declaring “whole-hearted support” for the SDA statement of beliefs, which includes an article affirming a literal seven day creation week, it includes the following two paragraphs:

The Board of Trustees is committed to a spirit of open inquiry and discussion in the university’s classrooms and laboratories. The Board intends that when varying viewpoints are raised they will be heard with due respect.

In its commitment to the integrity of the university’s mission, the Board of Trustees is dedicated to inspire, challenge, encourage and support the faculty in their sacred academic work. Further, the Board embraces its responsibility for ongoing evaluation and assessment.

These paragraphs, including phrases like “spirit of open inquiry and discussion” and “support the faculty in their sacred academic work” sound to me like a certain amount of support for the science faculty. In the end, one still has to wonder just what the faculty will be expected to teach and how this will be evaluated. “ongoing evaluation and assessment” seems to indicate the board will be watching (as they should) but doesn’t really tell anyone just what they’re supposed to do.

It will be interesting to see how this works out in practice. It appears to me that the board has given the ball a vigorous kick down the field without any obvious destination in sight. This may be more comfortable for them, but it is very uncomfortable for students and faculty.

(Note: My interest in this case may appear odd. There are two reasons for it. First, I follow issues in creation and evolution closely. Second, besides my own education in SDA institutions, family members have taught at La Sierra University and currently do teach in other SDA institutions.)

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