This originally appeared as a comment in the "Unraveling a Witch Hunt: La Sierra Under Seige" post. Feel free to comment on James R.'s testimony there. _________________
I am a student at La Sierra University. I took a full year of biology courses here.
I agree that evolutionary theory should not be taught as fact in Seventh-day Adventist institutions of education. There is little to nothing that we can teach as fact in any subject matter. What some people don't seem to understand, though many who actually know what is going on at LSU keep trying to tell them, is that they aren't teaching evolutionary theory as fact at LSU. We are presented with evidence identified by the scientific community, and informed of different methods and measurement tools by which that evidence and certain biological processes are assessed. We are able to make use of laboratory equipment to conduct experiments and can ask questions of our professors if we have any. And we spend most of our time and content on what is happening in the natural world right now that we can fully test and measure.
Please for a moment consider the perceived firestorm surrounding how science courses are taught at LSU. Right now administrators at other Adventist colleges and universities and even at the academy level are probably worried that they could be targeted next on this or any other number of possible issues. In the SDA academy that I attended, my science teacher never wanted to engage in any discussion or deal with any questions from students about evolution. Just the word was enough to elicit fear. So I, and other students like me, came to La Sierra University without any level of understanding at all regarding evolutionary theory. Imagine how tense it got in the classroom when a professor announces that we will be learning about it. It was completely new to me, but I was able to spend time both in and out of class discussing it with my professor. He didn't push anything on me. He didn't encourage me to question the existence of God. In fact, more than ever, I gained a new level of appreciation of the incredible beauty and detail of God's creation. And I gained an understanding of (not belief in) evolutionary theory so that when needed, I can engage in discussion with individuals who do not know my God. The experience strengthened my faith.
Obviously there will always be some students who just see/hear the word "evolution" and immediately have a rush of thoughts regarding atheism and their faith being potentially shaken. I was one such student and I thank God for being able to attend a University where a Ph.D professor will sit with me for two hours outside of class to talk about it when I ask. But what if I had gone to someone like Sean Pitman first? My initial concern would have been used to be complete basis for a claim that LSU professors were telling me that evolutionary theory is fact and that my faith in God is thus meaningless. This is simply not what is happening at LSU. And I mean no disrespect to those of you quoting scripture, the fundamental beliefs, and Ellen G. White, but if you really are concerned about the truth of what is taught at LSU, you need to come see for yourselves. Don't just take my word for it and don't just take someone else's word for it just because they claim to have heard something from some students. I wish I could list off some great quotes to convince you all, but I somehow don't see that working.
You don't have to be silent on your beliefs, but please don't just hop on the bandwagon in attacking the university where I have learned that my education can have true purpose. This is a place where I found that by learning all that I can, I can be a greater instrument in the Lord's service. And every single course that I have taken thus far has contributed to this.
There are many perspectives to the issues discussed here and I hope that more people can realize that there aren't just two sides with one always having to be defined by the other as evil and completely wrong.
We all have a lot to learn here. And the best way could be to think more like a student instead of trying to decide what students should think.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1666