Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, May 29, 2009

Is Radiometric dating flawed

Here is my response to Pickle's latest comment:

Your reply comes across as if you aren't interested in a serious discussion.

When you say that Ellen White said such and such, are you saying by that that you reject the biblical teaching that it is Jesus who testifies by His Spirit through the prophets? See 1 Pet. 1:10-11. If you reject what peter taught on this in the New Testament, I would be curious to know what part of the Bible you do accept as authoritative.

Feel free to cite a specific article that gives specific U/Pb ratios, and then perhaps we can discuss that, if you really are as open to scientific evidence as you apparently want creationists to be.

A 1976 Science article reported U-238/Pb-206 ratios as high as 27,300, which suggests a time of formation more recent by a factor of 270 for Cretaceous and 760 for Triassic.

If it truly is all about science, then this scientific evidence will be properly and objectively considered. But if the root of the matter is certain philosophical and religious presuppositions, then it will probably be ignored or ridiculed even if it can't be refuted. That's just the nature of how this topic seems to work.

Before I get to the scientific side you can see from Pickle's circular reasoning is the order of the day for some people. As Pickle (I am assuming this is Bob Pickle) said:

When you say that Ellen White said such and such, are you saying by that that you reject the biblical teaching that it is Jesus who testifies by His Spirit through the prophets? See 1 Pet. 1:10-11. If you reject what peter taught on this in the New Testament, I would be curious to know what part of the Bible you do accept as authoritative.

What nonsense. if you can show things where Ellen White is clearly wrong you must be rejecting the Bible in entirety. As if Ellen White is somehow even talked about in the Bible. It is complete nonsense. But the assumption is Ellen White is a prophet, that assumption carries even when Ellen White is wrong because the assumption is the most important thing, not truth and not reality.

Do a Google search and see just how often the radiometric dating techniques are used. The science is against your position, that is all there is too it. In most all areas of science the sub specialities have become too technical for us amateurs to pretend that we understand the data.
Here is an article that refutes Gentry.

Yahoo answers has a good answer to the question, has Science refuted Gentry

Odom, L.A., and Rink, W.J., 1989, "Giant Radiation-Induced Color Halos in Quartz: Solution to a Riddle," Science, v. 246, pp. 107-109

Wakefield, J. Richard , 1988, Geology of Gentry's "Tiny Mystery", Journal of Geological Education, May, 1988

If you are specifically referring to Gentry's 1992 "Creation's Tiny Mystery" 3rd Edition, then almost every peer reviewed work dealing with radioactive decay refutes it, because in order to avoid internal conflicts within his argument Gentry was forced to conclude that decay rates for his chosen polonium isotopes remained constant while those of a select few other radioactive isotopes were much, much greater until recently for some unknown reason, after which time they have remained absolutely constant.

I will give him credit though, to my knowledge he is one of the very few people (if not the only) to make a serious attempt, at least in the past half dozen or so decades, to publish Creationist oriented work for mainstream peer review on a subject similar to what he has some credentials in (Master's degree in physics from the U of Fla and an honorary doctorate of sciences from a small liberal arts college).

Here is an article that may help you


"RATE" Leaders Abandon Geologic Fantasies and Admit that Extensive Radioactive Decay has Occurred

Kevin R. Henke, Ph.D.

The following material may be freely copied and distributed as long as the author is properly acknowledged
and the material is not altered, edited or sold.

For decades, young-Earth creationists (YECs) have vainly searched the geology and geochemistry literature to find ways of discrediting radiometric dating and protecting their antiquated biblical interpretations. YEC John Woodmorappe (a pseudonym), for example, has been at the forefront in misquoting and misrepresenting radiometric dating results from the geology and geochemistry literature (e.g., Woodmorappe, 1979, 1999). Woodmorappe's shotgun attacks against radiometric dating even include the ridiculous accusation that concordant radiometric dates may be nothing more than products of "chance"; that is, random numbers (Woodmorappe, 1999, Figure 20, p. 51; p. 52, 87-92). Woodmorappe (1999, p. 85) even endorses YEC Robert Witter's outrageous charge that geochronologists could obtain just as good radiometric results by throwing darts at a concordia diagram. I often refer to this groundless attack as "Woodmorappe's Crapshoot".

A small group of YECs with legitimate Ph.D.s (including D. Russell Humphreys and John R. Baumgardner) have formed the RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth) committee to attack the validity of radiometric dating. Rather than embracing the embarrassing distortions and nonsensical accusations of Woodmorappe or John and Henry Morris, Humphreys and Baumgardner have finally realized that geology and geochemistry are not going to give them the answers that they want. In an Answers in Genesis (AiG) article Carl Wieland had this to say:

When physicist Dr Russell Humphreys was still at Sandia National Laboratories (he now works full-time for ICR), he and Dr John Baumgardner (still with Los Alamos National Laboratory) were both convinced that they knew the direction in which to look for the definitive answer to the radiometric dating puzzle. [new paragraph] Others had tried—and for some, the search went on for a while in the early RATE days—to find the answer in geological processes. But Drs Humphreys and Baumgardner realized that there were too many independent lines of evidence (the variety of elements used in "standard" radioisotope dating, mature uranium radiohalos, fission track dating and more) that indicated that huge amounts of radioactive decay had actually taken place. It would be hard to imagine that geologic processes could explain all these. Rather, there was likely to be a single, unifying answer that concerned the nuclear decay processes themselves.

In other words, after decades of YEC failures to undermine radiometric dating with geology and geochemistry, these YEC leaders now recognize that enormous amounts of radioactive decay have occurred. They are now relying on nuclear physics, e.g., Chaffin, 2003 (Adobe Acrobat file) and probably an ample supply of groundless miracles to speed up the decay rates without frying Adam or Noah. Humphreys et al. (2003) (Adobe Acrobat file), although full of errors and bad assumptions, also makes the following candid admission (p. 3), which is a veiled attack on Woodmorappe's "crapshoot" and similar YEC schemes that involve bogus accusations against radiometric dating methods and equipment:

Samples 1 through 3 had helium retentions of 58, 27 and 17 percent. The fact that these percentages are high confirms that a large amount of nuclear decay did indeed occur in the zircons. Other evidence strongly supports much nuclear decay having occurred in the past [Humphreys, 2000, p. 335-337]. WE EMPHASIZE THIS POINT BECAUSE MANY CREATIONISTS HAVE ASSUMED THAT "OLD" RADIOISOTOPIC AGES ARE MERELY AN ARTIFACT OF ANALYSIS, NOT REALLY INDICATING THE OCCURRENCE OF LARGE AMOUNTS OF NUCLEAR DECAY. But according to the measured amount of lead physically present in the zircons, approximately 1.5 billion years worth — at today's rates — of nuclear decay occurred. [my emphasis]


Over the years, YECs have invoked a large array of imaginative and fruitless excuses to defame radiometric dating. These attacks include: magma mixing, Woodmorappe's crapshoot, excess argon, neutron fluxes, neutrinos, and just plain creationist magic. Humphreys, Baumgardner, and other YECs in the ICR-AiG alliance have finally realized that they can't use geology and geochemistry to undermine radiometric dating. They are now relying on physics and probably a liberal dose of untenable miracles to save their dogma. YECs must realize that they're rapidly running out of "scientific excuses" for confusing and deluding the public about the true nature of radiometric dating.


Chaffin, E.F., 2003, "Accelerated Decay: Theoretical Models," Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, R. Ivey (ed.), Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA. Chaffin, 2003

Humphreys, D.R., 2000, "Accelerated nuclear decay: a viable hypothesis?" in Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: A Young-Earth Creationist Research Initiative, L. Vardiman, A. A. Snelling, and E. F. Chaffin, editors, Institute for Creation Research and the Creation Research Society, San Diego, CA, p. 333-379.

Humphreys, D.R.; S.A. Austin; J.R. Baumgardner and A.A. Snelling, 2003, "Helium Diffusion Rates Support Accelerated Nuclear Decay", Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, R. Ivey (ed.), Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA. Humphreys et al. (2003).

Woodmorappe, J., 1979, "Radiometric Geochronology Reappraised", Creation Research Society Quarterly, v. 16, September, p. 102f.

Woodmorappe, J., 1999, The Mythology of Modern Dating Methods, Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA.

Here is some links to important articles:

Here is a site whose purpose is to contradict the prevailing idea that it is not Christian to believe in Theistic evolution.

Here is an article which deals with that as well as several other Young-Earth Arguments: A Second Look There is also a lot of other articles, some of which deal with the idea of a global flood. Certainly there is much evidence for amazing water activity through geologic time, but most all of these do not fit in with the global flood idea.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Theistic Evolution

When we read some of the letters from the anti-evolutionists here and elsewhere we see them use words like Darwinian Evolution. So here is a quote from Darwin’s concluding chapter in Origin of the Species.

Authors of the highest eminence seem to be fully satisfied with the view that each species has been independently created. To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual.

To be clear evolutionary theory is not the same as what Darwin posited. To be even clearer Theistic evolution is not the same as atheistic evolution. But when the anti-evolution people talk they rarely address the ideas of Theistic evolution. Theistic evolution holds that there is indeed a Creator. So all that stuff about not believing in creation is not true, the idea is that God did create, the question is how does it appear that God created? The anti-evolutionists ignore the Theistic component so they often talk about the second law of thermodynamics or how can mutations ever be beneficial. (though that second one is poorly informed just ask modern medical people about drug resistant bacteria.)

So with our 6 day literalist creationists Theistic Evolutionists believe that there is a God, the Creator, the uncaused first cause. Which we acknowledge is a position taken on faith a presupposition which is not testable and unexplainable as to how God came about to be God. Granted it is just as much faith based as the atheist evolutionists singularity which caused the Big Bang. When we go back far enough we all seem to arrive at an unexplainable beginning. As Christian evolutionists we see theistic evolution as the best option to explain what we see. Like the 6 day literal creationists we acknowledge that life in the form of a cell is made up of two critical things as my old Bioenergetics class said; “energy and information”. Neither of which spontaneously happen. So our differences are not about the Creator but about how creation occurred. They are not differences about thermodynamics or even mutations. I would assume that even 6 day literal creationists acknowledge that mutations must have occurred to arrive at the blood sucking insects or carnivore teeth.

Darwin certainly documented that special creation could not explain the animals he saw on the Galapagos Islands as well as providing convincing evidence of natural selection. Natural selection is Darwinian evolution and it stands on very firm ground, as the Wikipedia article linked above states it is the cornerstone of modern biology. I would be amazed if it was not taught in Adventist schools from High School to College. To think that we have people in our church today saying not to teach it is astounding. To think anyone is listening to them is frightening.

This leaves two areas still to be examined. One is the biological and geological evidence found in the world around us. The same science that gives us radiometric dating and Oil production is the same science that gives us cell phones, television nuclear power and space travel. To say that the dating is wrong after as much success as science has had is difficult to accept. The second area is Biblical interpretation. We have traditionally believed in the literal 6 day creation because our knowledge of the natural world was so limited; just as our ancestors limited knowledge of our solar system allowed for the geocentric universe that Galileo (defending Copernicus’ discovery) disproved. As knowledge increases some traditions have to fall, some Bible interpretations have to fall as well. We have found that the Bible contains human ideas, poetry and mythology and not everything appears to be meant to be taken as literal. The Bible had to impact people from thousands of years ago to today. Of necessity the interpretations will change with the knowledge of people. Something that Adventists should be particularly aware of since they feel that they were called out to be special representatives giving new and different Biblical interpretations. We have a special term for this progressive understanding called “Present Truth”. What we see today is the pendulum swinging away from progressive knowledge to traditional knowledge. Summed up by some as this is what our church believes so love it or leave it. But our church also teaches progressive revelation, it teaches a growth toward present truth. We even have leaders such as Jan Paulsen who acknowledge diversity in the SDA church and even encourage critical thinking as well as acceptance of the fact that we don’t know everything. As this quote from Adventist Today notes:

Some might ask: Where is God in all of this? I can do no better to answer this than to quote a comment make by Dr. Jan Paulsen, the president of the General Conference at the Denver conference: "Knowing and understanding may not always be comfortable on this walk, but this is faith's world; it is a world of mysteries, it is the world of God's moving and doing".

With the 6 day creationists we agree that God is moving and doing but we may not fully understand the how He is moving and doing. Some of us think we can accept science and God. Science can certainly not insert God into their investigations, they can only study the natural world and that leaves some presuppositions up in the air, but it does not mean that only one possible presupposition is possible.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Who defines what an Adventist is?

I walked out of the sermon today. It was a special youth rally sponsored by our conference. The music was good the lighting was dramatic and then the sermon began. The speaker for the rally was an Academy student probably from Auburn Academy. He recapped some of his sermon from the previous Friday night meeting. He began by saying that Jesus came up with a plan to come and die to save man. He brought the plan to God who twice rejected it because He did not want Jesus to die. I left.

Of course this child of our educational system did not arrive at the above atrocity on his own. He is parroting what the confused Arians and Tri-theists of Adventism think. He is repeating the errors of our own so called prophet; Ellen White says in a number of places usually under the title The Plan of Salvation. Here are some excerpts so you can see the source of this Arian idea:

Sorrow filled heaven, as it was realized that man was lost, and that world which God had created was to be filled with mortals doomed to misery, sickness, and death, and there was no way of escape for the offender. The whole family of Adam must die. I saw the lovely Jesus and beheld an expression of sympathy and sorrow upon His countenance. Soon I saw Him approach the exceeding bright light which enshrouded the Father. Said my accompanying angel, He is in close converse with His Father. The anxiety of the angels seemed to be intense while Jesus was communing with His Father. Three times He was shut in by the glorious light about the Father, and the third time He came from the Father, His person could be seen. His countenance was calm, free from all perplexity and doubt, and shone with benevolence and loveliness, such as words cannot express. He then made known to the angelic host that a way of escape had been made for lost man. He told them that He had been pleading with His Father, and had offered to give His life a ransom, to take the sentence of death upon Himself, that through Him man might find pardon; that through the merits of His blood, and obedience to the law of God, they could have the favor of God, and be brought into the beautiful garden, and eat of the fruit of the tree of life.

…that He would die the cruelest of deaths, hung up between the heavens and the earth as a guilty sinner; that He would suffer dreadful hours of agony, which even angels could not look upon, but would veil their faces from the sight. Not merely agony of body would He suffer, but mental agony, that with which bodily suffering could in no wise be compared. The weight of the sins of the whole world would be upon Him. He told them He would die and rise again the third day, and would ascend to His Father to intercede for wayward, guilty man.

The angels prostrated themselves before Him. They offered their lives. Jesus said to them that He would by His death save many, that the life of an angel could not pay the debt. His life alone could be accepted of His Father as a ransom for man.

... Satan and sinners would be destroyed, nevermore to disturb heaven or the purified new earth. Jesus bade the heavenly host be reconciled to the plan that His Father had accepted and rejoice that through His death fallen man could again be exalted to obtain favor with God and enjoy heaven. (Early Writings of Ellen G. White, page 149 1882; Spirit of Prophecy Vol. 1 page-45 1870 ; Spiritual Gifts, Volume 1, page 23 1858;)

I bring this incident up in light of the past two posts where some in the Adventist church are demanding that scientifically accepted evolutionary theory not be taught in Adventist Colleges. If you read the arguments they make their primary reason is that the SDA church teaches a literal 6 day (assumed 24 hour) time period in the recent past, most again assuming that recent means 6-10,000 year period of time. If you are a Seventh-day Adventist this has to be your belief or you simply are not a Seventh-day Adventist. Here is a quote from the Adventist Theological Journal article from a few years back:

But Scripture does not only indicate that the miracle of creation was performed in a short period of time. Through its genealogical listings and its naming of generations traced back to Adam, the first human being, it strongly indicates that the creation occurred not long ago, as compared to the claims of evolution.And so, we Adventists accept the account of a recent creation on the basis of the credibility of God’s supreme revelation, Scripture. And we believe also on the basis of the credibility of God’s recent revelation through the visions and writings of Ellen G. White,10 which likewise emphasize that creation took place approximately six thousand years ago. (What Is an Adventist? Someone Who Upholds Creation Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 7/2 (Autumn 1996): 142-167. Article copyright © 1996 by Marco T. Terreros.)

One has to wonder then if we must believe that God and His Son are not in fact One That one of them had to convince the other about a plan to save humanity. That Jesus was pleading with the Father to give His life a ransom. Because that is the way Ellen White saw it in a vision and we are Adventists and we have a fundamental belief about Ellen White whereby we say she is an authoritative source of truth. Likewise if Ellen White says that creation was six literal days approximately six thousand years ago we all must accept it to be SDA’s.

Today I saw at least in part the power of our schools indoctrination, not even indoctrination in the Bible or Christianity but in a very faulty Adventist tradition that we can easily trace to Ellen White. To be a true Adventist then is to be fully indoctrinated into whatever beliefs the denominational hierarchy or some self appointed traditional Adventist chooses to assert as our beliefs. Accept it and people like the Adventist Theological Society will accept you. Reject some of their beliefs and you are simply not a Seventh-day Adventist. Teach our students current scientific theory in a Biology class and those teachers should be released or restricted, they are violating Adventism.

The problem is that most Adventists don’t really pay all that much attention to what the church leadership says. We don’t feel that they are defining our positions, some of them perhaps but not all of our positions. We feel it is appropriate to live up to the light we see from God, science, history and even tradition. We don’t need the official denomination to define for us what an Adventist is. Then there is the other side which says we will cleanse the church. These are the Churches beliefs accept them or don’t but if you don’t you should not teach, you should not be in any kind of leadership role and you should not call yourself an Adventist.

It is pretty plain why so many of us don’t ever call ourselves Adventists but use terms like Progressive Adventists. We want to indicate that we are not of those who are trying to restrict the freedom of belief that is found in Christianity. To be a Christian we don’t have to hold to what somebody in some position of supposed authority calls “orthodox Christianity” and we don’t have to violate our conscience to believe in traditional Adventist views either. May our tribe increase! But to do that we have to fight the traditional Adventists attempts to cleanse thinking Christians from the Seventh-day Adventist church. Because make no mistake about it they are after you.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Letter to the GC Against Teaching Evolution Part 2

It appears we have the answer to the question in my previous post; Letter to the GC Against Teaching Evolution That the letter is from David Asscherick. Well at least as far as we can be certain in the electronic media. Since I don’t use any type of verification process in my comments section. But as I have not had any problem that I know of with fictitious authors I will act on the premise that the letter truly is from Asscherick. I am posting his comment here under its own thread since it does bring up some additional points to consider. Here is his comment:

David Asscherick here. I can confirm that the letter is, in fact, mine. Wow, a true rumor, that's novel! And on the internet no less! Someone call the press…

While I did write the letter it was not originally written or sent as an open, public letter. I sent it to a few colleagues for review. From there it was passed on to a few others, and the rest is history. Bad news travels fast. If only we could get our people this excited about sharing the Good News…

I have mixed feelings about the wide circulation my letter has received. I am happy to see this serious issue receive the attention it needs and deserves, but I could wish that it wouldn’t have happened with a personal letter being made exceedingly public. I have already been in touch with one of the individuals to whom the letter was written. I explained to him that it was not my intent to undercut him by broadcasting a private letter. He was very gracious and understanding. I would’ve expected nothing less, after all he is a fine Christian and a friend.

As for Ron's comments here, I am surprised that he fails to see the utter illogic of his position. The point is not whether or not Darwinian evolution is true (I don't believe it is, but that is another issue altogether). The point is an ecclesiastical one, not a scientific one: Like it or not (and I take it that Ron doesn't like it), the official, endorsed, published, voted, endorsed, sanctioned, (add your own synonyms here _____________) position of the world-wide Seventh-day Adventist Church is that the Genesis creation account is to be literally understood as communicating an actual, literal, solar Six Day Creation.

Surely this concept is not difficult to grasp.

No one is compelled to believe this, because no one is compelled to be a Seventh-day Adventist. However, it is logically coherent that if you are a Seventh-day Adventist you do believe this. Note: this also applies to professors, teachers, pastors, administrators, etc. In fact it applies to these persons doubly since they receive a paycheck to promote as true the teachings of the
Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Surely this concept is not difficult to grasp.

If someone wants to work for Nike, great! Let them sell Nike. But if they like Adidas better, then let them work for Adidas. If they work for Nike and insist on promoting Adidas as the superior product they are unethical. And Nike is delinquent in letting this behavior (provided they know about it) to continue.

There are lots and lots of universities these guys/ gals can teach at. Let them teach "the preferred and normative worldview of most every area of science", as Ron calls it, there. We wish you the best, and commend you heartily for your ethically upstanding decision.

Note: this is my first ever blog post. So I'm feeling very modern and hip right now.

Have a great Sabbath! (That is, if you believe in those kinds of things...)

Warm regards,


I particularly want to deal with this statement:

As for Ron's comments here, I am surprised that he fails to see the utter illogic of his position. The point is not whether or not Darwinian evolution is true (I don't believe it is, but that is another issue altogether). The point is an ecclesiastical one, not a scientific one: Like it or not (and I take it that Ron doesn't like it), the official, endorsed, published, voted, endorsed, sanctioned, (add your own synonyms here _____________) position of the world-wide Seventh-day Adventist Church is that the Genesis creation account is to be literally understood as communicating an actual, literal, solar Six Day Creation.

Is this really an ecclesiastical issue? That apparently is what makes my position that a science class should teach generally accepted scientific theory and information. defines ecclesiastical as –adjective of or pertaining to the church or the clergy; churchly; clerical; not secular.” My feeling is that science classes are secular rather then church oriented. I also feel that the janitor cleaning the classroom of an Adventist University is occupied in a secular vocation. Being paid by the church organization does not make everything the church organization pays for fall under the ecclesiastical umbrella. I don’t think our students would be too thrilled to find out that their degrees are ecclesiastical degrees. We and those students for the most part want to have educations that will be readily accepted by other non ecclesiastical institutions whether of higher learning or research or technical institutions or employment. If that is not the intent of our Colleges and Universities I think once that fact is know there will be a steep drop off in students at Adventist colleges.

Do I agree with the statement that the “Genesis creation account is to be literally understood as communicating an actual, literal, solar Six Day Creation.” Well of course not. There was not even a sun until the 4th day per the story (Genesis 1:14-19) so that would be an illogical statement. I tend not to agree with a lot of committee type publications about doctrines as they are often poorly stated. At some point the committee just wants to get out of there and garbage gets included as official language. As an SDA am I bound but what someone at the General Conference says? I think Ellen White would even have a problem with that one, and she thought at one time that the GC in general session was the highest authority on earth. It did not take too many years before she seemed to realize that they were just as fallible as any else, in or out of session. Even the preamble of our fundamental beliefs acknowledges we can change our positions if we receive new light on a subject.

With all the animosity the Adventist Church has had toward the Roman Catholic Church it is troubling to see some in the denomination try to recapitulate Catholicism in the Adventist church. A person would think the reformation thinking would lead us away from the all powerful dictation of a church hierarchy.

So where is academic freedom if we hold to Adventist colleges and universities as ecclesiastical institutes?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Letter to the GC Against Teaching Evolution

Recently I was forwarded a viral e-mail letter from David Asscherick to some General Conference officials. The letter is a politely worded document complaining about evolutionary theory taught in science classes at La Sierra University. The outcome of the letter is clearly to have denominational leadership dictate the curriculum of science course for the welfare of Adventist University students, which the letter equates to little children. I was unable to find a copy of the letter posted on the internet connected to Asscherick however. I will post the letter in its entirety here with a few of my comments (in red). While the letter does sound like it is from Asscherick I cannot say it is with certainty. Someone may be able to say for certain, if they can I would like to know.

Circulating by viral e-mail

April 30, 2009
Pastors Jan Paulsen, Don C. Schneider, Ricardo Graham
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904

Dear Pastors Paulsen, Schneider, and Graham,

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ. Like each of you, I am an
ordained pastor of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. I write these words with my heart on full display--from pastor to pastor. This letter concerns the teaching of evolution at La Sierra University. While I am not a formally trained scientist, I am, however, familiar with many of the apologetic, philosophical, and theological issues surrounding the theories of naturalistic evolution. I have made this an area of special study in my life and ministry. So, I feel both comfortable and qualified to speak to the issue, especially in its ecclesiastical ramifications.

It is a matter of incontestable fact that naturalistic evolution is being taught at La Sierra University. 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.

There is no point in equivocating. I have seen the class materials with my own eyes. Frankly, I think every Seventh-day Adventist deserves to see them. Our people need to know what is happening. Many of them have heard various rumblings, but being the conscientious, confiding, and hopeful people they are, they have generally assumed the very best. We are making capital of their trust.

Notice his beginning argument: teaching evolution is OK but only if we teach that it is a view that we oppose. We should not even teach it as the preferred and normative worldview. Yet clearly it is the preferred and normative worldview of most every area of science. This is an important point when we seek to find what the intentions of the author of the letter are speaking about. He does not want the university to acknowledge the scientific reality, the worldview of modern academia. Instead we should only teach how to oppose the reality, the worldview. Something that numerous Young Earth Creation books have tried to do and something that has failed to move practically anyone in the scientific community to the young earth creation viewpoint. This should reflect that what David Asscherick wants, is in itself not possible at this time. Perhaps in a religion class where the focus is upon some type of church apologetic, then it would be appropriate to teach an inimical view of evolution. But in a science class the idea is to teach the most widely accepted scientific information.

In 2003 I preached a two-week evangelistic meeting on the Loma Linda University campus. The event was student-led and university-sponsored. Many students from La Sierra University attended those meetings, and I personally visited with many of them. They told me what was being taught in some of their science classes. I shall never forget the looks and questions of unadorned incredulity that I witnessed among those students. I have talked to many more since. "What should I do?" "Should I say something?" "Should I just attend a non-SDA school?" Do our leaders know about this?" "How come these people are allowed to teach at a Seventh-day Adventist University?" These young people, and many others like them, are justifiably nonplussed. Frankly, I share their confusion!

At this point we have to ask the question; why are the students confused? Is there some reason that they think that they should not be taught current scientific information at a university? Apparently the answer for these particular students is no, they should not be taught scientific theory at a Seventh-day Adventist University. That raises the second question why would they think that an SDA university because it is run by a denomination could or should only teach the beliefs of the denomination? I doubt the denomination has any particular teachings regarding physics or electrical engineering or even English classes. Do they honestly expect our University instructors to submit to denomination bureaucrats details of every part of their curriculum? We see that there is a problem of expectations. That is there are certain assumptions being made about the Bible, particularly Genesis, that it is meant as a literal account of creation, as if what is recorded was actually recorded by a first hand witness.

Later in the letter Asscherick, tells of his recent evangelistic meetings where the theme was follow the Bible. What he really means is follow one particular interpretation of the Bible. The one that says in the beginning God created light, but we have no idea what that light could be because it was before the creation of the sun. The earth was formless and void and covered with water. But without a sun water would look like stone, frozen solid, the deep is a phrase used of liquid water, not to mention the planet would not retain water without an atmosphere, something again created later according to the Genesis account. Then we have the creation of the sun, moon and stars. But we know from the speed of light those stars could not possibly have been created and be visible to us if the young earth creationist view is correct.

So really how literal are we to take the Genesis account? Are we really following the Bible because we make claims about interpreting possibly symbolic/allegorical stories? Remember the two trees in Eden, the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil, with a talking snake, does that really sound like a literal story? What about nature, lions, tigers, sharks and parasites? How do we explain them? Nothing about how they came to be as we see them in nature, we could of course blame it on Satan’s manipulation but we don’t see that at all in Genesis or anywhere else in the Bible. So there are legitimate other ways of interpreting the Bible stories, to claim that whatever our tradition is the only way to “follow the Bible” means that we may in fact be the ones leading our children astray.

What deeply concerns me is that the faith of many students, who look up to their Adventist professors as more than just academic instructors, but also as spiritual leaders, is being undermined. Jesus' words in Luke 17:1, 2 about causing "one of these little ones to stumble" carry inestimable weight, and they should be reason enough to propel us to responsible action. Brethren, what are we doing and allowing? Will not God hold us accountable in our respective spheres for what happens on our watch?

I am aware, of course, that the church's governmental structure gives institutions like La Sierra University a necessary degree of administrative freedom. This is a good and wise arrangement. But this freedom, surely, is not synonymous with virtually unaccountable autonomy. La
Sierra University is, after all, a denominational university. If the board has not yet adequately addressed this matter, then doesn't that evince a kind of complicity, if not outright mismanagement and denominational disloyalty? I genuinely ask, at what point is La Sierra University's board accountable and answerable to you men and the levels of church government that you represent? When, if
ever, can someone step in and save our children and the institutions they attend?

Governing and administrative structures are not the church. The people are the church. The governing and administrative structures are the scaffolding of the church. Scaffolds are for building and strengthening a thing; they are not the thing itself. But what if some are using the scaffolding to tear down the very church they were commissioned and created to build up? What then? I genuinely want to know. Where does the buck stop?

Perhaps you feel that your hands are tied by policy and protocol. But surely they cannot be tied completely. What should I, as a church pastor, do if someone is teaching doctrine that undermines the church's biblical positions in one of my
Sabbath School classes? Wouldn't it be expected of me, the pastor--shepherd--of the flock, to address it? To ask this question is to answer it. Of course, I would work though the Sabbath School council and the church board, but you can be sure that I would deal with the problem. My conference president, to say nothing of my Lord, would surely hold me in contempt if I told him lamely that my hands were tied, no?

Furthermore, the greater the errancy, the greater the urgency. As even a cursory analysis plainly reveals, few doctrines are at greater philosophical odds with Seventh-day Adventism than naturalistic evolution, the arguments of well-meaning theistic evolutionists notwithstanding. Our Magna Carta is Revelation 14:6-12. If naturalistic evolution is true, Creation is cremated, the Sabbath is sabotaged, and our very name is neutered. What becomes of Scripture? And of our unique eschatology? We are not talking about bongo drums, wedding bands, and Christmas trees here.

If our hands are tied, then surely we must let an unfaltering love for God, for His Word, and for His young people dash these fetters into so many deserved pieces! We must do something. You must do something.

Who knows but that you have come to your positions for such a time as this. My ministry places me in somewhat of a unique situation in the world church. In partnership with the Central California Conference, I run ARISE, a mission training school that has seen hundreds of young people over the last seven years. I also have the privilege of preaching regularly on 3ABN and the Hope Channel. Too, I travel all over the world holding evangelistic meetings and preaching at camp meetings, youth conferences, weeks of prayer, etc. I genuinely feel that I have my finger on the pulse of the "average lay person" in the Seventh-day Adventist church the world over. Especially the young people ages 15 to 30. I can say with unblinking confidence that God is working in His church! Praise Him!

I just arrived home from the Youth Mission Congress in
Frankfurt, Germany. Over 1600 young people attended the meetings. Night after night I preached the Adventist message--I preached Christ! The theme chosen for the congress was Follow the Bible, and what an indescribable joy it was to see, at the end of my last sermon, hundreds and hundreds of young people streaming forward. All of them had personal decision cards in their hands. A beautiful, five-foot-tall wooden Bible had been constructed for just this moment. On the side of the Bible was a slot designed to receive the decision cards the young people clutched in their surrendered hands. One by one, each placed his or her card in the Bible. The symbolism was rich and thrillingly profound. It was impossible to not be moved at a fundamental level as each eager young person placed their decision, and thus their life in that wooden Bible. My translator openly wept at the sight. "We will follow the Bible," they were each saying. All over the world, God's people--and in particular, it seems, His young people--are saying We will follow the Word--the Living Word, Jesus, and the Written Word, the Bible.

God has entrusted us with these young people. They are His. He has given us His wise counsel to raise up institutions of learning to educate, equip, and empower them. To build them up.

But what do we do when one of our institutions turns from this inestimably important responsibility, a responsibility that is fraught with eternal significance and involves the souls of those Jesus died to save? This is what I want to know.

And so do many, many others.

I thank each of you for your time, and, in advance, for your thoughtful responses.

David Asscherick
Director, ARISE

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Ellen White's ordination creditials

I have to admit it has been a long time since I have seen anything noteworthy on SDANET. But this post is rather stunning. SDANET has had a discussion on the ordination credentials of Ellen White, which they have posted on their at issues page here. A person inquired of the White Estate if Ellen White had been ordained. The answer was no she was not ordained though she was given the ordination credentials probably because they were the highest recognition the church could give since they did not have "prophet credentials". Of course the whole reason that most Traditional SDA's don't want women's ordination is because of the Biblical prohibition against women having authority over men. What an amazing disconnect! A prophet even a female prophet would have far more authority over men than an ordained Pastor (assuming the definition used by Adventists where a prophet is defined like an Old Testament prophet see funamental belief 18). But read for yourself William Fagal, Associate Director Ellen G. White Estate as he proves that logic is for others, not the White Estate.

Dear Brother Mutambirwa,

Thank you for contacting the Ellen G. White Estate. Mrs. White was not an
ordained minister, though she was granted the credentials of an ordained
minister, which sometimes results in confusion on this point. From 1871
onward various organizations in the church issued her ministerial
credentials (typically they were valid for two years at a time, so they
needed to be renewed). The printed form for such credentials says that
so-and-so (fill in the blank) is an ordained minister of the Seventh-day
Adventist church. I'm sure this has led some people honestly to conclude
that she was ordained. But in some cases on Mrs. White's credentials, the
word "ordained" was neatly struck out. In 1909 a "Biographical Information
Blank" that Mrs. White filled out for the General Conference asked "If
ordained, state where, when, and by whom." Her answer on this line was an
X, the same answer that appears on the question about remarriage. She had
not remarried after her husband's death, and neither had she ever been

So why was she given the credentials of an ordained minister? I can only
guess, but my guess is that the church wished to recognize her contribution
officially. It had no "prophet's credentials" (and it still doesn't), so it
gave her the highest credentials it had, recognizing that they were not a
perfect fit (hence the occasional crossing out of "ordained"). She never
functioned as an ordained minister--never baptized, officiated at communion
services or marriages, organized or disbanded churches, presided at business
meetings of the church, etc. In her prophetic role, she functioned for more
than 25 years (1844-1871) without any credentials at all.

I hope this will help to resolve the question for you. Let me know if I may
be of further service. Thank you for writing, and God bless!

William Fagal
Associate Director
Ellen G. White Estate
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904-6600 U.S.A.

Phone: 301 680-6550
FAX: 301 680-6559

See also
Bille Burdick response to Fagal's letter here.