Today, La Sierra University Board of Trustees issued two press releases: Statement of Support for the Adventist View of Creation
The Board of Trustees is fully mindful of La Sierra University’s responsibilities and commitments as a Seventh-day Adventist institution of higher education. This includes whole-hearted support for the doctrines and teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as defined by the 28 Statements of Fundamental Beliefs, specifically fundamental belief #6:
God is Creator of all things, and has revealed in Scripture the authentic account of His creative activity. In six days the Lord made “the heaven and the earth” and all living things upon the earth, and rested on the seventh day of that first week. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of His completed creative work. The first man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning work of Creation, given dominion over the world, and charged with responsibility to care for it. When the world was finished it was “very good,” declaring the glory of God. (Gen. 1;2; Ex. 20:8-11; Ps. 19:1-6; 33:6, 9; 104; Heb.11:3).
The Board of Trustees has heard and taken to heart the concern that Seventh-day Adventist beliefs and teachings have not been given appropriate priority in biology curriculum and instruction. Specifically, the Board is committed to assuring that the teaching of the theory of evolution takes place within the context of the Adventist belief regarding creation.
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.
“It is the work of true education to . . . train the youth to be thinkers and not mere reflectors of other men’s thought.” (Ellen White, Education, p. 17). The Board of Trustees continues to affirm that both academic responsibility and commitment to Adventist beliefs are important parts of a vibrant university whose mission is to seek, to know, and to serve God and His children.
VOTED November 11, 2009 by the La Sierra University Board of Trustees
La Sierra University Board of Trustees Affirms University’s Support for Church’s Creation Doctrine
The La Sierra University Board of Trustees has reaffirmed the school’s foundational commitments as a Seventh-day Adventist institution of higher education with particular focus on the Church’s official doctrine of creation.
The board’s first action supported the university’s responsibilities to the Church through:
- Committing to a spirit of open inquiry and discussion in the university’s classrooms and laboratories.
- Inspiring, challenging, and supporting the university’s faculty in their sacred academic work.
- Affirming that both academic responsibility and commitment to Adventist beliefs are important parts of a vibrant university, as articulated in Ellen White’s statement “It is the work of true education to…train the youth to be thinkers and not mere reflectors of other men’s thought.” (Education, p. 17).
In a second action, the board called for scientists and administrators in Adventist higher education to work together with Church leadership in a study group. This group would propose a college curriculum fulfilling the General Conference Executive Committee’s call for a scientifically rigorous affirmation of a literal, recent six-day creation. The study group would obtain assistance from the Geoscience Research Institute in forming model course outlines in life and earth sciences. These could inform curricular revision throughout Adventist higher education.
Additionally, the board requested that a research project be launched to study the spiritual development of Adventist students in higher education throughout the North American Division, with special attention to students in the sciences. It recommended that La Sierra University’s John Hancock Center for Youth and Family Ministry, home of the ValueGenesis research project, coordinate the program in cooperation with the North American Division Office of Education.
The actions voted at the board meetings of November 11-12, grew out of several days of board discussions on the issue.
“These board actions are an important, positive moment for La Sierra University,” said Randal Wisbey, university president. “Our board members and faculty take seriously their obligation to teach our students in a manner that develops a mature, enduring faith while thoroughly preparing them for careers in the sciences.
“At the same time, our board members recognize this important conversation requires thoughtful input from the entire spectrum of Adventist higher education,” President Wisbey said.
The board identified the university’s new general biology seminar, launched during fall quarter 2009, as an important initial addition to the La Sierra biology curriculum. Required of all students as they begin the university’s General Biology sequence, the seminar brings students together with scholars from biology, religious studies, and the Geoscience Research Institute. It provides time to explore the role and function of science, the importance of faith, and the relevant doctrinal positions of Seventh-day Adventists.
“The La Sierra Biology faculty have faith that God is their Creator and Sustainer,” said James Wilson, Ph.D., department chair. “Each faculty member understands the important responsibility to facilitate broad education in biology in ways that embrace the Adventist perspective of God as the Creator of all things.”
“Moving forward, the board, administration, and faculty are committed to serving our students as they study the important issues of faith and science,” said Ricardo Graham, chair of the La Sierra University Board of Trustees. “As board members, we are appreciative of the wide range of comments on the issue shared by thoughtful church members, and for the many prayers offered during our discussions.”
The complete text of the board’s two actions can be found on the university’s website at www.lasierra.edu/board.