La Sierra Professor & Board Members Expelled!

It’s been a year since we last reported on the big creationism battle that was ripping apart La Sierra University, a private university in Riverside, California, which is part of the Seventh-day Adventist system of higher education.

As you may recall, the university had been teaching evolution, which is contrary to their church’s belief in young-earth creationism. There were online petitions signed by thousands, and charges that biology classes were being guided by Satan. Three biology professors were singled out for teaching evolution, and many wanted them to be removed from the faculty. Our last post on this topic was Adventist University: Evolution Battle Continues. At that time we reported:

the Adventist Accrediting Association board … declined to extend La Sierra’s Adventist church accreditation for a full five years. Instead, the university received a provisional one-year extension, to Dec. 31, 2012, to give the university more time to infuse Adventist religious beliefs into science classes and make other changes.

At the same time, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, a federally approved accreditation agency, was pushing La Sierra to teach science, not creationism, in order to retain accreditation. Nothing was resolved last year, but now, in the Press-Enterprise of Riverside, California, where La Sierra is located, we read La Sierra professor, board members dismissed. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

A La Sierra University professor and three university trustees said they were dismissed for trying to resolve a years-long controversy over creationism and evolution that has threatened the religious institution’s accreditation.

Dismissed? We believe that in such cases, the appropriate term is Expelled! Let’s read on:

Lee Greer, an assistant professor of biology, said the Riverside university refused to renew his three-year contract. The three trustees said their fellow board members booted them from the panel. The university declined to comment.

Here’s Greer’s page at La Sierra: Dr. Lee Greer. It seems to have been purged of all information — or maybe it never had any. Wait — here’s Greer’s Lab. He’s obviously not a creationist. We continue with the news story:

The dismissals appear to be the latest chapter in a struggle by the Seventh-day Adventist institution to reconcile the church belief that God created the Earth in six days with the scientific consensus supporting the theory of evolution.

And it looks like the creationists have been triumphant. Here’s more:

Greer said he initiated discussions that led to a statement proposing that creation be taught in university classrooms as faith, rather than science, and that students be told that it could not be proven with scientific methods.

What’s wrong with that? Too rational? The newspaper says:

Before the board voted on the proposal, it dismissed three of the four trustees who supported it.

Yup. Too rational. Another excerpt:

Greer said he’s considering a lawsuit against the university alleging, among other issues, a violation of his contractual right to academic freedom. But he said he’d prefer to stay at La Sierra and have his contract renewed rather than resort to legal action.

It would be fun to watch the Discoveroids’ reaction to that, but it would be better for everyone if this mess were resolved without litigation. La Sierra seems to have chosen to go all creationist, all the time. That’s their right. They don’t want Greer, so perhaps he should consider a position at a different institution. Anyway, here’s how the article ends:

The professor said he only wanted to help La Sierra and its students. “I’m concerned for the university,” he said. “And I’m concerned for the students, that they have a quality science education. … The controversy is not good for the prestige of their degrees.”

La Sierra doesn’t want Greer’s help. In our humble opinion, they don’t deserve it. He’s wasting his time there. You can’t teach spherical earth at a flat earth academy.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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15 responses to “La Sierra Professor & Board Members Expelled!

  1. From the linked article:

    In Greer’s La Sierra office, a bookshelf contained volumes such as the Bible and “The Five Gospels” above texts such as “Religion and Science” and “Finding Darwin’s God.”

    The latter is by Ken Miller, who was one of the witnesses for the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller. No wonder they wanted him gone. What a heretic! Further, if you look at the picture on the website of his lab, look at those smiling faces! Why, they look too happy, as if… as if… they were learning science! Blasphemy!
    By the way, Dr. Greer has issued a press release.

  2. aturingtest

    Typical. They only want to teach (or, more accurately, force) “the controversy” in our schools. But god forbid there should be one in theirs.

  3. Clearly a case of viewpoint discrimination.

  4. Thanks for the link to the press release, garystar1.

  5. docbill1351

    Ha! It’s Opposite Coppedge Day! Expelled and violated academic freedom and viewpoint discrimination. Yes, lost his job due to religious persecution, in this case, his perceived religion of Darwinism.

    However, two observations about what goes on at a Bible College excluding amateur drunken coed party videos (not that I would know anything about that):

    1. Who cares?
    2. See 1.

  6. I met some of the La Sierra biology profs when they visited Pepperdine several years ago. They were trying to figure out how teaching evolution at Pepperdine was not particularly controversial, and they were also very concerned that their views of evolution could possibly get them crosswise with their administration. I underestimated their concern – a couple of them have tenure, so it will be interesting to see how they fare.

  7. evilunderthesun

    “It would be fun to watch the Discoveroids’ reaction to that,”
    especially since they just went into a frenzy about a letter sent to a student newspaper that criticised the anti-evolution position of an invited commencement speaker, Dr. Ben Carson (an Adventists, ironically). This letter was seen as an attack on academic freedom (you know, because academic freedom means that no one is allowed to criticise your position on scientific issues, as we all know) and they even wrote a petition to support him and academic freedom. *sound of head exploding*
    Well, anyway, I’m sure the Discoveroids’ll be all over this case, even without a lawsuit, since they’re all for academic freedom and such. They’ll publish their petition to support Dr. Greer any minute now.

  8. Retired Prof

    I took a college biology class from a creationist at a religious institution. He assigned us to write a paper comparing evolutionary theory with the creationist account. He provided an extensive bibliography for us to work from–and not a skewed one, as far as I could tell. In my paper I reached an agnostic position and received an A for the paper.

    On that model, “teaching the controversy” could work at La Sierra if everybody would just show a little Christian tolerance.

  9. NeonNoodle

    What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander – or “catdog” or “crocoduck.”

  10. retiredsciguy

    The Western Association of Schools and Colleges should pull their accreditation from La Sierra forthwith. If they choose not to teach science, that’s their business — but they’re being deceitful when they accept tuition from students who think they will be attending a university and receiving a diploma that actually means something.

  11. @RSG: Agree wholeheartedly. Many of the comments on Dr Greers statement essentially say, “Go teach that evolution crap somewhere else!” I say pull the accreditation and let it turn into the podunk Bible college it so richly deserves.

  12. Retired Prof: “He assigned us to write a paper comparing evolutionary theory with the creationist account.”

    Before even beginning the paper I would have to ask “Which of the mutually-contradictory accounts do you mean by ‘the’ creationist account?” Which means that I probably would have gotten an F even if my paper’s conclusion was “agnostic.” Not that I could even do that given how I take “thou shalt not bear false witness” seriously.

  13. Retired Prof

    Frank J., this was early in my reassessment of these matters fifty years ago. Naturally, I concentrated on the version of creation taught by my parents’ church: an old-earth variant. I credit this assignment for helping push me out the church door into the wider world. (The first impulse was reading the Bible itself.) Not long after this, like you I ceased being agnostic about evolution.

  14. @Retired Prof

    Thanks. From your name I should have realize that it was some years ago. That was not only well before the “don’t ask, don’t tell what happened when” scam, but even “scientific” YEC was just getting started. AIUI, “creationism” was mostly OEC at the time, and mostly about honest belief, not evidence and quote manipulation. So I wouldn’t be surprised if you got a good grade even with some critical analysis of the “creationist” arguments. Whereas, in the current climate, you could be “expelled” for even stating the age of the earth, much less trying to show where the evidence converges.