Our faith is strongest when it is based on a relationship with God and not a set of beliefs or datasets of scientific evidence. Indeed, the complexities of addressing origins issues in an academic environment are many, but faith must be our final point of reference.
As faculty in the biology department at Walla Walla University, our goal is to offer students a thorough, balanced and scientifically rigorous exposure to, and affirmation of, our historic belief in a literal, six-day creation. At the same time we are challenged to adequately prepare these students to think and work in a scientific community where evolution is the dominant paradigm. We welcome this challenge!
I have dedicated my life to mentoring and nurturing the spiritual and intellectual development of Adventist students from junior high through graduate school. My colleagues and I serve as both scientists and pastors as we journey with students through the discussions regarding origins. We feel immense responsibility to develop the skills of our students to handle the challenges to their faith that may come from the world of science. We know the faith of their childhood may not withstand the rigors of scientific evidence — in fact, students are often surprised when they get to college and learn that many aspects of evolution make scientific sense and are based on real data. It is at this time that they are most vulnerable, and we are privileged to walk with them and nurture their Seventh-day Adventist faith.
As the parent of two college students, I want my children to learn and affirm the Adventist position on origins. I want them to be lifelong participants in the Adventist faith community. I affirm faculty who have a deep, spiritual commitment to serve as mentors and role models for my own children. This is a sacred assignment, one that I know firsthand is shared and valued by those who teach our children.
Walla Walla University is a place where each student's spiritual and intellectual development is considered a sacred trust. I appreciate and endorse Jan Paulsen's thoughtful stance on the issue of teaching origins in our Adventist colleges and universities, and I applaud his reminder to "bring them safely back home before the day is over."