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2008 Discussions

Date: January 19, 2008

Speaker: Thomas Goodwin, Ph.D.

Position: Professor of Paleobiology & Curator, Natural History Museum , Andrews University

Topic: “Adventists & Creation: A Way Forward?”

Venue: Chan Shun Hall, Andrews University

Attendance: 72

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Presentation: SDAs are serious about science & theology, but when they clash, Dr. Goodwin suggested a four-part model: (1) motivate creative scholarship and discovery (beyond flood chronology); (2) affirm different thought styles in the quest for truth (we need mavericks to find new truth and conservatives to preserve old truths); (3) cultivate careful, virtuous thinking (avoid “you can’t” statements–balance data, theories, and shaping principles); (4) rethink our priorities toward a “new Creationism” (defend creation from current forces of de-creation; example SE Asian coral reefs). Dr. Goodwin supported his points with examples from leading scholars like Leonard Brand, David Raup, and Donald Prothero.

Date: February 23, 2008

Speakers: Dr. Gary Gray; Dr. Gary Land; Dr. Sten LaBianca; Dr. Pamela Harris ; Dr. Russell Staples

Positions: Assistant Professor of English, AU; Professor of History, AU; Professor of Anthropology, AU; Professor of Communications, AU; Professor Emeritus of Mission , AU Theological Seminary.

Topic: “A Mirror of Adventism? Seeking a Sanctuary: Seventh-day Adventism and the American Dream”

Venue: Chan Shun Hall

Attendance: 77

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Presentation: Gray surveyed Bull & Lockhart’s book as an “insider” & “outsider” view of Adventism & compared the 1st & 2nd editions. Staples found their treatment of theology skewed by sociological models, focusing on anomalies & not eschatological themes. Harris explored ironies in SDA Church being a “feminine” church yet denying women ordination & top leadership positions. Land saw the book as not a true history but a sociological treatment, yet the best study of Adventism based on primary & secondary sources that explores the dialectical elements in Adventism. LaBianca focused on how our eschatology of persecution intersects with “American Dream” ideas.

Date: April 5, 2008

Speaker: Dr. Richard Osborn

Position: President, Pacific Union College

Topic: “Challenges Facing Adventist Education”

Venue: Chan Shun Hall

Attendance: 35

Presentation: Osborn asserted that SDA colleges are important to fulfill church’s mission, but difficult financial, philosophical, enrollment challenges (rising tuition, declining birth rates, heavy dependence on loans, low income of new converts, etc.) must be shared or solved collaboratively as no new funding from GC or unions can be expected.  A new generation requires different solutions lest a major US or world crisis have devastating impacts on NAD colleges.  State & Federal expectations will continue to rise.  We must energize church members to strengthen SDA education at K-12 levels.  Solutions to worse problems (WWI, Depression, WWII) have been found in the past.

Date: April 19, 2008

Speaker: Dr. T. Joe Willey

Position: Professor of Neuroscience, Loma Linda University

Topic: “A Beast in the Garden: Why Ellen White’s Amalgamation Statements Challenge the Unity of Man”

Venue: Chan Shun Hall

Attendance: 97

Presentation: Willey examined EGW’s statement in Spiritual Gifts, p. 64 concerning the “amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God” & brought the Flood in the setting of 19th C. racism (Noah’s curse, the Hamitic myth of dark skin, hatred of race miscegenation, Civil War tensions regarding race, parallels between monkeys & Bushmen/Hottentots). He suggested she may have believed in polygenism (separate creation for each race). Her views, including that slaves would not go to heaven, were shared by Andrews & Smith, but contradicted the unity of humankind from one special creation (Acts 17:26) & sparked the Iowa defection of Snook & Brinkerhoff (1866).

Date: October 4, 2008

Speaker: Dr. Shandelle Henson

Position: Professor of Mathematics, Andrews University

Topic: “Why Mathematics, Science and Humanities (including Religion) Don’t Have a Quarrel”

Venue: Biology Amphitheater

Attendance: 70

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Presentation: Henson examined 2 conflict models (materialism & literalism) & 3 non- conflict models (religion caused by evolution, different goals for science & religion, & her “nested epistemologies” model with math in inner circle, science in larger circle, & humanities, philosophy, theology in outer circle. All seek truth but by different methods: Math (deduction with high conclusivity), Science (deduction & induction with moderate conclusivity), Humanities (deduction, induction, & extra-rational methods with low conclusivity but high scope). She idenitified “boundary violations” in feminist deconstruction, astrology, phrenology, & Intelligent Design arguments today.

Date: October 18, 2008

Speaker: Mr. Lee LaVanway
Position: Adjunct Professor of Agriculture, Andrews University
Topic: “Changing the World from Your Dinner Table: How the Food You Buy Affects
Your Community and Your Planet”
Venue: Biology Amphitheater
Attendance: 44
Presentation: Because food corporations exploit peasants in developing world nations & sell inferior food at higher prices that causes pathogenic illnesses, local communities should raise & process fruits & vegetables that will be fresher, tastier, more nutritious, & cheaper.  Better education regarding health & international exploitation issues & local financial benefits of community-based systems (CBS) are needed.  We don’t let giant corporations regulate our air or water, so why let them control our food?  We should make CBS public policy, tax-supported, locally regulated, with incentives to farmers & local groceries as CBS dollars circulate locally seven times before leaving the area.


Date: November 15, 2008

Speaker: Dr. Richard Davidson

Position: Chair, Department of Old Testament, Theological Seminary, Andrews University

Topic: “Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament”

Venue: Biology Amphitheater

Attendance: 65

Presentation: Based on his new book Flame of Yahweh, Davidson presented 10 themes for Gen. 1-3 & Song of Songs: Humans created in God’s image by His word (not sex among gods); His ideal is heterosexual, monogamous, egalitarian love; helpmate means equal partners; Bible emphasizes a holistic view of sex (spiritual, social, physical, etc.). The theology of marriage requires man & woman to leave parents, bond to each other, become one flesh, enjoy sex (not necessarily for procreation) without shame (in a holy relationship). Sabbath & sex are two gifts we have from Eden. Song of Solomon celebrates God’s good gift of sex (does not allegorize it!) as “the flame of Yahweh.”

Date: December 6, 2008

Speakers: Dr. Curtis VanderWaal; Dr. Edwin Hernandez

Positions: Chair, AU Social Work Department; Research Fellow at the University of Notre Dame Center for the Study of Latino Religion

Topic: “George W. Bush Is a Social Entrepreneur: Doing Good Goes Viral”

Venue: Biology Amphitheater

Attendance: 39

Presentation: New generation of tech-savvy evangelicals or “social entrepreneurs” are transforming the Gospel message into a global crusade for social change, focusing on AIDS, sex trafficking, hunger, malaria, disaster relief, & environment issues & using the internet & social networking tools with Bush’s support. Focus on “social advancement” & “outcomes,” enlist church-based volunteers for “faith-based initiatives.” Examples discussed: Orphans Against AIDS, Free Rice, Globalgiving, Aidmatrix, Congregations in America, Lily Endowment, PEW Charitable Trust. Discussed Dudley & Sahlin’s book Adventist Congregations Today re: community involvement and SDA church growth.

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