Teaching Creation & Evolution

at La Sierra University

Some Results From Our Student Survey

LSU Board’s Objective
To investigate the validity of the following allegations: • The Biblical account of six literal consecutive 24-hour days of creation has been discredited and labeled as merely figurative language, • The theory of evolution is taught as having greater scientific merit than the Biblical account of creation, and • Students who maintain a traditional SDA perspective with regard to Creation are marginalized and sometimes ridiculed for holding this position.

The Process
• August 31: La Sierra University sent out from the Provost ‘s office a “Zoomerang” survey to the following:

– 264 General Biology students from the past 4 years – 134 Biology majors from the past 4 years and the year 2000.
• 29 email addresses were returned as not valid. • 369 survey invitations were delivered

• September 13: An email reminder was sent to survey recipients. • September 20: The survey closed

The Sample
• As of September 20 there were
– 151 visits to the survey site (40% view rate) – 91 completed surveys (24.7% response rate)
• Expected response rate was between 24% and 26%)
(http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol6/issue2/sheehan.html)

– – – –

Survey fatigue? Lack of topic salience? No strong opinion? Belief that opinion won’t matter or change things?

• 49 of the respondents wrote comments

Filters
• • • • • • • • • • • Unfiltered report. All responses included. (N = 91) Overall SDA sample. All Seventh-day Adventist responses included. (N = 65) Recent responses. All SDA biology students from the year 2009-2010 (N = 40) SDA General Biology students from the years 2006-2010 (N = 43) SDA biology majors from the years 2007-2010 (N = 21) SDA biology major from the year 2000 (N = 1) SDA biology students who have attended LSU since their freshman year (N = 44) SDA biology students who transferred to LSU (N = 21) SDA biology students who believe that it is not appropriate to present evolutionary theories in biology class (N = 2) SDA biology students who believe that it is appropriate to present evolutionary theories in biology class (N = 60) Non-Seventh-day Adventist bio students/majors (N = 26)

Findings
My Professors Respected My Views
90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% -10% -20% -30% -40% -50% -60% -70% -80% -90% 15% -8% -2% 19% -14% -5% 19% -7% -2% 8% -4% 56% 62% 44% 69%

N = 91
All

N = 21
SdA Majors

N = 43
SdA GenB

N = 26
Not SdA

Findings
Profs Encouraged My Faith in God
80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% -10% -20% -30% -40% -50% -60% -70% -80% All SdA Majors SdA GenB Not SdA 23% -9% -7% 19% -5% -14% 28% -9% -7% 46% 52% 40% 50% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 19% -12% 10% 0% -10% -20% -30% -40% -50% -60% -70% -80% 18% -8% -4% 19% -10% 23% 8% -12% -2% -8% -4% 51% 57% 42% 58%

Profs Supported My Religion

N = 91
All

N = 21
SdA Majors

N = 43
SdA GenB

N = 26
Not SdA

Findings
Evolution’s Strengths / Weaknesses Were Discussed
80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% -10% -20% -30% -40% -50% -60% -70% -80% All SdA Majors SdA GenB Not SdA -15% -8% -14% -10% -19% -9% 26% 33% 21% 27% -12% -4% 37% 36% 33% 46% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% -10% -20% -30% -40% -50% -60% -70% -80% All SdA Majors SdA GenB Not SdA 29% -7% -11% 40% 19% -10% -10% -7% -16% 15% -4% -4% 40% 26% 52% 54%

Profs Helped Integrate Science + Faith

Findings
Differences Between Facts, Beliefs, & Theories Were Explained
90% 70% 50% 30% 10% -10% -30% -50% -70% -90% All SdA Majors SdA GenB Not SdA 20% -10% -8% 28% 10% -14% -14% -9% -2% 15% -8% -12% 56% 49% 62%

62%

Findings
Evolution Was Taught as a Scientific Working Theory
90% 70% 50% 30% 10% -10% -30% -50% -70% -90% All SdA Majors SdA GenB Not SdA 27% -4% -7% 35% 19% -5% -10% -7% -5% 19% -8% 57% 67% 49% 65%

Findings
SDA View of Creation Was Presented
70% 70%

SDA View of Creation Was Supported

50% 23% 30% 27% 14% -19% -14% -10% -19% -12% 21% 38% 33% 15%

50% 23% 30% 31% 10% 27% 29% -5% 35% 15% 12% -21% -12% -12% -19% -12% -15% 19% 12%

10%

-10%

-21% -12%

-29%

-10%

-19%

-30%

-30%

-50%

-50%

-70% All SdA Majors SdA GenB Not SdA

-70%

N = 91
All

N = 21
SdA Majors

N = 43
SdA GenB

N = 26
Not SdA

Compared to What?
• How good is “good enough”? • Is there a baseline to which we might compare our data? • A point of comparison might be Valuegenesis, a national, longitudinal, study of students in SDA schools, grades 6 – 12.

– Not a question for question correlation – Grades 9 – 12 not the same as university – But it does provide a little context for understanding our data.

Point of Reference
• 63 – 81% of LSU students reported that they felt respected by their professors. • 39% of NAD students often feel “put down” by their teachers. (VG, 301) • 51% of NAD students agree that they can “be myself” at church. (VG, 209) • 44% of NAD students believe that churches are accepting of differences. (VG, 281)

Point of Reference
• 68 – 71% of LSU students feel that their professors encouraged their faith in God. • 53% of NAD students feel that their teacher’s faith helped their own faith development. (VG 302) • 27% of NAD students report that their mothers talked with them about their faith. (VG 265) • 19% that their fathers talked with them about their faith. (VG 265)

Point of Reference
• 65 – 76% of LSU students reported that their professors supported their faithfulness to their religion. • 44% of NAD students feel that schools are helping them accept and appreciate Adventism. (VG 309) • 32% feel that schools are “turning young people off” to Adventism. (VG 309)

Point of Reference
• 46 – 54% of LSU students believe that the SDA view of creation was adequately presented in class. • 27 – 50% believe that the SDA view of creation was adequately supported. • 71% of NAD academy students believe in a literal six-day creation. (VG 157, 158) • 4% never heard of the belief. • 7% definitely do not believe it. • 7% lean toward not believing it. • 11% are uncertain about a six-day creation.
(E-mail 7 Oct 2010)

Our Goal
Rightly understood, both the revelations of science and the experiences of life are in harmony with the testimony of Scripture to the constant working of God in nature.
Education, p. 130

Resources
“Whether a young person has supportive parents or church congregation, the key is to provide an environment of ‘frank, open and transparent exchanges,’ Casti said.”
Adventist News Network, “Why will some Adventist teens remain in church as adults?” 04 March 2010. http://news.adventist.org/2010/03/astudy-of-active-se.html

Resources
“. . . when looking at the church, the key issue for young people is the climate of the congregation. In our research we discovered two areas where improvement is needed: positive warmth and critical thinking skills. What is tragic, it seems to me, is that as young people grow up from grades six to twelve, they view both warmth and thinking in the church as diminishing climates.”
Adventist News Network, “Studies suggest ways church can develop faith in its young people.” 03 May 2010. http://news.adventist.org/2010/05/research-on-faith-va.html

Resources
Gillespie, V. Bailey, et al. (2004). Valuegenesis Ten Years Later: A Study of Two Generations. Riverside, CA: Hancock Center Publications. ISBN 0-9748531-0-0

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