Participants Reflect on the Faith and Science Conference

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Participants Reflect on the Faith and Science Conference

A few participants at the International Conference on the Bible and Science shared their impressions with the readers of The Compass Magazine as answers to the questions below or in free form. We extend them another “thank you” for taking the time to share their reflections with us.

  1. Please summarize in a couple sentences your overall impression of the conference.
  2. What segments of the conference have been most valuable to you personally or to your group of delegates?
  3. What is the importance of a literal understanding of creation for Seventh-day Adventists?
  4. How will this conference enhance your contribution to the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church?

(Photo above: Participants enjoy a few relaxing Sabbath moments at Zion National Park in Utah, August 16, 2014. Photo courtesy of Valentin Filimon.)

1. I would say with all humility—and all to God’s glory—a double amen and amen to the conference. The conference was Holy Spirit-inspired and purpose-driven. I could feel personally the workings of God in each particular presentation, and I believe with all my heart that God was, is, and will always be in such a wonderful, faith-edifying, and faith-reaffirming conference.

2. I was very much blessed every time presenters would make presentations as purely Bible-based and Christ-centered. Rich scientific information about a lot of things like the complexity of cells, rock formations, and dinosaurs reinforced my solid foundation on a young earth which was created by a Creator God. Theologically, my understanding of the Sabbath became more edified. It is not only about cessation of what you normally do each day, but it reveals a GOD who is worthy to be worshiped at all times and a God who created the world in six literal days. Honestly, I also got an interest in studying paleontology and geology in some ways after having been immersed in the presentations. God’s will be done.

3. Personally, the literal understanding of creation among Seventh-day Adventists would strengthen their faith in a Creator God as the Maker of all things, Sustainer of life, Provider of needs, and personal God, who is involved in the affairs of mankind. It will also remind them that humans, though anatomically and physiologically in some ways similar to animals, do belong to the highest kingdom. It restores healthy confidence, it boosts self-esteem, it encourages service to others, it helps in building a productive and Christlike relationship with others, it helps the church to protect the environment, and it reminds them that every person is valuable and precious in the eyes of God. No person should be treated unfairly or unjustly or ridiculed in any way, because they are created in the image of God.

4. As a teacher and counselor, by God’s grace I would always look at my students through the eyes of love. In the context of creation and redemption, every person in my class, in the church, in the community deserves to know that God is a Creator God who brings hope, forgiveness, salvation, transformation, and restoration through Christ Jesus.

– Pastor Ponciano M. Cudiamat
College Professor and Guidance Counselor at Manila Adventist College, Philippines

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Grand Canyon National Park, AZ, August 20, 2014. Photo courtesy of Valentin Filimon.

1. I am a researcher from Technion (Technical Institute in Israel). I never participated in anything like this. I am really impressed by the conference! Inspired event!

2. I met with many of our (Adventist) scientists, specialists in different areas—biology, biochemistry, paleontology. All of them combine their scientific activity with living faith in the God of the Bible, our Creator. For me it has been very useful to meet and to speak with Christian researchers sharing the same point of view as I do. The presentations related to biology and biochemistry have been extremely interesting for me. Other ones have been also useful. The atmosphere (psychological climate) has been very friendly.

3. For me, creation and salvation are connected very strongly. In the past, our God created the earth and nature. He is a mighty and merciful God. He loves the sinner (me). He demonstrated His love through Christ. Jesus died for me and instead of me. And I know that God is LOVE. Now He makes me righteous. In the other words, HE CREATES the inward man inside me. HE CREATES MY NEW (SPIRITUAL) NATURE. He is mighty enough to do it successfully because in the past He was successful in creating the whole!

4. I think that the conference opens new opportunities for all participants to support our students and children studying in secular universities and help them to have faith in the God of creation, not to be confused by evolutionary theory.

– Dmitry Mologin
Researcher at Technion, Technical Institute in Israel

1. The conference has been very informative and inspiring. The subjects dealt with were relevant to the mission of the SDA Church, especially in light of the challenges faced by many Adventist students operating in the secular environment. However, I do feel that there could have been more international involvement in the presentations.

2. Most valuable to me have been the field trips to Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon. The presentations on geology and genetics were very informative.

3. The importance is that an understanding of creation informs us of our origin and also our destiny. It gives relevance to our existence and elevates the status of mankind from being a mere accident to being a deliberate product of a divine Being.

4. This conference and its subjects inform my preaching and help clarify the reason for the message which this church has been given.

– Michael Hamilton
Sabbath School Director for Trans-European Division, United Kingdom

Zion National Park in Utah, August 16, 2014. Photo courtesy of Valentin Filimon.

Zion National Park in Utah, August 16, 2014. Photo courtesy of Valentin Filimon.

1. This conference was revealing to me as it is my first participation in an event like this. Knowing the work that the church is doing in search of affirming our faith in something as important as the origin of life has impacted my heart, and I will certainly convey to my church where I am invited to preach the efforts we make as a congregation to go search for truth and affirm our bases.

2. I’m a geologist by training, so all the scientific exhibits that have been filed fed my concern and called my attention. But even the theological papers give the biblical necessary support and open new doors of knowledge and interpretation to the Scriptures, which are the rock upon which our faith is founded.

3. It is absolutely necessary and consistent if we claim to be Seventh-day Adventists. The return of Jesus has no power or substance if we cancel the creative power of God at the beginning of human existence. God comes to re-create the earth and humanity by the sacrifice of Christ. [To deny this truth] is devastating for the gospel and also cancels the message of the three angels declared in the Apocalypse.

4. Having greater knowledge and further contact with the rest of the Adventist world allows us to make new alliances and move together as a great people giving hope to the non-Christian world of the soon return of Jesus. In addition we work with research and scientific endeavors at the various levels of the church and at the training level that God calls us to work in the mission, either locally or externally.

– Oliver Vásquez
Geologist, Chile

1. The conference has provided some wonderful affirmation for my belief in God as the Creator and for our Adventist understanding of the biblical account of creation. It has probably been a tad too long and could have been shortened by three days. Unfortunately, at a conference such as this there are always those who want to advance their own perspectives, but hopefully that will not be allowed to detract from a good conference.

2. That we can ask legitimate questions of those who hold evolutionary presuppositions which call into question their theories; that we by faith accept the biblical record of origins, even if we do not have all the answers that are posed by those who have different philosophical presuppositions.

3. The word “literal” does not appear in the creation record. The acceptance of the biblical account of creation is foundational to the message and mission of this Church.

4. The mission of the Church is to make disciples for Jesus Christ. This conference has given us perspectives on the foundational nature of the creative activity of God and shown us that we can follow Him as disciples confidently.

– Anonymous, South Pacific Division

1. The conference was an expression of denominational commitment to advocate our doctrinal beliefs in our educational institutions. In particular, it was committed to teaching both models of origins, while advocating Genesis 1-11 as literal history. This is intended to equip students to face materialist evolutionary thought intelligently, with the capacity to hold their faith in the process.

2. Emphasis on the need to be honest with difficult data while being willing to live with tensions between that data and one’s faith. On the other side, seeing the extent of good research data agreeing with a short chronology view was very encouraging.

3. Genesis 1-3 (especially) as well as the rest of Genesis 1-11 provides the theological and philosophical basis for the rest of Scripture. Who God is, who man is, the nature of reality, sin, redemption, and judgment are all defined in these chapters, and those definitions control the rest of biblical theology. If you alter the meaning of these chapters from their own philosophical and theological worldviews, you will warp the rest of biblical interpretation to a greater or lesser degree depending on the passage in question.

4. Kurt Wise’s presentation poignantly reminded me that academic achievement or credibility is not as important as the salvation of a soul, and thus the need for moral daring and sensitive witness to academics of whatever discipline. We need to operate under the weight of eternal perspectives.

– Stephen Bauer, Ph.D.
Professor of Theology and Ethics at Southern Adventist University, United States

The group of delegates from Romania explore Zion National Park in Utah, August 16, 2014. Photo courtesy of Valentin Filimon.

The group of delegates from Romania explore Zion National Park in Utah, August 16, 2014. Photo courtesy of Valentin Filimon.

1. The conference has obviously had as a primary objective to emphasize the literal creation in six literal days and in recent history. But the presentations taken as a cluster were not interrelated so well.

2. The presentation of Dr. Taylor about the worldview of Adventist education.

3. The importance of a literal understanding of creation for SDAs relates to the seventh-day Sabbath. Hence, the idea has a direct influence over the obligation of the fourth commandment. In other words, if we have a non-literal creation or evolution mindset, there would be no reason for keeping the Sabbath commandment.

4. Practically, I decided to include in the theology curriculum at the college I teach a course on Science and Religion in order to strengthen the faithfulness to the biblical account and to widen the understanding of how to reach out to people of a different thinking.

– Laurentiu Mot
Professor of New Testament at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Cernica, Romania

1. I think it has been very necessary and valuable. The presentations led me to abandon many doubts and they opened others up. We received a wealth of material and rigorous scientific explanations.

2. The scientific part was amazing. I really enjoyed the presentations, and I learned from all of them (Leonard Brand, Standish, Chadwick, Esperante, Turunen, Suzanne Phillips, etc.).

3. It is important for understanding that God is our Creator and Savior. It gives meaning to the Sabbath and places it on the same level which it will have in the restored new earth.

4. I teach biology in an Adventist school with students ages 15-18. I have acquired much knowledge that helps me continue teaching the courses on creationism and evolution and bring much current information in favor of creationism. Overall, these conferences have been very enriching at the personal and professional level.

– Maria Jose Lopez Chavarrias
Biology Teacher at Sagunto, Spain

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, August 16, 2014. Photo courtesy of Valentin Filimon.

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, August 16, 2014. Photo courtesy of Valentin Filimon.

1. The conference was very enriching spiritually, academically, and even socially.

2. The trips to Zion National Park and Grand Canyon were most valuable because I was able to see the amazing handwork of the Creator.

3. The literal understanding of creation is important for SDAs because it is the only way of defending the truth from the teachings of evolution by atheistic scientists.

4. This conference will enhance my contribution in understanding of the biblical teachings of creation and the relationship between science and the Bible. This will enable me to share the truth with other members of the church.

– Korso Gude, Ph.D.
Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academics at the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton (Kenya)

It was an oddity and/or irony to be in a conference where the natural scientists were protesting research that attempted to reduce the irreducible complexity of nature to naturalistic materialism and the Andrews University theologians were protesting research that would not reduce the irreducible complexity of Scripture to their so-called “Biblicism.” Both perspectives are socially located in the interpreters of former North-Atlantic colonizing descendants. Both are not hermeneutically honest because the presenters are not being transparent about their social location, which conditions their perspectives.

– Anonymous, United States

I liked the conference very much. It is encouraging to see leadership organize such a comprehensive and powerful event affirming creation from both a biblical and scientific perspective. The literal understanding of creation is foundational to every other Christian belief, including the sanctity of both marriage and the family. So much information was crammed into a very small amount of time—I will spend a long time unpacking and utilizing the resources in my ministry. I appreciated the opportunity to visit and fellowship with people from many different countries, and it was encouraging to see the level of piety and faith commitment that we have among the educational leadership in the worldwide SDA church. I had a chance to witness to a person servicing us at the convention for over an hour and look forward to continued contact. The person is looking forward to receiving The Great Controversy.

– Larre Kostenko
District Pastor, Northern California Conference, United States

 

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Adelina Alexe is a Ph.D. student in systematic theology at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. She loves God and enjoys nature, arts, and meaningful conversation. Her special research interests are narrative theology and hermeneutics.