More than 30 scholars integrate theology and earth sciences research
On July 20-30, 2017, more than 480 delegates from 24 union territories and 43 countries of the Inter-American Division (IAD) studied, queried and fellowshipped together on the campus of Montemorelos University, Nuevo León, Mexico during a conference dedicated to highlighting the powerful synergy possible between faith in the Bibleas God’s unerring Word and in nature, rightly understood, as a consistent witness to the reliability of that Word.
More than 30 academics, specialists in multiple theological and scientific areas from paleontology to Hebrew and Semitic Studies shared theses, raised questions and discussed those raised by an audience consisting mainly of school teachers and university professors from the various levels of Adventist education.
The conference was the second of its kind sponsored by the Faith & Science Council in 2017. Scholarly bodies and sponsors that have worked with the Council on its initiatives this year include three universities—Andrews, Loma Linda and Montemorelos; two General Conference think tanks—the Biblical Research Institute and the Geoscience Research Institute; departments of Education at the General Conference and the North American Division, as well as the General Conference Council on Faith & Science and the Adventist Theological Society.
Gamaliel Florez, IAD education director, explained that competence in handling questions of the relationship between faith and science is highly desirable for Adventist teachers at all levels because they are in the Church’s evangelistic vanguard, confronting false ideas and disseminating the truth about the existence of the world, and the character of the God who made it.
Government Guests Pleased
Representatives of state and municipal government attended conference opening ceremonies, as well as others from academic institutions in the state of Nuevo León where Montemorelos University is located. They listened with interest and appreciation as Ed Zinke, principal conference organizer, laid out the objectives and philosophy that would undergird the conference presentations and proceedings.
Everett Brown, pastor and president of the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists remarked that he found it “quite refreshing, enlightening and at times inspiring to hear highly qualified scientists publicly articulating their beliefs in God and creation.” Florez felt that the objectivity of presentations provided a great stimulus to attendees to continue reading and investigating the important issues dealt with. “We go from this conference convinced of how essential acceptance of the literal, biblical account of creation is to all our doctrinal convictions,
said Florez. “Without a Creator there is no saving God, and therefore, no new heaven and earth either: only a constantly evolving being that knows nothing of sin, and will continue evolving until its processes one day bring it to perfection.”
The presenters’ theoretical framework and their creationist worldview were positives for Brown. “I will leave the Faith and Science Conference being exposed to cutting edge scientific information which has reinforced my faith in God and the biblical account of a recent creation,” he concluded.
Wednesday, July 26, attendees and lecturers took a field day trip to the Huasteca Zone of Nuevo Leon where they could observe physical remains that pointed to catastrophism and young age for life on earth that accords with the Genesis record.
Statement of Consensus
The 11-day conference concluded with a statement of consensus reaffirming faith in a recent six-day creation of “heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is.” Delegates rededicated themselves to their Creator God, to the continued study of nature using the tools of science, and based on a biblical worldview—particularly one that acknowledges the damage that sin has caused—and to share through teaching, preaching and living the truth that God is Creator, and to proclaim more widely than ever the message of the three angels to “worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Rev. 14:7).