By Sean Pitman
The Seventh-day Adventist Church officially holds, as a foundational empirical truth, that God really did create all life on this planet in just six literal days… and then rested on the seventh-day from his creative work with this planet, creating a holy Sabbath day for us to rest from all of our secular activities and usual routines of the week – to step aside and enjoy His works of nature and remember Him as our Creator. This original week has been the model of all subsequent weeks on this planet and appears to be imprinted in our very DNA (Link). The very name “Seventh-day Adventist” is based on this fundamental belief regarding the historically literal nature of the Genesis account of origins. Our church has also upheld the idea that God’s works are evident in nature, showing the very Signature and glory of God. As David pointed out:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard… I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalms 19:1-3 and Psalms 139:14)
Yet, the teachings of modern evolutionary scientists have made significant inroads into our church schools. The majority of scientists in some of our schools, like La Sierra University, have long been teaching our young people that Neo-Darwinism is not just a popular competing naturalistic theory inimical to the Adventist perspective on origins, but that it is in fact the true story of origins – that life really has existed and evolved on this planet, in a Darwinian manner, over hundreds of millions of years of time. And, LSU is not alone. Several of our “Adventist” schools have started promoting the perspective of popular naturalistic science to one degree or another contrary to the historic Adventist position on origins. Of course, if accepted as true, this mainstream scientific perspective would effectively undermine key fundamental beliefs of historic Adventism – and even Christianity at large.
Our church leadership seems to recognize this potentiality and has tried to be clear with regard to what it expects from the professors in our schools. The General Conference Executive Committee at the 2004 Annual Council had asked all professors in SDA schools to also present the SDA perspective on origins in all classrooms:
We call on all boards and educators at Seventh-day Adventist institutions at all levels to continue upholding and advocating the church’s position on origins. We, along with Seventh-day Adventist parents, expect students to receive a thorough, balanced, and scientifically rigorous exposure to and affirmation of our historic belief in a literal, recent six-day creation, even as they are educated to understand and assess competing philosophies of origins that dominate scientific discussion in the contemporary world.
The problem is that this directive has been largely if not entirely ignored by several of our schools. However, at least two of our schools have taken this directive very seriously. Southern Adventist University and Southwestern Adventist University appear to be among the most active of all of our schools in the promotion of the concepts of Biblical creation as a form of science where the Signature of God can be recognized within nature as well as within His written Word In this effort, they should be actively supported and highly commended as they are working against significant odds and very strong opposing forces – even from within our own school system.
SAU has been very public, especially in its biology department, in the promotion of God’s design in nature. The halls of the biology department are decorated with murals depicting strong evidences for design behind the complexity and intricacy of living biological machines. For example, pictured to the right is Dr. Keith Snyder, department chair, pointing to one of the illustrations in the hallways of the biology department that highlighs the amazing intricacy, informational complexity, and intelligent design necessary to produce the biomachines within a single human cell. The science professors at SAU love to explain these evidences to students and visitors alike who ask about the meaning of the paintings on their walls.
Beyond this, SAU has been very explicit in its response to the efforts of many to promote Darwinian thinking and other popular purely naturalistic views of science within our school system. As a university, consider a few representative statments from their numerous affirmations and denials regarding their position on origins:
We affirm the supernatural creation of a perfect and good world in six, consecutive, contiguous, literal, 24-hour days (Gen 1; Ex 20:11) and that creation was complete at the end of creation week (Gen 2:1-2).
We deny that the creation story is parable, saga, metaphor, myth, or any other literary category insofar as they are construed as mutually exclusive to a literal and historical account.
We deny any other theory of origins involving millions of years for the development of life, and the evolution of humans from non-human primates as taught in natural evolution, theistic evolution, and progressive creation.
We deny the view that a literal and historical account of Gen 1-11 is not essential to the belief system of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
We deny that death was part of God’s original creation or that it will be part of God’s new creation.
We deny that the biblical flood was only local or that the covering of the high mountains only involved water in a solid state.
Along these same lines, SWAU is keeping right up with SAU in support of the Adventist perspective on origins. At SWAU Drs. Suzanne Phillips and Arthur Chadwick, along with the other science faculty, have been very active in promoting the science behind the detection of God’s Signature in nature in their classes. Dr. Chadwick, in particular, has also been a strong leader in the promotion of the Biblical concept of origins in his lectures on geology and biology and during his field trips to excavate dinosaur fossils in Wyoming. He has published many articles explaining the recent catastrophic origin of much of the fossil record and geologic column and of the very limited creative potential of random mutations and natural selection. He, and many of the other professors at SWAU have been a source of great encouragement and support for the faith of their students and for the church at large.
Consider also the mission statement of SWAU’s Earth History Research Center:
The Earth History Research Center is a non-profit, non-sectarian organization of active scientists. Our mission is to develop a scientifically credible view of earth history consistent with scripture, to conduct scientific research related to this goal and to promote our view through publication and education. (Link)
In short, if truly Adventist education is important to you, if you want yourself or your children to be taught the modern evolutionary theory as well as the truly Biblical perspective on origins from scientists as well as theologians who actually believe what the Bible says as it reads, if you want yourself or your children to be well-educated in what mainstream evolution is all about and to be given something more that goes beyond what is taught as the gospel truth in public schools, if you want yourself or your children to be given more information to consider than anyone will get who goes through public school education, if you want to know the reasons why Darwinian arguments are not the most scientifically rational arguments available, reasons showing the clear evidence for very high-level intelligence and design behind the informational complexity of living things and the universe at large, reasons strongly supporting the recent and rapid catastrophic origin of the fossil record and much of the geologic column, strongly consider attending or sending your children to Southern Adventist University or Southwestern Adventist University.