Understanding Genesis: Implications of SDA Faith/Science Conferences

Speaker: Categories: May 10, 2008


[1hr, 9min, 55sec /46min, 57sec]


Reconsidering the recent and rather ongoing discussions (debates) among SDAs regarding the origin of earth's life forms refocuses attention on the concept ofpresent truth. One might question how the veracity of present truth is determined - whether by committee action, popular vote, or in the mind of the believer. Further questions might be posed regarding the impact of the determined veracity, perhaps agreed upon or perhaps still uncertain, and on the funding for making such determinations.

The Subject of the timing/dating of origins has been the focus of at least seven Forum meetings in the recent past: 3/94, 10/94, 8/99, 10/99, 2/00, 5/03, and 7/02. Two of these were presented by this month's speaker: 8/99,Crises SDA Creationism: Confrontation or Accommodation?and 5/03,Adventist Creationism in 21st Century: Fundamentalist or Constructive?The above would seem to provide evidence that present truth, at least on this topic, has continued to be in tension.

Dr. Taylor expands on this background with the comments which follow."Between 2002 and 2004, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists sponsored eightFaith and Science Conferences. Two of these conferences -- in August 2002 in Ogden, Utah and August 2004 in Denver, Colorado -- were international in scope and brought together scientists, theologians, and church administrators from around the Adventist world at an estimated cost in excess of $1.5 million."

"Between the twoInternational Faith and Science Conferences, six Divisions -- South Pacific, North America, South Africa-Indian Ocean, Euro-Africa, East-Central Africa and West-Central Africa -- held their own Divisional Faith and Science sessions. The conferences held in the three African Divisions were largely directed by personal of the Geoscience Research Institute (GRI) and thus there was little discussion of the wide diversity of opinion in the church in North America and Australia, and, to a much lesser extent, in Europe, on age of life on planet earth and the nature of the geological record."

"In contrast, particularly at the North American Division session held at Glacier View, Colorado, and, to some degree in the South Pacific Division session held at Avondale College in Australia, a wide spectrum of views were expressed in a positive, open atmosphere that both supported and questioned traditional Adventist Young Life Creationist (YLC) understandings that all life had been created in six !iteral days less than 10,000 years ago and that there had been a recent world wide flood. The wide diversity of views on this controversial subject by Adventist scientists and theologians in North America has been documented by a survey undertaken in 1994 and 2003 byAdventist Today."

"At the final international conference held in Denver in August, 2004, the spirit of open and respectful dialogue that characterized the North American Division session held in Glacier View wasnoticeably absent. (emphasis added) Rather, it became clear early in the conference that church administrators had determined that the institutional church needed to reaffirm its essentially fundamentalist position concerning what is believed to beBiblical Creationismand express it more forcefully and explicitly."

On one hand, while church administrators in 2004 determined to express the church's official Creationist position in even more rigid and uncompromising language, other more moderate and progressive elements in the church elected to maintain the tradition of the pursuit ofPresent Truthespoused by the Adventist pioneers by publishing a volume in 2006 entitledUnderstanding Genesis: Contemporary Adventist Perspectives.


Ervin Taylor is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at University of California, Riverside (UCR). From 1974 to 2002 he directed the UCR Radiocarbon Laboratory and from 1994 to 2000 he chaired the UCR anthropology department. He currently is a Visiting Scientist in the Keck Carbon Cycle Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory at the University of California, Irvine, and Research Associate in the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Taylor received his B.A. from Pacific Union College, an MA in history and a Ph.D in anthropology at UCLA. After completing his Ph.D., Dr. Taylor held a NSF postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA in the Department of Chemistry.

He has over 100 publications including articles inScience, Nature, Analytical Chemistry, American Antiquity,'Antiquity, and Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research. He is the author or editor of five books including Of Radiocarbon Dating: An Archaeological Perspective(Academic Press, 1987)

Dr. Taylor is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1976-77, he was president of the Southwestern Anthropological Association and in 1980-81 he served as the president of the Society for Archaeological Sciences. In 2004 he received the Fryxell Award for Interdisciplinary Research from the Society for American Archaeology.

Dr. Taylor and his wife, Marilynn, have two married children: a son, a physician in Paradise, California, with two children, and a daughter with two children living in Loma Linda. He currently also serves as the Executive Publisher ofAdventist Today. However, most of his time is taken up in thinking up new ways to spoil his four grandchildren.

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