What a Wonderful Church This Would Be

An Adventist student enters a graduate program at a large, secular university and becomes frustrated by the misinformation he received as an undergraduate biology major at an Adventist college. One day his frustration turns to anger. He beats the wall of his apartment and cries, “They lied to me! They lied to me!”

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/12122

It seems to me that an overarching fear of, and worry about, the god as described in the Bible are the smell of honey that initially draws scared and fretful people toward Christianity.

After having tasted which, however, and in the case of Adventism specifically, the Bible combined with EGW’s scare tactics are the sticky, gooey part which keeps church-goers constantly on edge and prevents them from leaving the denomination.

Would the church be a wonderful place without these elements?

I personally doubt it.

Instead I suspect it’s more reasonable to think that without these essential elements of fear and worry, there would be no such thing as churches, and and almost certainly no Adventist ones!



If we can’t trust the church to be fair to science, how can we trust any of the rest of it. Gallelio comes to mind.


There is no model for evolution that I’ve ever read that accounts for death and sin within the framework of a perfect world as described in genesis. Galileo was fighting the Catholic Church over whether the earth or the sun were at the center, a point which the Bible never makes at all!! Comparing that with the creation narrative which is very specific is not at all a fair comparison.

The church accepts on faith that God created a perfect world, not one that was filled with death and suffering from the very beginning and experienced that for millions of years.

Whether the sun or earth are at the center does not change creation, sin, the fall, the need for atonement , etc. but if evolution is true it changes every single aspect of salvation and our relationship with God, so the church cannot accept it, ever. It is based on faith.


what’s the misinformation…is it what was learned at an adventist college, or what is being learned at the large, secular university…

it would be one thing if the tenets of evolution were definitively proven, as this article implies…but the reality is that nothing within evolutionary science has been or can be definitively proven…it’s all an extension of uniformitarian assumptions that exclude divine intervention as a starting premise, and that the finest measuring and detection instruments don’t remove…

and it isn’t as if scientists with the same degrees from the same institutions as evolutionists aren’t demonstrating the possibility of alternate explanations, using different assumptions and premises, on a regular basis…i think our Church should stick affirmatively to its teachings on earth origins…clarity in both the bible and egw on a relatively recent fiat Creation couldn’t be greater…this is clearly a question of what one chooses to believe, nothing else…


At least the theory of creation (as found in Genesis 1) is based on a common way of interpreting scripture. I’m ok with that. What sticks in the craw is the church’s inability or unwillingness to tolerate other theories of origin. By placing the Genesis 1/young earth theories in its creed the SDA church has demonstrated that it has hunkered down in support of its historic position.


We’ve all been over this many times. There is no meeting of the minds if we don’t want one. There obviously was death in the garden unless you believe in immortal worms and the rest that’s the result of - “each after its own kind”. Adam and Eve didn’t drop dead after eating the fruit, so obviously the death involved in the story has to do with what the NT calls the second death. That one has to die so another may live seems to be part of the Christian ethos.

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There is no meeting of the minds because the two theories are mutually exclusive. You say that obviously the death for Adam and Eve was the second death. However, genesis states that after sin Adam and Eve were prohibited from eating from the tree of life. I take that literally. But even if it’s allegory, the meaning is that whatever their condition was before sin, it changed after sin. They didn’t drop dead, but they couldn’t eat from the tree so they would die eventually, which was not the case before their disobedience. Also, even accepting your idea of worms dying, it’s not just about worms. Evolution teaches that for thousands of years, “almost-humans” lived in a very violent, death filled world, well who created that world for them? God. Evolution places death and suffering as God’s doing.

How would a Christian evolutionist answer these questions?

  1. When was man sinless?
  2. When did sin enter world?
  3. When did man become in the image of God?
  4. When was the first sin?
  5. What is sin? I mean if God created a world where survival of the fittest is the norm, why was vain wrong in killing? And people had been killed for tens of thousands of years so why was his sin so special?

So many answers are in genesis but evolution wipes them all out and has No alternative answers that don’t blame God for all the suffering.


Genesis has answers, but we know that they are wrong. The fact that an incorrect literal reading of Genesis confirms other incorrect theological theories is no reason to cling to the 6000 year old your earth creation error.

Too much SDA theology and apologetics take the form of (a) our prophetess/profitess endorsed position A; (b) position A makes no sense unless we also affirm position B, even though we know B is wrong; (c) we really really really want A to be true; (d) therefore we must pretend B is true.


I loved the book!

And thus lies the crux of the issue. The corporate SDA church insists on including quasi-scientific ideas about the natural world in its teachings, while at the same time knowing more or less nothing about real science.

I find it interesting that the stodgy old Catholic church has a much more enlightened view. For example, regarding the origin stories, and our own actual origins, at Catholic Answers they officially state:

Catholics are at liberty to believe that creation took a few days or a much longer period, according to how they see the evidence, and subject to any future judgment of the Church (Pius XII’s 1950 encyclical Humani Generis 36–37). They need not be hostile to modern cosmology. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Many scientific studies . . . have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life forms, and the appearance of man. These studies invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator” (CCC 283).

Note, “…the development of life forms, and the appearance of man.”

That’s about as clear of an acceptance of evolution as I can imagine them stating. And I’d say it’s good that they left out specifics - science is not their wheelhouse, and they seem to have learned to stick with what they’re good at.

Yes, exactly! If the existence of God could be empirically proven, then we wouldn’t need faith to believe God exists. The same is true for other aspects of faith.

Similarly, when we can empirically demonstrate some aspect of nature - all science being the study of nature - we do not need faith in order accept this new knowledge.

And so, when the church challenges scientific fact with a statement of faith that is contrary to the fact, they will eventually lose. Every single time.

I found this little primer of a book a few months ago that touches on the topic of this article - focused on education and why science classes should teach science - and nothing else. It can be downloaded as a PDF or read online (or purchased).

The preface includes the assertion, “Evolutionary biology has been and continues to be the cornerstone of modern science. This booklet documents some of the major contributions that an understanding of evolution has made to human well-being, including its contributions to preventing and treating human disease, developing new agricultural products, and creating industrial innovations. More broadly, evolution is a core concept in biology that is based both on the study of past life forms and in the study of the relatedness and diversity of present-day organisms. The rapid advances now being made in the life sciences and in medicine rest on principles derived from an understanding of evolution.”


science is a good reason to cling to a 6,000 yr-old earth…here’s a convenient listing of several understandable Creation Science articles that seriously challenge the evolutionary model of deep time:

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If its assurance you’re looking for, you have it. I just want the truth.


Yes well, first of all Genesis 1 is poetry. It conveys an imaginary idyllic world thought by the ancients to maybe have existed.

According to Dominic Crossan, in his book Render Unto Caesar: The Struggle Over Christ and Culture in the New Testament, Genesis 1 was the last part of the Pentateuch written and was added to the beginning of Genesis as an overture to the entire Pentateuch. (Dominic is both a devout Christian and biblical scholar, if that matters to you.)

Adventists will like that he sees in this most recent creation story the Sabbath (though it is not mentioned), the example by God of rest after work is completed, which mirrors the Sabbath given by God when he freed the slaves - because they were slaves: The gift of rest.

You can’t find any hint of the Sabbath in Genesis except for this late addition, and knowing it was added late, when the Pentateuch was finally assembled around 600 BCE is helpful.

But also, yes, that was an imaginary idyllic word where lions ate carrots instead of gazelles. The thing is, you can’t have life without death. We must consume food, and even when that food is vegetables, eating vegetables kills them. An apple is alive, as is a carrot and a potato.

And also, you can’t walk across a lawn without killing any number of tiny creatures that live in and under the grass. Or a patch of dirt, for that matter. Life is everywhere, and larger creatures like us think nothing of regularly trampling smaller creatures from bugs on down to smaller things.

For example, Tardigrades, which are everywhere and we eat them all the time. Which kills them. They’re so cute, though:


Here’s where I’m not 100% sure I’ve ever heard a clear response on the 6-10k year ol earth. Not sure if the sda church has an official position on this, I know we believe that creation is recent (6-10k years) but does the church state the actual earth is that old? I remember hearing a hypothesis that the earth in its disordered form was very old, along the lines of billions of years but the creation was recent. So a gap between verse 1 & 2 of genesis 1.

That’s what makes sense to me, but regardless of whether the 6k years is accurate, the creation story is what matters and God directly creating humanity is key to almost all our other doctrines. This is the part that falls apart with the old earth theory because that leads to evolution which leads to no original sin, or sinless state for humanity etc.

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And science cannot give you answers to the faith based questions I posed.


It’s not just that the earth is very old. The fossil record leaves incontrovertible evidence that life and death are very old, and that primitive life forms predated more advanced life forms by a very long time.

If that means that other SDA doctrines must fall, so be it. Why would one wish to cling to false doctrines?


Faith only provides answers where science provides none. Faith should not be used for answers where science exists. Faith and science do not contradict where they stay in their own lanes. Unfortunately the SDA church think all lanes belong to the church.


If one admits his conclusions are faith-based, and are the result of finite intellect combined with an incomplete set of facts (as is the case with all human conclusions), then he has no grounds to deny another person the right to come to the exact opposite conclusion using faith-based arguments.

Thus it seems science and religion, as well as every other school of discipline, are destined to be perpetually unsettled and would do well to demonstrate humility in the face of all we do not know as well as admitting that everyone’s beliefs require a initial leap of faith and any number of other similar leaps along the way.

(And BTW, no, I’m not forgetting the possibility of divine or supernatural intervention when I say that all human conclusions are tentative and conditional. History has repeatedly shown, for example, that both sides of virtually every argument insist they have faith in the fact that god purportedly agrees with them. Further, even if one believes he has tapped into an omniscient intellect, no finite mind can confirm that omniscience, nor be in any way certain that he and The Great Mind are on the same wave length.)

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Exactly!!! Faith and science should stay in their lanes! So why is science trying to tell the church what to teach? If someone wants to be a pure scientist, then God, the resurrection, all the miracles in the Bible (like someone coming back from the dead after 4 days like Lazarus) etc, cannot be believed. Science will absolutely deny that’s possible, but faith tells us Lazarus came back to life. Science cannot accept this, but we by faith do.

Why would science be telling the church what to teach? The church can teach a recent creation and whoever doesn’t believe that is free to do so. But then why should the church believe God created the world at all? If we’re going pure science, then go all the way…and the end result is no more God. Seems to me the author wants the best of both worlds. They want science to refute the creation narrative but then as a church we still can believe all those events that are scientifically impossible, blood on doorposts saving lives? Walls falling by shouting? People coming back to life from the dead? Seas splitting open? Someone’s shadow healing a cripple? Etc.


“Incontrovertible”? I’m admittedly not a geologist, however I know there are some geologists who believe the Bible creation story is a plausible account for what we see in the geologic column. I’ve studied evolution in college etc and there are many holes in it which have not been answered. yeah there are things about the Bible narrative we can’t explain either but there are some very studied, and experienced scientists that have developed reasonable explanations for all the supposed incontrovertible evidence for evolution. Evolution cannot explain how life began. Also, geology assumes the rate of movement in tectonic plates is steady and therefore if the continents are moving at say an inch per year then they assume they’ve always moved at that pace and therefore to get them back to their original positions it must have taken millions of years, however, if the flood narrative is true and God broke up very rapidly all the earth’s crust, then there could have been very rapid movements that didn’t require millions of years. Just like an earthquake and aftershocks. If someone missed the earthquake and only felt all the tinny aftershocks they would assume that’s all there was….again I’m not an expert, not sure what your background is, maybe you are. But incontrovertible is not what evolution is.