- The Washington Times - Monday, November 8, 2004

The top world authorities of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have reaffirmed the faith’s insistence that fidelity to the Bible requires belief in “a literal, recent, six-day creation,” no matter what scientists say.

“Recent” means that life on Earth began over the relatively short time period suggested by a strictly literal reading of the Bible, “probably 7,000 to 10,000 years,” though some Adventists think the planet itself could be billions of years old, explains Angel Rodriguez, director of the church’s Biblical Research Institute.

Six days means just that — “literal 24-hour days forming a week identical in time to what we now experience as a week,” the Adventist decree says.

The church’s statement came last month, after three years of special conferences on the issue of creation. It was approved at a meeting of the Adventists’ 293-member Executive Committee at the Silver Spring headquarters of the church. The faith has 13.6 million members internationally and 936,000 in the United States.

The church’s Geoscience Research Institute — which develops materials to support Genesis literalism — inaugurated the conferences, but no particular event sparked it, Mr. Rodriguez said. Rather, church leaders are aware that increasing numbers of Adventists worldwide face questions at college and “need to know how we deal with these complex issues.” The statement is meant to stand as a definitive directive.

The Adventist church’s very name proclaims its strict observance of Saturday as the Sabbath, which is fused with a literalism on creation. That, in turn, “interlocks with other doctrines” — as the new statement puts it — creating the foundation for Adventist belief.

Yet at Adventist colleges, according to a 1994 survey of 121 science teachers, only 43 percent agreed with the church’s view that “God created live organisms during six days less than 10,000 years ago.”

Nonetheless, the new policy states that the church expects “all boards and educators at Seventh-day Adventist institutions at all levels to continue upholding and advocating the Church’s position on origins.”

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