Creation Debate in the Adventist Church

A reader recently brought the articles linked below from a Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) website to my attention.  I found them interesting not just because they present a good overview of the challenges that the Greenland ice cores present to young earth creationism but because it raised my own awareness about current discussions in the SDA church about 6-day creation and evolution.  The 20th century reincarnation of 18th century flood geology traces much of its roots to SDA George McCready Price whose ideas were later popularized by evangelical Henry Morris in the 1960s.   Since the early 1900s, the SDA church has maintained a strong commitment to 6-day creation.  Not being familiar with this church, I found it interesting that during the last decade in particular that the church has experienced considerable debate about creation and evolution including denominational seminars  at the 2010 general conference.  That 2010 conference voted (see Session delegates strengthen Adventist Church’s creation focus) to maintain the denominations commitment to 6-day creation and possibly strengthen that position in the next couple of years.   If the vote in 2010 is any indication, the SDA church may become more aligned with 6-day creation in the future making further discussion in the denomination much more difficult.  I expect that these future decisions are likely the reason for increased discussions in Adventists circles about young earth creationism and evolution.  The 0n-line companion to the denominational journal Spectrum has had many articles about creation in the last two years with the commenting sections of these articles attracting significant input.   From these it is clear that that there are deep divisions on 6-day creation in this denomination much like there are in many conservative evangelical denominations.

It is in this context that the following two articles were published on Spectrum  in the past couple of months:

Bringing the Real World to Genesis: Ice cores and Scripture Part I – How many years has snow fallen on Greenland?

Bringing the Real World to Genesis: Ice cores and Scripture Part II – Grecian Lead Mining Confirms Ice-Core Chronology

The author of both of these articles has also edited a book (Understanding Genesis: Contemporary Adventist Perspectives. By Brian S Bull et al. Adventists Today 2006) that provides a different perspective on the history of creationism within the SDA church.  I thought the description for this book from Amazon was quite informative and I have copied it below:

This book published by Adventist Today has renewed discussions with the SDA church about science and faith.

In his The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism, the distinguished American historian, Ronald Numbers documented in detail the essential role that a devout Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) believer, George McCready Price (1870-1963), played in creating the initial set of modern fundamentalist arguments to support a so-called “Flood Geology” as a means of explaining the geological column, a position that the scientific community totally rejects. In recent official pronouncements, the SDA Church continues to endorse an essentially literalistic interpretation of the Genesis creation narratives and a geologically recent (<10,000 years) creation and worldwide flood. What may not be known outside of the Adventist subculture is that there has been for many decades major criticisms and exceptions voiced by a number of moderate and progressive SDA theologians and scientists to many aspects of the traditional Adventist understandings promulgated by fundamentalist and conservative elements within the SDA faith tradition. Understanding Genesis: Contemporary Adventist Perspectives is a volume of papers written by SDA theologians and scientists, most of which hold faculty appointments at Adventist colleges and universities in North America. The various chapters provide a spectrum of views on a variety of topics, including non-fundamentalist interpretations of the Genesis creation and flood narratives, a consideration of theistic evolution or progressive creationism, the validity of the evidence dating the geological column and human prehistory, and other related topics.

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