An Intelligently Designed Statement of Adventist Belief
by Jack Hoehn
By Jack Hoehn, December 5, 2013
I met two other Adventists during the Seattle-based Discovery Institute’s 9th Annual Briefing on Intelligent Design. One was a female attorney living near to Seattle (who told me she was a recent convert to Adventism) interested in Stephen C. Meyer’s new blockbuster book on ID called Darwin’s Doubt. She believes in Young Earth Creationism and values the simplicity of 7s. She sees a numerology in 7 days of creation, 7 days of a week, and 7,000 years of earth history. She doesn’t like the idea of “God presenting creation as 7 recent days, when it was millions of years.”
But she was open to listening to Stephen Meyers explain how the fossil record cannot be explained by standard undirected evolutionary mechanisms. By standard geological reckoning, the 5-10 million years it took to lay down the 541 million year old Cambrian layer close to the bottom of the geologic column, is but a blink in geologic time. This layer containing the sudden appearance of so many phyla of animal fossils, will be called an “explosion” of life, not only if you think it happened on the 5th 24-hour day of Creation, or during the 5th stage of the much longer scientific chronology of the appearance of life.
The sudden appearance of multiple different animal phyla in the ancient oceans with no discernible fossil predecessors in a geologic instant is a refutation of neo-Darwinian evolution. Darwinian mutations and stepwise natural selection is falsified as a possible mechanism for the creation of multiple complex novel forms of life in such a short geologic period of time. So even if this Adventist didn’t agree with the chronology, she did recognize that the Intelligent Design scientists falsifying undirected Darwinism are our allies in our Adventist belief that life was created by the God of the Bible.
The other Adventist I met, also a lawyer who lives closer to Portland, Oregon, is a long-time supporter of Intelligent Design. He believes that Creation is best explained by some synthesis of Bible inspiration and study of the natural world by non-materialistic science, which is what ID is all about. He had previously arranged for Discovery Institute spokesman Casey Luskin to give presentations of the science behind ID at Portland Adventist Academy and later to the Adventist Forum/Spectrum Chicago conference on Creation in 2012.
The rest of the attendees were mostly wealthy Christians and Jewish supporters of the Discovery Institute who reject godless materialism in both science and economics. They include radio personality Michael Medved, who with his wife, Dianne, opened the Sabbath for the group with Jewish traditional blessings Friday night, and for Sabbath lunch. The Sabbath recognition was novel for much of the group, and appreciated by us Adventists.
Darwin’s Doubt featured at the conference is a book I think many serious Adventist creationists would want to own. Along with his previous book, Signature in the Cell, Stephen Meyers has produced two pivotal works showing how recent scientific discoveries make traditional Darwinism and Neo-Darwinism scientifically inadequate to the facts. This does not make evolutionists into creationists. And it would not make any scientist I can think of agree that the world was created in 144 hours, about 6,000-7,000 years ago.
But it does show that Darwin’s theory of how life might have started at a cellular level, or how it has been diversified into the different phyla of living animals tiny step by tiny step, is just wrong.
Post Darwinian Evolution
That things change or evolve over time within limited boundaries cannot be denied. This is clearly recognized by Intelligent Design advocates such as Michael J. Behe in his seminal book, Darwin’s Black Box, and the more recent The Edge of Evolution. But Darwinian stepwise mutations acted on by survival due to fitness cannot create the massive changes in biologic complexity in the geologic time and space available. The multiple new body plans of creatures recorded in the Cambrian fossils require the infusion of massive amounts of data, of information, of genetic code.
That 20 of the 27 animal phyla recorded in the entire fossil record could suddenly appear in the 5-10 million years of the Cambrian layer found from China to Canada without engineering, without planning, without an unnamed source of intelligence, a Designer, is not a “god of the gaps” argument, it is the most plausible and rational conclusion from the data.
Darwin’s theories of how diversity and complexity could suddenly appear were perhaps plausible in the 1800’s due to large gaps in knowledge. They no longer are scientifically sustainable. And evolutionists search for alternative naturalistic mechanisms. Even when critical of Darwin’s mechanisms, most evolutionists remain materialists. The doctrinaire evolutionists continue to demand before the fact, that they exclude Intelligent Design as a possible explanation of the data.
“Evolution is a fact,” they assert, “and even if Darwin was wrong in explaining how evolution happens, it still has happened.” There is a lot of scramble in the post DNA profiling of life’s codes to find another mechanism that works. Darwin’s Doubt in chapters 15 and 16 explore the post-Darwinian evolutionary landscape.
Here are four of the books on the Science of Intelligent Design that I think any serious creationist with a scientific bent would want to own. Evolutionists often attack the Theology of creationism, but so far they have not seriously answered the Science of Intelligent Design except by hand waving attempts to dismiss it.
Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer (Jun 18, 2013)—the fossil evidence for Intelligent Design, in the Cambrian explosion.
Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer (Jun 22, 2010)—DNA and cellular evidence for Intelligent Design in every cell of every creature including you. Code has a source.
The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism by Michael J. Behe (Jun 17, 2008)—Evolution Science, what the evidence does and does not permit evolution to do.
Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution by Michael J. Behe (Mar 20, 1998)—The classic and first scientific case for specified complexity, although dismissed by evolutionists it has never been falsified.
(These books are scientific arguments, not theology. ID attempts to discuss the science of life without philosophical bias. I have previously listed books on the theology of Old Earth Creationism that I would highly recommend to Adventist creationists looking for a more adequate theology of creation.
John C. Lennox, Seven Days that Divide the World, Zondervan, 2011. – A Christian Oxford don in the C.S. Lewis tradition ends his short and readable book on understanding the Bible creation days with this wonderful sentence, “It is high time for a Sabbath!”
David Snoke, A Biblical Case for an Old Earth, Baker Books, 2006 – A Christian physicist and astronomer gives both things you will agree with and things you may disagree with, but he is giving Biblical evidence supporting Old Age Creationism.
Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days, NavPress Publishing, 2004 – Astronomer and president of Reasons to Believe, directly addresses how creation-days can be understood in a fashion both true to the Bible and the facts of science.
Hugh Ross, Why the Universe is the Way it Is, Baker Books, 2008-Why God used long ages to create life on earth.
Brian Bull & Fritz Guy, God Sky and Land, Adventist Forum, 2011. A Seventh-day Adventist effort to understand the literal meaning of Genesis 1 for Moses’ audience, not what we read into it with our 19th or 21st century science.)
Adventists and Intelligent Design
There is no viable replacement for Darwin’s discredited mechanisms yet visible on the materialistic horizon. Adventists know of one, but so far no one listens to us because of our refusal to re-evaluate our historic chronology of creation as a recent and instantaneous event.
Perhaps this is why, since God’s church has lost our credibility in the scientific community, God has had to work on seminal thinkers with no visible religious sentiments like Thomas Nagel to publish a book called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False? This book debunking materialism as an adequate explanation of life should be welcomed by creationists, but I wish our Adventist scientists and philosophers could be unshackled from the narrow Young Earth Chronology of creation to begin participation in the debate.
So where does Intelligent Design leave historic Seventh-day Adventists?
Darwinian and neo-Darwinian evolution can’t have happened—Hooray!
Animal life is intelligently designed—Hip, Hip, Hooray!
Animal sea life appeared suddenly (on the 5th Creation Day) about 530,000,000 years ago—Huh?
Modern Humans like us appear to have been created (DNA shows an Adam and Eve) between 70,000 and 150,000 years ago—Really? No way!
But actually there is a “way.” Do we have a God and a Trust in that God big enough to handle the science of Intelligent Design? Is our present Doctrine of Creation adequate to handle this? Would a new Fundamental Belief specifying Young Earth Creationism as the only acceptable option, make it better or worse?
Another new Adventist (John Evans whose letter appeared in a blog earlier this year) recently asked me in an e-mail if I favored rewriting our Fundamental Belief #6 on creation. I said, no, I preferred to just leave the present one quoting Biblical texts, and let each Creationist decide on the timing and chronology of Creation on their own understanding of the evidence. But when pressed, I said if it were to be rewritten, I would hope it might say something like this:
How would you like it to read? We welcome positive signed comments from readers suggesting a better way of wording the Adventist Statement of Belief on Creation. Help our church craft one that could be of use to the larger world we live in—a statement that could serve as a guide to understanding God’s purposes for our Intelligently Designed world. Send us your Intelligently Designed statement.
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