by Adventist Today News Team

Speakers will bring both theology and science to presentations on issues related to ecology in “a first-of-its-kind event” this weekend celebrating the 50th anniversary of the department of earth and biological sciences at Loma Linda University (LLU). It will focus on “important links between biodiversity, environmental health and human health,” Dr. William Hayes told Adventist Today. He is a biology professor at LLU and coordinator of the event.
 
Marianne Thieme, a member of the Dutch parliament who joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church because of its stand on vegetarianism, will address the political aspects of environmental issues. Dr. Jo Ann Davidson, a seminary theology professor at Andrews University, will speak on what the Bible has to say about caring for the created world. A psychologist from the University of Tennessee will share research on “the importance of play in animals,” a geochemist from Colorado will speak on “mineral consumption and environmental consequences,” and 22 other papers by researchers.
 
The presentations include “Dietary Patterns and Global Climate Change” by Sam Soret from the faculty of the School of Public Health at LLU, “Acting in God’s Image by Restoring Fisheries” by Arthur Schwarz from Southwestern Adventist University, and “Can Genetic Engineering Provide a Solution to our Health and Environmental Concerns?” by David Lindsey from Walla Walla University. Melissa Price from the University of Hawaii will address “A Tale of Conservation Across Borders” from the history of the Hawaiian Islands and Timothy Standish from the Geoscience Research Institute will speak on “How our Understanding of Nature Impacts Views about Environmental Stewarship.” Abstracts of all the papers are available at www.LomaLindaBiodiversity.org/Entrusted.
 
In what is perhaps a unique aspect for an academic meeting, the event will include opportunities for participants to observe a variety of animals in natural settings. “If we gain a clearer understanding of the cognitive and emotional capacities of these fellow citizens of our planet, we should be motivated to take better care of them,” Hayes told Adventist Today. Dr. Gordon Burghardt, a psychologist at the University of Tennessee, will share recent research on animal emotions. Dr. Mark Carr, a faculty member in the School of Religion at LLU, will address, “How Should We Treat Animals in Research?”
 
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church could do much more in caring for the creation,” Hayes stated. “There are many opportunities to provide a compelling witness that we are missing. There is no reason why we should abandon creation care largely to the secular community. We should be at the forefront of promoting environmental stewardship, sustainability and conservation initiatives. … I long for the day when more individuals and the church at large will become supportive of creation care.”
 
The LLU Department of Earth and Biological Sciences offers both master’s and doctoral degrees in biology and geology. Faculty and students are actively engaged in biodiversity and conservation studies in the Caribbean and Meso-America, as well as California. They have an excellent record of publication in peer-reviewed science journals. Dr. Leonard Brand is department chairman.