By Dennis Hokama, July 5, 2015: How serious a problem would be the passage of the amendment to Fundamental Belief 6/Creation (FB #6) as currently worded, to the unity of the world church, and specifically Loma Linda University (LLU)?
Just for the record, here is the recommended amendment, with the added words in bold:
“God is the Creator of all things. He has revealed in scripture the authentic and historical account of His creative activity. In a recent six-day creation the Lord made “the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” and rested on the seventh day. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of His creative work, performed and completed during six literal days that we call a week today. The first man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning work of creation, given dominion over the world, and charged with responsibility to care for it. When the world was finished, it was “very good,” declaring the glory of God….”
Although the proposed changes in wording are less flamboyant than the initial proposed wording in 2010, the proposed changes still seem quite significant. For example, the phrases “and historical” and “performed and completed during six literal days that we call a week today” seem designed to prevent a metaphorical interpretation of creation week that theistic evolutionists need to accept the Genesis 1 account. The word recent, however, can be rationalized away as billions of years in relation to eternity, as has been pointed out by others.
LLU has an ongoing graduate school program in Earth and Biological Sciences (EBS) that teaches geology, paleontology, conservation and evolutionary biology, and has produced biologists such as Lee Greer III, who earned his Ph.D. with a concentration in evolutionary biology at LLU. Wouldn’t such an amendment then necessarily affect LLU? At least that was my impression. It so happened that my wife and I took the same flight out of LAX as Dr. Ron Carter, the provost of LLU. We had a few minutes to chat about this potential problem before we boarded.
Much to my surprise, Carter thought that problems could be finessed with no effect on their academic program even with the passage of modifications to FB#6 because he believes the statement remains the same in concept. While there has always been tension on campus with the presence of the Geoscience Research Institute (GRI), says Carter, they have always managed to coexist peacefully, and this could be no different. Carter believes that the tensions have primarily been as a result of differences in approaches. GRI has focused on creation apologetics while most researchers at the university are trained in the health sciences, not in the earth and historical sciences, and conduct translational research in medicine.
Trouble would come, says Carter, only if the Adventist denomination would attempt to require scholars and administrators to sign statements of belief that restrict appropriate academic freedom that encourages open academic discussion or implements other enforcement tactics that would affect the actual operational decisions of the University. Carter emphasized that LLU is committed to God as creator and redeemer and being cooperative and supportive of the world church so long as it does not compromise their ability to perform their medical work faithfully with integrity and credibility.
While I hope he is right, I can’t help but think that is like arguing that even though the passage of FB#6 may hang the sword of Damocles over their heads by a string, certainly nobody would be foolish enough to cut that string.