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2017 Field Conference on Faith and Science
October 18, 2017

The Geoscience Research Institute (a General Conference institution) organized the 2017 Field Conference on Faith and Science for Church administrators. The conference was held in the Western Alps (Italy, France and Switzerland) between June 26 and July 5, 2017.  Dr. Jairyong Lee, who was then the president of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD), and German Lust, NSD treasurer, attended the conference together with other world church leaders.

The purpose of the conference was to experience firsthand how the biblical worldview impacts our understanding of nature, learn about the strengths and limitations of historical sciences, acquire a firm grasp of the key concepts that are considered controversial in the faith and science debate, and leave with an energizing appreciation of how nature and Scripture testify of a powerful and good Creator. The conference gave attendees an opportunity to reflect upon God’s power as revealed in His creation, by visiting some locations of geological interest. Also, each day, time for discussion and reflection was scheduled in the context of a rich program of lectures covering topics on origins that are of high relevance for the mission of the church. Participants discussed strategies on how to teach, share and lead as biblical creationists.

During the conference, several topics were addressed. One of them, fossils—a record of past life—was discussed on a visit to the Fossil Museum in Monte San Giorgio, Meride, Switzerland, which has well-preserved fossils, including some marine reptiles. “Sediments and the rocks they form often include the remains of organisms, so fossils provide valuable information on the processes that led to death and fossilization of once living organisms,” said Dr. Ronald Nalin from the Geoscience Research Institute.

Deformation—a record of process—can be observed in the northwestern European Alps which have a history of intense deformation and transformation of rock units. The participants of the conference had the opportunity to see some of this evidence for both stretching and compression of rocks of the earth´s crust. As Dr. Ronald Nalin shared, “Rocks can behave as rigid bodies and develop cracks and faults when placed under stress but can also plastically flow and bend, forming folds.”

Intelligent design was an important aspect among many of the presentations. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth ... For he spake, and it was done, He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:6, 9).  Conversations on how we communicate the truth about God as Creator of the universe and life led to an interesting dialogue among the participants on how to share relevant information on this issue, especially among young people, through different types of media.

Other topics covered during the field conference were the theological implications of models on origins; Time, Flood and the geologic column; intelligent design; and scientific revolutions.

In the presentations, the question about how to understand the differences between faith and science arose many times. “God has permitted a flood of light to be poured upon the world in both science and art; but when professedly scientific men treat upon these subjects from a merely human point of view, they will assuredly come to wrong conclusions ... Those who leave the word of God, and seek to account for His created works upon scientific principles, are drifting without chart or compass upon an unknown ocean. The greatest minds, if not guided by the word of God in their research, become bewildered in their attempts to trace the relations of science and revelation” (Patriarchs and Prophets, 113).

While we continue to believe in God as the Creator of the Universe, we need to be honest in regard to questions that do not necessarily have appropriate answers. It is impossible for human beings to fully understand the creative power of God, and certainly there are many things that were not revealed to us. When we encounter something that as human beings we cannot understand, Deuteronomy 29:29 gives us the key: “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever.”

Praise the Lord for so many wonderful things in nature that we can enjoy and that point to a Creator God!

German A. Lust, NSD Treasurer