The Tectonics of Faith and Science at the Heart of a Conference
The Tectonics of Faith and Science at the Heart of a Conference
[Photo: Photo: Professor Robert Osei-Bonsu,West-Central Africa Division President ]
More than 1,600 participants from 22 countries in West Central Africa Division attended the conference on the campus of Babcock University from July 5 to 14, 2023. They drank from a variety of sources of high-flying erudition.
Attendees have to drink in long gulps. It was a lecture marathon the likes of which has rarely been seen. The university amphitheatre was packed from morning until night. Tiredness was regularly shaken off with stretching sessions. Pastors, educators and institutional leaders returned to school. The cream of church scholars came from America, Africa and Europe for the special occasion.
[Photo: Dr. Sessou Selom, Executive Secretary of the West Central Africa Division]
At the opening of the conference, the Executive Secretary of the West Central Africa Division (WAD), Dr Sessou Selom, welcomed the participants on behalf of the President of WAD, who was unable to attend. He noted in his speech that "One of today's major concerns is the pastoral care of intelligence. A pastoral care that synthesizes the complex data of the scientific culture of our time with revelation as recorded in the Holy Scriptures.
[Photo: Dr Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, General Conference’s Director of Education]
According to the General Conference’s Director of Education, Dr Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, " This conference is at a very high level. We have the highest level of expertise here, including representatives from the Geoscience Research Institute." Professor Robert Osei-Bonsu, WAD President, makes no secret of his expectations. "The hope is that our time together will bring enlightenment and transformation. The importance of unity and harmony between faith and science will be highlighted through dialogue", he says.
|[Photo: Pr Jiri Moskala]||[Photo: Pr Art Chadwick]||[Photo: Dr Nalin]|
|[Photo: Dr Felix]||[Photo: At Right, Pr Tayo and at Left Pr Jiri Moskala]|
This meeting is at the heart of the mission of the Adventist Church, as Dr Lisa reminded us. "The three angels message calls upon us to call all to worship the Creator, the One who created the heavens and the earth, and this is done even at the highest level of the university, not only from the pulpit of the church, but also in our primary, secondary and university schools."
Over 80 lectures and 42 workshops
In an effort to reconcile faith and science, these theologians, geologists, biologists and education specialists gave nearly a hundred presentations, each as relevant as the next. With so much at stake in the invasion of the doctrine of evolution, these Adventist scientists and Bible scholars dissected, one by one, the theories that obscure faith in a God who created all things in six literal days.
Sharing the latest knowledge on these thorny issues will help students and teachers reconcile faith and science. From the Big Bang theory to geological time periods and fossil dating techniques; from the wonders of the cell to the complexities of DNA, homology and embryology; from dinosaurs to the remains of the universal flood, the exploration has been dense.
Among the many topics covered are intelligent design, creation in the New Testament, speciation from a creationist perspective, trilobites and their complexity, the Cambrian explosion and flood, bioturbation and time, a comparison of the human and chimpanzee genomes, our position on naturalism, the authority of the Bible, the principles of biblical thought... It's a real scientific and theological treat.
The Bible provides more reliable answers to the questions facing science than the widely accepted theories of the origins of life. There was a clear theme running through the theological and scientific presentations: God is the Creator. This conference provided the Ariadne's thread most likely to lead Christians out of the maze, out of the prevailing confusion.
Dr Suzanne Phillips supported the evidence for a Creator by showing the microscopic view of collagen. It shows a structured integrity of ligaments, similar to iron reinforcement for concrete beams in construction. If this is a structure, then human organs certainly have a designer/engineer who is God. They did not appear by chance, as evolutionists claim.
|[Photo: Scientists' panel]||[Photo: Workshop]||[Photo: Workshop]|
A total of 42 different workshops enriched the discussions and catered for a wide range of interests. For Dr Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, "the very practical workshops respond to local needs, such as how to integrate creationism into a biblical worldview when you're teaching in a primary school or a secondary school using a government curriculum".
She recalls one such workshop on origins research: "We ran a workshop on how to apply for research funding from the Faith and Science Council. This is a unique council that funds origins research".
One of the facilitators, Jiří Moskala, Professor of Theology and Old Testament Exegesis, found the conference very edifying. He recommended that future conferences on faith and science should include more theological studies. In a few days, the framework of the conflict between science and faith was satisfactorily addressed. A light has gone on in people's hearts.
Challenges quickly met
WAD's Director of Education, Dr Balisasa Juvénal, shared some of the challenges they faced. "For the first time, a lot of logistics had to be put in place, especially for those who came by road. Some were late, but by the second day everyone was seated. Another challenge, of course, is that some of them were eating food in Nigeria for the first time, but as far as the programme is concerned, apart from one day when the rain almost disrupted everything, everything went well".
[Photo: Dr Balisasa Juvénal, WAD's Director of Education]
It went well, but it wasn't that easy. The Director of the Geoscience Research Institute, Dr Ronny Nalin, explains: "During the conferences, we faced certain challenges related to the complexity of the subject matter. It's not easy. It requires some basic scientific knowledge. So for some of the participants there might have been a threshold that was complex to overcome, but I also found that many of the participants were very engaged and understood the main and most important points of the presentations".
This is necessary because ignorance has so often led to disaster in certain parts of Africa. This was demonstrated by the WAD's GRI coordinator, Dr Oluwole Oyedeji, in one of his presentations. For instance, radioactive rocks are scattered around and some people have built houses with them. That is why Dr Balisasa Juvénal thought “our fellow citizens will have a better life if they are better informed about their environment.” He knows something must be done: “We are yet to set up programs such as geology in our universities.”
Time for the truth to be told
The meeting made a lasting impression. The general manager of Adventist schools in Ghana, Mrs Lydia Abrafi-Nsiah said that the conference had opened her eyes because it had dispelled the myths of evolution that had been wrongly accepted as truths. Pastor George G. Diabegah from Liberia thanked the organisers of the conference on faith and science. He said he planned to use the knowledge gained at the seminar to produce content for Advent Radio, which broadcasts from Monrovia, to educate listeners on issues of faith and science.
The President of the Western Sahel Union Mission, based in Senegal, Pastor Njock David Vivian, shared his dream: "I see in the near future young African scientists attending the conferences and presenting the results of their research in an African context.” Mrs Jegede, a lecturer at Babcock University, said the knowledge she gained from the conference had strengthened her faith in the Word of God. As for Temitope Ogunjimi, a primary school teacher from western Nigeria, she is determined to share her knowledge. She said “I'm not going to keep this knowledge to myself. I'm going to share it with my fellow teachers and my students.”
Time for meditation and celebration
The participants celebrated the Sabbath together on 8th July 2023. Pastor Moskala's sermon focused on our God, who is a God of relationships. Just as God brought Israel out of Egypt to Himself and not to a physical destination, He also brought us out of the world of darkness to Himself, and as we come to know Him, we reflect His glory like Moses.
In the evening the diversity of the peoples of West and Central Africa was celebrated in music and language. The cultures gave a special colour to the communion of hearts. It was a much-appreciated change in a busy and intense programme.
The conference ended on 14th July with thanks to all the facilitators: Dr Lisa Bearsdley-Hardy, Dr Suzanne Phillips, Elder E. Edward Zinke, Dr Timothy G. Standish, Prof. Feliks Ponyatovskiy, Dr Oluwole Oyedeji, Dr Ronny Nalin, Dr Hudson Kibuuka, Prof. Jiří Moskala, Prof. Arthur Chadwick, who recently co-authored a science textbook (Faith, Reason, and Earth History) with another facilitator, Prof. Leonard Brand; Prof. Robert Osei-Bonsu, Dr Sessou Selom, Dr Balisasa Juvénal, Prof. Ademola Tayo, Dr Isaac Owusu-Dankwa, Jane Oninye Nwarungwa, Dr Ezekiel Adeleye and the great organising team.
Prof Robert Osei-Bonsu delivered a message entitled "Will your anchor hold? in which he invited the audience to return to the solid foundation of faith. "I implore you to examine the anchor of your faith. Is it firmly anchored in the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ, or is it heading for the shifting sands of this world?" He went on to say powerfully, "The storms of life will come, but we can trust that our anchor holds. And no matter what happens, we have a sure foundation. We have hope in Jesus Christ."
A prayer of consecration enabled the participants to leave. For some, by plane. For others, by bus. By the grace of God, Babcock University, with its impressive facilities, hosted the first conference of this size in WAD. It is the first Adventist university in the world vis-à-vis the number of boarding students.
By Abraham Bakari and Belle Osei-Bonsu