Adventist Schools Called to Become Global Scientific Leaders
Michael L. Ryan, a vice president of the Adventist world church, called on church-operated schools to become scientific leaders in a world that teaches that humans evolved over millions of years.
Ryan, speaking at a 10-day International Conference on the Bible and Science in St. George, Utah, told educators that the secret to success was to follow the examples of biblical leaders like Moses and Daniel, who greatly influenced the world by rejecting popular science to embrace a Creator God.
“Seventh-day Adventist schools need to lead the world in research, scientific study, and the invention of technology,” Ryan said in a sermon on Sabbath, Aug. 23.
“Positioning our schools as giants of science does not conflict with faith,” he said. “Testing hypotheses, testing and debating scientific findings, examining and exploring the wonders of science do not make faith invalid.
“However, God’s Word, the Bible, the sacred Scriptures, are irreplaceable as the guide and anchor to all our endeavors and our conclusions,” he said.
Ryan’s remarks to an audience of about 450 people came on the closing weekend of a conference that sought to reaffirm the faith of Adventist educators in a literal, six-day creation several thousand years ago and to provide them with the latest scientific evidence supporting it.
Ryan, who chairs the church’s Faith and Science Council, the main organizer of the conference, said Adventist educators must accept the Bible without mixing it with popular theistic and atheistic teachings that contend humans evolved over millions of years.
“The truths of science can often be temporary, but God’s statements of faith, they are eternal,” he said.
Ryan did not say how Adventist schools might take the lead in science.
One school, Loma Linda University, is already regarded as a global leader in education, research and clinical care. Its headline-making accomplishments include ongoing research into the vegetarian diet and a 1984 milestone when doctors at its Loma Linda University Medical Center transplanted the first baboon heart into a human.
Adventist educators have published groundbreaking studies in mainstream academic journals, and a group of them, including paleontologists Leonard R. Brand of Loma Linda University and Arthur V. Chadwick of Southwestern Adventist University, made presentations at the Utah conference. But Adventist and non-Adventist educators alike told the conference of uphill battles and painful rejection as they pursued work in a sometimes-hostile academic community.
Ryan said in his sermon that Bible-believing educators were not alone, and he offered encouragement from the story of Moses, the son of a God-fearing Israelite mother who was adopted by the powerful king of Egypt.
“Here he was in one of the most powerful, wealthy, progressive, scientific countries in the world,” Ryan said. “It would be easy to speculate that he was drowning in evidence, well-polished rationales, science that worked, the powerful, mystical display of the occult.
“But what did Moses write? What did he write? He wrote what God wrote,” Ryan said. “Do I need to read it to you?”
Ryan turned to the fourth commandment in Exodus 20:11 and read: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
Moses is credited with authoring the first five books of the Bible, including the creation story in Genesis and the words of the 10 commandments, which Moses said were written by God’s own finger on stone and handed to him on Mt. Sinai as he led the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan.
Ryan said: “And though he was surrounded by a blizzard of academic swagger and buried in Ivy League pomp and arrogance, Moses wrote faith. He did not write human conjecture.”
A similar story, Ryan said, is found in the life of Daniel, the Israelite taken into slavery by powerful and wealthy Babylon. The Bible tells how the captive Daniel insisted on eating healthy food and later found himself before King Nebuchadnezzar, who was upset after his educated elite could not recall a forgotten dream and interpret it.
“The magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans … watched as Daniel timidly walked into the great hall,” Ryan said, peppering his remarks with colorful, modern-day descriptions. “He had no academic regalia. He had no cap with a short fat tassel. There he stood with a Big Frank under one arm and three pounds of broccoli under the other.”
Loma Linda Big Franks are a canned vegetarian meat substitute popular among Adventists in North America.
“Little did they know that Daniel stood in the assembly of the most powerful nation on Earth armed with the power and faith and the testimony of the great God of eternity, the Creator of the world,” Ryan said.
Daniel turned the world upside down, he said.
“When Daniel was divinely armed with the answer what did he say? Listen to this,” Ryan said, reading from Daniel 2:20-22: “’Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are His:and He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.”
Ryan noted that Daniel, who went on to become a prime minister, still faced trouble for much of his life, including being thrown into the lion den. But he appealed to Adventist educators to, like Daniel, remain strong and commit to faithfulness.
“Daniel entered in blisters and rags, but he went out with a Lamborghini parked in the garage,” he said.