The picture of Noah’s ark as a round wooden boat with giraffes, elephants, zebras, pandas, and monkeys hanging out the windows is a familiar and well-loved image in children’s stories. The question, though, is whether this picture is only a children’s story. Did a catastrophic flood actually cover this entire planet?
The Faith and Science Conference 2023, held by the South Pacific Division (SPD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Australia’s Gold Coast, focused on this question. More than 160 people gathered at Surfers Paradise July 3-6 to explore the historicity of the biblical flood account and its related geological issues. Up to 290 people watched one or more of the video recordings of the presentations on Facebook.
Presenters at the conference included Stacie Hatfield and Richard Davidson from Andrews University; Michael Oard and Tasman Walker from Creation Ministries International; Birgir Óskarrson from the Icelandic Institute of Natural History; and Limoni Manu from Fulton Adventist University College. The event also featured Suzanne Phillips and Leonard Brand from Loma Linda University and Joses Imona from Pacific Adventist University.
The speakers presented a flood of fascinating biblical and scientific evidence and pointed out the evidence that supports a global flood. Presenters agreed that one’s beliefs need to be based on the Bible and that using the biblical position as a starting point leads to achieving better science. They also acknowledged areas of uncertainty and the need for further research and understanding.
“To see how the biblical narrative is supported over and over again in science just reinforced my belief in the Bible as God’s Word,” Jean Carter, Adventist Schools Australia director, said. “I also really appreciated how the presenters provided us with honest scientific reporting.”
“The conference provided an excellent opportunity to review the recent advances in creation science, thus supplying an alternative to the prevailing naturalistic worldview embraced by secular science,” SPD field secretary Darius Jankiewicz said.
SPD education director Malcolm Coulson noted that “Adventist education has always promoted the importance of critical thinking and ongoing dialogue to advance our understanding of the faith-science interface.”
Science and the Bible
Participants said they appreciated the opportunity to learn and deepen their confidence in the Bible. Senitiki Waqa, who serves as the Fiji Mission secretary and stewardship and youth director, said he is still soaking it all in. “This conference gave me time to reflect and grow as a pastor and church administrator as I listened and learned from our exceptional presenters,” he said.
Serah Keliwin, Papua New Guinea Union Mission director of education, reported that a head of science in one of the Adventist schools in the country said they had really enjoyed the field trip and had determined to develop similar field experiences for their teachers and students.
“As a school chaplain, the Faith and Science Conference has equipped me with evidence and answers to support what the Bible teaches about origins and, in particular, the global Flood,” Dayne Habermann, a pastor serving at the Ipswich Adventist School, said.
Steven Simmons, from Mountain View Adventist College in Doonside, New South Wales, Australia, agreed. “I thoroughly enjoyed the worship time that was incorporated into the program,” he said. “From the perspective of an Adventist high school science teacher it was great to learn how I can ground students in a stronger relationship with God and His Word.”
Laura Lecciones, an Adventist teacher at Swan Christian College in Perth, Western Australia, said, “It has been eye-opening to see the insights in the geology of today that supports the biblical account of Noah’s flood. I left encouraged and equipped to share how God’s Word is just as relevant today as millennia ago.”
There was strong support for holding another conference to focus on cosmology, which would form a trilogy of faith and science topics. Using artificial intelligence for Adventist mission was also a topic of interest in the faith and science space, organizers said.