Young-earth creation conference comes to Spokane to talk life’s origins
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By Cassy Benefield
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
These words may clearly open the first chapter of the Bible, but just how God did this has been less clear among Christians since Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection came on the scene in 1859 with his book, “The Origin of the Species.”
Dave Ackerman, founder of Alpha Ministries located in Medical Lake, became a Christian about 70 years ago, but it has only been in the last 10 years when he began to understand a creation model of life’s origins by studying and reading materials from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR).
“I support their position on creation — six day, literal 24-hour creation — and so I just thought, well, maybe I can still put in a few good words somewhere along the line — teaching, preaching at seminars, tours, creation tours, whatever I can do,” said Ackerman. “It wasn’t a matter of having to get a job to make a living. It was a matter of what I could do that would be valuable to the Lord’s work.”
One of Ackerman’s most recent activities has been his ministry’s last two-year effort to bring ICR’s “Unlocking the Mysteries of Genesis” to Spokane, which will take place Oct. 14-16 at Fourth Memorial Church, 2000 N. Standard St.
The conference will feature three ICR scientists, Randy Guliuzza, president of ICR, Tim Clarey and Frank Sherwin, who all specialize in varying fields of study. They will speak on topics such as origins, DNA, dinosaurs, a global flood, Mount St. Helens and the differences between an evolutionary and a creationist worldview.
Sherwin, who has a master’s degree in zoology and whose favorite topic is oceans, has been giving these talks and writing books for ICR since 1996 and will be one of the scientists speaking.
As a young believer during the Vietnam War on a naval carrier ship, he knew he was “a blood bought believer in Jesus Christ,” but he didn’t think he could believe the Genesis stories of Noah’s Ark, a world-wide flood and a real Adam and Eve.
“It wasn’t until a year later that I began to read creation science literature that I was both surprised and shocked, and maybe a little bit angry, that I never heard the case for creation, never heard the problems against evolution” said Sherwin. “So once I was reading, and then I was discipled and taught by others, I realized that the Bible is true from the very first verse. And the most profound scientific statement that I have ever read as a scientist — as a life scientist — is Genesis 1:1.”
When one talks to secular cosmologists, people who study the universe, they will say this universe is composed of time, space and matter, which are all present in Genesis 1:1, according to Sherwin.
“’In the beginning,’ well that’s time; ‘God created the heavens,’ that’s space; ‘and the earth’, that’s matter,” said Sherwin.
Ministries like Ackerman’s and ICR don’t believe in “macro evolution,” life forms (or species) evolving from different life forms, but they do believe in minor variations within species, what’s defined as micro evolution.
“Evolution says, in the beginning, nothing. Creation says, in the beginning, God,” said Sherwin. “It’s really hard to explain how everything came from nothing in the evolutionary side, whereas our faith and trust is in someone who was there in the beginning.”
Still not all Christians believe they have to leave behind Darwinian evolution in order to have a strong faith in God, including molecular scientist and Whitworth biology professor, Aaron Putzke.
“My view is that they are not exclusionary, that you don’t have to compromise one for the sake of the other because I think it’s really important to see that they actually can exist together in a really beautiful and unique way without dismissing the presence of God, or the presence of evolution,” said Putzke.
Whitworth’s biology department subscribes to evolution as the model of how life evolved on Earth because that’s what scientific evidence points to, Putzke says. However, because Whitworth is a Christian university, he also says they discuss how, on one hand, faith informs what they believe about scientific evidence and, how, on the other hand scientific evidence informs their faith.
“To me, as a Christian, I layer my faith on top of [evolutionary evidences] and say there are so many wonderful and beautiful things within all of life that there is no reason to be fearful of more evidence or more data,” said Putzke. “And however you want to interpret Genesis is up to you. There is no way for us to find evidence of a six-day creation. It’s a hard thing to do.”
For Putzke, the amount of evidence, especially seen in the shared DNA patterns of all living organisms, from single-celled bacteria to humans, “build this big mountain of support for an evolutionary model of life on Earth.”
Currently, there are about 500 people signed up for the conference with room for more. Also offered as part of these talks is a separate kids program for 1st through 5th graders. Tickets range from $10 for all the youth sessions and $20 for all the general sessions on Friday and Saturday.
On Sunday, Ackerman is offering attendees two different field trips to attend along with an ICR speaker from 1:30-5 p.m. One will be to Steptoe Butte and will examine the geological information of this quartzite island on the Palouse, and the other will be to Cat Tales Wildlife Center where Sherwin will talk about animals in relation to creation. These trips cost an extra $15 per person.
“Our goal in doing this [conference] was to deepen the faith of believers, deliver truth that they have not had in their knowledge bank and draw people to faith in a loving creator God,” said Ackerman.
For more information about this conference, visit Alpha Ministries’ webpage about the event.
Cassy (pronounced like Cassie but spelled with a ‘y’) Benefield is a wife and mother, a writer and photographer and a huge fan of non-fiction. She has traveled all her life, first as an Army brat. She is a returned Peace Corps volunteer (2004-2006) to Romania where she mainly taught Conversational English. She received her bachelor’s in journalism from Cal Poly Technical University in San Luis Obispo, California. She finds much comfort in her Savior, Jesus Christ, and considers herself a religion nerd who is prone to buy more books, on nearly any topic, than she is ever able to read. She is the managing editor of SpokaneFāVS.com.
[…] siree, engaging in a steady routine of lecture events held at congenial churches around the land. Spokane got on the itinerary for one this weekend, and it’s worth a look at the speakers and what might not get on their lecture […]