My views on the debate over creationism tend not to endear me to people on either side of the issue, so I hesitate to discuss the matter at all. However, this story raises such basic issues that I can't resist:
[T]he top world authorities of the Seventhday Adventist Church have reaffirmed the faith's insistence that fidelity to the Bible requires belief in "a literal, recent, six-day creation," no matter what conventional science says.
Recent means that life on Earth began over the relatively short time period suggested by a strictly literal reading of the Bible, "probably 7,000 to 10,000 years," though some Adventists think the planet itself could be billions of years old, explains Angel Rodriguez, director of the church's Biblical Research Institute.
It fascinates me that fundamentalist doctrine insists that we have to take Christianity's mythopoeic account of creation as literally true, while treating perfectly straightforward Biblical statements like "give all your money to the poor" or "do not resist evil with force" or "judge not lest ye be judged" as murky parables that surpasseth all understanding. It's a politically suspect form of Biblical literalism that swallows any and all miracles whole, while ignoring Jesus's myriad exhortations to the simple, practical, everyday work of compassion and honesty and self-denial. No doubt it's all part of the elevation of faith over works, but I don't think this admirable doctrine was intended to mean that Christians can mistreat the poor so long as they believe that Carbon-14 dating is a snare and a delusion.
The other issue is a little more rarefied, philosophically, but there's a conceptual problem with treating nature itself as God's testament - as creationists do when they (rightly) proclaim the wonders of "irreducibly" complex systems - while disallowing the idea that nature might offer lots of other information that isn't explicitly found in scripture. If heaven and earth really are full of God's glory, then science might just as well be seen as scripture by the religiously minded. I'm not sure what fundamentalists gain by their refusal to make such a simple logical accommodation to a world they believe was built especially for them...but it probably has something to do with mistaking anger and bitterness and imaginary oppression as proof of personal sanctity. Either that, or inbreeding.
That said, the belief that nature is somehow at fault when it fails to confirm theory is as pernicious to the scientific mindset as to the religious one. Actually, it's more pernicious. Each side could learn a lot from the other's worst excesses, but probably won't.
It'd be wonderful if everyone woke up tomorrow and realized that no one has any idea how life formed on earth. The religious ideas are often lovely, but not meant to be taken as literally true; there are actual physical processes in the world, and the discovery and description of these processes is the business of science, not religion. It's unfortunate that the leading scientific theories about life's origins happen to be absurd (chemical evolution), pointless (panspermia), or question-begging (self-organization), and it's also unfortunate that we probably can't expect better theories in years to come. Nevertheless, when it comes to investigating physical processes, the scientific method is the only tool in the shed. Revealed religion has said all that it will ever say on the subject of physical processes in nature, and humanity decided long, long ago that it simply wasn't enough.