By Elizabeth Lechleitner/ANN
The auditorium darkened, lightening flashed across a projector screen, thunder roared over the loudspeaker and artificial rain fell on hundreds of school children this morning during a recreation of the biblical flood, eliciting laughter and screams from the students.
The simulation was part of Celebration of Creation, a free community event held this week at Seventh-day Adventist world church headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.
The family-friendly event runs November 29 to December 2 and celebrates the biblical account of creation with a series of evening lectures from leading scientists for adults, and daytime workshops and presentations for kids.
Celebration of Creation is part of the Adventist Church's renewed emphasis on promoting biblical creation. At a church business meeting in 2010, Adventist world church leaders voted to reaffirm the Adventist fundamental belief in a "literal, recent, six-day creation" they say is recorded in the Old Testament book of Genesis. Leaders are also currently in the process of clarifying the church's doctrinal statement on creation.
But beyond doctrine, church leaders say the study of origins resonates with the human need for belonging.
"All of us need to know where we came from," said Williams Costa Jr., Communication director for the Adventist world church. "God created us; we belong to Him."
Celebration of Creation includes a screening of a 20-minute nature film, "The Creation," shot during filmmaker Henry Strober's four-year journey around the globe. Scenes of nature accompany music and a narration of the Genesis creation story during the film.
Daytime workshops at the event are geared toward elementary-aged children. Kids enjoy posing with an animatronic Stegosaurus dinosaur before finding their seats in the auditorium at world church headquarters.
Singer and dinosaur sculptor Buddy Davis from the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, shares stories and songs about God's creative power. Christian cartoonist Dan Lietha leads children in a dinosaur-drawing workshop, and Guide magazine nature columnist Rich Aguilera brings the biblical flood story to life.
Aguilera also uses changes within breeds of dogs to demonstrate a lack of evidence for so-called "transitional" species. As dozens of dog breeds multiply on screen, he asks, "Does anybody see a hippo up here? Does anybody see a tomato? No. All we see is variety. God created variety. Do you guys all look the same?"
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