A study that points out that
both "creationism" and "evolutionism" are
by James A. Fowler. All rights reserved.
Creation and Evolution
Notice that the subject of consideration is not "creation or evolution" or "creation versus evolution," but rather "creation and evolution." These two conceptual realities have often been cast as antithetical premises, with a "warfare mentality" adopted by exclusivistic proponents of each idea. It is the objective of this article to attempt to eliminate the artificial battle-lines, to explain the compatibility of creation and evolution, and to suggest that Christianity and science can function as allies in man's search to understand the origin and operation of that which exists in the world in we live.
Semantic clarification by some brief definitions of terms will serve as foundation for further explanation:
"Creation" refers to the action process whereby all that exists came into being from a self-existent divine source. The resultant product of God's creating, "the creation," is distinct from the Creator and does not partake of the same essence of the Creator, but is sustained by and contingent upon the Creator for its intended function.
"Creationism" is a label applied to an organized system of thought associated with Christian fundamentalism and the presupposition of exclusive supernaturalism of God's creating all things in six twenty-four hour days.
"Evolution" is etymologically derived from the Latin which means "to unroll" or "work out." Evolution refers to the changes that are "unrolled" or "worked out" in the context of time. These changes may be enacted by natural or supernatural processes, either in progressive development or punctuated by divine fiat.
"Evolutionism" is the developed belief-system that attributes all change in the universe to progressively developmental natural causes alone. The presupposition of exclusive naturalism allows only for material and physical causes.
"Science" is an English word transliterated from the Latin scientia which means "knowledge" or "understanding." Science is the disciplined efforts of man "to know" and "to understand" everything.
"Scientism" is the aberration of true science which isolates and absolutizes knowledge within exclusive naturalistic parameters. It limits evidence for knowledge to empirical observation by sensory perception.
Naturalistic scientism and its premise of evolutionism has been so elevated by the institutions of knowledge acquisition in our society to the point of deification of the "naturalistic scientific method" and the disallowing of any other knowledge claims. In their epistemological exclusivism, they have "rigged the game" by disallowing all evidence except for natural, physical phenomena and all interpretation of such except within their predetermined categories of acceptable causal explanation. British astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle wrote, for example, that "it is against the spirit of scientific enquiry to regard observable effects from 'causes unknown to science.'"1 Such thinking indicates that the "deck is stacked" with closed-minded inbred circular logic allowing for no different evidence or opinion.
Though the naturalistic premises of scientism and evolutionism are often traced back to Charles Darwin (1809-1882), the concepts pre-date Darwin by thousands of years. The Greek philosophers posited an infinite universe which existed eternally. The Roman philosopher, Lucretius, in the first century B.C., suggested that the random assembly of "atoms" within an infinite number of cycles could produce life forms as we observe them. The "molecules to man" theory is not new!
Charles Darwin did propose that life forms could naturally evolve. Having traveled on the survey ship, the HMS Beagle, to Patagonia, Chile, Peru and elsewhere, he returned to England to formulate his observations in a book, On the Origin of Species. The last sentence of the concluding chapter of that book is a synopsis of Darwin's position. It reads, "There is grandeur in this view of life,... having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and...from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."2 This is not the exclusivistic evolutionism proffered by scientism today. The recognition of "the Creator" evidences that Darwin allowed for origins supernaturally derived from God.
It is the "neo-Darwinian evolutionism" of modern scientism that demands exclusivistic naturalism for the explanation of the origin and operation of all existence. Having deified "Nature" as infinite and eternal, the hypothesis suggests that if given an infinite quantity of eternal particles with infinite energy to allow for infinite and random motion and mutation, the infinite variety of random processes might conceivably by chance produce what exists today. Jacques Monod asserts that "Chance alone is at the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution."3
More particularly it is suggested that the basic building blocks of the material universe, such as quanta, atoms and molecules evolved into simple life forms, which by the natural processes of favorable mutations evolved into complex life forms and eventually into human form, solely by the random chance of natural, physical laws without any supernatural agency of a Divine Being. The quantum quagmire allowed for atomic attraction which developed a molecular mush which was transformed into a living plankton soup which becomes the fishiest story that the resultant moronic man could have ever dreamed up concerning his own origins.
British naturalist and theologian, William Paley, used the famous "watch" illustration to expose the absurdity of the origin of complex form by the processes of naturalistic chance.4 If a watch is found on a sandy beach is there any chance that its formation was caused by the random interaction of the sand particles? No, the watch was constructed by a personal and intelligent watchmaker! Scientists have also been forced to admit that random chance is untenable. Sir Fred Hoyle has calculated that the chance of random amino acids producing workable enzymes for life is so minuscule as to be outside the realm of feasibility.5
When you take away the "infinite time" factor for infinite variables of chance, then evolutionism does not have a chance at being an intelligible explanation of cosmic origins. The observations and measurement of astrophysicists have done just that, revealing that the universe is not infinite and eternal, but that a "singularity" of commencement must be posited. The "beginning" of the universe has been scientifically established by the astrophysicists. Now they must re-educate the biologists and geologists who are still relying on their out-dated concepts of naturalistic evolutionism. Even if the universe is calculated to have its commencement 20 billion years ago, there is insufficient time for evolutionary processes to have generated life. Using mathematical probability, Hugh Ross explains that the remotest possibility of 10100,000,000,000 would be inadequate to expect naturalistic chance to produce life.6
What is the response of scientism to this new scientific evidence? They are adamantly unwilling to engage in genuine science and to follow where the evidence leads for knowledge. For example, Sir Arthur Eddington's response was, "Some people would like to call this non-random feature of the world 'purpose' or 'design;' but I will call it 'anti-chance.'"7 It is obvious that many so-called scientists are so fixated in their closed-minded exclusivistic belief-system of scientism as to forestall genuine science. Neo-Darwinian evolutionism has developed a rigid epistemological belief-system with the illogical "faith" premise that "the natural world is all there is," and their defense of such is akin to the most superstitious religionism.
Remember that Charles Darwin was not necessarily guilty of being the propagator of such "Darwinism" or "evolutionism." Darwin suggested a mental metaphor as a picture of the natural observations he had made. Science often uses theoretical models to attempt to explain observed phenomena. The problems come when the models are assumed to be reality itself.
Charles Darwin was a pigeon breeder. He employed the metaphor of the breeder's selective activity in changing the natural ability of pigeons into progressively more satisfactory racing forms as an analogy to the "natural selection" of plants and animals into progressively higher forms. Analogies always break down because they do not correspond at every point. The breeder's selective activity is personal and intelligible for a specific purpose. "Natural selection" is only equivalent if "Nature" is personified in order to be able to "choose" and "make a preference from a plural number of options." The metaphor from "breeder's selection" to "natural selection" was flawed, but the analogous model was absolutized as reality from the time of Darwin to the present exclusivism of evolutionism which deifies "Nature" as the random selector and manipulator.
Evolutionism and its premise of "natural selection" processes of progression unto higher forms has been adopted philosophically into many other realms of thought. The material/physical evolutionism which suggests that physical inorganic material evolved by "natural selection" into all forms of physical life, was transformed into social/cultural evolutionism which suggests that societies evolve from the primitive to the highly developed as the natural "struggle for existence" allows for the "survival of the fittest." Epistemological evolutionism suggests that there is a natural collective selection process among mankind which progresses toward higher knowledge and ultimately toward infinite knowledge. Ethical/moral evolutionism is based on the premise that whatever is useful for survival is "good," and mankind naturally selects such "good" and progresses toward what is "best" for all. Spiritual evolutionism posits that by the natural recognition and selection of the "god" within us, we evolve into deified humanity. The discussion of evolutionism is muddied when such varying categories and premises are not carefully differentiated. David Livingstone concludes that
The cult of naturalism which deifies "Nature" and its alleged "natural selection" has many worshippers today.
There are extremist positions, though, on each side of the issues of creation and evolution. They have developed epistemological belief-systems of competing exclusivistic ideologies. On the one side is scientism with its premise of naturalism and hypothesis of evolutionism. Scientism adopts an exclusivist position which evaluates all phenomena by empirical observation interpreted by human reasoning in accord with their self-limited "scientific method" to ascertain the natural causes and effects. On the opposite side of this ideological gulf is the religionism of fundamentalism with its premise of exclusive supernaturalism and hypothesis of creationism. Fundamentalism adopts an exclusivist position which evaluates all phenomena by Biblical revelation employing a self-limited exegetical method demanding the acceptance of the interpretation by "faith" in the supernatural causes and effects. These extremist positions have blurred the genuine realities of both creation and evolution, and by their exclusivisms have polarized thinking on these subjects into an either/or situation which often stigmatizes those with differing opinions as their "enemy."
Is it not time for thinking people to rethink and adopt a balanced moderate position which recognizes that the creation processes and the evolutionary processes are not necessarily incompatible? "Creation" and "evolution," as defined at the beginning of this article, need not be considered as antithetical realities. A brief historical review will be helpful at this point.
The theological reaction to Darwin's book On the Origin of Species during the latter part of the nineteenth century and early part of the twentieth century in both Britain and the United States was not one of fear and antagonism. David Livingstone points out in his book, Darwin's Forgotten Defenders: The Encounter between Evangelical Theology and Evolutionary Thought, that Charles Hodge (1797-1878), theological professor at Princeton,
Scottish theologian, James Orr (1844-1913), indicated that "the theory of evolution ought not to be equated with its specifically Darwinian formulation."10
American Baptist theologian, A.H. Strong (1836-1921) explained that
Through the first decade of the twentieth century evangelical theologians accommodated organic evolutionary biology with their Biblical interpretations of creation. Not until fundamentalism was generated by a series of books entitled The Fundamentals published between 1910 and 1915, did an anti-evolutionary backlash develop.12 Adhering to a particular "literalistic" understanding of Biblical interpretation, and given leadership by Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah Witnesses and Dispensationalists, the fundamentalists engaged in bitter polemics against any concept of evolution. This was evidenced most publicly in the famous Scopes trial of 1925 where William Jennings Bryan led the legal defense against evolutionary education. Fundamentalism became increasingly defensive and sectarian, suspicious of science in general, and pessimistic about society. In the 1940s Henry Morris spearheaded the fundamentalist understanding of exclusivistic creation under the banner of "creationism," eventually establishing the Institute for Creation Research in southern California.
So it is that we have the polarized antagonism between the extremist positions of exclusivist creationism and exclusivist evolutionism today. To suggest a moderating position is to risk the wrath of both camps, for they have both narrowly defined their predetermined categories of acceptable causal explanation. Scientism accepts only natural causes. Creationism accepts only supernatural causes. Scientism is a perversion of genuine science and its open-ended search for knowledge without limiting the parameters and options. Fundamentalism and Creationism are an aberration of traditional Christian thought. Historic Christianity has accepted both supernatural and natural causes and processes, both Biblical fundamentals and science, both creation and evolution.
Eschewing the exclusivism of the competing ideological belief-systems, a thinking individual can logically and intelligently believe that the universe did have a "singularity" of beginning, a "genesis;" and that its origin was orchestrated by a personal, intelligent Being who was self-existent and outside of the created order. Furthermore, a unified contingency of existence and function of the entire created order upon such a personal and intelligent Being is logically required, as well as a teleological purpose and destiny. Genuine scientific observation is increasingly in accord with the Biblical account of the creation and sustenance of all things by the Creator, Jehovah-God. The "selection" of created forms was not made by a personified and deified "Nature," but by a personal, intelligent God who had a divine purpose for every selection and preference that was made. The Living, Creator God punctuated the creative process with His unique self-generative acts of creation, particularly in giving life (Nehemiah 9:6) at the points of the introduction of physical life, psychological life and spiritual life. He undoubtedly employed the natural processes of change, evolution, within His creative process, for such is as well-attested historically, within its own realm of observation and evaluation, as are any historical events, including the life of Jesus Christ. By the historic "singularity" of God's redemptive action in His Son, Jesus Christ, God has continued to function as Creator to allow those individuals who are receptive to His activity in "faith" to become "new creatures" (II Corinthians 5:17) by His creation of spiritual life in man "out of Himself," ek theos; and that with the resultant contingency of the Christian's deriving all from God in Christ with the hope of teleological fulfillment in God's glory.
The foregoing is a logical explanation of God's supernatural creative and redemptive activity incorporative of His employment of natural evolutionary change. Such an explanation does not impinge upon or contradict open-minded scientific observation, nor does it violate open-minded Biblical interpretation and Christian understanding. Christianity and science should be able to function as allies in man's search to better understand the origin and function of the world in which we live.
Fred, "A New Model for the Expanding Universe," in
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical