Seventh-day Adventists and Evolution

Defending the biblical account of creation.

By MOLLEURUS COUPERUS, M. D., Dermatologist, Skin and Cancer Unit, New York City

It is now about a hundred and forty years since Lamarck offered his hypothesis of the evolution of life, and more than eighty years since Darwin popularized his views on that subject through his book "The Origin of Species." It has also been more than ninety years since we as a people have proclaimed with special emphasis the doctrine of a literal week of creation and of the seventh-day Sab­bath as a memorial of that divine act. In the very nature of things, this has made us the most definite antievolutionists in the camp of the Fundamentalists, although we may not always have been the most voiceful among them.

In the years before the turn of the century it may not have been so necessary for us to take a leading part in the fight against the theory of evolution, since there were many not of our faith who ably defended their belief in the Biblical account of creation. If one reviews the leading books and articles written against evolution since the days of Lamarck, he is impressed by the fact that practically all the fundamental arguments against evolution which are employed today were put forward by the early fighters against that theory when the battle was just starting.

As the years went by, however, the number of defenders decreased, and the platform of many of the creationists underwent drastic changes, until today we find few outside the ranks of Seventh-day Adventists defending the account of creation as written in Genesis. This does not mean that there are only a few who subscribe to a belief in some form of cre­ation, and who have supplied valuable contri­butions to the Fundamentalists' side, but it does mean that more and more there has fallen on the shoulders of our people the full responsi­bility of carrying the call of the first angel of Revelation 14: "Worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the foun­tains of waters."

There can be no question that this call to recognize and worship God as the Creator of the universe is as verily a part of the three angels' messages at the warning of the judg­ment hour, or the announcement of the fall of Babylon. In fact, without this message, that points to God as the Creator, the other parts of the message are made ineffective for a world which has lost its faith in a Creator.

It was at the turn of the century also that George McCready Price began to shoulder a burden for the defense of the creationist's faith, and for an attack on the theory of evolution. Not until the veil is taken away from things earthly shall we know just how far and how deep the influence of his work has been. About two years ago I came across the book "Evolu­tion" by Dr. W. J. Schouten. This is an excel­lent treatise on the evidence for and against evolution, published in 1935 in Holland. I quote the following from his book :

"The American geologist Price has attacked the evolutionary theory severely, and he has offered serious objections to the accepted succession of earth strata. It is well worth while to see to what conclu­sions Price has come through his geological studies. . . . Now, we are not so much interested in the ques­tion if Price is a member of a scientific body, as we are in the question of what kind of arguments he brings forward against the various geological theories. And then it becomes evident that Price possesses an enormous mass of facts, and that he draws his conclusions with a logic which spares noth­ing and nobody. He reveals with keenness the im­perfections of the geological methods. If Professors Schuchert and Miller, instead of railing at him, had attempted to disprove the arguments of Price, they would have found this no easy task."—Page 144.

It is gratifying to know that the ceaseless toil and labor of many years of research and writ­ing by Professor Price have not been in vain, and are bearing a rich fruitage.

We have now entered upon an exceedingly important stage in this contro­versy, both critical and promising. Never since the days when evolution became generally accepted have there poured forth so many denunciations by scientific men against the various fundamental tenets of the theory of evolution. This is usually not caused by a disbelief in the theory of evolution as a whole, but by the force of the scientific facts in the field in which a particular scientist is working, causing him to reject that particular pillar of the theoretical edifice of which he has the most intimate knowledge. This has caused a general and very evident uncertainty in evo­lutionary circles concerning the ways and means of evolution. And although most of the evolutionists hold on to their faith in the theory, there are a number who have become thoroughly agnostic about the validity of the entire hypothesis.

The common people, of course, know very little of all this, and they still believe that all the theory ever claimed has long been proved to be scientific truth, and that only the ignorant and the prejudiced question the theory today. This would seem to be in God's plan the mo­ment of great opportunity for us as a people to sound a clear note amidst the confusing noise, and on scientific and logical grounds, from the great books of inspiration and nature, call the world to the worship of the true God, the Creator.

The task before us should not be lightly regarded, and the preparation of those who shall engage in this work should be painstak­ing and thorough. Without doubt, we as a people have failed to a considerable extent to prepare our sons and daughters for this work, and many who might have been in the front line carrying the banner of truth have fallen victims to the vain philosophy of a science falsely so called. The opportune time is now upon us to redeem, as far as possible, what we have lost in the past.

Thorough Course Needed in Our Colleges

Although this work should begin in the home, and be continued throughout the years of school attendance and after, the work of stimu­lating men and women to take upon them­selves the burden of this work naturally rests most heavily on our colleges. If a thorough course in the evidences for creation and against evolution were included in the curriculum of our college students, many of them would develop such a deep and lasting interest in this subject that they would determine to make it a part of their lifework. Some of them might even go ahead and specialize in certain scientific fields, as geology or genetics, in order to be better equipped to carry the battle to the enemy's camp.

There are many men and women among us who are already scientifically trained in medi­cine, biology, chemistry, physics, etc., who could contribute invaluable material from their various fields of experience and study, if they would take the time and effort to become ac­quainted with the problems involved in this controversy. It is self-evident that if one is to enter this battle successfully he must take the trouble to learn the vocabulary, the beliefs, and the arguments of the opponent, much as one studies the problems and beliefs of Buddhism, or Mohammedanism, in our courses on missions or comparative religions.

We can learn a good deal, I believe, from the efforts which the evolutionists are willing to put forth in .order to find evidence for the support of their theories. In the journal Science there appeared the following exhortation of Professor Edmund W. Sinnott, of Columbia University, a man of world-wide reputation in genetics:

"Many biologists have been deterred by these diffi­culties from attacking the problems of organization at all. Others, despairing of finding a solution through the familiar techniques of their science, have begun to explore the possibilities of ideas and postulates foreign to the familiar biological idiom. The more tender-minded among them have needed little encouragement to run after the strange gods of mysticism and metaphysics, and have set up in their midst the golden calf of entelechy... . Granted that to co-ordinate the data of biochemistry, bio­physics, cytology, morphology, and genetics, requires a breadth of training and catholicity of viewpoint almost impossible to gain today, yet the job must be done. My plea is for more laborers in this vineyard. Difficult the task surely is, but by no means hope­less."—Vol. 89:41-46 (1939).

Certainly we should be willing to put forth as much energy in the carrying out of our work as the evolutionist is in doing his. Superficial and inexact work on our part will do far more harm than good, and will be only to our dis­credit.

In this work of refuting the teachings of evolution, there are many problems which must be solved if we are to present a united and successful front. It seems almost necessary that we should have a declaration of our posi­tion on certain fundamental issues in this con­troversy, at least as a working policy, and an approximate definition of the length and breadth and depth of the problems with which we will have to deal.

Professor Price has called attention to this fact in his recent article, "What Is the Chris­tian's Best Strategy ?" in the September, 1941, issue of the Ministry. He there especially pointed to the need of defining what we un­derstand by the concept of species, in relation to creation and evolution. Other fundamental questions in this controversy are equally in need of such close examination. Preconceived and inherited opinions, accepted without much critical thought, provide a grave obstacle to obtaining a logical view of the fundamental facts of our position in this controversy, and for successfully persuading others of the truth of our views.

It would be of inestimable value if we could have conferences, perhaps regularly, of those who are actively interested in this work, de­voting sufficient time to a discussion of the problems and questions before us. The establishment of a good working library on the subject of evolution, complete in periodicals as well as in books, somewhere in one of our educational centers, would act as a mighty stimulus in this program, and would aid in keeping our work in this subject on a high level.


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By MOLLEURUS COUPERUS, M. D., Dermatologist, Skin and Cancer Unit, New York City

June 1942

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