True Christian Science and Evolution

Presented at Science Teachers' Convention, Ta­koma Park, D. C., August, 1942.

By FRANK L. MARSH, Professor of Biology, Union College, Nebraska

The term "evolution," as used in the bio­logical sense, refers to that philosophy which asserts that the beings now living on the earth have descended from different beings which have lived in the past, and which were much simpler in structure than are the modern forms ; that the discontinuous variation observed at our time level, the gaps now existing between clusters of forms, have arisen gradually, so that if we could assemble all individuals which have ever inhabited the earth, a fairly con­tinuous array of forms would emerge ; that all these changes have taken place due to causes which now continue to be in operation, and which therefore can be studied experimentally. We are not concerned here with the different types of evolution—whether it be emergent, mechanistic, or teleological—because all theories which constitute it agree in one essential prin­ciple. They concur in the assumption that the Bible account of origins is not true.

The word "science," which is considered in the natural world to be both the process and result of observation and classification of facts, especially, with the establishment of verifiable general laws (chiefly by induction and hypoth­esis), should be the same whether Christian, pagan, Mohammedan, or Jewish. It is a com­mon field in which all men meet fraternally, having forgotten all distinctions of class or creed. To illustrate : In the field of true science, an Adventist can agree with the most belligerent atheist, suggestive agnostic, or imaginative evo­lutionist, and vice versa. The purely scientific material on the pages of our journals will be non-committal as regards any personal beliefs or prejudices. Such is our conception of ma­terial which is truly factual science.

But when we speak of Christian science, we are likely to be misunderstood and to accomplish the crystallization of different products in the minds of different listeners. For instance, Glenn Gates Cole, teacher in Wheaton College and author of "Creation and Science," would cer­tainly be classified by many as a Christian scientist. Furthermore, he poses as a funda­mentalist. But his variety of Christian science is that type of compromise between funda­mentalism and evolution which constitutes the day-age theory. This theory is an attempt to sell out the manifestly literal days of creation week for the vast and indefinite periods of evo­lutionary time. Another advocate of Christian science is William J. Tinkle, professor of bi­ology in Taylor University. In his college text on zoology, entitled "Fundamentals of Zoology," Doctor Tinkle has come as near to producing a purely scientific book as can be found on our present book market in the field of zoology. He is not only a Christian scientist, but he is also known as a fundamentalist. However, Ad­ventists cannot accept all his interpretations of science because, as an illustration, he states that "a number of species now living in other parts of the world have left fossils in Asia, and along the highways to their present homes."—Page 168.

In the light of this indefinite use of the term "Christian science," it becomes neces­sary to make clear to which variety of it we are referring when we are contrasting it with evolution. I believe that as a group of Adventist scientists, we will all agree that "Christian science" should refer to that kind of science which follows the precepts and example of Christ in laying its foundations as well as in building its super structure. In the record of His earthly experiences, one thrice-repeated sentence stands out clear cut: "It is written." Matt. 4 :4-10. Surely the type of Christian science we hope to develop among us will like­wise be rooted and grounded in the teachings of the Scriptures. Facts of science and state­ments in the Scriptures which have a bearing upon natural science will agree, because they have the same Author. That nature and revela­tion mutually complement each other is made clear to us in these words:

"In the natural world, God has placed in the hands of the children of men the key to unlock the treasure house of His word. The unseen is illustrated by the seen; divine wisdom, eternal truth, infinite grace, are understood by the things that God has made."—"Counsels to Teachers," p. 187.

"The book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other. Both make him [the student] acquainted with God by teaching him of His char­acter and of the laws through which He works."—"Ministry of Healing," p. 462.

Before us lies the clear duty of correctly understanding the teaching of the Scriptures and accurately interpreting the facts in nature. Any discrepencies must result from a failure of accomplishment in one or the other, or in both phases of this twofold duty. It is just as important to the development of science among us that we present an undivided front on major principles, as it was for our ministers to agree on the major points of theology in building the fundamentals of our church. Gen­eral unity was not achieved in all points of those doctrines until after many serious discus­sions. It is not -unlikely that the experience of our theologians in formulating our doctrines may be prophetic of what lies before the scien­tists of our denomination, before they can pre­sent that unity and solidarity of front which will usher in a new era of helpfulness on the part of our scientists in the work of the church. It is very certain that the unity of our type of Christian science is strongly fostered by just .uch conferences as the one being held at the time here in Washington.

It was stated before that Christian, pagan, Mohammedan, and Jew all agree in the field of true science. This is true in the observation and classification of facts in the natural world. But the Christian scientist admits, and the evo­lutionary scientist should freely admit, that in the fostering of science in their respective con­stituencies, laboratory facts are left far behind in many cases. Every textbook of science writ­ten by an evolutionist is so shot through with subtle and self-evident theory as to be absolutely unworthy of the term "textbook in natural sci­ence," which it purports to be. It is entirely impossible for the uninitiated to separate fact from fable in these textbooks. In view of this fact, it never ceases to be a source of amaze­ment to us that evolutionists should decry our indoctrination of students with a sectarian point of view. We accept the Scriptures as our Guidebook in establishing every basic scientific principle which they describe. We do this freely and openly to our students, and endeavor to differentiate between natural phenomena and supernatural operations, as far as this is possible in processes which originate in the same Author.

One outstanding difference between Christian science, as we limit it, and evolution, is found in the nature of the proof upon which these two philosophies are built. It stands as one Of the amazing facts of our day that the very evolutionary scientists who lay so much stress upon the importance of laboratory proof, either deliberately or accidentally lay the main girders of their theory upon subjective proof. In every instance, the exhibits which they present to prove their case are suggestive of just as sen­sible explanation from at least one other angle. Permit me to illustrate this : The evolutionist argues that because similar morphology usually indicates kinship, therefore it must always do so. For that reason he assumes that man and ape must enjoy comparatively close blood rela­tionship because they look 'much alike.

Now it cannot be demonstrated in the lab­oratory that similar morphology necessarily indicates blood relationship of any kind. There­fore, because such a conclusion cannot be in­duced, it is not scientific. The fact of similar morphologies must in many cases remain in the category of subjective evidence, and conse­quently be subject to at least two possible in­terpretations. It therefore becomes just as sensible to assume that, in view of the state­ments of the Scriptures, man and ape look alike because the Creator chose to make them that way, as to assume that they are physically simi­lar because they are relatives.

Actually, the special creationist has the edge on the argument here, because his theory of nonkinship is substantiated by the reproductive behavior of man and ape. We may correctly assume that the horse and the ass can cross because they are blood relatives. The same is true of the lion and the tiger. It also seems correct to assume that lions cannot cross with horses because they are not of common kinship. In the light of these apparent facts it becomes evident that the special creationist has more scientific proof for his conclusions than does the evolutionist.

Again, the evolutionist assumes that, because complex animals, during their indi­vidual development from egg to adult, pass through temporary stages in which they appear quite like the adult stages of simpler animals, their race must have evolved from simpler an­cestors. Although this assumption is one of the main pillars supporting evolution, it is purely subjective in nature. No cases stand on the sci­entific records where one animal has changed into a different animal. Neither does the fossil record offer any assistance here because not only is the "missing link" still missing, but whole chains of missing links must yet be un­covered before the rocks of the earth will testify that complex animals have actually developed from simpler forms. In the light of the facts, it again becomes just as sensible to assume that the Creator chose to have complex animals develop from fertilized eggs, arid that all these animals in developing to the adult stage must of necessity at certain stages look much like simpler forms because of the morphological changes resulting from the simple addition of cells along a more or less elongated axis.

Any departures from the direct path from the fertilized egg to the adult form are much more sensibly conceived of as having resulted from mutational changes which have introduced ir­regularities in the development, than to attempt to explain them as merely a dogged adherence to an old family custom, the living over again of the morphological evolution of the race. In the case of embryological evidence, the special cre­ationist not only has just as sensible an explana­tion of the facts as has the evolutionist, but in addition the actual facts are again in harmony with his theory, while the theory of the evolu­tionist must be maintained in spite of facts to the contrary.

This recourse to subjective evidence, with its susceptibility to several explanations, is one of the outstanding earmarks of the evolutionist. The very individuals who clamor so loudly for adherence to laboratory proof are the ones who depart the most widely from it in drawing up their philosophies of the natural world. It be­hooves us as special creationists in the building of our Christian science to look well to our proof that we do not fall into the same ditch with the evolutionists and maintain that something must be this or that merely because it looks as if it is. Circumstantial evidence may be of value as filling in and rounding out peripheries, but it certainly should never be used as the sup­porting pillars of any philosophy.

It is not unusual to find among students who have been exposed to the presumption, over­confidence, intolerence, and bravado of evolu­tionists, those who appear to feel secretly a bit sorry for themselves that as special creationists they must depend less on fact and more upon faith than does the evolutionist. Their natures seem to call out for that freedom of movement in the world of fact which they feel the evolu­tionist enjoys in contrast with the special crea­tionist. It is our duty to set before the compre­hensions of such materialistic students the true situation in the camp of the evolutionists. The latter group are much more engaged in the exercise of faith—if we can call the belief in something which is contrary to scientific fact faith—than are special creationists.

A parallel listing of evolutionary doctrines and the doctrines of the special creationist will show that less faith is necessary in accepting the items on his list than in receiving the items on the list of the evolutionist. The crowning act of faith in the philosophy of the evolutionist lies in his assumption of uniformity. To assume that present-day processes were responsible for the origin of all things in the natural world calls for a greater exercise of faith than any single point in the philosophy of the special creationist. The philosophy of the latter not only contains an adequate original cause, but also an abundantly sufficient energizer of present-day natural pro­cesses. In addition, the philosophy of the special creationist is not opposed by any present fact in nature. The evolutionist, on the other hand, is repeatedly out of step with present-day processes.

As an illustration here, the special creationist finds no scientific fact to oppose his assumption that kinds of animals have been unique and have existed since the beginning, while the evolu­tionist is in a greater scramble than ever in his hopeless business of searching for some mech­anism in nature which will shape a new kind of animal from an existing kind. The sequence of events in the evolutionist's calendar is repeatedly broken by great gaps which must be spanned by immense faith bridges. In contrast to this, the philosophy of the special creationist is beauti­fully unified and logical throughout. It con­tains no inconsistencies, and it is not disputed by as much as one scientific fact. Again, I repeat, we are duty bound to assist our materi­alistically-minded students in orienting them­selves in the presence of these facts.

In the preceding paragraph I have associated several rather uncomplimentary nouns with the evolutionists. These are characteristics which special creationists are repeatedly forced to ob­serve when reading histories of various theories of origins. A typical illustration is found in Dobzhansky's "Genetics and the Origin of Spe­cies."

"The fact remains that among the present gen­eration no informed person entertains any doubt of the validity of the evolution theory in the sense that evolution has occurred."—Page 8.

A second reason for my selection of nouns is found in H. H. Newmann's book, "Evolution, Genetics, and Eugenics :"

"There are no rival hypotheses (to evolution) except the outworn and completely refuted idea of special creation, now retained only by the ignorant, the dogmatic, and the prejudiced."—Page 28.

I believe I am quite conservative when I say that these expressions are typical, and indicate rather clearly the intolerant spirit of our fellow scientists in the camp of the evolutionists. We regret such statements, not because they were made by Dobzhansky or Newmann, but because we decry intolerance from any angle. The rea­son for calling attention to these statements is to suggest that there are at least two explanations why these men, and others, have spoken so plainly. First, they ma; not be informed with regard to what we teach. Second, they may know more about us than we think, and have advisedly branded us as ignorant and unin­formed:

Fellow scientists, I believe such statements as these should be a challenge to us. Let us use care that we do not deserve such harsh words. Let us waste no time in seeing to it that we are informed in our respective fields. Let us keep the slate clean of all ridiculous theories. Let us not concern ourselves too much in an en­deavor to keep up with the latest views of the evolutionsts—they change overnight—but let us rather concentrate our energies in the demon­stration of the positive side of our position. The scientific facts discovered by evolutionists will help us here. Would we not do well to unify our front more completely and organize our activities so that the scientific principles of the Scriptures may become the head and not the tail in the field of natural science ? When this condition prevails, the scientists of our denomi­nation will become of the greatest service to the world in the proclamation of truth.

I would suggest that you read a few para­graphs from "Testimonies," Volume VIII, pages 324, 323, which portray a personal quali­fication of the scientist that will enable him to develop a really Christian science in contrast with evolution. That qualification is "a knowl­edge of God and His word."

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By FRANK L. MARSH, Professor of Biology, Union College, Nebraska

February 1943

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