The Positive Aspects of Creationism

Much of our attention has been geared toward the negative aspects of evolution that we have neglected to build up a positive case for creation­ism.

By HAROLD W. CLARK, Professor of Biology, Pacific Union College, California

Seventh-Day Adventists stand al­most alone in their adherence to literal creation and its concomitant principle of a flood of waters that destroyed the original earth. Anyone who wishes to inform himself as to the exact position taken by this denomination, should consult the General Conference Bulletin for 1930, also the one for 1936, and the report of the educational convention held at Blue Ridge, North Carolina, in 1937. The two latter reports confirm the original 1930 position.

By these actions we have, as a denomination, placed ourselves on record as opposing the com­monly accepted theory that the earth and its life have come into existence by a slow, orderly development through long periods of time. We hold to the view that the earth and its life originated by the direct command of God, in a supernatural manner; that is, in a manner dif­ferent from the processes now going on.

Unfortunately, most of our attention up to this time has been directed toward the negative aspects of the problem. We have been intent on finding the flaws in the evolution theory, but have neglected to build up a positive creation­ism which would give one a definite concept of the creation doctrine in relation to the data of the various sciences. By this neglect we have unwittingly given the impression to many a sci­ence student that we are only critics of other men's ideas, and have nothing to put in the place of the evolutionary views we are trying so ar­dently to discredit. This is unfair, both to our opponents and to ourselves, and we cannot hope to establish any scientific standing until we de­velop a positive creationism whose philosophical and scientific aspects will stand in the face of all the facts-that can be brought from the world of nature. It is the purpose of this article to sug­gest some of the basic principles involved in a positive creationism.

The theory of evolution might be divided into three parts: (I) cosmic, dealing with the origin of the universe as a whole and with the sub­stance of the earth ; (2) geological, dealing with the rock formations at the surface of the earth ; and (3) biological, dealing with plants, animals, and man. We shall-consider only the latter two in this study.

Geological Aspect of Evolution

Evolutionary geology is based on the assump­tion that the strata of the earth have been laid down in order throughout long ages, and that the supposed age of the rocks can be determined by their fossil contents. This view depends on the assumption of an evolutionary succession of life, for unless there had been evolution through­out long ages, there would be no way to judge the age of the rocks by their fossils. Thus it is very readily seen that the whole structure of popular geology rests on the evolutionary view.

Flood geology, or deluge geology, as some prefer to call it, is based on the Genesis account of the flood, which assumes that the earth was created at a comparatively recent time, and that this earth and its life, somewhat modified as the result of the entrance of sin, was destroyed by the great catastrophe. Thus, flood geology, by its literal interpretation of the Genesis record, attributes most of the stratified rocks to the ac­tion of the flood and the period just following.

Several problems arise in the course of our study of the geological phase, and these must be oriented in the light of our major premise. Three of these will be considered next.

1. Sequence of the Fossils. Some flood geologists have tried to maintain that there is no order to the fossils, but that they are jum­bled together in such a confusion that the sup­posed sequence of the popular geologists, by which the "ages" are determined, is a mere fig­ment of the imagination, invented to bolster up the theory of evolution. Our task would be an easy one if such a position could be supported, but unfortunately there are so many facts against it that we must do one of two things —shut our eyes to the great volume of evidence for a very real fossil sequence, or find an inter­pretation for these facts that will be in harmony with our major tenets of flood geology.

There is not room in this paper to go into de­tail on this question, and some readers will chal­lenge the foregoing statements as to the reality of the fossil sequence. Sometime in the near future I hope to be able to present this evidence and show its importance to flood geology, but for the present let us be content to rest upon the assurance that such evidence is a reality, and can be brought out in a clear manner. On this basis, what would the facts mean for the cause of creationism ?

Here is where recent studies on the distribu­tion of modern plants and animals come into the problem. Field naturalists know that the life in the waters and lands of the earth is grouped into definite assemblages, or associations. These may be classed in faunas and floras, and in life regions and life zones. Certain species of plants and animals will live together in one locality, and a different assemblage will live in another locality. The distribution of these groups over the earth will be determined in the oceans by the depth of water, the temperature, currents, presence of food, and other factors; on land by the soil, rainfall, temperature, humidity, pres­ence of other plants and animals, and other factors of environment. Any scientist who is familiar with the details of ecological distribu­tion could identify fairly accurately the region from which a collection of living species was taken, if he were given three or four types or key forms. There is a very definite zonation in the water as well as on the land.

As we study the nature of the fossil sequence in the rocks, we are struck by the peculiar simi­larity between the arrangement of the fossils and what we would expect to find if the present ecological zones were to be buried and the plants and animals fossilized. I am convinced that the idea of the ecological zones gives us the key to the whole problem of the sequence of the fossils.

Illustrations of this principle may be found everywhere, but one example is all that space will allow. Students from the University of Washington, at Seattle, have accurately mapped the sea bottom of Puget Sound and northward for many miles. They have found that certain assemblages of life may be found wherever certain conditions prevail—temperature, depth, nature of bottom, and salinity of water, being among the most important factors governing the distribution of life. In the main, three dis­tinct zones, or belts, are to be recognized.

As one reads reports from widely separated areas, he is struck with the similarity of condi­tions. For instance, at Woods Hole, Massachu­setts, and at Sydney, Australia, may be found the same zones, a similar grouping, and some of the same genera as in Puget Sound.

We have only to postulate an original crea­tion in which the waterways were densely popu­lated from the shore to the bottom of the deepest seas, to realize that the burial of such life zones would produce a far more complete series of fossil forms than would be produced if the pres­ent life were to be buried.

It is interesting to learn, upon reading re­ports of geological discussions over a century ago, that the pioneers of modern geology recog­nized the principle of ecological zonation of an­cient life; but because they were already imbued with the idea that the stratified rocks repre­sented the deposits of long ages, and the flood of the Bible record produced only the surface sands and gravels, they failed to see the signifi­cance of the facts.

2. Tectonics. The vast movements that have taken place in the past, such as uplifts, folds, thrusts, and volcanic flows; are all evidences of the terrific forces at work during the flood. In the mountain ranges of the earth these features are on such a grand scale that we must picture a catastrophe of almost incomprehensible pro­portions in order to account for them. No won­der the geologists believe in long ages for the accomplishment of these gigantic movements. Even at that, it is significant that there is noth­ing going on today that would produce these effects. In this respect flood geology, with cata­strophic forces at its command, is immeasur­ably superior to uniformitarianism, which must interpret the past in the light of the present.

3. Glaciation. The problem of glaciation has been one of the most puzzling to creation­ists, and opinions have fluctuated between al­most complete acceptance of the glacial evi­dence at face value and total rejection of all such evidence, with an attempt to attribute it all to the work of water. To my mind, the glacial evidences may be divided into three cate­gories: (I) those produced by the waters of the flood and attributed to ice by the geologists because of the lack of any knowledge of how they could be produced by waters, inasmuch as present water action would be entirely inade­quate to account for the glacial phenomenon ; (2) those produced by ice; and (3) those pro­duced by the great wind mentioned in the flood record.

Of the valid ice evidences there are two cate­gories: (I) those due to mountain glaciers, which were much larger than at _present ; and (2) those due to the accumulation of great con­tinental ice masses over the northern lands and the tips of the southern continents. Of the sec­ond group there is sufficient evidence to estab­lish their former existence; although, as has been pointed, out, many of the features attrib­uted to them by geologists belong to the flood action.

A study of conditions prevailing at the close of the flood, and for centuries following, reveals several factors that would contribute to a much greater accumulation of snow and ice than is possible today. Among these were: (I) the abundance of moisture resulting from the in­terior basins being filled with water, and all areas of the earth being in a more or less sat­urated condition; (2) the agency of vulcanism in throwing large amounts of water vapor into the air ; (3) the effect of great masses of heated rock in evaporating water at the surface of the earth ; (4) the lowered temperature of the at­mosphere on account of excessive clouds ; and (5) the screening effect of volcanic dust upon the sun's rays. All these factors together make it perfectly reasonable to believe in a "glacial period" that lasted for one thousand to fifteen hundred years after the flood. This does not imply that all the conditions postulated by the geologists for their glacial period were prevail­ing during this time. It does, however, give ground for an explanation of the glacial evi­dences without resorting to the long periods of time required by the popular interpretation.

The same glacial Phenomena that are char­acteristic of the high mountains of the West may be clearly seen throughout the northeastern United States and most of Canada. I have seen as beautiful glacial contours in Central Park , in New York City as may be seen in the high country of Yosemite. On the top of Mount Wachusett, in Massachusetts, glacial polish may be found as fresh as if it were on Mount Rainier, where present activity may be observed. In many localities in New England and eastern Canada, a wide variety of phenomena identical with those found in regions where glaciers are now actively at work may be readily noted.—To be concluded in June

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By HAROLD W. CLARK, Professor of Biology, Pacific Union College, California

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