In order to enable our ministers and other evangelistic workers to get the most out of this new reading course book by Dr. Marsh, we have asked the author to give us a constructive analysis and outline of the volume from the viewpoint of helping the laymen in science to grasp its great essentials.—Editor.
It is possible that a condensed summary of important points bearing on the question of evolution versus creationism as presented in the 1945 Ministerial Reading Course book Evolution, Creation, and Science will be helpful to our gospel workers. A discussion of the technical subject of evolution is hardly the task for a novice in the field of biological science. The preacher who intends to make a public discussion of evolution must lay a broad foundation for such a presentation by a great deal of careful reading in the right places. It is entirely possible that a public discussion of evolution should be tactfully and studiously avoided in most cases. This is the situation because of the high degree of specialized training which is necessary in our day in order to discuss evolution in a profitable manner.
The greatest damage that has been done in the matter of acceptance or rejection of the theory of special creation has resulted from the statements of well-meaning but ill-informed creationists. Indeed, it has come to be the sincere opinion of evolutionists, as illustrated by a recent letter from Dr. Dobzhansky, professor of zoology, Columbia Ulniversity, that "antievolutionists are usually either ignorants or else more or less amiable and well-intentioned bigots." Largely because of the unscientific, though ardent, public expressions of antievolutionist theologians, the theory of special creation has come to be considered by scientists as completely ridiculous and without support in fact. It is now with very great difficulty that a creationist scientist can gain the ear of evolutionists, because he is considered not even to qualify as the bearer of the minority report concerning scientific theories of origins.
What can be done to remedy this disgraceful disrepute into which the theory of special creation has fallen ? Our ministers can be of definite help here by using great caution with regard to any and all oral or written statements concerning evolution which they make publicly.
It is possible that the subject of organic evolution should be studiously avoided except in such statements as would be necessary to direct public attention to suitable books on the subject prepared by specialists who are thoroughly trained in historical biology. Sincerity, interest, and well-intentioned enthusiasm can never serve as substitutes for actual information in this field. We live in an age in whieh even the average audience is surprisingly well informed in science. It is an age of specialists, an age in which specialized training is necessary if one is to discuss helpfully any technical subject.
If, under present circumstances, a public discussion of evolution should largely be avoided by our ministry, why then should ministers take the time and pains to become generally informed in that subject ? Ministers should delve into this subject, first, in order to erase any question which they may have that the earth might have come into being through evolution instead of special creation. A recent letter from an Adventist worker raises the question, "Have you ever had any misgivings in your mind as to the validity of the theory of a literal creation?" This worker had some very real doubts. Such doubts weaken the efficiency of a worker in God's cause. I believe a careful study of Evolution, Creation, and Science will assist greatly in the eradication of such doubts.
Ministers should familiarize themselves with the question of evolution versus special creation, in order to be intelligent on the subject when brought face to face with it by the questions of interested individuals. The theory of evolution permeates almost all fields of knowledge; thus an understanding of it becomes vitally important to the up-to-the-minute preacher who must bear the responsibility of giving the trumpet a certain sound in so many different fields. If the worker will thoroughly digest such books as Evolution, Creation, and Science he will not only be able to retain the respect of those scientifically trained and informed in the matter of origins but will also be qualified to intelligently direct these persons to some profitable reading in the field which they may have missed. Already one of the most active and well-known students of evolution today has stated with regard to Evolution, Creation, and Science, "I have read the book with much interest and, I can assure you, profit to myself." This man, a professor of zoology in one of the largest universities of the land, testifies to the scientific accuracy of the facts recorded in this book.
The book Evolution, Creation, and Science will be heavy, though possibly interesting, reading for most of our workers. Those who have not had the equivalent of a college course in general biology may find it rather difficult in some chapters. But those who can read this book understandingly are qualified to discuss evolution. If all the chapters cannot be read understandingly, the chances are very good that the reader should studiously avoid any public discussion of evolution. A book on evolution versus creationism which could be comprehended by everybody could not be of much real value to those who can use such material to the greatest profit. For that reason rather technical matter has been included in some chapters in order to make the volume of the most practical value to specially qualified workers and to interested persons. A volume on "Creationism for John Doe" has not yet been written. It would be of little or no value to our workers who must meet the questions of specialists in this field.
I will now list the chapters of Evolution, Creation, and Science in serial order and include those points which I believe are of greatest importance and will be the most helpful to those who are reading this book in the Ministerial Reading Course.
Chapter I. "Unjustified Authority." Those who do not accept the theory of evolution today are sincerely considered by the great majority of scientists to be ignorant, dogmatic, and/or prejudiced. In view of the fact that evolution cannot be demonstrated in the laboratory, this attitude on the part of evolutionists is as unjustified as was the similar, now widely decried, attitude assumed by the schoolmen of the Dark Ages against scientists who chose to differ with them. Until creationism or evolution can be disproved in the laboratory, a spirit of tolerance should characterize the opinions of scientists with regard to those who may disagree with them in the matter of origins.
Chapter 2. "Evolution and Special Creation Defined." There are only two theories of origins—evolution and special creation. The definitions of these theories should be studied carefully. It is important to notice that evolution assumes the appearance of new kinds from other kinds by natural processes. Special creation states that no new kinds can arise in nature. The latter theory recognizes considerable change within the kinds since creation, but it states that all the natural processes of change can do no more than produce variation within the created kinds. It is of first importance to understand the assertions of both theories, which are included in this chapter.
Chapter 3. "Scholasticism and Modern Theories of Origins." Because the scientists among the medieval schoolmen posed as special creationists, evolutionary scientists of today charge all the schoolmen's impossibly narrow interpretations of biological phenomena to the theory of special creation. The fact that the schoolmen were demonstrated to be wrong in their explanations of natural phenomena is taken today to prove that the theory of special creation is inadequate. The great advance in scientific discovery at the time of the Renaissance was not due to the acceptance of the theory of evolution nor to the rejection of the theory of special creation, but rather to the fact that man had begun to study natural phenomena in the light of physicochemical laws. The statement of the principles of the theory of special creation is not according to the fantastic explanations of the scholastics, nor according to the explanation of any man, but rather as written in Genesis.
Chapter 4. "The Scientific Method." The scientific method consists in the demonstration of natural processes in the laboratory. Only that which can be demonstrated to be true is considered true. Most scientists hold that this finite and limited device is adequate to explain the past, the present, and the future of our natural world. But the creationist scientist believes that the truths of the Bible in conjunction with natural law are necessary in accurately explaining these three periods of time. On this vital point the mechanistic evolutionist and the creationist must ever disagree. In the explanation of present-day biological processes the evolutionist and the creationist both employ the scientific method and explain natural phenomena through the operation of the laws of physics and chemistry. To the creationist the "natural processes" studied in the laboratory are manifestations of God's upholding power. They are called "laws" because of the regular ways God has of carrying on these natural phenomena.
Chapter 5. "The Physical Basis of Life." To all appearances protoplasm dies when the extremely complex organization of its constituent parts is sufficiently disturbed in chemical or physical ways. God is the only Being who can produce the requisite organization among nonliving materials to cause them to become living systems.
Chapter 6. "Are Scriptural Theories of Life Beginnings Obsolete?" Contrary to the opinion of a large percentage of scientists, the Scriptural theory of life beginnings is not obsolete. That it is considered to be obsolete by many is due to one or the other, or both, of two things. Either the Bible record has been inaccurately read, or the phenomena of nature have been incorrectly explained. Accuracy of interpretation will reveal unity of testimony from these two greatest sources of truth.
Chapters 7, 8. "Processes of Variation in Organisms." Evolutionists assert that new kinds of organisms have arisen and are arising by natural processes of change. All these processes of change can be grouped under three heads, namely, recombinations, gene mutations, and chromosomal changes. However, the most careful study of these processes reveals that they accomplish nothing more than variation within already existing kinds. These facts show that the assumption of evolutionary change has no support in the natural world. On the other hand, actual limitation of the changes produced by these processes within the boundaries of the kind demonstrates the truth of special creation.
Chapter 9. "Hybridization." The crossing of nimals and of plants has resulted in the origin of lany interesting groups. A scrutiny of all eliable reports of hybridization reveals that cross-rig is possible only between organisms which are similar as to be obviously members of the same ;enesis kind. No authentic cases exist in which fan has crossed with any other animal. Because the similar morphology of organisms which do can cross, it seems reasonable to assume that a alid test of membership in the same kind is to be found in the ability of the germ cells of individuals fuse in fertilization. This furnishes the biologist rith a concrete device for discovering the roundaries of the original kind.
Chapter 10. "Modern Species and the Gene-Is Kind" The modern "species" is frequently not ynonymous with the Genesis "kind." Species names have been assigned to new variants which have been developed in the laboratory. These species" are not new "kinds" but merely new variations within the original kinds. Because of the application of the species name to these superficial groups, it is now meaningless to use the word unless it is made clear whether it is being employed to indicate an original Genesis kind or some more limited group which is a mere variant of a Genesis kind. Geographical races of original kinds are often given "species" names by some taxonomists.
Chapter I I . "Variation Since The Noachian Loop." The Genesis record seems to make it clear that all land animals were destroyed in the Deluge except those preserved in the ark. Thus the ancestors of our modern land animals all came from he mountains of Ararat. Animals are still migrating over the earth. If there had been no variation since the Deluge, we would find animals laving the same identical appearance scattered all Lround the earth. Actually this is true only in hose few cases in which the kinds are great vanderers. In the vast majority of cases the individuals of a kind in one region differ more or less n appearance from individuals of the same kind n some other region. This results in a typical nosaic pattern of distribution of the modern repesentatives of any single kind. This fact of distribution seems to indicate that within many of the original kinds considerable variation has occurred since the Flood. An illustration of this is furnished the sixteen "species" and "subspecies" of red foxes found in North America, which are all cross fertile and obviously descendants of a single anteliluvian ancestor. Evolutionists have observed his variation within the kind and have thought it could accomplish the erection of new kinds if given sufficient time. However, the changes which actually occur are never of the quality or quantity necessary to produce a new kind.
Chapters 12, 13. "Significance of the Evidence From Classification, Morphology, Embryology, and Physiology." This evidence is admittedly all of an inferential type, and therefore suited to be bent this way or that, depending upon one's viewpoint. Evolutionists commonly state that the best proof obtainable for their theory is found in these fields. It is indeed an extremely unfortunate thing for their theory that the best proof they can find is of a subjective nature and thus always susceptible to explanation from at least two different points of view.
Chapter 14. "Significance of the Evidence from Paleontology." The age of rocks is, in the last analysis, always determined by their fossil content. The scientists who have named the rocks and pigeonholed them chronologically have all been evolutionists. They have assumed the truth of evolution and then dated the rocks accordingly. If a rock layer contains simple animals it is said to be very old, while if it contains complex fossils it is considered to be younger. This method of determining the age of rocks in conjunction with the facts that in no one place can many layers be found, and in no single instance can the developmental story of an organism be found in successive layers of fossiliferous rocks, renders proof for evolution from paleontology completely invalid. One can never arrive at correct conclusions by reasoning in circles.
Chapter 15. "Significance of the Evidence from Geographical Distribution" This is an amplification of the discussion found in chapter 11.
Chapter 16. "Biological Adaptation." According to evolution the suitableness of organisms for their present environments has all accrued through natural processes. The creationist assumes two types of adaptation : primary and secondary. The fitness of the fish for a life in water and of the squirrel for a life in trees is primary ; that is, these animals were created that way. However, there is a secondary type of adaptation which has come in since the Deluge. This is illustrated by the fact that some crayfish today require brackish water, while others can live only in fresh spring water. These more minor adaptations to peculiar habitats have possibly come as mutational changes. The delicate balance which exists between all the organs of the various systems in the body of a complex animal constitutes a powerful argument in favor of creation. It is highly fantastic to assume that such finely balanced systems could have evolved by natural processes under the guidance of chance.
Chapter 17. "A Creationist's Creed." The items in this creed may prove helpful in the construction of a scientific philosophy of our modern world of living things.
Chapter 18. "Evolution or Variation Within the Kind?" This gives a further amplification and a summarization of the points brought out in the preceding chapters.