"Worship Him Who Made"

THE FOUR DECADES between A.D. 1840 and A.D. 1880 were a period of extraordinarily significant change and development in Western civilization. During these decades there was a transition from theism to nontheism in the scientific disciplines; a transition from science as a means for finding and serving God to science as a means for escape from God. . .

-director of the Geoscience Research Institute, Berrien Springs, Michigan at the time this article was written

THE FOUR DECADES between A.D. 1840 and A.D. 1880 were a period of extraordinarily significant change and development in Western civilization. During these decades there was a transition from theism to nontheism in the scientific disciplines; a transition from science as a means for finding and serving God to science as a means for escape from God; a transition from Biblical creationism and catastrophism to uniformitarian evolutionism. The basic development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as an instrument for giving the witness described in Revelation 14:6-12 also took place during these decades.

In 1874 the Seventh-day Adventist Church began its emphasis on higher education with the founding of Battle Creek College. Three years later Ellen G. White stated that "the great object in the establishment of our [Battle Creek] college was to give correct views, showing the harmony of science and Bible religion." --Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 274. This statement reveals that heavenly agencies were active in the development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a means of bringing men back to an appropriate recognition of the Biblical testimony concerning God's creatorship.

Unique Emphasis

Our church is unique in its emphasis on the principle that the testimony of the Bible and the facts that may be discovered from scientific research sup port each other, are in full agreement, and illuminate each other. 1 As apostasy matures in modern Christendom, Adventists are becoming increasingly distinct in their acceptance of the Bible as historically, scientifically, and spiritually dependable throughout the sacred cannon from the first chapter of Genesis to the end of the twenty-second chapter of Revelation. As theistic evolution becomes more and more the norm of Christian belief, we become increasingly unique in our implicit belief that fiat creation occurred during six consecutive days of normal 24-hour duration at a point in time approximately 6,000 years ago. We are also becoming unique in our implicit belief in the subsequent destruction of the original world by a universal flood.

It must be emphasized that we do not endeavor by scientific techniques to prove creation, to prove a universal flood, to prove a short chronology for human history to prove the Bible. The Bible and its teachings are validated on a higher basis. The Bible provides an unerring standard by which scientific interpretation may be evaluated. Our approach in the development of a scientific base for witness to the teaching of Scripture is to show that when an adequate sample of data is available, these data can be harmonized with stipulations set forth in the Bible in an understanding that is usually more consistent and more intellectually satisfying than is possible with interpretations that contradict or ignore Bible testimony.

Room for Doubt Not Removed

For those who are determined to doubt, God will not remove the possibility for rationalization of arguments with which to support doubt. Faith is supported by the weight of evidence from all the various areas of investigation that relate to the integrity of Biblical testimony. God does not force men to believe, but He provides sufficient evidence to justify belief. We can expect supportive evidence, but not compulsive evidence, for the reliability of inspired testimony.2

One hundred years ago individuals who wished to believe in Darwinism could expect that with the passage of time scientific research would provide an ever-increasing amount of supporting evidence. The evidence that has been obtained has actually been increasingly contradictory to the premises of uniformitarian evolution. It is increasingly evident that the individual who accepts the evolutionary viewpoint must do so by choice of faith. L. Harrison Matthews in the introduction to the 1971 edition of The Origin of Species said, "Belief in the theory of evolution is thus exactly parallel to belief in special creation both are concepts which believers know to be true but neither, up to the present, has been capable of proof." 3

The human mind is incapable of understanding absolute origin on any basis. This is possibly true for all created intelligence. One can postulate as the initial starting point an intelligence with the capability to design and construct the physical universe we now know. But the origin of God is incomprehensible. One can postulate inanimate matter as the initial starting point, with the specifications that this matter has the innate capability of spontaneously organizing itself by evolutionary processes into the present complexity of the universe. But the origin of such matter is no less incomprehensible than the origin of God. All that one can do is recognize that we are here, that the universe is an objective reality, and choose the explanation that accords best with the available facts. The theistic explanation, besides being more successful in accounting for scientific data, has the additional advantage of being testable by evidence for efforts on the part of the Creator to communicate with His creatures.

Evidence Against Evolution

During the 116 years since publication of The Origin of Species a vast amount of scientific data has accumulated. This data indicates that self-acting physical processes that are uncontrolled by an exterior intelligence proceed without exception in a direction of lower complexity, lower information content, and lower available energy. Nontheistic evolution requires an exactly opposite dominant trend from simple elements to complex biochemicals, then living cells, and finally to man. One can say without hesitation that the evidence from the basic sci ences of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and information theory is overwhelmingly against naturalistic evolution.

Biochemists and molecular biologists now have sufficient understanding of chemical reactions and sufficient under standing of the structure of the chemical compounds necessary for the simplest forms of life, to be able to calculate beyond question that there is es sentially no possibility, even over hundreds of billions of years of time, for inorganic matter to spontaneously organize itself into the biochemicals necessary for the assembly of a simple cell structure.4 According to Dr. Moshe Trop, a biochemist on the staff of Bar- Ilan University, "in the light of current knowledge of biochemistry, facts contradict every hypothesis proposed to explain any mechanism whatsoever for" the changes necessary in evolutionary development of life. 5

If the necessary biochemicals should be available, the assembly without intelligent direction of these components into a living cell is at least as unlikely as is the spontaneous organization of these biochemicals from an inorganic environment. D. E. Green and R. F. Goldberger, in the book Molecular Insights into the Living Process, comment: ". . . the macromolecule- to-cell transition is a jump of fantastic dimensions which lies beyond the range of testable hypothesis. In this area all is conjecture. The available facts do not provide a basis for postulating that cells arose on this planet." 6

Thus we have on the highest scientific authority two sequential impossibilities for the origin of life by natural evolutionary processes the impossibility of developing the complex biochemical molecules necessary for the structure of a living cell, and the impossibility of an adequate supply of the necessary biochemical molecules organizing themselves into a living cell.

As the science of genetics has developed it has become more and more unreasonable to presume that the vast complexity and diversity of organisms presently living on our planet could have developed in a natural manner from a common single-cell ancestor. Everyone familiar with dogs, horses, cattle, and the cabbage family knows that organisms possess a capacity for variation and adaptation to diverse habitats. But as genetic science has progressed it has become apparent that organisms also possess effective mechanisms for preserving their basic characteristics. There are no mechanisms for variation, adaptation, or mutation that can produce a transition of one organism into another type of organism with equal or greater complexity.

Charles Darwin stated that one of the strongest evidences against the theories he was proposing was the abrupt appearance of complex fossils in the lowest level of the fossil record, and the lack of transitional fossil forms in the overlying layers. 7 At that time it was confidently expected that further collection of fossils would provide adequate support for the evolutionary speculations. Over one hundred years of in tense search for fossils that could support an evolutionary model has only demonstrated that the paleontological evidence is more strongly in favor of an origin of all types of organisms by direct creation.

If the major forms of life have originated by an evolutionary process, the history of this process certainly should be recorded in fossils. The lack of such evidence testifies against naturalistic evolutionary speculation for the origin of the life forms on our planet. Bio chemistry, molecular biology, genetics, and paleontology each favor the explanation given in the Bible for the origin of life.

Theistic Evolution Dominant

The dominant tendency throughout the Christian churches has been to accept the evolutionary models proposed by scientists, and surmount the natural impossibilities involved in these models by considering the evolutionary process to be the manner in which God's creative work has been accomplished. This viewpoint is known as theistic evolution. Theistic evolution is a far greater hazard to evangelical Bible-based Christianity than atheistic evolution has ever been. It has majority support among well-educated Christians, but it requires a God whose capabilities and character differ from the specifications given in the Bible; it turns the testimony of the Bible into myth and metaphor; and it replaces the authoritative Word of God with human judgment, making religion humanistic rather than revelational and God-centered.

In the areas of time problems and evidence for the flood described in Genesis, chapters 6-9, one must depend on faith in the testimony of Scripture, for in these areas there is less convincing support from scientific evidence than is the case with respect to the origin of life.

Although flood evidence on a scale vastly beyond the projection of present experience abounds throughout the world, belief in a universal flood that simultaneously covered all land surfaces and mountaintops throughout the world rests entirely on the testimony of the Bible.

The complexity of geological features is such that man's mental capacity does not seem adequate to develop a completely satisfactory explanation on the basis of either a uniformitarian model or a universal flood model.

Time Since Creation

The scientific evidence in support of Biblical testimony is weakest with respect to the amount of time that has passed since Creation week and since the Flood. In these matters the believer must depend almost entirely on his confidence in the adequacy and the integrity of divine inspiration. It is evident that time will be a crucial issue in the final gospel witness the time for observing the Sabbath of the fourth commandment and the amount of time since God performed the creative acts memorialized by the Sabbath.

It must be remembered at this point that we do not seek to prove the Bible by science. We accept the claims made by Bible writers on the basis of the evidence that has supported these claims for centuries before the development of modern science. In confidence that God is consistently revealed through both His works and His Word, we seek an understanding that is consistent with the teachings of the Bible. It is a basic feature of the Seventh-day Adventist faith that such understanding is attainable. But not all problems will be solved in this life. We must patiently look to the future world for the answers to some of our questions.

There is some evidence in support of the implication given in the Bible for a short period of only a few thousand years since Creation week.8 River deltas would be much larger if they had been building up for 10,000 or more years. If erosion had extended over hundreds of thousands of years at present rates, the jagged features of earth's surface would be much more subdued than they are; oceans, lakes, and lowland areas would be filled with much more sediment.9

It is frequently claimed that the radioactive dating techniques provide evidence that unquestionably establishes the existence of complex life on earth for as long as 600 million years. This claim is based on the assumption that the radioactive systems for measurement of time are always set to "zero time." Within the past fifteen years it has become clearly established in the scientific literature that this assumption is overly simplistic and unjustified. The radioactive age of minerals that contain or overlie fossils does not necessarily specify the time these minerals and fossils have been associated together. The radioactive age data may tell something about the original creation of the mineral and something about the experience of that mineral since its creation, without giving any insight as to when it was brought into association with fossils.

Since radioactive carbon dates the actual organic remains of plants and animals that have lived in the past, rather than the mineral in which these remains are buried, it presents a different problem with respect to belief in the time limitations established in Biblical testimony. To harmonize the radioactive carbon data for fossil material with the testimony given by Moses, and also by Ellen G. White, it is necessary to postulate that there have been changes in earth's atmosphere and in earth's active organic carbon reservoir as a consequence of the flood experience described in Genesis 6-9; and to further postulate that these changes brought about a transition from a negligible radioactive carbon concentration to the concentration that has been maintained over the past 3,500 years. These postulates have a reasonable scientific base. Furthermore, they have been partially confirmed by carbon-14 evidence that has been obtained within the past few years. 10

Our Area of Concentration

Seventy-five years ago this church was told that "when those who profess to serve God follow Christ's example, practicing the principles of the law in their daily life; when every act bears witness that they love God supremely and their neighbor as themselves, then will the church have power to move the world." Also that, "Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own." 11

This counsel indicates clearly that our witness should concentrate on a revelation of God's character, rather than on scientific disputation. As sound and convincing as our scientific arguments may be, they will not convince an individual against prevailing opinion among scientists, unless he is attracted to God as a person and desires the quality of life that is upheld in the Bible.

Our concern over scientific issues is not limited to our witness on behalf of individuals outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We need a science education program that will establish the faith of our own members. Our young people need to be given effective antidotes for the doubts that are raised by the evolutionary-oriented scientific material that constantly comes to them via radio, television, newspapers, magazines, textbooks, and teachers. It is possible for contact with evolutionary concepts in science to influence the products of Adventist homes and Adventist schools. They can be and, all too often, are being led to give up or moderate their faith in the Bible and in the witness that we have received through the ministry of Ellen G. White.

Many of those who are acquainted with scientific and theological trends see a possibility for theistic evolution becoming an issue within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The theistic evolution viewpoint is increasingly coming to characterize the major Christian organizations. Even previously ultraconservative churches such as the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod are experiencing difficulty over it. While professing utmost fidelity to the Bible and claiming to offer a more correct interpretation of Scripture, the theistic evolution viewpoint, with its acceptance of the scenario and time schedule pro posed by atheistic evolutionists, makes a major attack on the Biblical specifications concerning a universal flood and the Biblical specifications concerning a literal creation week.

Time of Trial and Testing

In pages 80-82 of Testimonies to the Church, volume 5, and page 595 of The Great Controversy, Mrs. White intimates that scientific viewpoints exalted above the Bible may be a significant factor in the time of severe trial and test experienced by our church immediately before Christ's return. Although an Adventist is not likely to advocate the total theistic evolution concept as it is held by a large number of Christians, there are voices within our church that advocate accepting the time scale, the processes for geological change, and the patterns of plant and animal development that are associated with the theistic evolution model.

The experience of other Christian denominations indicates that if our Lord's return should be delayed an other generation or approximately 30 more years a significant number of our members would have brought their beliefs regarding Creation and the Flood into harmony with the concepts of evolutionary development over long periods of time. If this should not prove to be the case, Adventists would be the first group to place stress on higher education and in their subsequent history still retain confidence in the historical integrity of the first eleven chapters of Genesis.

As an organization developed by heavenly agencies, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has immense responsibility and privilege to give a worldwide witness for appropriate recognition of God's creatorship; "to give correct views, showing the harmony of science and Bible religion" (Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 274), to fill the gap left by the Christian churches that have reduced the Bible to myth and metaphor by accepting the opinions of human scientists in place of the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ regarding His creation and control of our planet.


FOOTNOTES

'Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1952), p. 129; Patriarchs and Prophets (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1958), p. 115.
2 Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1956), p. 105.
3 Charles R. Darwin, The Origin of Species (London: 3. M. Dent. 1971).
4. James F. Coppedge, Evolution: Possible or Impossible? (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Pub. House, 1973). Duane T. Gish, Speculations and Experiments Belated to Theories on the Origin of Life (San Diego, California: Institute for Creation Research, 1972).
5 Moshe Trop, "Was Evolution Really Possible?" Creation Research Society Quarterly, vol. 11, March 1975, pp. 185-187.
6 D. E. Green and R. F. Goldberger, Molecular Insights Into the Living Process (New York: Academic Press, 1967), p. 407.
7 Charles R. Darwin, The Origin of Species (1859 edition), pp. 309, 310.
8. Harold G. Coffin, "Is the Earth Millions of Years Old?" These Times, August, 1973.
9 Richard M. Ritland, A Search for Meaning in Nature (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1970), ch. 7.
10 Harold G. Coffin, Creation Accident or Design? (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1969), ch. 26. R. H. Brown, "C-14 Profiles for Ancient Sediments and Peat Bogs," Origins, 2(1):6-18, 1975.
11. Ellen G. White, Christ's Object Lessons (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1900), pp. 340, 69.

ADDITIONAL REFERENCES

1. Robert E. D. Clark, Darwin: Before and After (Devon, Great Britain: The Paternoster Press, Exeter, 1966), p. 96.

2. Norman D. Newell, "The Nature of the Fossil Record," Proc. Am. Phil. Soc., I03(2):267, 1959.

3. Leroy E. Froom, Movement of Destiny, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1971), chs. 37, 38.


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-director of the Geoscience Research Institute, Berrien Springs, Michigan at the time this article was written

October 1975

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