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About the Book

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V


Part I: The Preparation of the Earth For Man

Chapter One

The Concept of Supernatural Selection

      THERE IS a broad measure of agreement among professional geologists that the evidence points to an orderly succession of stages through which the surface features of the earth have passed to reach their present form, and that this probably took a very long time to come about. It was matched by an orderly succession of living forms, which began to appear rather later in the presently accepted time frame but has nevertheless been going on for a very long time relative to the span of human history. These two broad conclusions, based on an enormous amount of research into the earth's past history, are accepted both by a very large number of informed Christians and by the vast majority of qualified geologists and biologists. This does not by any means guarantee that they are true: but it certainly represents the present consensus of opinion in both circles. The universe is probably very old, and life began a very long time ago and shows an orderly progression from simple to complex. We are talking only about the matter of a succession of forms; we are not talking about any linear evolution of these forms from one another.
     When we come to consider the how of these immensely drawn out sequences of geological and paleontological events, we find somewhat less agreement among the scientists themselves, and even less among informed Christian people. The fact is that the evidence can be interpreted in more than one way, and the preferred interpretation always depends upon certain basic and usually unstated assumptions. These assumptions hinge upon the question of whether natural laws are sufficient to account for all past events or only for some of them.
     The origin of matter out of non-matter is clearly not one of these natural events, because it is an inconceivable phenomenon for which we have no experience whatever that would serve as a guide to

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understanding it by analogy. It is inconceivable to us that matter never had a beginning; and it is equally inconceivable to us that matter came suddenly into being out of nothing. These are really the only two alternatives, and both are simply inconceivable. Yet one of them must be true.
     So scientists accept what amounts to the eternity of matter, inconceivable though that is, simply because the only alternative, direct creation, is clearly incredible to them. In other words, they accept what is inconceivable rather than what is incredible, because they prefer a non-supernatural explanation to what they view as a supernatural one. Having started along this route, they are bound to follow it consistently and thereafter to reject any concept of divine interference unequivocally -- indeed, dogmatically. They really have no choice.
     Many Christian people, however, do not find direct creation out of nothing objectionable at all, although it is still not something we can actually conceive of in our minds. Having admitted supernaturalism to this extent, we do not find it at all irrational to allow the idea of divine interference subsequently during the course of geological history. But there is from this point on much disagreement as to whether such intervention by God was either necessary or likely. Could He not have so designed the universe and our world that it would be capable of unfolding according to His plan without any such intervention? The answer certainly is, Yes! Indeed, I am fully persuaded that God is an economist where miracle is concerned and that more than 99.9 percent of all events happen as the result of natural law. But, and this is the crucial point, God has intervened throughout past time (and still does!) to perform what can only be described as miracles -- using this word in the present context as Augustine used it, i.e., to mean the bringing about of events which are not so much contrary to Nature but contrary to what we know of Nature. In God's view, there are no miracles, there are merely alternative routes to accomplishing the same end.
     So the basic question really is this, Did God merely wind the clock of Nature up, adjust its tempo, and then let it run its course thereafter on its own? Or does He constantly intervene in a supernatural way to do things which cannot possibly be accounted for in terms of natural law as we understand it in the laboratory or in the field?
     In this Paper, my object is to show that God has intervened, not to disrupt the natural order but to introduce into it courses of events that make the whole process something more than simply a natural

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development. Such intervention made Revelation necessary in order to complete man's understanding of the mind of God, even as Revelation was not necessary for him to understand the workings of Nature wherever God has not intervened. As a consequence, so long as the scientific view maintains its integrity as truly scientific, it must conduct its search apart from Revelation and thereby impose limits upon its understanding, though what understanding it does achieve may well be very nearly correct as far as it goes. Revelation is needed to complete our understanding, particularly our understanding of God's creative acts and His acts in judgment.
     I do not think these interventions were called for because God was unable to design a natural order that would suit His purposes without them. But I believe He chose to do otherwise so that we could see how He was quietly at work preparing the stage for the enactment of a drama which was to serve uniquely to display His love. This drama was to involve the special creation of a unique creature, Man, with freedom of will and a moral sense. This was to be followed by the trial of that man and the working out of his redemption when he failed the test. This redemption involved, in turn, the coming of the Creator Himself as a man, into man's world to sacrifice Himself for man and as a man. Man therefore had to be quite an exceptional creature, a creature in which God could perfectly express Himself in terms of human personality. Man's body and man's spirit had to be such that God could do this as man and for man.
(1) Moreover, the natural order had to be such that this tremendous event could be brought to pass without either violating that natural order or the person of the Creator Himself.
     The Creator had to be born as man is born but without man's corruption, and He had to grow up and live as men might have lived, while still being subject to the physical world in which man labours, eats, grows tired, and sleeps. And in due time, He had to give His life voluntarily as the sin-offering which would be truly human (and therefore acceptably substitutional), yet far exceeding the value of any one human life (and therefore sufficient for all who would claim it for themselves).
     And since this sacrifice was to be the sacrifice of a man on man's behalf, we must assume that there was a first true man who fathered all other men thereafter, whose family is unequivocally "the family of man," whom the Redeemer truly represented in His Person. There can be no half-men who are capable of some kind of half-redemption.

1. Custance, Arthur, "Is Man an Animal?" Part V in Evolution or Creation?, vol.4 of The Doorway Papers Series.

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Nor can even the first man have been any less human than the last, for the Redeemer must be a redeemer in retrospect, back to the very first man, even as He must be in prospect forward to the very last.
     Adam, then, was redeemable; and to be truly so he must have been potentially like the Lord Jesus Christ as Man. In this sense, Jesus Christ was the last Adam. But Jesus Christ was also the prototype of Adam since He was the Redeemer before the world began (Revelation 13:8). Adam was created in His image (Genesis 2:26). It could not be otherwise.
     So I am proposing that God was at work from the very first, moving toward this objective, the preparation of the earth as a stage for the coming of such a creature as man is. And because He is God, He had the right to adopt any plan that seemed best to Him. The plan He did adopt has allowed secular man to uncover to a remarkable degree the workings of Nature and to be in a position to discern (if he would but do it) how much evidence there is of plan and purpose in the course of past events. Orderly preparation is everywhere apparent to the eye of faith; and throughout the whole process God has, I believe, combined creative activity with providential superintendence over the work of His hands.
     But I think we need a new term to describe this providential creative superintendence, and I am proposing that we call it Supernatural Selection. This is what the present Paper is really about. Let me just state as briefly as I can what I mean by this term. Among living creatures, offspring differ from their parents, and this fact provides a means whereby select lines may be encouraged and unwanted lines may be allowed to disappear. If this occurs by accident, it is termed "Natural Selection." When it is performed by man, it is termed "Artificial Selection." Natural Selection is a purely fortuitous process involving no conscious direction as its strongest proponents see it. Artificial Selection depends upon the presence of man and cannot therefore have been operative prior to his appearance. But I believe there is evidence that the progress of forms from simple to complex has not been by chance but by design. This process has resulted, I suggest, from the operation of Supernatural Selection, a form of selection which has the purposefulness of Artificial Selection but also introduces supernatural forces.
     It is widely agreed that Natural Selection is not strictly creative. Artificial Selection in a way is creative, but only in the sense that it is directed consciously toward a foreseen objective. Supernatural Selection differs from the other two in that it is a creative process whereby are introduced entirely new forms and therefore,

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presumably new genes and new gene combinations. The natural order is not the cause of this introduction of novelty, but it is rather the condition of it. By combining these three kinds of selective processes -- natural, artificial, and supernatural -- I believe we have a much better account of the way in which God prepared the earth for the coming of man.
     I am proposing that the term "Supernatural Selection" be taken to mean that God intervened within Nature, sometimes by acting directly upon the environment to change the conditions of life, sometimes providentially to change the directions of life (as when overruling the chance division of genes in the dividing cell), and sometimes creatively to introduce entirely new forms of life when the total ecology had been suitably prepared to accommodate them. And I believe that this makes better sense of the evidence and is more in harmony with the Christian world view than either blind evolution or fiat creation.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved


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