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Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV



     

Vol.8: Science and Faith

PART  II

 

SCIENTIFIC DETERMINISM

and DIVINE INTERVENTION

  

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction
Chapter 1.      The Nature of the Conflict
Chapter 2.      Evidence of Mechanism
Chapter 3.      Some Tentative Conclusions

 

Publication History:
1972  Doorway Paper No. 44, published privately by Arthur C. Custance
1978  Part II in Science and Faith, vol.8 of The Doorway Papers Series by Zondervan Publishing Company
1997  Arthur Custance Online Library (HTML)   
2001 2nd Online Edition (design revisions)

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Introduction

     MY THESIS is deceptively simple in a way, yet it could be badly misunderstood and misrepresented. And it may of course be quite wrong. I am trying to deal with the fact that scientists (especially biologists) are constantly pushing their researches with success into areas which hitherto have been held to be in some sense "sacred" in the Christian view, especially in the manipulation and potential re-engineering of living things, including man.
      Little by little, all life is being "reduced" to inanimate components, as though there is essentially no difference between the living and the non-living. Animals are being reduced to the status of mere machines for the conversion of one kind of energy into another; and in the final analysis man is being viewed in the same light. Every advance made in the laboratory seems to underscore this as the inevitable "ultimate finding."
     What are we to do with the facts regarding the nature of life which are thus emerging, other than to argue that they are being misinterpreted? Unfortunately for this plea, much of the new knowledge hardly needs interpretation: it speaks for itself in no uncertain terms. Life is indeed mechanism to a surprising degree. This is the fact I have tried to deal with in the light of Scripture. How do we relate mechanism to divine intervention?
     Where I fear I shall leave myself open to misunderstanding is that I may seem to be inviting the concept of evolution to take over my thinking by the back door, as it were. In my own mind, I have no intention of doing this. I am persuaded that the evidence presented, especially in chapter 2, is established fact. For the most part it
is not open to alternative interpretations. It is potentially verifiable experimentally in any laboratory at any time, though some very elegant
 techniques are required which not all laboratories are equipped to perform. In living things mechanism is a fact.

 pg.2 of  5     

     In the question of evolution, I believe the situation is entirely different. Here we have virtually no clinching proof whatever. We have all kinds of circumstantial evidence which can be interpreted to support evolution, but its meaning is equivocal. For if God created it all in the first place, and then created man in His own image with
a mind capable of thinking His thoughts after Him, we can just as easily interpret the facts as evidence of economy of design. We recognize the rationale of a machine designed by an engineer because we have a mind which operates like the engineer's. If our minds work in some sense as God's mind does because He made them to do so, it is only to be expected we should be able to discern the nature of His design, too. On the other hand, in view of the tremendous number of missing links between Phyla, Classes, Orders, Families, and Genera, which are universally admitted, the vast array of living forms looks much more like a bunch of disconnected twigs than a tree. The evolutionists find it necessary to arbitrarily tie these twigs together: but those who believe in Creation can accept the facts as they are. Perhaps the twigs never were a tree.

     I suggest, in the light of the facts presented in this paper, that God must have designed a mechanism with tremendous potential which could be used again and again in the subsequent creation of living forms. (1) All these created forms operate on the same basic formula, but with different coded messages written in their DNA that are analogous to different languages which nevertheless use the same alphabet. Just as English, French, German, and Italian all use a common alphabet so that a single print shop can set the type for each from a common font, and yet produce copy unintelligible except to those for whom the particular language is native, so the DNA code appears to be a universal font of type, but the messages "printed out" by it may be specifically separate and non-convertible. Each original DNA "language" was therefore designed to separate out different lines, i.e., different kinds of living forms, which no more make sense when crossed than it would make sense to

1. A beautiful example of a single basic mechanism adapted to a million different end-uses is contractile muscle tissue. The point is remarked upon by J. D. Bernal in his paper, "Molecular Matrices for Living Systems," [in The Origin of Pre-biological Systems, edited by Sidney W. Fox, Academic Press, New York, 1965, p.79]. He says, "All striated muscle is built on an almost identical pattern in the existing and presumably in the earlier phyla." Mechanically it is a structure whereby contraction expands the muscle! Bernal describes it as "a marvelous contrivance of vernier-operated crossbars. An interesting point is that this ingenious device seems to have been invented, so to speak, only once and has been taken over by all the different phyla." What a faith in evolution this is!

       pg.3 of  5       

scramble pages of English, French, and German books and bind the unrelated pages between a single cover. Anyone who could identify the letters of the alphabet but not read the different languages might be misled into supposing it was all one book simply because the letters throughout were the same.
     All analogies are faulty. This one is, no doubt. But I mean suggest by it that the DNA code for each species
or kind whatever name seems most acceptable for un-mateable lines animals  was specifically created by God so that a confused message results when such lines are crossed, leading to a non-sense which defeats the attempt. Confusion of relationships in the animal world is thereby guarded against without the need to design thousands of different mechanisms.

     Plenty of room was allowed for varieties to arise within a species by changing the spelling of the words while maintaining the identity of the language. And I suggest that it was part of God's plan that man should make use of this potential  which of course he did long before he discovered the secret of how the mechanism operates.
I suggest that the mechanism is God's design and that, except where sin has disturbed it, it is still as perfect as when He first created it as a base for all living things, including man. This accounts for the evidence of mechanism.

     Yet I believe that the message in man was once different in some way, a message which made man potentially an immortal creature physiologically not subject to death. Man "poisoned" himself, as it were in Eden; (2) and the poison disturbed the original code and reduced man's body to something less than it was, something which in our present state of knowledge is not distinguishable in many respects from the bodies of other animals. It reduced man to the status of a mortal creature where previously he possessed the potential to live on indefinitely. Even after the Fall, his viability was still extraordinary in terms of life-span until the time of the Flood. But the Fall did not convert man as a person into a mere animal with superior intelligence. He has still a distinguishing component in his total make-up which animals do not share, a component which is dealt with in this paper and which makes not only his origin but also his destiny different from that of all other creatures.
     I propose that mechanism does characterize God's created order, not only in its inanimate elements but even

2. For a full treatment on these thoughts, see: Part II, "The Nature of the Forbidden Fruit"; Part III, "If Adam Had Not Died"; and Part IV, "The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation" in The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation, vol.5 in The Doorway Papers Series, Zondervam publication.

       p.4 of  5       


in its living ones. I propose, moreover, that this mechanism is so perfect that God need not as a rule intervene in it and will not therefore actually be discernible by any scientific research into its workings. But when man sinned, he introduced a disruptive element which has so upset the mechanism in certain areas that God must now intervene redemptively to maintain it against a total breakdown. In these areas natural science will find itself up against imponderables with which it is not equipped to deal, for here God is at work in a supernatural way.

     In a manner of speaking, I am not yet committing myself to a firm position: I'm just thinking out loud. This expression of my thoughts regarding the mechanism of living things is tentative. It may have implications that more acute minds will detect, which will condemn it as a premature and non-viable approach to a difficult problem. It is a problem to be wrestled with. 

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