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Abstract

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

     

 Vol.8: Science and Faith

 

PREFACE

     THIS VOLUME contains three published papers and one not published previously. One of the former is longer and more elaborately documented than most of the Papers in this series. All three are concerned basically with a single theme: the position of man in the universe and the importance, for his spiritual well-being, of a clear understanding of what this position really is.
     The first Paper "The Universe: Designed for Man?" is intended to show that there are excellent reasons for believing that the world we live in did not come to its present form by accident, but by design was structured and furnished in a way peculiarly suited as a setting for such a creature as man is. It owes its unique character to the character of the universe as a whole as though the universe was made for the world and the world was made for man. In that case, in the final analysis, the universe was made for man!
     But can such a tiny speck of life in the immensity of space, living on such an insignificant little planet circling around a third-rate sun, which is only one among countless millions of other stars of far greater magnitude, possibly have any significance? Could this puny creature be the cause of such a tremendous display of creative activity which is then merely a stage for him?
     The answer, I believe, is in the affirmative. Indeed, it can be argued and is even now being seriously argued by some who have no stated Christian conviction that it is man who gives significance to the universe by his very presence within it. If the world was made for man, it begins to appear that even the universe was created on his account. . . .  This is a staggering thought, but it may be the simple truth.
     The second Paper, "Scientific Determinism and Divine Intervention,"

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explores the increasing evidence that mechanism is all-pervasive in the natural order and that one area of supposed freedom after another has had to be surrendered as research has demonstrated a surprising measure of rigid causality even in areas that we normally associate with willed activity. For the Christian, the implacable offensive of science seems about ready to drive God out of His own creation entirely. Where will it all end? Are we simply links in a chain of causality without any escape, without any real freedom of action or even of will, and therefore without any responsibility either? Has man any significance if he has no responsibility? And if man has no significance, does anything have significance?
     Up to a point, such research did underscore the perfection of the natural order. The universe looked like a perfect watch, to use Newton's analogy. But is there any way in which God can now intervene which does not at the same time involve the disruption of His own handiwork or show, in effect, that His handiwork is not perfect? The watchmaker cannot tinker with his watch without admitting there is something wrong with it. Can we discover any pattern of intervention which is reconcilable with the concept of a perfect mechanism, such as our faith in the flawlessness of God's handiwork would seem to demand? Can we account for the Watchmaker's need to tinker while still maintaining that He had made a perfect watch?
     My thesis is that there has arisen a circumstance a fatal disturbance for which God is not directly responsible -- which now demands constant corrective action on God's part, perhaps throughout the whole universe, to preserve the mechanism from a total breakdown. How this circumstance arose in the first place is a subject of divine revelation, and I believe that Genesis 2:3 has an important bearing on the matter in a way not previously recognized.
     The third Paper, "Medieval Synthesis and Modern Fragmentation," is a somewhat longer study which attempts to show by an examination of history how very important it is to man to have a clear picture in his own mind of what his relationship is to the universe, why God has placed him in this setting, and what is expected of him while he makes his journey along the way. This may be usefully summed up in the term world view. Cultures have world views and so do individuals. And there are world views belonging uniquely to periods of history. In its assessment of man's significance in the universe, the Medieval world view, which was essentially spiritual, contrasts markedly with the modern world view, which is essentially

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technical. For all its faults, the former had tremendous advantages over the latter, yet it could not be sustained: not because its objective was at fault, but because certain of its foundations were faulty. Today we have corrected the foundations to some extent, but in doing so, we have shattered the superstructure and found nothing to put in its place.
     The gradual shift in perspective and goal from those days until the present is traced in some detail, and the sad consequences in terms of man's spiritual health are analyzed. Some suggestions toward the recovery of a world view appropriate to man's spiritual needs, yet in harmony with the factual knowledge we now have, are proposed with particular attention being paid to the responsibility of the Christian in this process of recovery. Along the way, constant reference is made to the admissions of scientists regarding the inadequacies of the present world view, with some consideration of the kinds of alternatives such men are proposing -- all of which are, to my mind, inadequate. The only satisfying world view for man will, in the end, be one which not only recognizes the spiritual dimension of man's life (which many secular writers do) and not merely his physical and intellectual needs, but will also pay due attention to what God was pleased to reveal in Scripture simply because man's native intelligence was not capable of discovering the whole truth without His help. A new synthesis is needed, and the evidence indicates that Christian faith alone can supply the framework and the cement.
     The final Paper, a new one hitherto not published, deals with the question of how fitness of living things is constantly adjusted to a changing environment. Is this due to chance improvements arising from mutations that happen to be beneficial (as current evolutionary doctrine requires); or the inheritance of acquired characters by the conventional route as proposed by Lamarck (which is now entirely out of favour); or an immanent divine intervention, adjusting every element in the web of nature as required? Or is there after all some built-in mechanism of self-adjustment which operates as a kind of Lamarckianism but not via nuclear genes?
     The evidence for the last alternative, generally referred to as dauermodifications, but still virtually ignored by Christian writers, has been accumulating for some years. It seems to provide for the maintenance of the integrity of the species as such, while providing an effective means whereby long-range variation to suit changing life conditions can also take place. This Paper explores the evidence for this fourth alternative.

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     All these Papers bear witness to the existence of divine forethought in creation, as well as emphasizing the importance of recognizing this evidence in the search for meaning and purpose in life.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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