Table of Contents
Part I: The Preparation of the Earth
A New Name for an Old Concept
THE IDEAS set forth thus far in this
Paper are by no means new. There are many good reasons now to
resurrect an older view which was eclipsed by Darwinism, and
to re-examine its implications in the light of new knowledge
and of the manifest bankruptcy of current evolutionary philosophy.
Indeed, evolutionary philosophy has been so detrimental to society
in terms of its influence on international politics and on the
spirit of Big Business over the last sixty years since 1914,
that it ought to be judged by its fruits and replaced.
himself was very conscious of his departure from a view of Nature
which had previously been held by Naturalists regarding the purposeful
preparation.of the earth for man, and there are not a few who
believe that this awareness was the cause of the disease in his
own spirit. Indeed, he seemed almost anxious to preserve the
older view, if not to embellish it, in the second of two essays
which he published in 1842 and 1844, which were really the forerunners
of The Origin of Species . In these he admitted the reasonableness
of the view which he was nevertheless destined to demolish. He
proposed the existence of (138)
. . .
a Being with penetration sufficient to perceive differences in
the outer and innermost organization (of living things) quite
imperceptible to man, and with forethought extending over future
centuries to watch with unerring ease and to select for any object
the offspring of an organism produced under the foregoing circumstances;
I can see no conceivable reason why he could not form a new race
(or several, were he to separate the stock of the original organism
and work on several islands) adapted to new ends.
As we assume his discrimination
and his forethought, and his steadiness of object, to be incomparably
greater than these qualities in man, so we may suppose the beauty
and complications of the adaptation of the new races and
138. Darwin, Francis, editor,
The Foundations of The Origin of Species: Two Essays Written
in 1842 and 1844 by Charles Darwin, Cambridge University
Press, 1909, pp.85ff. in second essay.
1 of 6
their differences from the original stock
to be greater than in the domestic races produced by man's agency.
. . . With time enough, such a Being might rationally aim at
almost any result.
Almost a century
before, Comte George Louis Buffon had said he believed that man
could effect the variation that he did by horticulture and animal
breeding, only because the potential was there to begin with.
Man did not really create anything new, but only permitted what
was already present to find expression in new ways. As he put
it, the basis of man's power to alter nature lay in natural variability.
Man simply reinforced the agency of natural causes. He wrote:
animal was adapted to a particular region with a particular climate
and food supply. When animals were forced to abandon their natural
habitat, i.e., by human intervention or by any "revolution
on the globe," they underwent changes in physique and appearance
which in the course of time became hereditary; changes in one
part of the body produced modifications in other parts, so that
the whole appearance was materially altered.
Some fifty years later, we find a
distinguished London surgeon, James Parkinson, writing in 1804:
"If the fossil record should show progress from simple to
complex forms of life, this progress must have been intended
by God and He must have arranged a series of appropriate settings
for each act of the drama." (140)
Fifty years later still, the renowned
anatomist, Sir Richard Owen, addressed himself to the same issue
but went somewhat further, since a great deal more was by then
known of the nature of the fossil record, in elaborating what
was just before Darwin's time to be a well-rounded and highly
satisfying synthesis of Christian faith and geological knowledge.
Owen wrote: (141)
of an ideal example for the vertebrate animals proves that the
knowledge of such a being as man must have existed before
man appeared; for the Divine Mind that planned the archtype
also foreknew all its modifications. The archtypical idea was
manifested in the flesh, under diverse modifications, upon this
planet, long prior to the existence of those animal species that
actually exemplify it [emphasis mine].
In a similar vein, Sir Humphry Davy
had written a few years before, "There seems, as it were,
a gradual approach to the present system of things, and a succession
of destructions and creations preparatory to the existence of
139. Buffon: quoted by J.
C. Greene, The Death of Adam,Iowa State University Press,
140. Parkinson, James, Organic Remains of a Former World,
vol.1, London, 1804, p.467.
141. Owen, Sir Richard: quoted by G. C . Gillispie, Genesis
and Geology, Harper Torchbooks, New York, 1951, pp.204, 205
142. Davy, Sir Humphry, Consolation in Travel, Dialogue
III, 3rd edition, London, 1831.
To Buffon, as to most of his contemporaries, it seemed
obvious that such modifications due to environmental influences
would naturally become fixed in the line. He did not stop to
ask whether such modifications would become un-fixed if the organisms
were returned to their former habitat. It is known today that
this does in fact happen, and such modifications are termed dauermodifications.
Alfred Kuhn on this wrote: (143)
and size of cells can be modified strongly and in various ways
by environmental factors. Certain modifications of form are retained
for a long time after the conditions change, and it often takes
a large number of generations before a new form, corresponding
to the new conditions, is acquired.
There cannot, therefore, be the slightest
objection from the point of view of current biological theory
to the concepts here under review, provided that we allow the
possibility of creation with a purpose. Such a view meets all
the requirements of the present evidence. And the idea of fiat
creation is not as verboten today as it was even a generation
ago. Certainly in explaining the existence of matter, fiat
creation has to be introduced. H. Bondi, in his book Cosmology,
went so far as to say in this regard, "The creation
here discussed is the formation of matter not out of radiation
but out of nothing" [emphasis mine]. (144) And
in his Physics and Philosophy, W. Heisenberg warned that
science should be prepared for "phenomena of a qualitatively
new character" upon probing deeper into the structure of
things. (145) Thomas Huxley admitted in a letter
to Darwin that creation in the ordinary sense of the word was
perfectly conceivable. He felt that "the a priori arguments
against theism and, given a Deity, against creative acts, are
devoid of reasonable foundation." (146) The temper of the
times was then far more favorable to recognition of concepts
of this kind. Long before this, Charles Lyell, in his famous
Principles of Geology, had said: (147)
We must suppose that when the Author
of Nature creates an animal or a plant, all the possible circumstances
in which its descendants are destined to live are foreseen, and
that an organization is conferred upon it which will enable the
species to perpetuate itself and survive under all the varying
circumstances to which it must inevitably be exposed.
At about the same time, William Whewell,
one of the keenest
143. Kuhn, Alfred, Lectures
on Developmental Physiology, Springer-Verlad, New York, 1971,
144. Bondi, H., Cosmology, 2nd edition, Cambridge University
Press, 1960, p.144.
145. Heisenberg, W., Physics and Philosophy, Harper, New
York, 1958, p.165.
146. Huxley, Thomas, in The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin,
edited by Francis Darwin, vol.2, Murray, London, 1887, p.187.
147. Lyell, Charles, Principles of Geology, vol.2, London,
1830-33, pp.24, 25.
of his day, was speaking boldly of the need to leave the option
of divine creative activity open. In an essay entitled, "Indications
of the Creator," when speaking of the sudden and explosive
expansion of new lines, particularly just before the appearance
of man, he wrote: (148)
form various hypotheses with regard to the sudden or gradual
manner in which we may suppose the distribution (of living things)
to have taken place. We may assume that at the beginning of the
present order, a stock of each species was placed in the vegetable
or animal province to which it belonged by some cause outside
of the common order of nature. . . .
on natural grounds, the most intelligible view of the history
of the animal and vegetable kingdoms seems to be that . . . at
the beginning of each cycle, a creative power was exerted of
a kind to which there was nothing at all analogous in the succeeding
part of the same cycle. . . .
Thus we are
led by our reasonings to this view, that the present order
of things was commenced by an act of creative power entirely
different to any agency which has been exerted since. None of
the influences which have modified the present races of animals
and plants since they were placed in their habitations of the
earth's surface can have had any efficacy in producing them to
This reflects my own view that the
demand for creative activity exists chiefly at the beginning
of each of these cycles of new forms of life by which geologists
are now accustomed to distinguish the successive ages or lesser
periods. Only providential superintendence with respect to the
physical changes in the environment and the division of the genetic
materials in each generation would be needed in addition, to
give the whole process the appearance of purposeful direction
which it certainly has.
himself seems to have gradually changed his position however,
for I can find nothing comparable to the admissions of his earlier
Principles appearing in his somewhat later Manual of
Elementary Geology, which was published in 1855. But Alfred
Russell Wallace in 1870, in spite of his thinking which was following
a line very similar to that of Charles Darwin, was still willing
to acknowledge that there might have been divine creative activity,
when he wrote, evidently with some trepidation: (149)
therefore, admit the possibility that, if we are not the highest
intelligences in the universe, some higher intelligence may have
directed the process by which the human race was developed. .
. . I must confess that this has the disadvantage of requiring
the intervention of some distinct individual
l48. Whewell,William: quoted
by W. H. Hoare, The Veracity of the Book of Genesis, Longmans
Green London, 1860, pp.165, 166.
149. Wallace, Alfred Russell, Contributions to the Theory
of Natural Selection, Macmillan, London, 1870, page unknown.
aid in the production of what we can hardly avoid considering
as the ultimate aim and outcome of all organized existence �
intellectual, ever-advancing, spiritual man.
Well, it was a noble try �but
a rather timid one that could only speak of some distinct individual
intelligence rather than a personal, omniscient God. My impression
is that Wallace would have spoken a little more boldly in his
later years. Even Darwin seems to have been troubled by the apparent
atheism in his views and suggested that his concept was, after
all, a grand testimony to the wise forethought and creative powers
of the Almighty. But he clearly hoped by this statement to lessen
somewhat the shock of his essentially non-Christian approach.
Once he had discovered that the shock he feared was not too harmful
to his own acceptance, he entirely dropped any appeal to the
Lyell, whose writings had tremendously influenced Darwin, still
hesitated to relinquish the idea of creative intervention, even
after he had observed the immediate success of Darwin's Origin
of Species. On May 5, 1869, he wrote to Darwin: (150)
therefore not opposed to (Wallace's) idea, that the supreme intelligence
might possibly direct variation in a way analogous to that in
which even the limited powers of man might guide it in selection,
as in the case of the breeder and horticulturalist. In other
words, since I feel that progressive development or evolution
cannot be entirely explained by natural selection, I rather hail
Wallace's suggestion that there may be a Supreme Will and Power
which may not abdicate its [sic] functions of interference but
may guide the forces and laws of nature.
For myself, the nearest reflection
of my own views, in this earlier period in the development of
geological theory, is to be found in the two works of Louis Agassiz
who, after a most notable career in Europe, was in 1841 appointed
to the Chair of Natural History at Harvard. The first is his
Essay on Classification, published in 1859, and the second
his Principles of Zoology published in 1907. In his Essay,
he wrote: (151)
look upon such a series . . . and not read in them the successive
manifestations of a thought, expressed at different times in
forms ever new and yet tending to the same end, onwards to the
coming of Man whose advent is already prophesied in the first
appearance of the earliest fishes.
Subsequently, in his Principles,
he wrote: (152)
150. Lyell, Charles: quoted
by R. T. Clark and J. D. Bales, Why Scientists Accept Evolution,
Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, Philadelphia,
151. Agassiz, Louis, Essay on Classification, Harvard
University Press, 1859, pp.166, 161.
152. Agassiz, Louis, Principles of Zoology, quoted by
an unnamed author (F.W.H.) in God 's History of the World,
Nisbet, London, 1907, p.149.
is evident that there is a manifest progress in the succession
of beings on the face of the earth. This progress consists in
an increasing similarity to the presently living fauna and among
the vertebrates especially in their increasing resemblance to
man. But this connection is not the consequence of a direct lineage
between the faunas of different ages. There is nothing like
parental descent connecting them.
of the Paleozoic Age are in no respect the ancestors of
the reptiles of the Secondary Age, nor does man descend from
the mammals which preceded him in the Tertiary Age. The link
by which they are connected is of a higher and immaterial nature,
and their connection is to be sought in the view of the Creator
Himself, whose aim in forming the earth, in allowing it to undergo
the successive changes which geology has pointed out, and in
creating successively all the different animals which have passed
away, was to introduce man upon the face of our globe. Man
is the end toward which all the animal creation has tended from
the first appearance of the first paleozoic fishes [emphasis
That is where the picture was when
Darwin shattered it. At the time the success of his Origin
of Species was undoubtedly evidence of a widespread and growing
dissatisfaction with the view that saw all natural history as
divinely guided toward the coming of man. This inevitably led
to the view that man had a special destiny, and this, in turn,
underscored the fact of his moral responsibility and a probable
judgment to come. This was an uncomfortable idea, and it is obvious
that men were anxious to escape from it. But I believe we shall
yet see a change � and a return to a view of the earth's
past history that will be less hostile to certain basic elements
of the Christian world view.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
Previous Chapter Next