About the Book
Table of Contents
Vol.8: Science and Faith
and DIVINE INTERVENTION
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1. The Nature of the Conflict
Chapter 2. Evidence of Mechanism
Chapter 3. Some Tentative Conclusions
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)
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, 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.
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!
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
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
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,
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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