The Universe: A Setting for the World
THE TOTAL physical milieu plays an essential part in tle development of the whole man. Even a study of the earth’s past history contributes in its own way by allowing him through careful enquiry to observe how God prepared the earth as a habitation for him. Recently Bishop Herbert Welch, in looking back over a very long life (a hundred years) set forth some of his thoughts about the meaning of the world around: (261)
I can see that this world is an unfinished piece of business. It is like the palace of Aladdin, which was built by magic, with one bare plain window while the other eleven were lavishly jewelled ï¿½ just to give the kind of pleasure of putting the finishing touch upon this marvel of splendour. So God reserves for man the honour and glory of sharing in creative work. God provides the iron; man manufactures it into forms of power and usefulness. God makes the wild rose: God and man together make an American Beauty. Nature, it seems to me, spells challenge and opportunity. . . .
In a word, God has not made a world in which security and ease and happiness are the highest attainment; but rather a world for watchfulness, for work, for struggle, and for suffering as a normal part of a full life. . . .
Life as God planned it is not to be a nursery for the coddling of perpetual infants, but a school for adult education.
The study of the earth’s past history does not need to be as prosaic and uninspiring as most textbooks of geology are apt to be today. Hugh Miller’s Testimony of the Rocks, as one might
261 .Bishop Herbert Welch, quoted in an article in Reader’s Digest (Nov., 1967, pp.206, 208) entitled, “An Unfinishedl Piece of Business.”
expect from its very title, is filled with paragraphs of great literary beauty because the writer’s mind was not merely filled with factual knowledge but with insight into the message which this knowledge conveyed to his devout soul.
I propose to set forth what has appeared to me to be a reasonable interpretation of the data from geology which I see as strongly supporting the view that the earth as a habitation was indeed prepared specifically for the coming of man, and that this preparation took a long time; and that during this long time the living components of it were gradually changed by divine interference in such a way that when man was finally created he could be placed in a total environment that was wholly appropriate for him. This “divine interference” I suggest might be appropriately termed “supernatural selection,” which I would then elaborate upon in the following way: (262)
Among living creatures offspring differ from their parents and this fact provides a means whereby select lines may be encouraged and unwanted lines allowed to disappear.
If this occurs by accident, it is termed Natural Selection.
202. This is a passage from “The Preparation of the Earth for Man” (Part I in Evolution or Creation?, vol.4 in The Doorway Papers Series) which is an extended study of the question from this point of view, accompanied by 7 pages of documentation.
Many years ago Professor L. B. Walton said: “The supposed progress made in the improvement of domesticated animals and plants is nothing more than the sorting out of pure lines and thus represents no advancement” (Science, April 3, 1914), and Sir Alister Hardy speaking of the real limitations of artificial or human selection said: “It was thought that if we selected examples of our animal or plant of, say, larger size than the mean, and bred from them, we should find that their offspring would tend to vary in the same sort of chance way: some being slightly larger, some slightly smaller, with the majority nearer to the size of their parents. So it was confidently thought, at this time, that if we went on selecting for larger size, or some other character, generation after generation, we could go on pushing evolution in this or that direction as wc liked within, of course, the limits of an efficient working organism. This seemed an obvious decluction because, if variation was really quite a matter of chance, then surely the offspring must continue to range in size more or less equally above and below the size of their parents. It was taken for granted that this indeed was what the stock breeder was doing in producing his different races of domestic animals: sheep with higher wool yield, hens of greater laying capacity, and so on. In the late 90’s, when Karl Pearson and others began to put this to the test of experiment they were horrified to find that selection appeared not to work.” (The Living Stream, Collins, London, 1965, pp.77, 78). What they did find, apparently, a finding always confirmed since, was that each species has a fixed range of variability and while one may get a higher percentage of offspring at one end of the range, the range itself is never exceeded ï¿½ except occasionally for pathological reasons.
When it is performed by man, it is termed Human Selection. There is evidence from Palaeontology to support the belief that the progress of forms from sirmple to complex has not been by chance but by design. The term Supernatural Selection could perhaps serve to define this pre-human process.
It is widely agreed that Natural Selection cannot be creative. Human Selection is “creative” only in the sense that pure lincs are sorted out and new varieties are thus produced. Supernatural Selection has something of Natural Selection about it in that by this means less desirable forms (or organs) are discouraged; and the end result may be analogous at times to Human Selection in that the process is purposeful; but it differs positively from either in being a creative process whereby are introduced entirely new forms and tderefore, presumably, new genes and new gene combinations.
If I am considered as another theistic evolutionist by any one who has read this, the fault will be mine entirely, in not having made clear what the fundamental difference is between my own view and this other currently popular view.
As I understand it, theistic evolutionists are essentially orthodox evolutionists ï¿½ except that they believe God was behind it all, from the appearance of the first amoeba to the appearance of the first man. The term “evolution” is still taken to mean the gradual transformation of one species into another by natural means and without any genetic discontinuities. These means are explainable in terms of natural processes, the only supernatural element being the initiation of the process and the evidence of purpose throughout. In due course these people hope to be able to demonstrate this in the laboratory. When this happens we shall know “how God did it.” The Creator started it all off, and then withdrew from any further interference except on very rare and special occasions when miracles occurred, having assured Himself as it were, that things would end up as He planned.
This is not my view at all, how ever much it may superficially seem to be. I believe God acted creatively, in the most distinct and positive manner conceivable, throughout the whole of geological history, introducing new species as they became appropriate, and removing others when they ceased to be. No laboratory experiment can ever hope to elucidate this creative process, as I understand it. But because God was graciously willing to permit us to see the unfolding of His designs, the geological record can be read as a more or less continuous one, with evidence of the fitness and appropriateness of things throughout the whole process as the earth was prepared for the coming of man.
Because science must, of necessity, reject any appeal to the supernatural, the scientific account must accordingly give only a partial view of the meaning of the earth’s past history, and of the Universe as a whole. Revelation is essential to make the picture complete.
This appropriateness or “fitness” of the total environment for life and for man has often been remarked upon by non-Christian writers who, while having no sympathy with the idea of plan or purpose behind it, nevertheless forthrightly express their amazement that so many interlocking factors contribute to it. While they categorically deny the reality of a “goal,” they freely admit the appearance of it. We shall look at some of these after we have considered certain other factors in connection with the earth as a heavenly body which contribute to its uniqueness within the solar system. These factors involve (1) its size, (2) its rate of revolution, (3) its mean distance from the sun, (4) the variation in its distance frorn the sun, (5) the constituents of its surface, and (6) its satellite.
(1) The size of the earth determines the constitution of its atmosphere, and the constitution of its atmosphere determines the nature of the living forms upon it. (263) If it were much larger, it would have retained a large percentage of gases inimical to life. If it were much smaller, its gravitational forces would have been insufficient to retain virtually any atmosphere at all.
The smaller planets with smaller gravitational fields have lost a large proportion of their lighter elements. The larger planets have retained most of their original atmosphere. Actual measurements show that although the weight of Jupiter is only 317 tirnes that of the earth, so great is the amount of atmospheric strata around it that its volume appears to be 1300 times greater than that of the earth.
The planet Mercury, on the other hand, has a weight only approximately one twenty-third of that of the earth and is knovn to have no appreciable atmosphere surrounding it, its gravitational field being too weak to retain nitrogcn, oxygen, and water vapour.
The earth has, therefore, just sufficient rnass that it is able to hold around itself a blanket of gases which both supports lile and shields it from lethal rays of the sun. Its size is such that certain poisonous gases which formed as the earth cooled were
263. Farmer, F. T., “The Atmosphere: Its Design and Significance in Creation,” Transactions of the Victoria Institute, London, vol.71, 1939, p.39f.
not held in the atmosphere but escaped into space. The carbon dioxide, which was held, ultimate]y supported luxuriant vegetation, which in turn purified it for animal life by setting oxygen free in photosynthesis. Gases, like all other things, have weight, some being heavier than others. It so happens that the gases unsuitable for life were light enough and the earth’s gravitational pull small enough that they were lost into space, and thereby eliminated.
An important “natural law,” which is otherwise everywhere obeyed, is found to be broken in the atmosphere, which were it not broken would have prevented the introduction of life on the earth. This law is simply the law of gravity. Were it not superceded by the law of the diffusion of gases, the atmosphere would sort itself out so that the heavier gases would be at the bottom and the lighter gases at the top. The consequence of this for the earth would be a layer of carbon dioxide of sufficient depth that all life would soon cease. However, gravity is defied and this heavier gas diffuses through the other gases of the atmosphere so that free oxygen remains available at the earth’s surface so that all creatures that breathe are able to obtain energy and sustain life.
(2) The rate of revolution of the earth is just right for the continuous renewal of the atmosphere for animal life. Nothing gets too cold or too hot over most of its area, and plants have just sufficient times of light and of darkness to perform their function of regenerating the air. This is necessary since, according to Lawrence Henderson, the unique stability of carbon dioxide depends upon alternating light and darkness. (264)
(3) The distance from the sun determines the mean temperature of the atmosphere and the earth. The pliable materials of which living tissue is composed are made up of molecules whch retain their physical characteristics only within a comparatively small range of temperature variation. It appears that apart from the very exceptional properties of carbon in forming these long chainlike molecules, such structures as ourselves and all other plant forms would not be possible at all. It is only in a very restricted range of ternperature that these carbon compounds are stable. If the temperature becomes too cold, these chains become inflexible, and if the temperature beconres too high, they lose
264. Henderson, Lawrence, “The Fitness of the Environment: An Inquiry into the Biological Significance of the Properties of Matter,” quotcd hy K. Walker, in Meaning and Purpose, Penguin, London, 1950, p.102.
their bonds and disintegrate. The range of temperature within which living flesh can continue without artificial protection is quite small relative to the ranges of temperature which may exist on a body in space. Professor Frank Allen of the University of California commented on this: (265)
If the earth were removed to double its present distance from the sun, the heat received would be reduced to one fourth its present amount, the orbital velocity would be only one half, the winter season would be doubled in length and life would be frozen out. If its solar distance were halved, the heat received would be four times as great, the orbital velocity would be doubled, seasons would be halved in length, if changes could ever be effected, and the planet would be too parched to sustain life. In size and distance from the sun, and in orbital velocity, the earth is able to sustain life, so that mankind can enjoy physical, intellectual, and spiritual life as it now prevails.
(4) The seasonal variations which take place throughout the year are very important for the continuance of human life and probably for the well-being of many other forms of life. Were it not for these changes, micro-organisms which cause diseases and which are favoured by certain environmental conditions would multiply so extensively that the human race might suffer extinction because of them. Man is not the only animal to suffer on this account. Consider what would happen to the mosquito population if the conditions ideal for their multiplication were to persist throughout the year all over the globe. Surgeon-General C. A. Gordon pointed out that not only does the persistence of a particular temperature and humidity have to be taken into account here, but even the length of the day. (266) The length of day, of course, is governed by the position of the earth with respect to the sun. In his paper, Gordon gives a chart showing the distribution throughout one year of some of the major diseases caused by these micro-organisms, thus indicating the benefit resulting from seasonal fluctuations. (267)
(5) The surface of the earth is part water and part dry land, in a ratio of approximately 3 to 1. The uniqueness of water has been pointed out by countless authorities. The existence of water
265. Allen, Frank, “The Origin of the World ï¿½ By Chance or Design?” in The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, edited by John C. Monsma, Putnam, New York, 1958, pp.22f.
266. Gordon, Surgeon-General C. A., “CIimate in Relation to Organic Nature,” Transactions of the Victoria Institute, London, vol.17, 1883, p.33f.
267. Ibid., pp.51, 52.
Water makes up perhaps 80 to 90% of all living organisms, and may be regarded as their principal environmental component, since even forms living in air maintain an aqueous internal environment in one way or another. Most of the water on the earth is in the liquid state, but it is also of importance as an environmental factor when in the vapour state and even as a solid.
Water seems admirably suited for the major role it plays in maintaining a relatively constant temperature for the earth’s surface, a matter of paramount importance to living organisms, which can serve only within a very restricted range of temperature. It owes this aspect of its fitness to several properties.
Blum then elaborates upon these properties. His elaboration leaves one filled with wonder at the power and wisdom of God in creating such a medium. But this medium requires a quite specific environment for its continued usefulness. That is to say, it is useful in a unique way — in a unique environment. Blum summed this up by saying: (269)
So fitness partakes of the nature of uniqueness, the uniqueness of the earth as an abode of life is a matter that strikes one more forcibly the more he tries to break out of the circle. Not only is the earth as it is, but it has reached that state through an evolutionary process, each step of which has been dependent upon the one preceding it.
The stage upon which living systems bowed their debut was set by all the preceding events in the history of the earth ï¿½ or, for that matter, of the Universe. These events placed important restrictions upon the nature of life and its evolution.
Life, it seems, did not arise and evolve as a system free to vary in any direction whatever; but as a system upon which great restrictions were placed, some of them even before the earth came into existence.
He concludes his chapter on the fitness of the environment with these words, “This aspect of fitness is not, then, universal, but exists only in relation to the planet Earth, or to planets that are very nearly like the Earth. (270)
Allen points out that there are four remarkable properties of water, its power to absorb vast amounts of oxygen at low temperatures, its maximum density at 4° C above freezing so
268. Blum, Harold, Time’s Arrow and Evolution, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1951, p.62.
269. Ibid., p.76.
270. Ibid., p 85.
that lakes and rivers remain liquid (and the ice forms a floating protective shield over the water which would otherwise freeze solid from the bottom up and kill all marine life), and its power of releasing great quantities of heat as it freezes thus preserving life in the oceans, lakes, and rivers during long winters. (271)
But the water must also be lifted by evaporation and carried over the land, a cycle which depends upon temperature changes, warmth to raise it, cooling to condense it, and a proper relative surface area of water to land in order that the land may neither be parched through insufficient precipitation nor turned into a swamp through excess. Moreover, topography of the land is important in assisting this process by causing turbulence of the air currents which pass over it thus bringing about a breakup of cloud formations.
(6) The existence of the moon is also of fundamental importance. As far as is known, it is the largest satellite relative to the size of its parent body. From this point of view it is, in fact, huge. There have been some authorities who held that we owe the present distribution of water and land surface to the birth of the moon. The assumption is made that the moon was derived from the earth and at its birth removed from our globe a large segment of its granite crust. What remained of this crust was subsequently fragmented and spread around the earth as the continents. The areas occupied by the missing segments of granite left scars, depressions into which the water which had formerly spread over the globe as a shallow liquid mantle, now collected to form deeper pools, the oceans. The great deeps which now serve to contain those waters did not formerly exist. The irregularities of this once continuous granite shell would then take the form of a large number of comparatively small islands standing in a universal but shallow sea. (272) These islands would permit a high degree of variability by reason of geographic isolation. At any rate, the moon now contributes heavily to the formation of tides, and tides are of great inportance in keeping the oceans fresh. Thus, the possession by the earth of such a large satellite as the rnoon is in more than one way of great importance to life as we know it.
All these “coincidences” add up to an impressive testimony
271. Allen, Frank, “The Origin of the World — By Chance or Design?” in The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, edited by John C. Monsma, Putnam, New York, 1958, p.21.
272. Gamow, George, Biography of the Earth, Mentor Books, New York, 1918, pp.42f.
to the uniqueness of the earth as a theatre for the unfolding of God’s Plan.
So much, then, for the planet itself. What of its inhabitants, the living forms of plants and animals? As living forms have multiplied on the earth and developed patterns of life which render tle whole fabric an unbelievably complex network of interdependent organisms, many extraordinary modes of existence and many remarkable patterns of behaviour have arisen, as “Nature” solved the problems of cooperative existence on a grand scale. So complex and yet so refined and effective are these adjustments that it is almost impossible not to be forcibly struck by what looks like purpose, indeed one might better say a striving towards some future goal, pervading living processes at every level of existence. But the concept of purpose inevitably invites the introduction of a Purposer who, because He must stand outside the physical order, introduces into the situation active forces or agencies which are not subject to scientific analysis.
But, ever since Hemholtz and his two friends issued their manifesto (273) repudiating such forces as vitalism, entelechy, or “goal-seeking” as allowable explanations of observed phenomena, scientists have been increasingly unwilling to admit the possibility of plan or purpose in any form whatever. As a consequence, there exists today among scientists a quite extraordinary hostility towards the introduction of any such concept as purpose or creation. Either of these are anathema, and any writer who dares to introduce them is apt to find that everything else he has to say is considered of little consequence ï¿½ no rnatter what the evidence is.
Two writers of recent times and of great stature, who were far less hostile to the two concepts of purpose and of vitalism, wrote with what seems to be characteristic eloquence. But their works never achieved the fame that they would undoubtedly have, had they written as Huxley and Simpson wrote, for example, both of whom are violently opposed to either. The
273. This was a profoundly important manifesto. The three rnen were Carl Ludwig (1816-1895), who taught most of the great physiologists of the world active in the latter part of the 19th century; Emil duBois-Reymond (1818 1896), who was the founder of electro-chemistry; and Hermann von Helmholtz (1812-1894) who needs no introduction. This, in substance, is what they agreed upon: “All the activities of living material, including consciousness, are ultimately to be explained in terms of physics and chemistry.” See Chauncey D. Leake, “Perspectives in Adaptation: Historicai Background,” in Handbook of Physiology, Section 4, American Physiology Society, Washington, 1961, pp.5, 6.
scientific world has shied away because in the past there was a tendency to allow faith in such metaphysical concepts to serve as an excuse for not persisting in research which did not at once show promise of providing useful insights into otherwise baffling natural processes. People had a tendency to say, “Oh well, the cause is outside of our competence to search out, only God knows what ‘life’ is and we should not presume to explore what is uniquely in His domain. It is a special expression of divine activity.” And so further research tended to be discouraged.
Professor Wood Jones, in his most stimulating and remarkably readable little book Trends of Life, repeatedly expressed his regret that those who studied living forms of the past and the present were so adamant in their rejection of the idea of purpose in nature: (274)
In dealing with questions of vitalism and teleology, we shall find that, although such ideas are today considered as unorthodox and absurd, they are not so considered because science has proved them to be wrong, but rather because some circumstance in the changing phases of opinion has demanded that they be ranked as heresies.
Another writer whose works have received the same kind of unfavourable reviews that Wood Jones’ works did, is LeComte du Nouy. I am thinking particularly of his Human Destiny. Du Nouy did not question the theory of evolution any more than Wood Jones did, but both men believed that the gradual development throughout geological times of increasingly more complex forms of life was not to be accounted for solely in terms of current evolutionary theory. Present theory holds that purely by chance mutations and natural selection, acting together, have produced the flora and fauna of the world. There was no purpose or plan, and no force outside of nature has ever been necessary. The whole thing can be accounted for without any need for a design or a Designer. Simpson speaks eloquently enough of the appearance only of design in nature: (275)
274. Jones, F. Wood, Trends of Life, Arnold, London, 1953, p.129.
275. Simpson, G. G., “The Problem of Plan and Purpose in Nature,” Scientific Monthly, June, 1947, pp.481f. The fitness of things is by no means limited to the environment. There is a wonderful fitness even in the matter of molecular structure. R. E. D. Clark, himself a Ph.D. in Chemistry, has an excellent illustration from his own field of research. He writes: “A good example of recent thinking in this field is afforded by the phosphate group, the unique properties of which (high energy phosphate bonds, etc.) make it irreplacable in the living organism. In addition, phosphate precipitates with (continued. . . . .)
An eye, an ear, or a hand is a complex mechanism serving a particular function. It looks as if it had been made for the purpose. This appearance of purposefulness is pervading in Nature, in the general structure of animals andplants, in the mechanisms of their various organs, and in the give and take of their relationships with each other. Accounting for this apparent purposefulness is a basic problem for any system or Philosophy of Science.
Yet so convinced is he that this is an illusion that he states categorically and repeats almost ad nauseam that “man was certainly not the goal of evolution which evidently had no goal. He was not planned in an operation wholly plan-less.” (276)
In his Human Destiny, however, du Nouy repeatedly sets forth in no uncertain terms the evidence that such a view is quite inadequate to account for things as they are: (277)
The evolution of living beings, as a whole, is in absolute contradiction to the science of inert matter. It is in disagreement with the second principle of thermodynamics, the keystone of our science, based on the laws of
chance. . . . No scientist on earth can deny this. To account for what has taken place since the appearance of life, we are obliged to call in an “anti-chance” which orients this immense series of phenomena in a progressive, highly “improbable” direction (incompatible with chance), resulting in the human brain. This amounts to the recognition of the existence of a goal, of an end, for, in at least one line, the same orientation is always observed, on an average and over an extremely long period. Therefore, everything has taken place as if, ever since the birth of the original cell, Man has been willed. . . .
One of the most mysterious aspects of the developing stream
(275 continued) calcium to give a complex calcium phosphate, hydroxyapatite, of exceptional strength, crystals of which are formed in the collagen fibres of bone owing to a surprising coincidence in the unit crystal size and repeat lengths of the two materials. This bone ensures a reservoir of phosphate in the body and helps to maintain a steady phosphate concentration in body fluids. The hydroxyapatite has curious electrical properties: it generates a voltage when bone is bent. The potential acts in such a way that the phosphlate dissolves where it is not needed and redeposits where the bone needs strengthening. . . .” (The Christian Stake In Science, Moody Press, Chicago, 1967, p.36). So wonderfully pliant is the bone substance and structure that if a fracture occurs in such circumstances that the segments simply cannot fuse together again, a joint, articulate and virtually normal in every way, may form instead. (See Sir Peter Medawar, The Art of the Soluble, Methuen, New York, 1967, p.26.)
276. Simpson, G. G., The Meaning of Evolution, Yale, 1951, pp.292, 344, 345. He felt it necessary to repeat the substance of his faith three times. . . .
277. Du Nouy, LeComte, Human Destiny, Longmans, Green, New York, 1947, p.224.
of life is the repeated occurrence of what have come to be called “pre-adaptations.” These take the form of structures which are of no immediate advantage or use to the organism but after further development prove to be of great importance to it thousands of generations later, as though nature was delilerately making preparations for something yet to be. On this du Nony said: (278)
Throughout the developrnent of evolution (whatever that means!) the scientist finds himself facing this unaccountable mystery, the creation of organs destined to improve sketchy solutions so as to increase the freedom of the individual, his independence, with respect to hlis environment. . . .
This holds true for the appearance of homoiothermism (constant temperature). This is an immense and unquestionable liberation from servitude to the environment and has, it must be admitted, all the unsatisfactory [sic] characteristics of absolute creation, whereas we feel that such cannot be the case. This stands out today as one of thle greatest puzzles of evolution.
And so he concluded: (279)
Everything always takes place as if a goal had to be attained, and as if this goal was the real reason,, the inspiration of Evolution. All the attempts which did not bring the goal nearer were forgotten or eliminated.
In the sarne connection, Loren Eiseley wrote: (280)
The reason why a given form of life chooses to launch upon a new adventure is always apt to remain mysterious. One thing however, seems rather plain: animals do not evolve new organs for the specific purpose of intruding into a new environment. Instead they start with what the Biologist calls a “pre-adaptation” ï¿½ all existing organ, habit or other character whichoffers the possibility of being used successfully under new environmental circumstances.
The first vertebrates to leave the water successfully for example, had already acquired a primitive lung, utilized for
278. dy Nouy, LeComte, ibid., pp.70, 72.
279. Ibid., p.74 In a similar vein, Konrad Lorenz in his On Aggression, (Bantam Books, Harcourt, Brace, 1967, p.256), speaking of preadaptations in the human embryo remarks: “All the tremendous neurosensory apparatus of human specch is phylogeneticaIIy evolved, but so constructed that its functiom presupposes the existence of a culturally developed language which the infant has to learn.”
Likewise, E. S. Russell, in his Directiveness of Organic Activities, (1915 pp.94, 95) remarked in connlection with the cell divisions of the growing ovum, ‘these forms of cleavage are directive towards future goals integrally related to the general process of developmem, and comprehensive only on this basis, whatever their causal explanation, if any, may be.”
280. Eiseley, Loren, “Fossil Man,” Scientific American, Dec., I953, p.70.
survival in swamp waters of low oxygen content. Other preadaptations, such as a muscular fin capable of being transformed into a primitive foot, contributed to the success of the venture.
What we cannot so readily clarify in certain of these instances is whether events forced the movement across into the new corridor, or whether the restless impetus, the exploring curiosity, the vital drive of the animal promoted the crossing.
To my mind the best explanation of the course of events throughout geological ages until the coming of man is that God worked creatively and in an orderly way towards the world which we now see, by constantly introducing new forms of life, whether plant or animal, as the changing environment permitted them to be introduced. The system is an interacting one in that each new series of forms contributed to this change, in turn starting by their presence directional shifts of the contemporary scene which in due course prepared it to receive another series of forms. (281) Each series of forms was higher than the previous ones and could not be introduced until the previous forms had prepared the way or been removed.
Thus land forms were not possible until there was something for them to feed upon, and since all flesh is grass there had to be vegetation of some sort. The initial sand which resulted naturally from the breakdown of the rocks was capable of supporting certain simple types of plant life which were therefore created first. These in the course of time by their very decay began the building of “soil” which then permitted the introduction ï¿½ once more by direct creation ï¿½ of higher forms of plant life, until in due time certain very simple forms of animal life
281. Recently it has become customary in some quarters to attach more importance to the concept proposed by Lamarck that characters which an organism acquires due to environmental “pressures” of one form or another may be inherited by its offspring. The mechanism for this was lacking, and the experimental evidence was entirely against the view. But it is possible that such inheritance of acquired characters could be via the cytoplasm for certain simple forms, as Ephrussi and Sonneborne and others have shown. Now it seems that even higher forms of life may pass on such acquired characters in some way not known but indicated by the great dlifficulty of accounting for animal “fitness” to tbe environment in any other way. As Sir Alister Hardy wrote recently: “Again and again Lamarck made the point that challenges in the environment can bring about changes in the habits of animals and that it is these changes of habit [his emphasis] which can be so important in bringing about evolutionary modifications” (The Living Stream, Collins, London, 1965, p.160). Hardy then elaborates and exemplifies such changes. This is all we need to make my proposal viable: though the word “development” should be substituted for Hardy’s “evolution.” Such inherited characteristics are now termed dauermodifications.
could be introduced to the land environment, not merely because food was at last available, but also because the plants had “purified” the atmosphere of its excess carbon dioxide and made it respirable.
I do not think that such a process is at all unreasonable since evolutionists themselves would readily agree to the general characteristics of these successive forms, the order in which they would appear, and the reasons for that order. The fundamental difference between their point of view and my own is that I believe each new series of forms was introduced by creative activity, by an activity of which we have no experience in the laboratory. Nor are laboratory experiments ever likely to shed any light on it. Always in view from the very first was the object, namely, a world suited to the requirements of a creature such as man. To this extent the end, man, was the cause. To Simpson, this kind of philosophy is complete nonsense. But to the Christian, who is faced with almost overwhelming evidence of a long process of developmental history which he meets in virtually every textbook and which is virtually always attributed to evolution, this alternative view can be very satisfying, since it ignores none of the evidence that has been established as fact. It is only the theory of evolution that must be disallowed. It should be said in fairness to a number of well-informed Christian geologists and biologists that not everyone accepts the evidence for a great antiquity of the earth. There are a number of scientists today who are convinced that modern geology misinterprets the facts, and that a single catastrophe, such as the Flood of Noah’s day, could account £or stratified rocks.
The overall picture which I have presented above has been shared, and indeed elaborated with keen insight, by a number of informed writers, going back even as far as the Church Fathers, none of whom may be labelled by that rather opprobrious term, theistic evolutionists. The theistic evolutionist, as we have noted, differs from the atheistic evolutionist only in this, that he believes God produced the present world without interfering with it after setting in motion a process which thereafter could take care of itself and could be depended upon by its own powers to produce in the end a creature such as man is. Presumably, the only miracle involved, in the final analysis, would be in the origination of matter: once the elements had been created, the rest would take care of itself.
Because it is sometimes more enlightening to trace the history
tory of an idea backwards rather than forwards, I propose to start with one or two quotations from recent writers and then show how earlier writers viewed the evidence. In his book The Christian View of Science and Scripture, Bernard Ramm, whom I feel confident would disagree with a great deal that has been said in this Paper, nevertheless gave the following statement with which I find myself in complete agreement: (282)
Almighty God is creator. . . . In His mind the entire plan of creation was formed with man as the climax. Over the millions of years of geological history the earth is prepared for man’s dwelling or as it has been put by others, “the cosmos was pregnant with man.” The vast forests grew and decayed for his coal, that coal might appear a natural product and not an artificial insertion in Nature. The millions of sea life were born and perished for his oil. The surface of the earth was weathered for his forests and valleys. From time to time great creative acts, de novo, took place. The complexity of animal forms increased. Finally when every river had cut its intended course, when every mountain was in its purposed place, when every animal was on the earth according to blueprint, then he whom all creation anticipated is made, MAN, in whom alone is the breath of God.
Similarly, Agassiz held that direct creative activity was necessary. He assumed that vast numbers of kinds of animals had become extinct since the beginning of life on this earth. He thought the only possible explanation of these layers was to assume that short catastrophic periods of mountain building would follow long and quiet ages. These catastrophes had occurred possibly a hundred times, absolutely wiping out every plant and animal over vast areas. Then after natural forces had settled down again following each wild crisis, the Creator would again create a new flora and fauna in the desolated area. Agassiz taught more separate, large-scale creative acts than any other man. It was his conviction that the Creator improved and re-patterned the successive creations so that more complex forms followed simple ones. (283) Thus, in his Essay on Classification, 1859, he wrote: (254)
Who can look upon such a series coinciding to such an extent, 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
282. Ramm, Bernard, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1954, p.227.
283. Agassiz: quoted by Henry Marsh, Studies in Creationism, Review and Herald Publishing Co., Washington, 1950, p.34.
284. Agassiz, Louis, Essay on Classification, 1859, pp.166, 167.
And again, Agassiz wrote: (285)
It is evident that there is a manifest progress in the succession of beings on the surface of the earth. This progress consists in an increasing similarity to the 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. The fishes of the Palaeozoic 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 of 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 types of animals whichhave passed away, was, to introduce man upon the face of our globe. MAN IS THE END TOWARDS WHICH ALL THE ANIMAL CREATION HAS TENDED FROM THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF THE PALAEOZOIC FISHES.
Sir Richard Owen, the great anatomist, had addressed himself also to the same issue. Gillispie set forth Owen’s views as follows: (286)
Not less extraordinary but greatly more sound in their application are the views of Professor Owen ï¿½ supreme in his own special walk as a comparative anatomist. We find him recognizing man as exemplifying in his structure the perfection of that type in which, from the earliest ages, nature had been working with reference to some future development, and therefore a foreordained existence. “The recognition of an ideal example for the vertebrate animals proves,” says Owen, “that the knowledge of such a thing as man must have existed before man appeared; for the Divine Mind that planned the archetype also foreknew all its modifications. The archetypal 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.”
Still earlier, Whewell had expressed himself thus: (287)
285. Agassiz, Louis, in his Principles of Zoology, quoted by F. W. H., in God’s History of the World, Nisbet, London, 1907, p.149.
286. Owen: quoted by C. C. Gillispie, in his Genesis and Geology, Harper Torchbooks, New York, 1951, pp.204, 205. Owen was writing in 1849.
287. William Whewell’s views, in The Veracity of Genesis, Wm. H. Hoare, Longmans, Green, Longmans and Roberts, I.ondon, 1860 (p.165), gives us this passage as from William Whewell’s Indications of the Creator, Philadelphia, 1945, pp.161, 162.
We may form various hypotheses with regard to the sudden or gradual manner in whlich we may suppose the distribution to have taken place. We may assume that at the beginning of the present order of things, a stock of each species was placed in the vegetable or animal province to which it belongs, by some cause outside the common order of nature. . . .
At the beginning of each such 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 on the earth’s surface can have had any efficacy in producing them at first.
Sir Humphrey Davy wrote in a similar vein: (288)
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 man.
It is remarkable that centuries before this, Gregory of Nyssa (died c.390) held a similar opinion: (289)
It was not proper that the chief should make his appearance before his subjects. The king should logically be revealed only after his kingdom has been readied for him, when the Creator of the Universe had, so to speak, prepared a throne for him who was to have dominion. . . . Then God caused man to appear in the world, both to contemplate the marvels of the Universe, and to be its master. . . .
Man was last to be created, not that he should be therefore contemptuously relegated to the last place, but because from his birth it was fitting that he should be king of his domain.
But here is another alternative: Lammerts and Sinclair have held that God needed only to create certain “building blocks” which took the form of mechanisms for the construction of all kinds of eyes, or legs, or
internal organs, and that these were brought together in such a way as to interact and produce the different kinds of animals and plants we observe ï¿½ but as God saw the need. (290)
288. Davy: quoted by Gillispie in his Genesis and Geology (p.131) from Davy’s Consolations in Travel, 3rd edition, London, 1831, Dialogue iii.
289. Gregory of Nyssa, quoted by C. Hauret, Beginnings, Priory Press, Dubuque, lowa, 2nd edition, 1964, p.53.
290. Lammerts, W. and J. Sinclair, “Creation In Terms of Modern Concepts of Genetics and Physics,” Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, vol.5, no.3, 1953, p.8, 9.
There are quite a few modern writers who hold that it is presumptuous to deny the possibility of there being any divine activity involved, activity which will never be accounted for in terms of simple physics and chemistry. Thus Mascall has written: (291)
Even if the individual mutations which are so important a factor in biological evolution are random, indeterminate, and “uncaused” from the point of view of physical theory, this does not mean that they have escaped from the primary creativc causality of God. . . . To put the matter less technically, what appears from a scientific point of view as chance and indeterminacy is from the theological point of view the area within which God, when laying down the limits within which secondary causes are to operate under the overarching aegis of His primary causality, has left Himself free to act without reference to the patterns of secondary causes at all.
In other words, God can interfere if He wishes to do so without destroying the created order. Geneticists like Patterson and Stone do not deny that such a concept might prove necessary, but they are certainly not prepared to admit it at the present time: (292)
The only alternative to evolution by selection among random mutations with the majority of the mutations detrimental at the time and place of their occurrence, is directed mutations to fit the needs of the organism, possible only under supernatural guidance, although this is seldom the name applied to the concept.
Weismann simply has reflected this unwillingness to admit metaphysical ideas and has justified himself by saying: (293)
We accept natural selection not because we are able to demonstrate the process in detail . . . but simply because we must. . . . It is inconceivable that there could be yet another explanation capable of explaining the adaptation of organisms without assuming the help of a principle of design.
. . . which allows for a Designer! But not all modern authorities agree that mutations are an entirely satisfactory explanation. Thus Waddington writing on “Evolutionary Adaptation,” observed: (294)
Animals and plants in their innumerable variety present of course, many odd, striking, and even beautiful features,
291. Mascall, E. L., The Importance of Being Human, Columbia University, New York, 1958, p.16.
292. Patterson, J. T. and W. S. Stone, Evolution in the Genus Drosophila, Macmillan, New York, 1952, p.234.
293. Weismann, August, quoted by P. Fothergill, Historical Aspects of Organic Evolution, Hollis & Carter, London, 1952, p.118.
291. Waddington, C. H., “Evolutionary Adaptation” in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, University of Chicago, vol. 2, 1959, p.380, 383.
which can raise feelings of surprise and delight in the observer. But over and above this, a very large number of them give the appearance of being astonishingly well tailored to fit precisely into the requirements which will be made of them by their mode of existence. Fish are adrmirably designed for swimming, birds for flying, horses for running, snakes for creeping, and so on, and the correspondence between what an organism will do and the way it is formed to carry out such tasks often extends into extraordinary detail.
Induced mutagenesis as we normally encounter it in the laboratory does not provide any mechanism by which relatively normal environments could induce hereditary changes that would improve the adaptation of the offspring to the inducing conditions.
In short, laboratory experiment sheds no significant light on how this has come about, nor does even the environment (i.e., natural selection) per se account for it. He concluded:
The field of work is clearly one of great inherent interest, but it remains true that the vast majority of changes in the environment do not directly produce any hereditary modifications in the organisms submitted to them, and we are certainly very far from being able to provide a general explanation of evolutionary adaptations in terms of the type of effects which have just been mentioned.
Finally, while “preadaptations” suggest a goal-seeking drive resident in nature, the existence of “gaps” in the great chain of being certainly suggests creative activity. For these gaps do exist between the phyla, orders, classes, etc., and in spite of every attempt to explain them away they still remain as an embarrassment to the evolutionist. The “great chain” is not a chain at all. Discontinuities exist of such magnitude that there is currently no other reasonable explanation of how the stream of life continued except to postulate creative acts to supply the needed bridges.
We are warned against introducing God at these places since they may one day be filled and He would then be “squeezed out.” As they (hopefully!) disappear one by one, God is made smaller and smaller. But hitherto the pattern of discovery has not been encouraging to those who expect the gaps to be thus bridged. A useful treatment of these gaps as they currently exist will be found in another Doorway Paper. (295) Meanwhile the
295. Gaps: on this subject see an extended review with full documentation in “The Preparation of the Earth for Man” (Part I in Evolution or Creation? vol.4 of The Doorway Papers Series). Dr. R. E. D. Clark, in his book The Christian Stake in Science, (continued. . . .)
question is, Do we need to surrender this evidence of creative activity? If we are careful to remain aware of the fact that God is not merely the God of the gaps but the God of the continuities also, we shall not need to cast away what seems to me a very strong evidence of direct creation.
We do not believe in God simply because gaps exist which seem to demand a God to fill them. We know these gaps exist at present, and there seems every likelihood that they will persist, and so we merely say as Christians, ”Such gaps may well be points at which God was at work in Nature by direct means.” But those of us who are scientists do not find that such a faith requires of us that we avoid any further search for natural bridges over the gaps on the ground that ve already have sufficient explanation. It is true that such a kind of faith may make the search less important, and that it therefore cuts at one of the main spurs to scientific research. But it supplies another compensatory one — the desire to explore God’s handiwork in creation simply because it is His handiwork.
Thus we are not altogether unjustified in claiming the verdict of “not proven,” when faced with the dogmatic assertion so commonly made these days that the concept of plan and purpose is not any longer justified in the light of modern knowledge. There is plenty of evidence in the natural order not only of divine planning and oversight from behind the scenes, as it were, but of direct creative activity. And there is evidence, too, of occasional drastic (one might say dramatic) “corrective” interference for the purpose of removing whole orders of life which no longer contributed towards the Master Plan to form a fit habitation for man. Two passages of Scripture come to mind. The first is in Isaiah 45:18:
295 continued) Moody Press, Chicago, 1967, pp.28 ff., has some worthwhile comments on the matter of pointing to “gaps” as being reasonable places where God may be presumed to have been at work. In his opinion there is very little danger of anyone losing his faith merely because some of the gaps have in the course of time been filled in. He rightly points out that while certain gaps have indeed been closed by an increase in knowledge, the same increase in knowledge has not narrowed but widened certain other gaps unexpectedly.
Similarly, Arthur Koestler in his new book, The Ghost in the Machine, Hutchinson, London, 1967, pp.1-18, is at pains to show that, in psychology at least, the determination of the behaviourists to eliminate the gap between mind and brain caused that branch of research to become virtually sterile. So did the determination to remove the gap between human and animal behaviour by extrapolating for the latter from the behaviour of the former, a process which he calls “the ratomorphic view of man.”
For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.
And the second, even more remarkable, occurs in Psalm 133:14ï¿½17:
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul
knoweth right well.
My substance was not hid from thee, whlen I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest
parts of the earth.
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect, and in thy book all my members were written,
which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious also are thy thoughts unto rne, O God; how great is the sum of them!