Science in Christian Perspective
From: JASA 1 #3
(June 1949): 15-30.
Some time last winter President Everest presented to the members of our affilia tion a proposal that we publish our estimate of the evolution theory after we have thoroughly studied and discussed the matter and have come to certain definite conclusions. The proposed publication is to appear about ten or eleven years hence, at a time coinciding with the centennial of the publication of Darwin's "Origin of Species." This would give the members of our affiliation ample time to prepare a thoroughly scientific and scholarly work on the Christian approach to this vital and important subject. The suggestion is no doubt an excellent one. There is perhaps no greater need among us than a scholarly Biblical statement of views in regard to evolution.
Since the publication of the "Origin of Species" the theory of evolution has become established in the various fields of science to such an extent that one must admit its well nigh universal acceptance. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of books and papers have been written against it but to no avail so far as the prestige of the theory among the rank and file of the scientists is concerned. Religious leader have attempted to stop the onrush on this theory because it seemed to conflict with the account of creation in Scripture but their attempts have gone largely unheeded. There is no use in duplicating work already done by others. If our organization is to do anything in this line it should be something different, something more fundamental than anything that has thus far been attempted. We shall have to be positive rather than negative. We shall have to construct rather than break down. If we do that, we shall have to start at the bottom, at the foundation. And it is just here that we, who believe the Scripture as God's inspired truth, differ from most evolutionary scientists of today. Faith in God and in His word is not a refuge for a bewildered mind whose native capacities have failed to comprehend the intricacies of a complex universe. It is rather a starting point and an accompaniment to the normal functioning of the mind. It is a guide to truth. We must be willing to assert that we start with certain presuppositions, test their validity, and proceed from them to the logical conclusions.
This may sound very unscientific in this age of inductive reasoning, and yet, in following this method we need be no more deductive than the modern scientist who interprets all he sees in the light of his evolutionary conception. I have yet to see a consistent evolutionary interpretation that was derived by a purely inductive process.
It is the purpose of this paper to point out briefly some fundamental presuppo sitions that are basic to evolutionary thinking, to evaluate them, and to give the phenomena. I mention just four. (There may be others):
The evolutionist believes:
1. That our knowledge of natural phenomena comes from nature alone.
2. That the fundamental similarities among living organisms can be explained only on a basis of a relationship of descent.
3. That the variations or changes that are observed in living organisms are unlimited in their scope, and
4. That the causes of such changes are operative today in the same way they have always been in the past.
The first mentioned presupposition, namely, that our knowledge of natural phenomena comes from nature alone, is in a sense basic to all the rest, for it is our counterpart to this proposition which enables us to see the limitations and shortcomings of the other three. The counterpart to the first proposition would read something like this:
Natural phenomena are not known from nature alone but from nature and from the Scriptures, for God has revealed himself not only in nature but in the Scriptures as well. And it is precisely with the aid of this latter revelation that we get a complete picture of the facts.
Now it is evident that right here at the beginning of our considerations our faith plays its important part. It is here also that we can expect the most severe opposition. For what, after all, have we done with the so-called scientific method? Have we discarded it altogether? If so, we cannot expect to receive a listening ear from those who have so proudly and to a large extent so justifiably lauded its achievements during the past century. It is for us to point out that we have not dropped the scientific method altogether but that we have amplified it. We have included with our sources of knowledge the inscripturated word, because we believe it to be a part of the whole. Our unbelieving and liberal associates will not accept this inclusion as valid. We can only point out that without it we shall not be able to get a complete picture,.for such questions about nature as whence? whither' and wherefore? can not be answered without it. We must be willing to take this position from the outset or lose the cornerstone of our entire scientific structure.
The second presupposition (that the fundamental similarities among living organisms can be explained only on the basis of a relationship of descent) is an assumption which seems logical when one considers that ordinarily things which are similar have a common origin. Lindsey in his "Textbook of Evolution and Genetics," for instance, devoted several paragraphs to this point.* He states among other - things that, "When relationship is mentioned, the immediate thought aroused is of simmilarity. Further analysis shows that we cannot have similarity, i.e., relationship, without some degree of community of origin." To Lindsey and other evolutionists any similarity 'indicates a relationship of descent, a genetic relationship, and therefore, since living organisms have at least some structures in common, even though they be only protoplasm and cell structure, they must all have come from a common protoplasmic and cellular ancestor. This conclusion is unwarranted. Though we may be willing to admit that similarities usually indicate a common origin, we cannot conclude that all living organisms are genetically related. Sometimes similarity does not indicate such a relationship but is evidence of a common creative idea. Our counterpart for this second evolutionary presupposition would be: "Similarities in living organisms do not always indicate a genetic relationship, but they may and do in this case point 'to a common cause, a common author, a common creator mho has made all things according to certain fundamental plans." This conclusion is just as logical as the evolutionary conclusion 'and we accept it because it is in accordance with the revelation in the Scriptures.
A third presupposition deals with variations observed in living organisms. It is an observed fact that living organisms are not wholly static. That is, offspring are not identical with the parents. They differ from them in varying degrees of dissimilarity. The reasons for such dissimilarity can, at least to a large extent, be explained by Mendelian heredity, gene mutations, and polyploidy. It must be said to the credit of Charles Darwin that he took note of the importance of variations although the above-mentioned phenomena were not known at his time. We*cannot, however, proceed to Darwin's conclusions that such variations have given rise to the various groups of animals and plants that exist today. Although modern scientists recognize the inadequacy of Darwin's theory, they nevertheless conclude that variations somehow or other have in the past and do now give rise to new forms of organisms. The whole quest of the modern evolutionists is to find some explanation for changes sufficiently significant to account for the appearance of these different forms. It is admitted that our present knowledge has not yet supplied us with an adequate explanation. Nevertheless, it is the firm conviction of evolutionists that there is an explanation and that through continued study and experimentation it will some day be discovered. It is this conviction that we cannot share, for it is based not on facts in the first place, but on a previous acceptance of the evolutionary process.
On the other hand, both Scripture and our present knowledge of scientific facts indicate that variations are limited in their scope. All known causes for change, such as ordinary Mendelian inheritance, hybridization, mutations, polyploidy, appear to seperate within certain set boundaries, within which we observe the variation to which evolutionists attach such great significance. They argue from the specific to the general. Since they see variations which give rise to different forms within a species, they conclude that similar variations have given rise to different species and genera, and families, et cetera. Such a conclusion is not logically warranted.
In Scripture we have the significant statement that God created living organisms "after their kind." The word "kind" is not necessarily synonymous with the word "species" as used by the modern scientist. Because of the confusion presented by the use of the word 11species" for the Genesis "kind," Marsh suggests that the word "baramin" be used. Says he, "If this word were used it could present but one idea in the mind of the reader; not the broad Linnaean species, nor his narrow one, nor the modern 'species', but only the 'Genesis Kind,"'* I do not know whether the use of such a new word is necessary. If it were used, however, it should be defined as a sort of kaleidoscopic entity within which the pattern and appearance may change and vary a thousand times, but whose various appearances are always limited by the number, shape, and color of the pieces that make up the pattern. This, I believe, is a true picture of the created Kinds of organisms. They vary and change, but theig pattern is always limited by the genetic composition of the germ cells. So far as I: can determine there is nothing in Scripture or in science that conflicts with such a conception. All the known facts seem to conform with it.
We come now to the fourth and last mentioned presupposition, namely, that the causes for change are operative today in the same way they have always been in the past. This has become one of the most fundamental assumptions of evolutionary thought. Dobzhavsky in his "Genetics and the Origin of Species" mentions it as one of the three main assertions of evolution when he says, "All these changes have arisen from causes which now continue in operation and which therefore can be studied experimentally."** Following in the wake of Charles Lyell and his actualistic
*Marsh, F. L.---"Evolution,Creation, and Science," p. 162, 1944.
**Dobzhavsky, T. "Genetics and the Origin of Species," 2nd edition, p.8, N. Y. 1941.
geology,all evolutionists have made this principle their leadstar in determining the events of the past. For, as Nordenskield puts it;, "if past natural phenomena in general are to be calculated or at least reconstructed with fair probability, it is necessary to start from the present, whose course of events it is possible to survey."*
-It is no doubt due to the appeal of such statements that this principle has been so universally accepted not only by evolutionists but also, credulously, by some who profess not to believe in evolution. A consistent application of this principle, however, spells evolution if not in fact then certainly in a way of thinking.' A consistent application of this principle, it seems to me, does away with creation in the orthodox interpretation of this term. It identifies present phenomena of development and change with the developmental processes which we call creation. The latter has always been interpreted by conservative Bible scholars as a unique process, which was completed at the beginning of the seventh day. It should not be confused with God's continued sustaining care of his creation, and his continued operation in the universe. These we call his providence. The distinctive character of God's creative work is clearly indicated in Genesis where we read: "And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made."**
A belief in the uniqueness of the creative process brings us face to face with certain difficult questions. These questions should be squarely faced before we attempt to publish our views of the origin of this universe from a Christian scientific point of view.
Why is it, for instance, that we so readily accept the period theory of the days of creation? Why is it that we so readily accept the two billion years estimate of the age of this earth and include in that age the entire creative period? Is it not in part due to the fact that we erase the line of demarcation between creation and providence? Is it not because consciously or unconsciously we accept the principle that present natural phenomena are a measure of past events, including the events of creation? Have we not with credulity accepted the interpretations based upon this fourth presupposition?
If so, should we not first of all reconsider the implications of some of our conclusions lest we find ourselves torn loose from our moorings?
Scripture tells us that God created this universe with all that it contains. It does not tell us that God created it. Does his other revelation, the revelation in nature, tell us that? Are his operations in the care and sustenance of this universe perhaps the same as those which governed his creation? This appears to be the assumption of some of us. But is this assumption in accord with the Scriptures? If it is not, we err when1we come to certain conclusions which are based upon it. Paul under the guidance of the Holy Spirit tells us that, "The invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity."*** Do these "things that are made" also show us the processes God used in making them? And the writer to the Hebrews tell us that it is" "By faith we understand that the worlds have
*Nordenskield: "The History of Biology," p. 456, 1928
**Genesis 2:1 and 2
been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear."* Does the Holy Spirit here mean to tell us that present appearances do not lead us into the mysteries of God's creative work?
It appears to me that we stand committed to an evolutionary philosophy if we do not distinguish clearly between creation and providence. But how then can we explain certain natural phenomena? How can a Christian geologist for instance, explain the earth's strata without Lyell's presupposition? Will he have to return to the old cataclysmic theories of Cuvier and others? Hardly. But upon the basis of Scripture, cataclysms can not be ruled out altogether. In this connection, we may ask: Have Christian biologists and geologists (outside of Price and his associates) taken adequate account of such Biblical and historical facts as the effects of sin and the fall, the peculiar characteristics of the antediluvian period, and the tremendous effects of the deluge?
In connection with this fourth presupposition it seems to me we shall first of all have to assert that we cannot hope to explain God's creative work by means of empirical procedure. Furthermore, we can accept the assertion of Marsh** that: "any changes which have appeared in organisms since creation have arisen through natural causes which now continue to be in operation and which therefore can be studied experimentally."
Before we as an organization are ready to express ourselves publicly and officially on the larger aspects of the evolution problem we should study prayerfully and scientifically such fundamental issues as I have tried to present in this paper. Then, with the help of God, we may at least be able to establish more firmly the faith of those who by God's grace are led to the truth and significance of that
majestic pronouncement: "And God said let there be and there was."
DISCUSSION OF DR. MONSMAS PAPER:
DR. VOSKUYL: Thank you, Dr. Monsma. I do not know but what you have precipatated what will be a very lengthy discussion.
MISS ERDMANN: I have a question for information. You seem to deplore the acceptance by Christians of the idea of geologic ages. Are you implying that evidence for geologic ages is insufficient for us to believe in them or if you believe in them, where would you place them in our current interpretations.
DR. MONSMA: I do not believe that we as Christians can--at least with the information that we have in hand now--say these geological ages represent the same days of creation as pushed back into the creation period. I would not deny, of course, the fact that we have stratification and all of that, but if we are going to interpret it upon the basis of what we see now, we can go back to the end of the creation period and no further.
I do believe that personally we as Christians have not taken into account enough of what has happened since creation. There is a series of events that took place there, and I don't believe that Christian geologists have taken into consideration at all as far as the series that I mention there, the sin, the effects of sin
**Marsh, F. L.: "Evolution, Creation, Science," p. 24. Washington, 1944
the curse, and what the effect of that has been upon this universe.
If you want to talk about cataclysm, that is out, I know, but that cataclysm is a fact and you know the effect of it on creation. Then we also know that this whole antediluvian period was a period that is different from the present time. We know that definitely, We haven't taken that into consideration. I haven't seen it at least from the Christian geologist; and then so far as the deluge is concerned, I haven't seen any of our other Christians take that into consideration at all.
Weren't there tremendous changes in the description in Genesis there, tremendous changes which should certainly be evident in the world now. I think if we as Christians take that whole series of events into consideration we may come to a certain conclusion.
MISS ERDMANN: And then the second question I wish to ask you is whether or not the time which has elapsed since the flood wouldn't be negligible in geological effects in comparison with the time which passed up until then?
DR. MONSMA: In the first place, we don't know just how long that time is.
MISS ERDMANN: Within the limits, say, of 25 thousand years.
DR. MONSMA: I would not dare to answer that question because I am not a geologist. I would have to consider that seriously. Gedney, for instance, mentions a series of woods--of course, this reveals my ignorance here--but geologically speaking, seventeen woods on top of each other which can all be seen there and if we figure all that at the rate at which these things go on now, I suppose we would come to a tremendous amount of time. However, how long does it take to build up a woods? I am speaking perhaps now ignorantly, but I know I can say that within one hundred years you can have a full grown forest.
At the University of Illinois they have the university forestry which was planted from very small trees in 1870 or thereabouts, and I drove along there a couple of weeks ago and they are now giant trees, actually a forest. That has grown up in that short length of time, so I do believe that the possibility of woods growing up within one hundred years and having a good sized woods is quite possible and I know that some volcanic destruction of such a forest could take place in three or four days and perhaps even less time than that. I am thinking of that Mexican event down there, and no doubt conditions in early creation were different from what they are now, and what things have taken place in the past there, I am just wondering; I don't know whether the time that the geologist sets is correct, nor am I certain that the time that we have for the Biblical chronology is correct. They tell us that this early chronology is not correct, so I think we need more study on that question
DR. KULP: I feel compelled to say something if I could have the board and some chalk.
One of the most probable facts in geology, I believe, is that the earth is close to two billion years old, and I think this can be demonstrated, at least by way of order of magnitude with as much validity as we can demonstrate many of the laws such as conservation of momentum that we meet with as physicists.
Unfortunately, historically this is true: Over the last fifty years there have been practically no Christians in the field of geology. I was trained as a chemist before I felt that the Lord wanted me to go into geology. I went into it very critically, and I am still overly critical of all information that I receive. However, most of us do not understand enough geology to appreciate the geologist's method of securing geological data. He is not one millionth the philosopher that he is usually given credit for being.
I would like to give you about four examples indicating the antiquity of the earth; and the only requirement that I would want Professor Monsma to agree with me on is that the rules haven't been changed. If he will say that the fundamental interactions between atoms, if the binding energies have changed, if God has completely changed the rules since whatever time you wish to specify, I can say nothing. However, if the rules have remained the same, if the hydrogen atom today is the same as the hydrogen atom of creation, if the combining energy of two atoms and if the binding energy of the uranium nucleus is the same, I think my case will be evident.
Really one doesn't have to go any farther than radio-activity to demonstrate the antiquity of the earth. First let's consider radioactivity. We know that uranium is something that disintegrates through a series to the end product, lead. We know that in doing so, it gives off helium atoms. We know that the rate at which this takes place is not affected by any temperature or pressure that we can put on that system at the earth's crust. That has been attempted. We have put pressure on uranium up to the equivalent of twenty miles of depth in the earth's crust which is deeper than most rocks that are now found, since they are found near the surface; and furthermore, we have subjected it to temperatures up to three or four thousand degrees without any change.
Now if the rules remain the same, the rate of disintegration of that specified uranium nucleus must have been the same whenever this uranium atom was put somewhere in the earth's crust as it is today. What happens geologically speaking is something like this: We have some simple horizontal strata of, say, sandstone and limestone. In the course of time there may be a fracture in the strata and some molten rock or some electrolyte solutions come up of high temperature and possibly high pressure, and in that fissure they may precipitate or crystallize crystals of uranium minerals and all other minerals.
Suppose now that a small crystal of uranium mineral forms in that belt at that time. Prior to the formation of that crystal, the uranium atoms were not directly associated with lead atoms. How do we know that? We know it in two ways; first, we know it because geo-chemically or just chemically uranium and lead are quite different in their reactions, and therefore, in a belt deep in the earth's crust they tend to be differentiated from each other because they are fundamentally different chemically.
But more than that we have analyzed the species of lead that one finds everywhere in the earth's crust. Now most of you here today have heard of the term isotope where the biologist would use the term species just as well. There are four isotopes of lead that are found everywhere you find ordinary lead, that is, lead that is not in close proximity to uranium, and the ratio of those four to each other is exactly the same. However or whenever you obtain or measure the lead that is found in a uranium crystal, you find that it is essentially composed of just one of these four species, and that one specie as we know by experiment is derived from the decomposition process. Well now, if there are some of the other prominent species in that crystal also, we know they were there because there was some primary lead present in the neighborhood and we can subtract that out before we make our computation of the ratio of lead to uranium. The ratio will increase with a known rate. If we measure the uranium:lead ratio and the species of lead that are present, then we have a very good estimate of the time since that crystal was formed.
Now this isn't the only story, because fortunately uranium decomposes into lead and while decomposing, gives off eight helium atoms and that is all trapped there. If we have another small crystal which is a magnetite crystal, that crystal will contain just a small amount of uranium. We can't measure the helium in this uranium crystal because there is just so much of it produced and most of that leaks out, but you take a tight crystal such as magnetite and you have 10-6 grams of uranium and in geological time that does not produce enough helium to produce enough pressure to explode and leak out, and we see no evidence of fracture or leakage. When we take the crystal and measure it, measure the ratio of helium to uranium and find that the age from that crystal compares favorably with the age as determined from uranium-lead ratio, we have very, very strong confirmatory evidence--but that isn't the end of it.
It also happens that the element rubidium, isotope 87 decomposes into strontium 87. Anywhere that you can find rubidium which is close to potassium, a certain fraction of it (about twenty per cent) is radioactive and decomposes into strontium. They are very different chemically, and when we get a pegmatite to freeze in such a position, we find rubidium that is independent of strontium except for this peculiar strontium No. 87, which is the result of the decomposition of rubidium 87, and again we know that the rate of decomposition is not dependent upon nor effected by temperature and pressure, and again these values in a rough way check. We have values for all of these, and they show that they are up towards two billion years old.
There are still other methods, since this process occurs and since strontium is found in ocean water and all over the world, and since the process itself is taking place in our geologic time, the ratio of strontium in the ocean water of this species is going to increase over ordinary strontium during geological time, and again in a gypsum bed, the ratio of strontium 87 to ordinary strontium No. 88 should constantly increase, and once we can calibrate that system, that becomes a way of measuring the time when that strontium was deposited out of the ocean; and that too gives confirmatory evidence.
Maybe that is all philosophy, but it is just physics and chemistry really, so let's go on to something a little more picturesque.
First I would like to go back to the petrified forests. We have out in the western edge of Yellowstone Park a formation showing seventeen successive petrified forests which is exposed in the gorge of the Yellowstone River, Now there are several things to note here. First of all, the seventeen successive petrified forests are not the geological count of that area. There are quite a number of other strata on top. There are some folded sedimentary rocks below, and of course, the gorge is not cut to the bottom of the sequence. Let's reconstruct *hat happened here.
First you have to lay down under water these successive sedimentary rocks and with this sandstone, that means that there were just certain conditions of velocity of water that could have washed out that particular material because if the water is moving more slowly, fine clay would have been deposited. We find a shale or a silt bed and then we know that the water is carried more slowly. Furthermore, we know that if there is a limestone, the limestone was precipitated under quite different conditions. Therefore, these had to be laid down each under different physicochemical conditions, After that sequence was laid down, just from what you see on the board here, you know that this area had to be folded.
Now from some of the comments I received in the discussion yesterday, it is evident that many of us do not have much appreciation perhaps for what happens when you fold rocks. The rocks that are folded are just as hard as any other rocks that you have ever seen, but they are not fractured, and they still show the individual unformed shells, deformed shells or fossils, and the undeformed sand and silt grains.
Very elementary knowledge of physics will certainly tell anyone that if you attempt to squeeze solid rock and fold it into a pattern a tremendous length of time will be required otherwise the internal friction would be so tremendous that you would melt the rock, and then of course, it would look like granite. You would no longer have the undeformed shells or nice little rounded sand grains. It would be quite a different looking thing, and in fact, it wouldn't be too difficult a thing to compute how slowly such a process would have to be for the adequate dissipation of the heat so that it wouldn't melt the rock, knowing the internal coefficient of friction. After all, that took place while this whole thing was growing. It is true, as was pointed out to me this noon that you can weather away soil if it isn't properly protected. You can take six or ten or fifty feet of soil away and loose dirt without much trouble but to weather away solid rock and bring it down to that low a level, takes a tremendous length of time.
After that took place, the area had successive petrified forests, seventeen of them. Let's concern ourselves with that for a moment. I don't claim that you can make several hundred thousand or million years for that, but I think you have to allow a little more time than Prof. Monsma wanted to admit.
In the first place, many of these forests have very considerable trees, trees in which the rings can essentially be counted because they are petrified so well, and it has been demonstrated that the rings are annular and they can be counted and therefore you can demonstrate that some of these forests are up to one thousand years old, but suppose that a volcanic ash wipes it out in three days which it could have done and probably did; have you considered how long it takes to make fertile soil out of that volcanic soil? Before the next set of trees can even start to grow in an area -- assume that it was a wide area, and then the second one starts and so on for seventeen times, and after that is all over with, you still have some other layers laid down, and then when you finish laying all those down, the top of this formation had to be the level of ocean or an inland sea, and once all that was done, this whole area had to be lifted possibly a mile or more in the air in the Grand Canyon region, and then in that lifting process, the river had to cut down through. This is qualitative, but I think that is an impressive example.
My last example brings us to Grand Rapids, Michigan, because it is always interesting to know a little bit about what we are standing on. We are standing on something like fifteen miles of sedimentary rock. In this board illustration, I can only sketch in a very rough way the sedimentary sequence under Michigan, the famous Michigan basin, those rocks go down to tremendous depths. Again, each of these layers is of a different type laid down under different conditions. Very deep oil wells across the state have penetrated these.
What is the significance of the sequence here? Is it not the fact that all of these have been laid down on a very old basin which had to be provided before you even started? All of these have been laid down in a depositional trough, and that trough was constantly sinking.
The important thing is that there is a very thick band of salt which provides great wealth for the state here.
Let's consider how those bands of salt were formed. They are salt, anhydrite and gypsum, and if you were to take ocean water of about thirty miles in depth which, of course, is about six times deeper than most places in the ocean, and evaporate it, you will get something on the order of one hundred feet of gypsum. This, of course, can be computed accurately. It is on this order of magnitude because sea vater is so diluted. Of course, you don't have thirty miles of sea water over Michigan, but what you must have is,a lagoon type of surface under arid conditions where water is washed over the inland sea or lagoon and where you have constant evaporation and concentrating in the trough.
over in Africa and in Mexico, the oil geologists have driven over this type of sequence. You have an arid condition and an inland sea with constant washing into a sinking trough, because some of these go up to about three hundred feet in thickness in West Texas, and if you take all of the salt, you would come to probably over a half a mile thick.
Well now, to me, that sort of thing means that the Creator either put all this in together to deceive us, which obviouslyisn't true to my way of thinking, or the rules have been the same and great antiquity is required for this in every one of these strata from top to bottom, and in all of them you can find fossils or fossil life of one type or another.
DR. VOSKUYL: Thank you very much. We didn't promise you this extra lecture, but we appreciate it. Are there any further questions, any more discussions?
DR. BENDER: I appreciate what we have had, and I appreciate very much the approach that Dr. Kulp has given us in the study of geology. I think, however, that the arguments that Dr. Monsma has presented in the latter part of his paper essentially still stand, and that is that we must give recognition to the viewpoints that he was mentioning. We must give recognition to the possibility of some cataclysms of various kinds, not that we will blindly close our eyes to the obvious physical facts, certainly not. That is part of our condition. I am not a geologist, but I have been interested in geology for some time and there is a number of problems that I would like to have answers for. One of them is simply the large extent of fossils and fossil content in these strata and stratified layers.
So far as one can determine now, it is difficult to find anything on the surface of the earth that would be fossilizing, plants or animals, at the present time, and so one will need to postulate some condition other than what is existing at the present time in order to have produced fossils at all, at least to the large extent in which they are found; also thevery large extent of the stratified layers must have some exp-lanation other than present conditions because nowhere do we find stratification occurring over any extended area such as these things would require. Those are merely problems. I don't know what the answers are. Ihope that somebody will find the answers to them, but, it seems.to me that we will have to recognize ' them as problems and also recognize that Dr. Monsma has presented the fact that the Bible does postulate some cataclysms, and I don't see why we can't piece these things together. I think that is the tremendous task before us now.
May I say one more thing. I think that Dr. Monsma has done a very excellent job in pointing out to us that we need to be positive in our actual approach-to the whole problem, and I think it certainly connects with our purpose, as will probably. be discussed tomorrow, that our task as an Affiliation is-not so much to add to the existing argument against evolution as it is to present a consistent treatment of the whole problem that is positive and that is Biblical.
I wonder If Dr.Kulp would say a word on the matter of fossils. What does make
fossils and is it true that they are not being made now? What is the situation?
I don t know anything about it whatsoever.
DR. KULP: I hesitate to disagree SO flatly with Dr. Bender but I have seen large areas of fossils and fossil formation at the present time and I can point to half a dozen areas in the earth's crust where there are tremendous crusts undergoing stratification at the present time. One example that is very close is the present Gulf of Mexico.They are drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico at the present time, and that is a very vast area taking in more than all Of New England and New York put together. The area is a depositional trough at the present time as big as some of the great trough-like areas such as the Michigan basin in times past. The basin of Southern California is another one. There is a great one in the Caspian Sea and another one n the Black Sea.
Regarding the fossils you can go down on the F1orida coast and if you can get out get with those well drilling companies where they are drilling through recent lime muds, you can see everything, and you can see limestone while it is Still soft. You can see all sorts of fragments of fossils. Maybe You can get Miss Erdmann to tell you more about that. I'm also thinking of an example at Jones Beach in New York.You can go down to the water and come back about 30 feet from the water and there is just a little rise of about six feet of sand and you can go there and look at that bank, and it is the most perfect example of a fossil sand I can think of that is not stone yet. You can pick out every little shell, and every one of them is perfectly in place into a layer, and if that region were to subside or the ocean were to move out and a stream were to come down over there and deposit more material in time that would go over into sandstone, but to me that is the best textbook example that I can think of.
I think that the geologists who have been out in the field and who have followed a lot of these oil drilling companies will recognize many places where the same type of rock and the same form 0 f fossilization is going on today
Now as far as the catatrophies are concerned, that is a very good point and something that we should look for. However, regarding the flood, insofar as geology is concerned, one would not expect much of a record of the flood of Noah, even if it had covered, as apparently it did the entire earth. The reason for that is that if you had a certain displacement which would allow a great tidal wave to go over the entire earth, the amount of sediment would be negligible. That doesn't come from tidal waves. It comes from the gradual erosion of mountain slopes and uplands, and therefore, that certainly may have covered the entire face of the earth. A thousand years later, subsequent erosion may have removed all traces of such an event. However, there should have been those major displacements and the geo-physicist particularly with his seismological equipment should pick up something like that, and I think that is where we ought to look, but not to look for these shells on the top of the peak.
May I just say this? I know I am sticking my neck out in starting the geology
here but I am very glad that Dr. Kulp has given us his viewpoints on that.
The statement that want to call attention to is the fact that MY
emphasis was this, that there is a difference between Creation and
Providence. I believe that upon the basis Of Scripture we must adhere to that,
and I am afraid that at the present time geologists are not doing that. My
solution is perhaps
not the correct one; the solution at least that I answered Miss Erdmann is
perhaps not the correct one but I would like to consider this: if things do occur
the same way now that they always have, is God operating now the same way as he
did in the past? I think we should seriously consider that, and that is the
point that I wanted to make.
DR. GATHERCOAL: I would like to say that Dr. Monsma's presentation is the most sound and fundamental one that I have ever seen presented in this organization, because it is based upon the word of God. Now we all recognize innumerable difficulties this vast amount of study involves, but I really believe that if it is undertaken that the Lord himself will help us most wonderfully in it. Now, in the first place, there are about fifteen thousand statements in the Word bearing upon this subject, and I really believe that if those are carefully looked up and analyzed, put into tables under the different headings and studied by scientists who know how to interpret a good many of them, that you will have a foundation that will not be overturned. It is a great amount of work but we are laying aside for this work perhaps a period of five or six years. If the work is started at once, and if itis divided up and assigned and is really undertaken in the spirit in which it has been offered here this afternoon, I think it will be an absolute success.
Now I am not going to offer to list by positions those fifteen thousand references, but I am going to make a start on them.
DR. MAC RAE: How many of them bearing on evolution or geology did you say
DR. GATHERCOAL: The subject was on evolution. Geology doesn't hurt us any. That is all right, and as far as that period of two billion years is concerned, we don't need to worry about that. That is all provided for in the Word.
DR. MAXWELL: May I ask a question in regard to uranium? They seem to be using the disintegration of these materials as a clock more or less, and I wanted to ask, is there any uranium in the world that has not disintegrated? And if so, where does it come from and who started it?
When does the clock start, in other words? I think that ought to be answered. Then I have this further remark in regard to Dr. Gathercoal's remarks. I think that is in line and along the point that Dr. Monsma is suggesting, that we can work along on that as a positive line, and that is what we have all been wanting.
Just this last year or so I have been working on that line Dr. Gathercoal mentioned, and I find a tremendous lot of material. I think he is very conservative in saying fifteen thousand statements in the Bible, and therefore to my mind it is fundamental science, basic science, the truth, and from that we can really produce something which will stand the test of a true science in time, and being out of the study-method, but there are other methods, and whatever method we use we will get the same truth. So then let's start using our Bibles and our knowledge of science and see.if we can't build up something constructive and positive.
DR. VOSKUYL: I will stand corrected by anyone that wants to correct me, but as far as I know there has been no such thing as pure uranium found. The isotopes are all found in a definite specific ratio and that indicates that at one time there perhaps was pure uranium, but since that time there has been that constant disintegration going on.
DR. KULP: I think part of the problem has been half-life. It doesn't all go off at once.
DR. COWPERTHWAITE: I wonder if that really answers the question which has been raised by Dr. Maxwell. As I understand Dr. Maxwell's question, it is that if we find some uranium in a pegmatite, how do we know that when the pegmatite was formed, the uranium was pure and not already partially decomposed. We get that from our theories of solution that the pegmatite is a liquid and the different minerals and crystals formed from the liquid state according to their individual solubility. Uranium mineral would have a different solubility from the lead mineral. Therefore,' when the liquid solidified, the uranium would crystalize out free from disintegratior products so that at the time of solidification, you would have pure uranium mineral which could start this disintegration from that time on.
DR. BARNES: I wanted to ask one or two questions purely for information. We have all been urging a positive approach to this problem. It seems to me that we have been presented with a positive scientific evaluation of some of the existing phenomena and if we accept that as positive it is necessary to provide for a great deal of time.
Now, I would like to ask this question: could the proposed or supposed lapse in time usually placed between the first and second verses of Genesis be considered useful for this purpose? I suppose that perhaps Prof. MacRae could straighten me out on that or perhaps Dr. Kulp.
DR. KULP: I would refer you to that article that you have had in your possession for some time by Prof. Ramm who very beautifully treats that subject. I think it shows that particularly from a Biblical point of view there isn't too much to commend the view, but from the geological point of view there is even less.
DR. MAC RAE: Will you explain that last statement?
DR. KULP: I think that if we are going to have a great catastrophe such as Satan and his hosts, you are going to do awful things to the neatly placed geological strata and there isn't any evidence of such a thing in the geological record.
DR. MIXTER: Are these strata in Dr. Monsma's suggestion part of God's providence or what or where are providence and creation in relation to that?
DR. MONSMA: I am not ready to answer that. That is one of the questions that I think we should face. If that is entirely determined upon the basis of presentday changes, I would say we must be careful about how we go into that. You use the same yardstick that we are using for what happens today, and I should just like to make that at the present time a warning lest we are cut loose from our moorings. I think we have to be very careful there to make certain presuppositions which perhaps we do not have to take. I know that there is a great deal of possibility in that creative period. The earth was waste and void. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. What does that mean, a separation of water and land? That must have been some tremendous things too, but can we on the basis of present-day phenomena determine just what it was and when it was? That is my question.
DR. MIXTER: How much of Genesis One is Creation and how much is Providence?
DR. MONSMA; The way I indicated it in my paper, you can't distinguish the whole thing, but the way I would distinguish it is when God said that the heavens and the earth were finished, we have the end of the creative period, and from then on, we can't speak of Creation any more. At the end of the sixth day it was completed, and then we get Providence. I believe that is the Biblical view of it, and I think we must realize that the evolutionist's view of it, of course, doesn't and so my feeling as far as the geology is concerned, it is wise for us to reserve judgment on a great many things.
There are certain points that appear to Dr. Kulp to be practical and answerable at present. I don't think that any one of us should''take his word for it. We need to go further in that ourselves, and he also needs to work on it. I think if we find that the evidence is just about absolutely definite on these points, I think there is a way of interpreting the Scriptural evidence in such a way that these matters can be worked out. I can think of five or six hypotheses in the Scripture, on the basis of Scriptural questions where there is no difficulty in the matter of the earth's being two billion years old, but I don't want to adopt any one of these five or six hypotheses and stand on that; I simply don't know, and I would rather not adopt any one of them unless it is necessary, but I don't see any difficulty from Scriptural standpoint in seizing one ofthe five or six on the matter of the age ofthe earth.
The age of man is more difficult, but not insuperable.
There is one point on which we should be cautious, and that concerns the statement that Dr. Kulp made, "if the rules were not changed; if the rules remained the same.11 I think it is entirely possible and quite probable that the Lord has kept the rules the same ' for a very long period but I think what we know of the rules is a very small proportion of what there is to know. What we have been told is a very small part. In any field of past history, social or human or physical, there is always the possibility of other forces or factors that we don't know about at all, which could make tremendous changes over a large period of time and then be quiescent for a period.
I feel that when we get into the dogmatic statements, particularly about the time before writing came into existence,, I think there is a tremendous possibility of other forces that we can't think of but which we can discover at some time. A man of a few years ago would say it was utterly impossible for an airplane to fly without a propeller. Today jet planes are common; there is a new factor that we didn't think of then, and we can find that over and over in all phases of science, and when we come to past history, I think we must reserve a large amount of the decision on the question, that there may be some other factor that we don't know about. Even of this matter of the decomposition of uranium, it would seem on the basis of present knowledge that the rate might not have been different, and yet I think it is far from possible to say that there might not be some other factor that was operating over a large part of the earth's surface at one time, perhaps before the flood and removed at the present time, and perhaps some other thing that might be discovered at some future time.
I feel that when we get into the past history, we should be very very cautious. You will find any book in our archeology of thirty years ago telling about the great rulers of 5500 B. C. and that 4241 B. C. is the earliest fixed date in history of the Egyptians. Today no archeologist believes that there is any date that can be given previous to 3000 B. C. because it is now regularly understood or recognized that all those dates they put of five or six thousand B. C., or all higher than 3000 B. C., -
are incorrect because there was no writing. The whole attitude has changed. As far as any probable date in archeology is concerned today, Ussher's Chronology could be correct.
Now ten or twenty years ago people on the basis of archeology would just laugh. You can't do that today, so I would like to recommend extreme caution on past history on chronology, and I think we should have a more open mind on these matters of geology than we have as yet, and I hope that there will be others like Dr. Kulp who will go into the archeological work quite thoroughly in the next few years.
DR. VOSKUYL: Thank you. Well, that seems to conclude the speeches for the afternoon. We wish to express our appreciation for the kind attention which our visitors have given us. We are glad that you could be with us.