Science in Christian Perspective
Letter to the Editor
[on Mixter's Monograph]
From: JASA 6
As the author to the anonymous article which appeared in the March issue of your journal under the heading, "A criticism of the A.S.A. monograph on 'Creation and evolution"', I feel I owe an apology to the readers. I knew that Dr. Mixter wished to publish my comments, but put off revising them so long that he despaired of me and had them published as they stood. That is, as a hastily written epistle, poorly organized. One source of confusion is the omission of the page references in the margins to tie certain parts to corresponding sections of Dr. Mixter's pamphlet. The interested reader can, however, supply most of these.
I must admit to one inadvertent misstatement of fact. The 24 foot bed of graphite I refer to turns out to be mostly a metamorphosed limestone with numerous graphite inclusions. It is, nevertheless, a sedimentary formation, which may be evidence for organic origin. The unequivocal determination of the origin of ancient graphite by the carbon isotope ratio seems to be impossible, as the distinction between inorganic and organic carbon is not as distinct as once thought.
I feel I must reiterate three points. The first is stated clearly by Dr. Mixter (p. 2, par. 1), "The 'I don't know' of the Creationist is likely to soothe him into a complacency so that he does not search the natural sciences for explanations of 'things as they are'." The second is my opinion that the gaps in the geological record are not so remarkable nor so sharply defined as some would lead us to believe. The third is the matter of the machinist and the machine This common argument I tried to dispose of, but obviously did not convince Dr. Mixter. To counter his example muscles work on levers (bones) because it is the simplest way they can move a rigid structure. What alternatives are there? Pistons, inclined planes, gears and freely rotating axles are none of them readily adaptable to the mechanics of a body of flesh and bones. The soft bodied animals, too, use levers, but here the mechanism is not so elegantly simple. Dr. Mixter believes God invented the lever; I don't see how life could exist (aside from some simple microorganisms) otherwise. A predator with legs can move faster than his prey without them. To paraphrase Dr. Mixter: Evolution caps the argument.
All of which is not to say that I do not believe Dr. Mixter's monograph is not useful. He is, in the first place, much more radical and logical than some other advocates of special creation, and so serves to enlighten rather than obscure. On the other hand, he points up the deficiencies in the evolutionist's argument, and may help spur him to more rigid proof. And if he gives comfort to others in doubt, he has performed a service.
In conclusion, I would like to recommend that those interested in what modern scientists have to say about the possible (mechanistic) origin of life read the article by George Wald in the August (1954) issue of Scientific American, and the letters to the editor in the October issue. A much more detailed examination of the problem will be found in the April (1954) issue (no. 16) of New Biology (published by Penguin Books), where four eminent authors discuss (and disagree on) this knotty problem.
John H. McClendon