Science in Christian Perspective



Karl Turekian

From: JASA 6 (March 1954): 32-33.

An article by an ASA member recently appeared in the Inter-Varsity campus publication His dealing with that perennially fruitful topic of heated speculation - Genesis and Geology*.

Dr. Morris, the author, on examining the various attempts at a reconciliation between modern scientific thought and Biblical interpretation finds them imagina tive but impossible. The principle of uniformity an the Scriptural record of Creation and Deluge do not jibe!

Let us then, says he, scrap the principle of uniformity and rather enunciate a principle of discontinuity-i.e. the things that happened about 6000 years ago followed a completely different pattern than scientific theories would predict from contemporary observations.

Briefly, his point is that only a literal interpretation of the creation and deluge story is acceptable for the Christian. He then states the obvious implications:

*Morris, H. M'., "Creation and Deluge", HIS, January 1954.

1. All animals and plants appeared full-blown on the designated 24-hour days listed in Genesis.

2. The deluge (some 1600 years after the creation) resulted in the geologic record of the present day. Due to the conditions prevalent tinder such a world-wide flood it would not be surprising to find so many animals and plants preserved as fossils.

Dr. Morris clinches the argument by quoting a statement from St. Peter (11 Peter 3.) which he invokes as an overwhelming vindication of his view.

This columnist considers it rather fruitless to consider each statement of his thesis. The problems this interpretation evokes are 6onsiderably greater than the ones he has apparently resolved.

Admittedy the mechanism of the creation of the panorama of life is still debated by Christian scientists. It is not obvious that the principle of natural selection itself is essentially vicious and uncomplimentary to God. The chain from inanimate food to a diversity of animal protein has never been a bloodless one. Tyrannosaurus was equipped to devour Triceratops if he won the fight. Smilodon's stabbing teeth were ideal for felling the herbivorous Probiscidians. Tennyson's concern over "nature, red in tooth and claw" is justified. And these beasts were created that way.

But I'm afraid we have defended a straw man dressed in 19th century clothing. Natural selection of the modern scientist is not so much a matter of belligerent aggression as it is passiveness. Two clams sit in the mud-they hardly ever figbt-the water gets saltier; one clam becomes dull and has fewer offspring, the other thrives and his many children with him-this is the modern picture of natural selection.

Another item. Dr. Morris: all sedimentation and fossilization was caused by the Flood. During the Flood people must have died like flies. Had they lived contemporaneously with dinosaurs or now extinct mammals we should expect to find human corpses distributed liberally with these animals. This has never been observed.

A lengthier discussion would elicit more of the questionable premises incorporated in Dr. Morris' treatise. However, I feel a quest should be made in a different direction first. The area on which our searchlights should play is that of the meaning and scope of Biblical interpretation.

If we consider the Bible as God's inspired message to man, how are we to view its contents? It is seen that large areas are obviously allegorical. Other areas are demonstrably historical and factual. But one other ameboid mass remains which is the subject of continuous speculation. This speculation is healthy as long as the main message of the passage is not lost in the process.

An intense plea for literalness imposed on a passage constructed allegorically may do as much injustice to the Scriptures as the liberal theologian's allegorization of all of it.

Lecturer in Geology
Columbia University
New York, New York