Science in Christian Perspective



Review of Ramm, The Christian View of Science

and Scripture, on Biology


Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois


From: JASA 7 (December 1956): 11-12.

I. Toward A Philosophy of Biology

How true it is that a philosophy of biology is more fundamental an issue than evolution.

Ramm believes the idealist and Roman Catholic could accept evolution but a hyperorthodox would say it contradicts the Bible and makes him give up his belief in salvation. But the hyperorthodox equates "divine causation" with "sudden creation". The hyperorthodox might have his position disproved by a fossil find-he should have a philosophy of biology which would incorporate any fact found in the future.

Ramm accepts "progressive creationism which teaches that over the millions of years of geologic history God has been fiatly creating higher and higher forms of life", an inductive and empirical belief free of a priori assumptions. ". . . creation is the realization of certain forms or ideas".

II. The Origin of Life

It would be well to compare recent work on the origin of Life such as Wald in the August 1954 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN with the statements in this book. After showing the improbability of lifes' happening by chance, Ranim mentions thit even if man could make a living thing he would be merely doing God's works over again, something chance might not be able to do. The origin of life by chance is a matter of faith and not a verified hypothesis.

Possibly it would be helpful if a little more stress in this section were put on the idea that whatever we do find out about the mechanisms we see, the more we should see a Machinist.

III. Evolution

"There is without question an antichristian version of the theory of evolution" which has been used by the non-orthodox against Christian views. ". . . with this use of the theory of evolution, evangelical Christianity will always be at war". But other uses have been made of evolutionary theory, for example, the views of Aquinas that evolution is a method of God's working and the one that sees God stepping in at crucial points to produce advanced types. Even some Evangelical Christians have favored theistic evolution, such, as James Orr and A. H. Strong, also some orthodox Catholic and Jewish theologians.

Evolution is neither wholly proved nor disproved, but "in terms of the philosophy of science is a prob bility statement . . . . .. and not anything like absolute or eternal truth". There is no Precise theory to explain it, but "evolutionists have a Profound unbounded faith in the vague theory. This is not science at its best." Evolutionists should wait to see if their theory may be laid aside as was the case with Ptolemaic astronomy.

Genesis is a general sketch of God's work and allows for the finding of facts. Species may become other species but fiat creation is necessary for genuine upward advance, as is evident from the many gaps in the geological record. Both Genesis and biology begin with a void and climax with man.

Stinging the evolutionary theory by pointing out minor errors is no substitute for providing a more comprehensive theory. Author Ramm holds that his progressive creationism may be an advance in apologetic findings. Evolution is not the actual cause of anything, such as a carpenter is, but only the mediate cause, as are the wood and nails.

Some evoltutionary authors disagree with Ramm, who insists that evolution can only mean "the constant increase of the complexity of forms over a period of time". Shull of University of Michigan holds that any change of whatever sort is evolution, even the change in the number of recessive genes over several generations.

Entropy is opposed to evolution, says Ramm. But you should remember that entropy means the world's processes are running down if they do not get outside energy. The sun is an outside source of energy, so the energy of the sun may prevent entropy from increasing in the organic sphere, hence evolution could occur because entropy does not apply to it.

At this point Ramm gives a good summary of the argument that the whole of nature is designed to be a field for life and this implies intelligent planning. Further he has an excellent section showing that man transcends his own physical nature, namely man's ability to think rationally, make more decisions, appreciate beatity, and know God.

Ramm concludes that evolution can never be the all embracing scheme of reality but only a possible secondary or mediate cause.

IV. Theistic Evolution

"Is there a case for theistic evolution?" The author cites evangelicals who have both favored and opposed the acceptance of evolution into their thinking. Ramm feels that "If evolution is purely a secondary law, if it is derivative creation, then it has no profound metaphysical status, and can be tolerated in Christianity."However "The writer is not a theistic evolutionist. He is a progressive creationist. . ."

May the reviewer comment that he is pleased with both the attitude and approach of THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF SCIENCE AND SCRIPTURE. In the biology section there is careful use of fact and reserve in drawing conclusions. I am reminded of a statement of Dr. A. W. Tozer, a Chicago pastor, "I am a little too old to know all the answers." Evangelical reserve is as desirable as fundamental dogmatism.

V. The Virgin Birth

The book discounts the value of any illustrations from animals born without fathers because the virgin birth is a miracle. I feel that some students are helped by reciting cases of this sort for if an animal can be experimentally excited to produce a virgin birth, there could not even be a hint of a question that God would have the slightest difficulty. Biologists become believers in the regularity of nature; if they see that in 

this respect nature is not universally regular, they can no longer justify their doubts about the virgin birth. An account of an animal analogy occurs in the J.A.S.A. Vol. II No. 1 in the article "Biology and Christian Fundamentals".

Ramm's thesis is that the Virgin Birth logically fits into the Christian scheme.

VI. Jonah

Besides reminding us that there are sea creatures big enough to swallow a man and that stories of men having Jonah's experience cannot be denied, the book presents Layard's view that the Ninevites may have worshipped a fish god, so "if Jonah appeared as having had this experience with the fish, he could have been received as a messenger of the gods". Repentance would logically follow so this explanation "adds to the rationale of the miracle of the fish in the book of Jonah".