Science in Christian Perspective
From JASA 10 (March 1958): 12-16.
The majority of scientists today believe that all present organisms have evolved from a very early first living material. Belief in evolution is not moribund. It is as alive as ever! In fact many evolutionists are not even aware that a logical creationist position is held by a minority of competent scientists.
Recently a well-known scientist in one of the largest universities in our country gave four hours of lectures on some aspects of evolution to a class of well over one hundred graduate students. After one of the sessions a member of the class mentioned to the professor that he taught creationism in a small college. The immediate rejoinder was, "It must be a Roman Catholic school." Now this was not true. Names of several creationist professors were given as authorities for a non-evolutionist position. Whereupon the professor replied that he never had read anything on this side of the question and that all of his studies had been in the writings of evolutionists who had penned their opinions about the errors of a creationist position.
A biology teacher nowadays who wants a text that does not stress evolution must settle for volumes which place the mechanistic one-sided approach to questions of origins and variation in chapters by themselves rather than having it woven into the warp and woof of the text. We now need to have more conservative Christians engaged in the dif f icult tasks of writing and publishing quality scientific works.Examination of the history of evolutionary thought
*Paper presented at the &-cond Joint A.S.A.-E.T.S. meeting at Wheaton, Illinois, June, 1957.
reveals four presuppositions evolutionary workers have had. These are:1. That our knowledge of natural phenomena comes
Many Christians find these generally unacceptable because of their belief in Scriptural revelation and the activity of God in nature. Scientific data, that with which we are dealing, is concerned with factual knowledge and the interpretation of it. Higley has very adequately defined science as "knowledge of God's creation, its phenomena and laws, fully tested by adequate observation and interpreted by accurate thinking."2 In scientific work great care must be exercised in interpreting the facts. To come to correct interpretations the Christian utilizes the inspired Scriptures in addition to scientific data.
As far as evolution is concerned today, we observe that Darwinism is gone and we have a neo-Darwinism which is built upon the framework of the original in the light of modern developments. No informed scientist today holds, the same beliefs as did Darwin. His writings lack information about cells, physiology and biochemistry; and his attempt to explain variation and heredity by means of the hypothesis of pangenesis has brought forth the following from the geneticist, Winchester.
His hypothesis of pangenesis, however, makes clear the fact that he was not a natural scientist. Rather he was a speculative philosopher and never attempted to devise practical experiments to prove or disprove his speculations.3
The pangenesis idea of Darwin (1868) incorporated the inheritance of acquired characteristics teaching of Lamarck and stated that all the cells or units of the body release gemmules which go to make up the germ plasm and are transmitted to the offspring. If a man used and thus developed muscles of part of his body, gemmules from this area would go to his germ cells and thence to the offspring where they may ultimately produce the same type of developed muscles. Today we know that germinal material is separate from somatic (body) tissues. However, in defense of Darwin we should bring out that he made many good observations and drew some sound conclusions. His writings merit our attention.
Now we will concern ourselves specifically with scientific evidence pertaining to the possibility for original kinds. In an attempt to correlate the Scriptural use of "kind" (niin) with the facts of science we will mention first of all the "rings of races" or the "racial circle."
In this we have a striking illustration of borderline cases where there have been quite obvious small changes in a group of organisms. There lives in Europe and Asia a bird called a titmouse of the family Paridae (which contains our chickadee). The territory occupied by the titmouse is "C"-shaped. One subspecies covers an area from the Amur River between Soviet Russia and Manchuria down through Japan and southern China. This intergrades with another group which ranges across southern Asia from Indonesia through India over to Iran where it intergrades with another subspecies. The last covers Europe, North Africa, Persia, Turkey and extends across Siberia to meet the first subspecies at the Amur River. In juxtaposition in the arc the subspecies are cross-fertile but at the two ends there is no hybridization. Apparently the bird spread eastward from Europe in the north across Siberia and in the south across southern Asia. There apparently occurred small changes in the group until finally at the end of the two lines there is some sort of physiological difference preventing the formation of hybrids. This is an example of a condition where originally in all probability there existed one type of bird which underwent small degrees of change resulting in three groups, those living at the extreme ends ultimately being reproductively isolated from each other.
Moore has made comparative studies on the North American leopard frog, Rana pipiens, and found certain genetic differences. The northern races tend to produce larger egg s which are deposited in sub merged masses whereas the southern frogs deposit their smaller eggs in smaller groups in thin layers or even a single layer at the surface. Northern embryos develop more rapidly at lower temperatures (12oC) and slower at higher temperature (28oC). There is an interbreeding population from Canada to Mexico but certain widely separated forms (Vermont and Florida) could not produce offspring. Apparently there has been variation, members of a single species distantly separated ultimately showing reproductive isolation when hybridization is attempted.
In the Pacific Ocean on the equator are the Galapagos Islands which are named after the large tortoises living there. The group is composed of thirteen larger islands separated by distances tip to one hundred miles. Darwin, and about a century later Lack, studied the birds on these islands and noted local differences among the groups, especially the finches. There is a geographical separation of the races and so they differ on the different islands, the outlying islands having mostly distinct forms. All of the birds resemble those found on the South American mainland some six hundred miles away.
A similar situation exists with islands in the Great Salt Lake in Utah where are found some mammalian subspecies of mainland forms. Then there is much literature on the differences existing among snails isolated by some type of barrier. Many studies of this type have been made and in all the cases we have mentioned there are small differences observed to exist between groups in close proximity.
There are, however, two ways of interpreting these data. (1) The forms we see were made as they are, or (2) the existing groups have been derived from parent stock; that is, there have been some changes producing the varieties observed. There appears to be little question about the truth of the latter interpretation. In fact it was observations made by Darwin on the Galapagos Islands which played a big part in his losing faith in the then-current "fixity of species" concept.
Blind fish in Mammoth Cave, said Dr. Louis Agassiz, were created blind and placed in the caves. Respect as we must the scientific achievements of this great Christian scholar of the past century we must disagree. Living in the general neighborhood of the caves are similar fish with functional eyes, and it has been observed that the blind forms have eyes which reach a certain stage of development as normal eyes during the embryonic life. Later these eyes atrophy and are of no value for seeing. Is it not logical to believe that blind fish have arisen by some change from the normal, this change being passed on to offspring which were able to survive because of the sheltered environnient?
As further evidence that small changes have occurred we note that in North America alone there are 41 distinguishable groups of American deer (Genus Cervifs), some 35 types of raccoons (Procyon), 102 types of ground squirrels (Citellus), 31 types of flying squirrels (Glaitcoinys), and 145 types of pocket mice (Perognathus) to name only a few forms. Considering rodents alone in North America, we find no less than 2,156 distinguishable types.4 A good example of some changes in the plant kingdom is that of a kind of sweet pea which has given rise to at least five hundred varieties since 1700.5 The fact that a great variety of human types exist today is in addition to the above conclusive evidence that changes have occurred from original stocks.
From a Biblical point of view there are two objections to the proposition that God made forms as they exist today, (1) the difficulty of Adam's naming them and (2) the problem of finding space for them in the ark. In saying this we realize that those were God-ordered events perhaps accompanied by some special conditions.
One who observes that such changes have transpired is led to the conclusion that this is evolution. Yes, and some have been thrilled with this information in thinking that they have caught evolution in the very act itself. We hasten to say that it is only evolution to a limited degree, and it has been called microevolution because it refers to small changes as opposed to macroevolution which refers to much greater changes. We may perhaps more properly use the term variation in reference to the small changes; it is in this realm that there is evidence for change. Macroevolution has not been observed and because of its very nature probably never will. Dobzhansky, an ardent evolutionist, has said, "A geneticist can approach macroevolutionary phenomena only by inference from the known microevolutionary ones."6
With data on the great diversity of plant and animal forms in hand evolutionists and creationists have carried on considerable discussion about the word it species." In classifying organisms into particular species groups some have split present groups into larger numbers of species and some have lumped present species together and called the members subspecies or varieties. It has been stated that the species is a systematic unit as judged by experts in the field. But often even they. do not agree. There is great significance I believe in these extended discussions about species, for it seems to point to a realization, perhaps unconscious in certain cases, that natural groupings are in reality present in nature. There is discussion about the polytypic species concept which recognizes as a species group similar forms living in different areas. Turesson has mentioned "bridgeless gaps" and has considered the idea of variation within Linnean species.7 Kleinschmidt's Formenkreis was a group with characters depending upon the environment. The Rassenkreis (racial circle treated already) is a term first used 1)), Rensch (1929) and referred to by Goldschmidt, L~Iayr, Dobzhansky, and Stebbins. It is important in this consideration. Of this and the general idea of basic kinds Dobzhansky says:
A member of the American Scientific Affiliation, Dr. Frank L. Marsh, treating this subject from the creationist point of view has coined a term, baramin from the Hebrew bara, created, and min, kind, to represent these original kinds.9 The baramin, the Genesis kind, is the Formenkreis, the basic unit which has been modified giving us our present-day forms. In some cases the baramin is monotypic as in the case of man, and in others it is polytypic. The dog is an example of the latter where a fox-like variety, a doglike variety and a hyena-like variety constitute a single polytypic group. The conception is of these three basic forms being the original types created by God. From them have arisen because of small genetic changes the better than seventeen dozen breeds of dogs, the foxes, wolves, coyotes, jackals and hyenas found throughout the world today. There would be other basic types such as the amoeba kind, cat kind, ape kind, squirrel kind, liver-wort kind, sunflower kind, etc., all by variation giving rise to modern day fauna and flora. This concept is true to the facts in nature and in accord with the inspired record of Genesis. The production of these heritable changes depends on genetic mechanisms, namely: crossing over, independent assortment, segregation, chromosome aberrations and gene mutations.
Mutations as we know them have produced small changes but not the large changes necessary for one kind to pass into another kind. Mutations apparently are chance happenings, are not integrated, and lack unidirectional action. Dobzhansky says:
Polyploidy has been thought by some to be important in evolutionary processes, for in a number of plant varieties we see polyploid series. There is a series among members of the genus Triticum to which wheat belongs. Einkorn has 14 chromosomes (diploid), durum 28 (tetraploid) and common wheat 42 (hexaploid). Species among the genus Chrysanthemuin have 18, 36, 54, 72, and 90. These polyploid series are much less common among animals probably because (1) their more complex developmental processes are upset more easily and (2) the balance of sex determiners is disturbed. The phenomenon is most commonly seen among hermaphroditic or parthenogenetic forms. Concerning evolutionary progress and polyploidy Stebbins says, " . . . polyploidy, although it multiplies greatly the number of species and sometimes of genera present on the earth, retards rather than promotes progressive evolution."11It is of interest to note that chromosome number is not to be thought of as an index of evolutionary advancement. Some animals and some plants have less and some have more chromosomes than humans. Then a great host shares along with man the diploid number of forty-eight. Some are nematode worms, a snail, Rhestis monkey, an ungulate, some teleost fish, the eastern gray squirrel, the white-footed deer mouse, tobacco and potato.
The question naturally arises concerning how far we must go to reach the extents of the basic kinds or barainins. Morphology (form), physiology (function), and the ability to produce offspring are criteria used by taxonomists. If two organisms arc interfertile we may in accord with the Scripture say they belong to the same kind.
All races of men are interfertile, but there is no verified scientific record that man has ever crossed with any other organism such that a hybrid was produced. Some clever college students are said to have manufactured a wierd insect from parts of several varieties and afterward excitedly asked their supposedly doting professor what kind of bug it was. "Rare indeed," was the reply. "It's a humbug." Such are all imaginative forms like mermaids and centaurs which may be thought of as a cross between man and some animal. In fact members of different basic kinds cannot crossbreed. Several years ago a farmer friend of mine in northern Massachusetts told me about a neighbor who had an animal which was a cross between a cat and a rabbit. "Impossible" was the reply, "For these belong to different orders. You are not able to cross a lagornorph and a carnivore." But he was certain and he gave details of how the mating had taken place and how the offspring had characteristics of both parents. As soon as convenient, I visited the farmer to see his unusual specimen. When the man was queried he pointed to the barn where there was a whitish animal which looked like a regular tabby with a bobbed tail. "It's really a cat," he said, "But when it was young it jumped around like a rabbit."
In spite of the fact that many false stories have been foisted upon gullible individuals, we do have evidence that certain different forms can mate and produce viable offspring. The common crossing of the mare or female horse with the jack or male ass to produce a hardy mule is well known. The spermatozoa of the male mules are non-functional; so these animals are sterile. But the female or mare mules can mate with stallions (male horses) or with jacks. She will in both cases function as a horse and from the stallion a horse colt is produced and from union with a jack another mule. The horse and the ass each with its diploid complement of sixty-six chromosomes12 belong to the same created kind.
At the Central Park Zoo in New York City there lived until the age of nineteen a male tiglon which had a tiger father and a lioness mother. Another example is the cross between the common cow and bison, the cattalo being produced. Each of these crosses has been made between members of the same kind. In the case of the horse and ass and the lion and tiger we have members of the same man-made genuses, and in the case of the cow and bison members of the same family.
Other crosses which have resulted in at least a beginning of development are horse x zebra, chicken x turkey, swan x goose, rat x mouse, ox x bison, dog x wolf, rabbit x hare, red deer x elk, killifish x mackerel, skunk x ferret, wheat x rye, radish x cabbage, wild tobacco x petunia and blackberry x raspberry.13.14 Crosses have not occurred between sheep and pig or between sheep and bull and there is no proof that a grapefruit is a cross between a grape and a lemon. In cases where crosses have been reported between echinoderms and mollusca or echinoderms and annelids, the development of the egg likely is due to activation by the sperm which later is put out of the egg. A true hybrid has not been produced.15
To return to the question of macroevolution and variation we will consider the fossil record. It is considered to be the footprints or the diary left behind by the evolution process as it did its work over the long periods of time. We note, however, that there are great gaps in the record. Darwin realized this, for in 1872 he wrote:
Austin H. Clark of the United States National Museum in 1930 wrote:
George Gaylord Simpson of the American Museum of Natural History in 1944 wrote:
My attempt to demonstrate evolution b.%. an experiment carried on for more than 40 years, has completely failed. Anyway, I should hardly be accused of having started from a preconceived anti-evolutionary standpoint.19
It may, therefore, be firmly maintained that it is not even possible to make a caricature ot an evolution out of palaeobiological facts. The fossil material is now so complete that it has been possible to construct new classes and the lack of transitional series cannot be explained as due to the scarcity of the material. The deficiencies are real, they will never be filled. . . The idea of an evolution rests on pure belief.20
Thus we have confirmation of previous statements that there are bridgeless gaps between large categories of individuals. These discontinuities in some cases may correspond to the gaps between monotypic and polytypic created kinds.
Now in examining the history of evolution and creation in recent centuries we find a number of outstanding men who championed the cause of creationism. Among these are: Linnaeus, two hundred years ago in Sweden, Cuvier, one hundred fifty years ago in France, and Agassiz, one hundred years ago at Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In spite of their mistakes these men made great contributions to science. Now providing we are correct in the propositions we have set forth, then today we need more capable, enlightened, scientifically-disciplined champions to work in these areas of science and to present creationism to the scientific world.
In summary we may say that evidence in nature indicates that there have been small changes within limits (variation) among organisms; crossbreeding can be done only to a limited extent; and there are unmistakable gaps in the geological record. These facts are consistent with the teaching that God created basic kinds separated from one another by bridgeless gaps, and then these kinds by variation, multiplication and migration brought about conditions observed today.
For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.21
5. 1larsh, F. L. 1947. Evolwioa Crcation and Science. 21id ed., Review and Herald Publishing Assoc., Wash., p. 29.
6. Dobzhansky, T. 1951. Genetics and the Origin of Species, 3rd ed., Columbia Univ. Press, N.Y., p. 17.
7. Turesson, G. 1922. The genotypical response of the plant species to the habitat. Hereditas, 3:211-350.8. Dobzhansky, op. cit., p. 259.
9. Marsh, F. L. 1941. Ftindamental Biology. Published by author. See also March ('47) op. cit.
10. Dobzhansky, T. 1942. Biological adaptations. Sci. MouthI_v, 45(5) :391-402, p. 401.
11. Stebbins, G. L. 1950. Variation and Evolution in Plants. Columbia Univ. Press. N.Y., p. 359.
12. Makino, S. 1951. An Atlas of the Chromosome Numbers in Animals. Iowa State College Press, Ames, Iowa.13. Marsh, F. L. 1947. op. cit.. pp. 157-158, 186, 296, 339.
14. Mixter, R. L. 1950. Creation and ET-ohition. Airier. Sci. Affil., Wheaton, Ill., p. 11.15. Marsh, F. L. 1947. op. cit., p. 146.
16. Darwin, C. 1872. Origin of Species. 6th ed., P. F. Collier and Son, N.Y., (1902), p. 55.
17. Clark, A. H. 1930. The New Evolution Zaogenesis. The Williams and Wilkins Co., Baltimore, p. 105.
18. Simpson, G. G. 1944. Teinpo and Mode In Evolution. Columbia Univ. Press, N.Y., 1). 99.
19. Nilsson, H. 1953. Synthetische Artbildting. CWK Gleerup, Lund, Sweden, p. 1185.20. Ibid., p. 1212.