Science in Christian Perspective



L W. Knobloch, Ph.D.

From JASA 10 (March 1958): 21-22.

Life, Man and Time by Frank Lewis Marsh. Pa cific Press Pub. Co., Mountain View, California,  1957. This book of 200 pages was written by a mem ber of the American Scientific Affiliation. Dr. Marsh had quite a bit of experience in upholding Biblical teachings against false accusations. I will first men tion some points where opinions may differ with the critic still having considerable hope of eternal life. Later I will bring out some more favorable aspects of the book, of which there are many.

On page 19 Dr. Marsh speaks of Darwin suggesting the evolution of basic types. The author knows but does not make it clear in this sentence that Darwin did not discover evolution but only a method (and not original with him either). On page 26 Marsh interpolates the word "alga" in the creation story. Actually the Bible mentions only a few things by name and it had better be left there. On page 48 the author assumes that terrific volcanic activity took place in the closing months of the flood and thereafter. Many believe that most of this took place long before the flood. The difficulty here is that Marsh believes in a "6000 yr." old planet and to obtain all the sedimentary rock in the world, one would have to burry things along. I believe the matter of the age of the earth has been dealt with completely by others before me and so I will not argue the point here. On page 90 Marsh has non-fossiliferous strata forming in a day or two, another illustration of the point above. On page 57 the number of chromosomes in man is given as 48, as it is in many books. Lately, by using smear rather than paraffin section methods, the number has been found to be 46. Another of Dr. Marsh's points is that the Noachian Flood was a universal one. Certainly not all the earth was peopled at that time and hence one might argue that there would be no need for a universal flood unless one takes the position that the lower animals and all plants can sin. On page 131 one finds the reason for the injunction against the use of pigs for food namely its feeding on garbage. I believe also that the pig was forbidden because it carries parasites injurious to human beings and the people of that age would not understand the reason for thorough cooking. On page 164 it is said that the creationists hold that the fossil-bearing strata were largely laid down during the flood. Some believe this and some don't.

Most of the above are rather minor points. I do not believe that the acceptance or rejection of any of the points made in Dr. Marsh's book make one iota of difference as far as Salvation is concerned. His book is not primarily concerned with Jesus Christ and His Atonement but is slanted at harmonizing science and religion. In this regard, he does rather well although he does not attempt to exhaust the subject. I might close with a personal feeling on the subject of harmonizing. A prominent member of the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) admits that there are copyist errors (at least one) in the King James Version and the new revised editions have changed things about wholesale. In view of but these two instances, it seems surprising that we are able to harn-ionize as much as we do.

Methods of Evolutionary Biology and Anthropology-Part I, Biology by Theodosius Dobzhansky. Amer. Scientist 45:381-392,1957.

This paper was read at a science and philosophy conference in New York City in 1956. It takes up the performist doctrine and shows that although fallacious it found an outlet in the orthogenesis concept of evolution. Next epigenesis is discussed as a more acceptable approach. The role of the environment in evolution, mutation, sex and hybridization, preadaptation and other aspects of the evolutionary process are mentioned and briefly discussed. The article is well written and lucid. The generally accepted approach to evolution is laid before the reader in nontechnical terms.

Dobzhansky is in the "top ten" of leaders of current thought on evolution and one so much less experienced in these matters, such as myself, is presuming a great deal to criticize the author. Dobzhansky is, however very sure of himself and hence makes some rather sweeping statements which are subject to clarification and interpretation.

Not only are some of his statements sweeping but they are also dogmatic and it is held here that dogmatism is not one of the scientific attitudes. He says that man with his 1013 cells has arrived where he is by gradual evolution from virus-like organisms to protozoans, to worms, to fishes, the reptiles and finally to man. This is the way it all happened. One found similar statements in the Life Magazine series on man some time ago where we learned that man did not probably arise from reptiles but he did so arise. The poor stupid layman then thinks that this is all good, hard scientific fact whereas the idea of man's evolution is still in the deductive theoretical stage. Dobzhansky says that "everv response of the organism to its environment is determined by the genes". Does he mean that putting on one's earmuffs against the cold is gene-determined? Certainly we need clarification here. Natural selection comes in for the usual praise much of which I would say is teleological. One statement along this line may be sufficient. He says "Man is the product of a long evolutionary history guided by natural selection". I am sure that the author realizes that the environment or natural selection only can act on what variation is presented to it. There is some confusion on the production of variability. On page 385 he says that "these variants arise by mutation" but on page 386 he speaks of the incredible amount of variability which can arise by hybridization. It is my opinion that a mutation cannot be said to exist unless one knows intimately the geneotype of the experimental organism and this is not known even for Drosophilia. We must also bear in mind what the author says about genes "the development of an organism is brought about by all the genes which it has acting in concert." Note the word "all" and the factual nature of the statement. I must have missed this piece of research. There is a tendency among many modern evolutionists to ascribe every anomaly to a mutation such as the development of resistance to antibiotics. Surely there is great heterozygosity in all organisms not homozygous and resistance can be as well residual in a population as can be the production of mutations. The genes of an organism have a "range of expression", let us say. Would we not be violating Occam's Razor if we said that a maple leaf growing in the shade and producing two rows of palisade cells has a different genotype than a leaf from the same tree growing in the sun and producing only one row?

Finally he says we are unreasonable in expecting to see evolution when so much time is needed. If he is right, we should find, all sorts of intermediate forms in the rock and strata of the earth, our measure of time.