Science in Christian Perspective
From: JASA 12 (December 1960): 116-117.
The recent articles regarding evolution in relation to God's creation which appeared in the journal of the A.S.A. of June, 1960, prompt me to write some of my own observations and thinking in this regard.
The real issue, as I see it, is whether (1) we believe that it was mere "chance" that made things by the outworking of so-called resident forces, or whet-her (2) we believe in the God of revelation who by His sovereign will and plan made things by His own method, as revealed in part at least in His Word, whether by nonresident forces or by both nonresident and resident forces.
The assumption that, since the former belief is held by atheists who are opposed to theism, the propositions it puts forth must be diametrically opposed to the latter in every respect, is in my opinion unwarranted. God made His creation by the method He chose and has seen fit to let us partially at least into the secret of how He did it: We find this out by searching the Scriptures as His revelation to us, not by presupposition based upon the notion that all of the ideas of the believer in God must be exactly opposite to the atheist's notions.
In the first place, God's revelation of creation needs clarification. The Hebrew word for create, bara, does not mean create directly out of nothing, as some theologians would tell us. Such a meaning is (1) contrary to the usage of this word and its cognates in Genesis, and (2) contrary to the explanations of creation given in the Bible text.
From the Hebrew word bara' is derived the word bar, meaning son. In other words, bara not only refers to creation but also to procreation. This implies that life was derived from pre-existing substance and/or pre-existing life and that living creatures were not made directly out of nothing.
Moreover, in Genesis 5:2 we are told that God created the male of the human species and that He also created the-female of the human species. Yet Genesis 2:21, 22 tells -us that He made the female by taking away some of the living tissues of the male from which He made the female. Most certainly we cannot turn around and say that, since the word bara' is used here, God made her directly out of nothing.
Again, the Genesis account tells us plainly that God did not create man directly out of nothing. In Genesis 2:7 is the definite statement that God formed man out of the dust of the ground. In other words, there was at least one intermediate stage, namely, the formation of the dust of the ground out of nothing before God formed man out of the dust of the ground. If there was one intermediate stage, there may well have been others which are not mentioned.
Indeed, may we not assume that, since in the instances where details of the creative process are mentioned, there is utilization of pre-existing substance and of pre-existing life, this method may possibly represent God's normal method of creation rather than the exceptional?
I feel that many evangelical Christians make the mistake of imagining that since creation must have been a miracle, it also must remain a total mystery. This is not necessarily true of miracles. For instance, the parting of the waters of the Red Sea so that the children of Israel could pass through on dry land was obviously a miracle. Its coming to pass at the place and time and for the duration it was needed was alltogether a miracle. Nevertheless, the fact that we are told that this miracle was caused by the blowing of a strong wind (Exodus 14:21) makes it no less a miracle. Well has it been said, "To understand something of the machinery whereby God brings an event to pass in no ways destroys the wonder of the miracle," as quoted in Daily Notes on the Scripture Portions for Friday, October 7, 1960, published by the Scripture Union of London, England.
For those who cannot see God's machinery at work in our everyday life, but attribute all -of God's grace and goodness to chance happenings, it is obvious that the machinery used in creation is going to be attributed to chance, if at all possible, instead of to God.
To disprove the belief that all is working out by chance, we do not need to repudiate the machinery. But we can show how absurd it is that the machinery can keep on moving and doing its job unattended whether in the past or in the present.
For instance, it seems preposterous that random resident forces could go to work to produce a male of a new species and at the same time and at the same place produce a female of this same new species so as to propagate after their kind.
The Genesis narrative of the formation of the woman out of the man is far less fantastic, if fantastic it seems tb some. We may add in this connection that it should be observed that the Hebrew word translated rib in Genesis 2:22 occurs nowhere else in the Bible and there is considerable uncertainty as to its meaning. It would appear more logical that for the formation of -the woman germ plasm was taken out of the side of Adam rather than a rib and this makes considerable sense in the light of modern genetics.
Indeed, geneticists now tell us that they formerly thought they knew what sex was, but that they now are rat-her sure they don't know as they grope around in the midst of what is almost a chaos of chromosomal sex (genetic sex), gonadal sex (germinal sex), body sex (somatiesex), apparent sex, social sex, legal sex, and intersex.Much still remains a mystery, but the patterns and machinery of creation outlined in the Genesis account of creation remain most logical.
One of these patterns presents in the light of modern genetics more of an answer as to how God made His creatures as male and female, than any evolutionary theory based on chance happenings could ever give. Indeed, herein lies the answer to the old philosophical question as to which was first, the hen or the egg. Taking God's creation of mankind as a pattern for the creation of all animal life, which it well might be the answer to this query is that it was neither the hen nor the egg, for God first created the rooster. This becomes the more logical when one considers that it is the male of the species which has germ cells differentiated as male and female progenitors in contrast to the undifferentiated germ cells of the female of the species.
The most logical explanation of God's method of creation seems to me to lie in His use of chromosomes as a scaffold, altering the scaffold to the need of the building as He saw fit. In the light of modern scientific investigation and concepts, intersex and parthenogenesis may also have had a possible role. However, these matters are highly speculative and are merely mentioned as conceivable mechanisms. The important thing is that the whole creation constituted the outworking of the power of God's almighty hands. Chance happenings can offer no explanation to the Christian since he does not recognize nor worship at the shrine of a god of chance.
But the objection is raised that any relationship to even the remote ancestors of a monkey is abhorrent. Actually, isn't it more abhorrent to say that we were made out of the dust of the ground? Yet we were. Genesis 2:7. It may indeed be abhorrent. Our origins can only bring us to the position which job took in the light of the fall of man, when he said, "I ahbor myself" (job 42:6). We cannot say our beliefs must be diametrically opposed to what we abhor. That is basing our beliefs on our emotions rather than on facts. Our faith must stand on God and His revelation.
We must first of all from an entirely unbiased point of view decide what Genesis really says. Then a comparis-on with the concepts of science is in order, realizing that these latter concepts may alter with advancing knowledge and for this reason complete harmonization may not be possible in our present state of knowledge.
Personally, I have held essentially these views for nearly forty years. I feel duty bound to share them at this time with a view to possibly helping others in thinking through these matters under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. My ministry through the years has not centered about this issue, however, but about Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I thank God for the fruitful ministry He has given me through the years both as a medical missionary overseas and here in the United States.