Science in Christian Perspective
The history of clashes between scientists and theologians before the evolutionary controversy reveals that dreadful predictions about the downfall of Christian orthodoxy with the acceptance of scientific advances failed to materialize. Opposition to evolution has nevertheless remained strong for a century because it focuses attention directly upon man. Creation as a theological dogma is a relational concept which cannot be imagined by finite man. It is an expression of the Lordship of God and is attributed to the Word of God, who created from nothing and whose action is continuous in the universe. The truth of creation is derived from revelation, not from sense or reason. Israel came to faith in creation only after her knowledge of God as Redeemer,- the Genesis creation account is a great confession of faith. The Christian doctrine of creation is not embarrassed by the empirical contributions of science.
The Theological Reaction to Developments in Science.
In order to understand the theological reaction to evolution it is helpful to survey certain debates between theologians and scientists prior to the evolutionary controversy. Understanding the cause of these controversies and their settlement might help us with the problem of biological science.
The first great debate between theologians and scientists developed around the heliocentric theory of the solar system of Copernicus. However, the controversy did not concern Copernicus himself but it raged around Galileo. The sordid story has been told many times and it varies from Protestant efforts which attempt to make the Catholic Church appear as black as possible to the Catholic version which claims that the Church was only trying to protect the Faith of the Church before it rashly made concessions before the full import of the theory was assessed (7, Chap. 50; 9, Chap. 3). The judgment of the Roman Catholic Church against Galileo was that:
(1) The proposition that the sun is the centre of the world and immovable from its place is absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical; because it is expressly contrary to the Holy Scripture. (2) The proposition that the earth is not the centre of the world nor Immovable, but that it moves and also with a diurnal motio n, is also absurd, philosophically false, and theologically considered at least erroneous in faith (7, p. 246).
The real issue of the Copernican controversy was that the theologians thought that the theological centrality of the earth was dependent upon the earth's astronomical centrality (8, P. 59). They believed that the heliocentric theory was a denial of the incarnation. With the loss of the earth's astronomical centrality went its moral significance. Therefore the Copernican theory was to be resisted.
But the Copernican theory eventually made its way through continued Roman Catholic protest which lasted until the early part of the nineteenth century. Theologians no longer argue that the theological importance of the earth is dependent upon the earth's location in the solar system or the universe. As soon as this adjust ment was made the controversy ceased. This pretended discovery, which negates the entire Christian plan of salvation as one theologian expressed himself, did no such thing when it became generally accepted by even the orthodox. That the Copernican theory is "atheistic," and "contrary to Scripture" and that "geometry is the devil" is no longer heard today.
Eventually another controversy emerged from the physics of Isaac Newton. Newton was a devout believer and thought his theory was in favor of theism. But Newton's theory of gravitation was generalized and made to include all particles of matter wherever found. This was revolutionary because heretofore it was believed that the laws which governed the heavens must be different from the laws which govern the earth (3, p. 181). Newton's theory in simple terms is that the motions of particles in their pushes and pulls, momentams and collisions, could account for events small and large, both on the surface of the earth and in the astronomical spaces.
The first philosophical fruitage of the new science was English deism. Taking its cue from Newton it saw the universe as one well-ordered system which did not need any further action by God; any unusual entrance of God into worldly affairs would be unworthy of God. But the French Encyclopedists and the German materialists took Newton further along to a more radical conclusion. It saw in Newton the scientific grounding of die ancient materialism and so used Newton to propound and defend modern materialism. In fact for the next three hundred years Newton's physics was used as a basis for scientific mechanism, philosophical materialism, and psychological determinism.
But it was eventually felt by many thinkers that although Newton had the last word in science, it was an improper procedure to extend his principles of science to other areas of knowledge and certainly to philosophy.
*Paper presented at Darwin Centennial Lectures, Bethel College, St. Paul, Minn., April 22, 1959.
**Dr. Ramm is Prof. of Systematic Theology, California Baptist Theological Seminary. Recently named an Honorary Fellow of the ASA, he is widely known for his many books and other publications.
Materialism in philosophy persisted into the twentieth century, but it ceased to be considered the only philosophy in keeping with modern science. And so both philosophers and theologians considered Newton's physics as good science but poor philosophy. Thousands of the orthodox were taught this physics in their schools without siurmur, and such professions as astronomy, physics, and surveying daily employed this system of science. By the time of Einstein Newtonian physics had ceased to be a theological issue.
A third controversy raged over medicine. Dissection, so necessary for a doctor's knowledge of anatomy, was declared a profanation of the human body. Surgery was fought by the Church for a thousand years, and the surgeon's office was not free from dishonor till the fifteenth century. Medicine was refused monks on the grounds that it was a confession that disease came from natural sources and not the devil. To avoid disease by inoculation was "a diabolical operation," or "flying in the face of providence." The use of chloroform in childbirth was "to avoid one part of the primeval curse on woman." To cover up drainage ditches to prevent plagues was to tamper with God's judgments. Such a list may be greatly extended.
Today it would be safe to say that opposition to medicine on the part of orthodox theology is almost negligible. Not only are there thousands of Christian medical men, but the Church itself considers medical evangelism one of its most important means of Christian service. All the dreadful and doleful things said about the downfall of orthodoxy with the acceptance of medical advances have failed to materialize.
A fourth debate was the controversy over geology. The statements made by theologians of previous centuries about geology are very embarrassing to read today.The favorite weapon of the orthodox party was the charge that the geologists were "attacking the truth of
The story of the various interactions of geologists and theologians has been told many times. It is a story of revision followed by revision followed by revision. The bulk of orthodox people today accept in principle the findings of geology. Some admit the truth of geology by stating that there are two creations in Genesis 1. This is the so-called "gap-theory" which puts all geologic history in the first creation and its subsequent history. Other orthodox men follow a theory of harmonization in which they believe the six days of Genesis and the geologic column tell essentially the same story. Only the followers of so-called flood geology, which accounts for most geological phenomena by the universal flood of Noah, challenge modern geology.
Geological science is now generally accepted directly or indirectly by orthodoxy and has ceased to be a point of serious controversy. Again, all the doleful and dreadful things which would happen to Christian theology if Lyell's uniformitarian geology be accepted have not materialized.
Evolution as a Source of Contention Between Scientists and Theologians
When we scan the hundred years of the history of evolution, we discover that it has not followed the same pattern as that of the four sciences we took as examples. In order to see why this is the case, we first summarize the theological reactions to the theory of evolution from 1859 when the Origin of Species was published until 1900.
For the most part, orthodox theologians regarded evolution as a direct competitor to the Genesis account, and therefore it was judged as unChristian. Its basic presuppositions appeared to them to be a denial of theism and an affirmation of materialism. Charles Hodge summed up the opinion of this school when he wrote: "What is Darwinism? It is atheism."
A smaller group of theologians and Christian scholars felt that the so-called antagonism between evolution and orthodox Christianity was false. They held the theory to be purely a scientific one and to be settled on scientific grounds; the charge that it is materialism and atheism simply means that materialists and atheists make unfair use of the theory. The theory is not in its essence either materialistic or atheistic. Thus Dr. Brunton, a leading British medical man, said he accepted both evolution and the Genesis account (1). President James McCosh of Princeton University accepted a form of evolution (Christianity and Positivism (1871), and opposed evolution, acceded to it in the year 1877 (6, pp. 20-21).
The theologians of religious liberalism heartily accepted evolution and attempted to impress it into Christian service. Henry Ward Beecher called himself "a cordial Christian evolutionist" (6, p. 29), and Newman Smyth said that the great coming theologian who would construct the great apology for the Christian faith would be "a trained and accomplished biologist" (4, p. 161). It is a very informative experience to read Chapter 3 of Foster's The Modern Movement in American Theology (4), which surveys the reception of evolution by the orthodox theologians, and then to read Chapter 9 entitled, "Liberalism under the Full Influence of Evolution." Here we see evolution completely domiciled within liberal theology.
We noted previously how Copernican astronomy, Newtonian physics, modern medicine, and Lyellian geology were all sternly resisted by orthodoxy; when it was seen that in reality these scientific theories did not impinge upon Christian faith in any deleterious manner, opposition ceased. But evolution has been with us one hundred years and, the opposition is still massive and sharp among the orthodox. Clarke's thesis in Evolution and the Break-Up of Christendom or World Conditions n his work Christianity and Positivism President Noah Porter of Yale who first Traced to Modern 'Science/ (1931) that most of our modem religious and political ills can be traced to the dominance of evolution is shared by tens of thousands. And i modern scientist who is very learned in both the history of science and the data of science but of very strong orthodox convictions states: "Today evolution still stands primarily for an attitude of mindand it is a dangerous and ugly one at that . . . Above all, the so-called 'evolutionary outlook' is still exactly what Darwin made it-a substitute God" (2, p. 187).
[This learned author also states that the value of fundamentalism is that it does an "invaluable work in keeping alive a core of opposition to evolution" (2, p. 185) .]
Why this attitude towards evolution has persisted so long can be attributed to the following factors:
(1) Evolution has been used to support such antiChristian philosophies as materialism, atheism, and positivism. The Roman Catholic Church, which began taking a very concessive stand toward evolution lest it bum its fingers again as in the Galileo case, found it necessary recently to tighten up on evolution as taught by her theologians due to the use of the theory of evolution by Russian Communism (Humani Generis, papal encyclical of 1950, 5, p. 284). Therefore any theory which gives such comfort to unbelief must be basically and essentially unChristian.
(2) Evolution has been used to devastate the famous teleological argument, which was named by Kant as the most impressive of all theistic proofs. Paley gave it a classic statement which has had a world-wide hearing and left a great impression upon English religious thought. Many of the greatest scientific minds of England banded together in the fourth decade of the nineteenth century and produced the famous Bridgewater Treatises which attempted to show that scientific knowledge was on the side of William Paley.
But scientists and philosophers believed that Darwin's theory of evolution explained the design in the living organisms on a completely natural basis. The beautifully designed human hand is really the end product of countless variations selected out by some sort of process of elimination. The theory which destroys the teleological interpretation of nature is therefore against divine creation and is for theism and materialism.
(3) Evolution was employed by radical biblical criticism and religious liberalism against orthodoxy. The radical critic frequently held up the Genesis account as merely purified Babylonian myth and evolution as something scientifically respectable. Many religious liberals claimed that evolution gave man a greater insight into the work of God in nature than the Genesis account.
(4) Evolution was extended beyond biology into other areas of human culture. Thus we had, among other things, evolutionary ethics and the evolution of religion. Ere long some scholars rewrote the entire history of the religion of Israel from the standpoint of the evolution of religion. Other writers attempted to show that all the characteristics of the religion of Israel could be duplicated in many other religions of the world.
(5) Finally, the evolutionary theory when applied to man seemed to dissolve away the biblical view of man. It challenged the direct creation of man by God, the paradise of Eden, and the Fall of man. A theory of man coming into some sort of human form 500,000 years ago and slowly developing into modern man a few thousand years ago seems diametrically opposed to the first three chapters of Genesis.
The opposition to evolution has remained strong for
one hundred years because it focuses such attention
directly upon man. The other theories affected man only
remotely. The religious implications of medicine are
for the fundamental understanding of man of little
significance. But evolution touches the very heart of the
Christian understanding of man-his creation, his original righteousness, his divine image, and his fall-and
therefore the agitation against it continues unabated. To
many orthodox thinkers of today the opposition is still
the simple straightforward one of a hundred years ago:
Darwin or Genesis-a human theory or a divine revelation.
Creation as a Relational Concept
In order to further our investigation we must examine in some detail the concept of creation as a theological dogma. How an Eternal Spirit brings matter into existence and impresses form upon it is a complete mystery to man. We may conceive of creation as a bringing of something into existence, but we can form no pictare of the process. The concept of creation is conceivable but it is not imaginable. We can form no empirical notion of the action of creation. The most ardent literalist in interpretation has really no idea how God created either the universe or its furnishings. We must therefore make our doctrine of creation more precise if we are to know exactly what we are defending.
If the act of creation is conceivable but not imaginable, we cannot defend any particular empirical or picturable notion of creation. We must be very careful that we preserve the theological character of the doctrine of creation. To begin with, the doctrine of creation in Scripture is first of all an expression of the Lordship of God. God is Lord of all, and therefore He is Lord of this universal frame we call the universe. But the basis of His Lordship over all is His Creatorship. However, He is not Creator, then Lord; He is first Lord and then Creator. We therefore exhibit and establish his Lordship in the doctrine of creation.
Secondly, creation in Scripture is attributed to the Word of God. The expression, "the Word of God," is an intensely theological concept. It protects the Christian faith from many heresies. Xor example, creation by the Word of God automatically excludes the notion of creation as an emanation of God. It is also hostile to the doctrines of pantheism. Creation by the Word of God preserves the personal character of the Creator and shows that what God wills, He can accomplish. Creation by the Word of God has been declared one of the most sublime conceptions in all of literature.
Thirdly, the doctrine of creation states that God created from nothing. That God created from nothing is not an empirical or scientific sort of statement. It is a statement about the relationship of the Creator to the creation. The Creator is eternal and sovereign. He is prior to all things, and above all things. When He created, He employed no substance existing eternally with Him, nor did He call in any assistance to serve ,as His helper. Thus creation from nothing preserves the Lordship, the Sovereignty, and the complete Spirituality of the Creator.
Fourthly, creation is continuous. This again is no statement about the empirical character of so-called natural laws. Continuous creation is another theological concept. It excludes the notion of deism that, when God made the universe, He made it an independent entity existing in its own right. But if God's action is continuous in His creation, then the correct theological perspective of the universe is maintained. If God's eternal power were withdrawn from the universe the universe would cease to be.
If we understand these four theses we will understand that God is not the God of gaps in scientific knowledge. God is not the yet-unexplained in scientific theory. God is not an empirical premise for any scientific theory.
There are a number of Scripture passages besides Genesis I which touch upon creation. If we inspect these verses to see how the other writers of Scripture understand creation or use the concept of creation, we note that they do not touch upon the manner in which God made things. They simply affirm that whatever is -the sun, moon, or stars; the birds, animals, or man was made by God. The emphasis is always upon the reality of God's creative action, and not upon any empirical mode or manner of the action of creation. Thus if the statements about creation are purely theological, i.e., if they are relational and not empirical, then much of what has been debated in the past about geology, biology, and anthropology is beside the point. The weight of Scriptural teaching about creation is that God is the Creator, and this confession is not a result of man's thinking but of God's revelation. The truth of creation is not derived from sense or reason but from revelation. Hebrews 11:3 asserts that only by faith-which is always response to God's Word can we understand that the visible universe was made by the invisible Word of God.Israel's Faith in a Creator
In the previous section we attempted to show how intensely theological the concept of creation is and how it ought to be kept free from entanglements with empirical matters. We now turn to discuss the subject of how Israel came to this faith in God as Creator. This subject is seldom treated properly. The faith of Israel did not first derive from a doctrine of creation and then proceed to the God who called Israel into existence. The God of the Old Testament is first of all the God of the fathers. The Scriptures do record the doctrine of creation first, and then the call of Abraham some chapters later. But that is not the order in which Israel arrived at her faith. In Israel's actual chronology, she first came into the knowledge of God as the God of her election, of her redemption, and of her deliverance. Only after having known God as Redeemer did she come to know God as Creator. If we carefully inspect the theology of the Old Testament, we discover that the concept of God as Redeemer is a greater and more important concept than the concept of God as Creator. The supreme concept of God in the Old Testament is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
It was, therefore, the saving and redeeming God who led Israel to the knowledge of God as Creator. The religion of the Old Testament is frankly a supernatural religion. In a transcendental manner God appeared to the patriarchs. He not only appeared to them; He occasionally acted miraculously in their behalf. But in order to act in history, God must also act in nature. Nature is the stage in which history occurs. There could be no action in history without a corresponding action in nature. If God is the Lord of history, as Scripture presents Him, then He is necessarily the Lord of nature. Thus the doctrine that God is Lord of history leads to the doctrine of God as Creator. Hence the writers of the Old Testament have no hesitancy in saying that the God of the Jews, the God with a supreme interest in Palestine, is nonetheless the Creator of heaven and earth. No God could deal with this people in this manner in this country unless He were Lord and Creator of all. The faith in God as Creator arose in Israel through the understanding of God as the Creator of Israel in history, as the Creator of her institutions and of her Scriptures. History was a form of creation to the Hebrew prophets and by the logic of it they were led to see God as Creator of all.
This means that the Old Testament has an intensely theological or relational attitude toward creation, not a so-called empirical one. It is generally indifferent toward a precise modus operandi of creation. The method of creation (apart from that it was by the divine word), the sequence of acts, or the amount of time involved, is not the center or point of any discussion. We can judge only that our contemporary cosmological and cosmogonical discussions would be considered, by the prophets as irrelevant to the doctrine of creation. Israel was led to faith in a Creator through the medium of special revelation and divine redemption, not through scientific or philosophical speculation. In the intensity of our debates over the findings of the geologists, the theories of the biologists, and die skeletons of the anthropologists, we have lost the Old Testament perspective of creation, and Genesis has been forced into an area of debate where it does not belong. Genesis 1 is not an empirical account of things in the sense that from it we may extract a cosmogony or a cosmology, or that by it we can favor one theory of origin of the universe over another one.
Genesis I is first of all a theological document and a great confession of faith. It is a major piece of revelation which deals with the most fundamental relationships in the universe: the relationship of God to nature; of God to man; of man to nature; and of man to man. That this is the perspective which obtains in the Old Testunent is evident from the following: (1) idolatry is forbidden because it confuses the creation with the Creator; (2) murder is sinful because man was made in the image of God; (3) man need not fear the astronomical bodies, for they are creations of God; (4) man need not fear any invisible cosmic powers, for God made things invisible as well as visible; (5) brotherly treatment of each other is enjoined upon the fact that we have one Creator; (6) and divorce is reprehensible because it is a frustration of God's purpose in creating male and female.Creation in the New Testament
(1) The New Testament attributes the origin of all things to God in His creative act. Everything had its origin "in the beginning," or "from the foundation of the world." These expressions are not so much expressions which indicate time; they indicate the absolute and final origin of all things in God's creative word.
(2) In carefully specifying nature as created, the New Testament is careful to include all of nature by the use of the expression "ta panta." It is practically identical to the German word All, which means the universe. The purpose of the use of ta panta is again theological. It expresses the truth that there is God and His creation. There is no third something, no reality apart from God and His purposes. We need not have any concern, any sense of threat, any spirit of defeat, because there is a something not under the Lordship of God.
Also instructive at this point is Paul's assertion that God made invisible things as well as visible. Man in his superstition sometimes fears the invisible more than the visible. So Paul puts our minds at rest by affirming that every conceivable type of creature which might exist, visible or invisible, was made by God and therefore comes under His power and lordship.
(3) The instrument of creation is the Word of God. Peter uses the word logos (2 Peter 3:5), and the author of Hebrews rhema (Heb. 11:3). This we have already commented upon as saving the Christian faith from any form of pantheism, philosophical idealism, or the mistakes of German identity philosophy. It protects the pure spiritual and theistic character of creation.
(4) The New Testament has no hesitancy in asserting that man was created by God, and that the relationship of the sexes is determined by the creation account. This is employed by Christ with reference to divorce and by Paul in affirming the headship of the husband in the marriage relationship.
(5) The doctrine of creation is used to teach the spirituality of God. In Romans 1:19-32 the nations of the world are rebuked for their idolatry. Idolatry is the worship of the creature in place of the Creator. When any tribe or nation properly grasps the doctrine of creation and the spirituality of God, it ceases from idolatry.
(6) A number of miscellaneous topics are also settled in the New Testament by recourse to creation, such as the goodness of meats, or the sovereignty of God over his creatures (Romans 9:20).
(7) However, there is a remarkable and unusual use of the doctrine of creation in the New Testament. I refer to those passages which attribute creation to Jesus Christ, and speak of the new birth as a creative act. The attributing of creation to Jesus Christ is certainly inspired by two matters: (a) By showing that Christ participated in creation, the full stature of His deity is maintained and protected; and (b) by showing that He is creator of all things, the totality and universality of his Lordship is established.
By looking at both the Old and New Testament very briefly, we have attempted to establish the intense theological and relational aspects of the biblical doctrine of creation and thus to free it from the unlovely controversies into which it has been forced. We must now return to the subject of theology and evolution.
The first text states that man was created by God. We can form a picture of only that which we can imagine, but we cannot imagine creation; therefore we can form no picture of it. Creation means to bring into existence that which did not heretofore exist. We may in a limited way picture creation in the sense in which man can create buildings or works of art. Creation in this pictorial sense is conceivable and picturable or imaginable to us. But we can neither imagine nor picture how an Eternal Spirit brought a material universe into existence; nor can we have any picture or empirical concept of how a pure Spirit, as God most assuredly is, impresses form upon the matter He has already created. And this inability to picture or imagine the creative activity applies to man just as it does to the other things.
In Gen. 1:27 we are thus presented with the reality of man's origin by God's creative act, but we can form no picture or empirical accounting of it.
However, sometimes we do form a specious picture of creation. We imagine that God creates in the same manner in which a magician performs his tricks. One minute we see an empty hand, and the next moment something suddenly and "supernaturally" appears. And so we imagine God speaking, and suddenly the thing spoken exists. It is there! But this is picture-making of our own doing and nothing derived from Scripture.
It has been maintained that Gen. 2:7 gives us a concrete picture which sets the issue beyond controversy, but this cannot be admitted. The word "form" is the Hebrew word yatsar and is used for things formed or made by the human hand. It is used for the formation of vessels or the creation of statues. The verb is thus an anthropomorphic one and cannot be taken literally.
Equally anthropomorphic is the expression of breathing into man's nostrils. Taken literally this would attribute lungs to God. Thus if we take Gen. 2:7 as a picture of man's origin, we do so by falling into the heresy of attributing bodily parts to God-hands and lungs. We must also note the intensely anthropomorphic expression in v. 8: "And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden." Certainly this cannot be taken in a senseless literalistic way.
Genesis 1:27 and 2:7 affirm that man is a creation of God. At one time such a creature did not exist; after God's creative action, he did exist. But we can form no picture of this action. The creation of man must remain a concept about which we can form no pictures.
Another item must be mentioned briefly here: the Scriptures do not give the doctrine of the image of God a biological interpretation. Man is not in the image of God because he walks erect, has a big brain, or has such flexible hands. All biological and even psychological matters can be put upon a comparative scale; they simply reveal what an advanced organism man is, but they do not demonstrate that he is in the image of God. Therefore those apologists who would base so much upon the character of the body of man must be very certain of the precarious sort of task they have undertaken. The image of God must be zealously protected on its theological side and not get needlessly embroiled in all sorts of discussions of comparative anatomy and comparative psychology. Adam was under the Word of God, and this defined him in the image of God. Evolution can neither be brought in by materialists to deny this, nor by religious evolutionists to support it.Summary
Creation is not some sort of cosmology in Scripture, but it is an intensely theological matter. Genesis 1 is neither for nor against modern cosmological theories; it is apart from them. They neither confirm nor refute the biblical doctrine of creation. Nor are the six days of creation surveys of the history of geology or biology.
The Scriptures simply attribute the total cosmos to God's creative action. How God proceeded is nowhere the real point of creation. The real point is that God created by his Word; that there is no creature, no realm of being, no third thing, outside of God's power and lordship.
The Scripture is as noncommital about biology as it is about geology. It attributes life to the Holy Spirit of God, but never does the Spirit so involve Himself within the creature that the Spirit becomes an empirical factor for the investigations of biologists. The distance between Creator and creation, between Spirit and life, is such that the Creator and the Spirit can never be come empirically involved in the work of scientists. Therefore in biological science the Christian must, on the theological side, maintain a neutrality, an aloofness, as he does in astrophysics and geology. In his great trust in God and in Scriptural revelation, he must show that he is neither threatened nor encouraged by the progress of biology.
The Christian knows that every theory of science is capable of abuse. Astronomy has been used to trivialize human existence. Modem atomic physics has been used to demonstrate die belief that the brain and the mind are one and die same. Behaviorism has been turned against Christian faith, and positivistic sociology has been employed to discredit Christian ethics. Similarly evolution has been used by atheists, communists, materialists, and religious liberals either positively to enhance their own system or as a weapon against orthodoxy.
The Christian strategy ought to be of one piece in these matters. Because some philosophers believe the brain and the mind are equivalent on the basis of modem physical theory, we do not completely deny modern physical science. If behaviorists attack the Christian doctrine of moral responsibility, we do not deny the science of psychology. The Christian has every right to speak up in these situations, but he must speak up the right way and upon the right premises. He must point out that in each case there is an improper extension of science. The science itself may be good or bad. We will let the scientists purify themselves in this regard. But we speak against these accusations, not on the grounds that we know more science than our opponents, nor that the entire basis of their science is in error, but that they put science to the wrong service.
With reference to evolution, we must not think merely of evolution but of the totality of biological science. Modern medicine, dentistry and optometry are specialized departments of biological science. Certainly we may be embarrassed if we admit large areas of biology to be correct, and yet wrong at basic theory.
The Christian doctrine of creation is not embarrassed by the empirical contributions of science. Creation is an empirical concept in that it speaks about the touchable, hearable, measurable sensible reality. But it is not empirical in the sense that from it we can determine empirical facts of science. It is an intensely relational and theological concept. Therefore it views the theory of evolution with indifference, indifference in the sense that nothing is more at stake in evolution than in geology or astrophysics. That man is in the image of God is settled by the Word of God and not by human physiology, or comparative anatomy.
If evolution be used to re-enforce atheism, materialism, or Communism, then as a Christian I have every right to speak up. We register a protest, not because we know science better but because they know theology less. We speak up, not because we are experts in biology but because we stand in the light of revelation. And we must speak up as Christian scholars and Christian gentlemen; otherwise we shall not be heard. Those on the outside will judge us as not contributing something to the understanding of man, but as exhibiting typical traits of a strange form of religious mentality.REFERENCES
1.Brunton, T. Lauder,
The Bible and Science,
London: Macmillan, 1881, Lecture XVI.
2. Clark, R. E. D., Darwin: Before and After, London: Pater noster Press, 1948.
3. Dampier, Wm. C., A History of Science, N. Y.: Macmillan, 3d ed., 1943.
4. Foster, Frank Hugh, The Modern Movement in American Theology, N. Y.: Revell, 1939.
5. Freemantle, Anne, ed., The Papal Encyclicals in Their Historical Context, N. Y.: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1955.
6. Hofstadter, Richard, Social Darwinism in America, N. Y.: 7. Geo. Braziller, rev. ed., 1959.
7. Kerr, Wm. Shaw, A Handbook on the Papacy, London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1950.
8. Shields, Chas. W., The Final Philosophy, N. Y.: Scribner, Armstrong & Co., 1871.
9. White, Andrew W., A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, N. Y.: Geo. Braziller, 1955 (reprint of rev. ed., 1895).