Science in Christian Perspective

Letter to the Editor



Robert H. Thompson
Box 5
Lake George, Minnesota

From: JASA 18 (June 1966): 62-63.

In volume 17, number 4, you carry an article by Dr. Leith which I read with interest. My expectation turned to disappointment and then shock. I find it difficult to believe that this represents a refutation of the Morris-Whitcomb thesis. Surely the first portion of the article is irrelevant. If the theory of apparent age is a logical absurdity simply because there can be no empirical evidence to prove or disprove it, then the same rule must apply to other theories that suffer the same defect. The one that comes immediately to mind is the theory of evolution. After stating seven assumptions basic to a general theory of evolution, Dr. Kerkut states: "The first point that I should like to make is that these seven assumptions by their nature are not capable of experimental verification. They assume that a certain series of events has occurred in the past. Thus, though it may be possible to mimic some of these events under present-day conditions, this does not mean that these events must therefore have taken place in the past. All that it shows is that it is possible for such a change to take place. Thus to change a present-day reptile into a mammal, though of great interest, would not show the way in which the mammals did arise. Unfortunately we cannot bring about even this change; instead, we have to depend upon limited circumstantial evidence for our assumptions, and it is now my intention to discuss the nature of this evidence." (Implications of Evolution by G. A. Kerkut, The MacMillan Company, New York, 1960; page 7, second paragraph.) It must be seen that what is lacking is not only a certain amount of empirical data to prove the possibility, but the capacity of any evidence to prove what actually did happen.

One may decide that by pressing naturalistic presuppositions into service, evolution can be demonstrated to be the most probable explanation. In the presence of the supernaturalistic account by the Creator (which Genesis 1 claims to be) it would seem to be more prejudice than proof.

Dr. Leith does press naturalistic presuppositions. On page 120, he states: "But all scientific talk leading to a first moment for anything must be based upon extrapolations from pertinent present data and processes using certain cosmological principles." Four presuppositions are involved, though not clearly defined: (1) certain cosmological principles, (2) natural processes, (3) present data and (4) the process of extrapolation. These can be theistic if they are seen to apply only to the providential activities of God, and, therefore, incapable of explaining those events which are the result of His direct intervention. Otherwise, all that is miraculous must suffer the fate of being logically absurd. For instance, the bread that fed the multitude (John 6:5ff) must have seemed in every respect to have been the product of the fields of Palestine, having been sown, harvested, ground and baked, but it was not. The fish also would appear to have a history which they did not actually have. There would certainly be, in this instance, an appearance of age if we applied the four naturalistic presuppositions in  studying the fish and bread. If, however, we are guided by the record we would see the irrelevance of the presuppositions.

On page 122, Dr. Leith finally discusses the record of the flood, but only in the most general terms. His first consideration, the content of the record, is a matter for exegesis. His second is a matter for apologetics. In this case, he is delayed by neither. Exegesis, which should carry the day, is replaced by matters of philosophy. He brings to the record of the flood concepts of the character of God, of His relationship to His Creation and of man's role in Creation which make  exegesis unnecessary.

These concepts, then, settle the whole issue for Dr. Leith, but he leaves them unstated! Would they not settle it for all of us? Are they not cogent enough for even Morris & Whitcomb? With the basic issue finally laid bare, why isn't the battle joined? The real argument must be about these concepts. They should have been carefully clarified and then verified. Instead, they are only hinted at. He seems to be saying, "If you knew what I know, you would believe as I do"-an obvious truism, but certainly not proof of his position, not even argument in its favor. We were surprised when Clay knocked out Listen with one apparently weak punch. But now, Leith has knocked  out Morris & Whitcomb with no punch at all!