Science in Christian Perspective
Letter to the editor
On Teaching Creation and Evolution
Vernon A. Raaflaub
Nipawin, Sask. Canada
From: JASA 25 (December 1973): 168-169.
I enjoyed the statements by Bube and Fischer under the heading "Creation and Evolution in Science Education" in the June 1973 Journal ASA. I feel, however, that there are some statements in Bube's otherwise fine article that should not go unchallenged.
Bube states: "To the best of my knowledge, current forms of 'creation theory' cannot be contradicted by empirical data, even in principle." (page 69) I would disagree. A creation model demands "regular and systematic gaps" in the fossil record and in the flora and fauna of today's world; it demands genetic variation within definite limits-in other words, evidence that genetic change has no limits would contradict the creation model. Creationism would seem to demand a universal principle of decay in nature (Romans 8: 20ff.) On the basis of a creation model, one would expect strong evidence of design in nature. Evidence contrary to any of these points would seem to spell trouble for the creation model.
Bube would seem to be beating a "dead horse" when he criticizes references to "creation with the appearance of age." He says: "in such a case the scientific age of the earth is what it appears to be, and no possibility exists for contradicting the theory empirically." I would suggest there is no scientific age for the earth. All suggested ages are based on assumptions that are quite untestable and non-observable. A rock has a certain "age" only when one accepts certain assumptions about he existence and balance of radiogenic materials in the rock at the time of the rock's formation. Thus, on the basis of orthodox assumption lava flows known to he only a few hundred years old give an "appearance of age" when tested by radioactive methods yielding dates in the millions of years. But such an appearance of age is relative to one's starting assumptions, and is not determined by the factual scientific evidence at all.
Bube attempts to eliminate "category confusion" (page 70), but I am not convinced that he has succeeded. I am amazed to read that "spontaneous generation and evolutionary process are mutually exclusive mechanisms," This is quite incorrect. Spontaneous generation is a necessary ingredient in any nontheistic view of evolution. It is, by definition, the random, non-directed, accidental origin of life, and therefore totally unsuited for use in any theistic position. Dr. George Wald has stated, as an atheistic evolutionist: "The reasonable view was to believe in spontaneous generation; the only alternative, to believe in a single primary act of supernatural creation. There is no third position The Origin of Life, in The
New Treasury of Science, Harper & Row, New York, 1965, page 417f.) It is impossible to accept both divine Creation and spontaneous generation; they are by definition, mutually exclusive. The atheistic evolutionist accepts spontaneous generation and evolution; the nonevolutionists accepts supernatural generation and formation of a full blown and biologically wound--op world. I also find it difficult to see how one could accept both Design and chance, but not Design and Chance (page 70). This strikes me as mere play with words.
To me, the practical approach to the whole controversy would be to select a reasonably neutral textbook, have a team of evolution-minded scientists write a unit on the philosophy of origins from their point of view, and have other groups (including special creationists) write units on the subject from their point of view. When several viewpoints are thus presented, the strengths and weaknesses of various philosophies is most likely to be presented adequately.