Letter to the Editor


On Bernard Ramm and Spradley...

Marvin L. Lubenow

Christian Heritage College
2100 Greenfield Drive
El Cajon, CA 92019


From: Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 44 (September 1992): 218      Response: Spradley

The article by Joseph Spradley on Bernard Ramm and the ASA (March 1992) was fascinating.

There is an aspect of Ramm's progressive creationism that as far as I know has never been addressed. While not denying theistic evolution as a viable option, Ramm claimed that progressive creationism was a strictly creationist system because it did not involve vertical radiation (evolution) but only horizontal radiation (The Christian View of Science and Scripture, 1954, p. 215 & 272). The vertical events he called creation events. While Ramm was quite stingy with details of his system, he seemed to suggest that creation took place at the Phyla and/or Family level (p. 215).

There is an inverse relationship between the number of creation events one has in his system and the amount of vertical evolution one must invoke to explain the variety and complexity of our present world. The fewer creation events one has, the more he must depend upon evolution to make up the difference. Hence, Ramm's system is unworkable. There is no way that one can explain the complexity of our present world by having creation at the Family level (or higher) and depend only on horizontal radiation. Ramm's progressive creationism is thus an evolutionary system, partially, even though he sincerely believed it was not.

The fact that Ramm has moved even further from an historical view of Genesis suggests that at gut level he realized that his progressive creationism emperor had no clothes. Spradley admits that "...t perhaps conceded too much to science." However, the basic suppositions that allow such concessions are the gift that keeps on giving. Ramm's newer view concedes even more of Genesis. To remove Genesis from history is certainly one way to solve the problems. But has anyone bothered to calculate the Biblical cost?

Ramm's statement, "If scientists do their work in theory construction within the limits of the data themselves, scientists will never say anything contrary to the Word of God" (Spradley, p. 8), is absurd. Does Ramm seriously believe that atheistic evolutionists feel they have gone beyond the data in constructing their atheistic world view? Romans 8:7 would suggest that the natural person (scientist) is not neutral and objective but instead would prefer a non-theistic world view.

Please do not interpret my words as a lack of appreciation for Bernard Ramm. While I am in basic disagreement with his position, I am not ignorant of the problems he sought to address. Anyone who addresses these problems with such gusto can't be all bad!