Letter to the editor
And a Response
Joseph L. Spradley
The American University in Cairo
From : PSCF 44 (September 1992): 218.
Marvin Lubenow's letter is an interesting and thoughtful response to my article on "Changing Views of Science and Scripture: Bernard Ramm and the ASA" (March 1992). Having none of Ramm's writings here in Cairo, I can only answer with personal reflections based on my best recollections of his thinking.
Ramm's 1954 version of "progressive creation" was an attempt to fit the fossil evidence of changing life forms over long periods of time into a creationist system. Lubenow objects that progressive creation at only the "phyla and/or family level" is insufficient to disallow "vertical radiation" (evolution), and therefore "Ramm's system is unworkable."
At least two possibilities would seem to obviate this objection to a system of progressive creation. One possibility is to allow for progressive creation at a lower level, perhaps even at the species level to avoid any question of evolution. However, I don't think Ramm was opposed to evolutionary mechanisms as such, so long as they were not extended beyond the data to "evolutionism." So another possibility is to allow for limited evolution between progressive creation events at higher levels. Both seem consistent with Ramm's 1954 intentions.
From Ramm's later perspective, progressive creation "conceded too much to science," not in the sense of accepting some evolutionary processes, but in viewing Genesis 1 as a scientific treatise to be evaluated and judged by science. Treating it as a scientific account of origins is to "remove Genesis from history, " rather than interpreting it in its historical and cultural context. Viewed in contextual terms, Genesis 1 is seen as primarily a polemic against the idolatrous worship of nature and a call to recognize the one God who created all things.
Lubenow asks if "Ramm seriously believe[s] that atheistic evolutionists feel they have gone beyond the data in constructing their atheistic world view." Whether they "feel" such or not, they clearly have! Our task is to separate their atheistic assumptions and conclusions from their valid contributions.