Essay Review        

                        

Can The Creationist Tradition Be Recovered
                Reflections on Creation and the History of Science

Christopher Kaiser, Creation and the History of Science (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991)

HOWARD J. VAN TILL

Department of Physics
Calvin College
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

From Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 44 (September 1992): 178-185.

The Creationist Tradition Defined

In today's discussion regarding natural science and Christian belief one hears frequent appeal to the "deliverances of the faith"1 and to the "creationist tradition" as the proper measures to be used by Christians in their evaluation of scientific theories. This is especially the case for theories about the formation of the universe and the creatures that inhabit it. But to what specific beliefs do these labels refer Exactly what is "the creationist tradition" that Christians ought to count as one of the normative deliverances of the faith

Having been personally involved in numerous discussions on this issue, I have a rather direct reading on how a major portion of the contemporary North American Christian community would express itself: central to the prevailing concept of the creationist tradition is the belief that the Bible provides a true and accurate historical account of God's creating the world as we now see it. The early chapters of Genesis are viewed as a listing of important historical particulars. Although diversity of judgment is sometimes tolerated, there is still considerable anxiety regarding timescale...whether to speak of thousands of years or billions of years. Strong emphasis is generally placed on the importance of God's creative acts being "special," that is, extraordinary acts of "miraculous intervention" that bring new things into being and serve as beacons to inform the world of God's unrestricted power over all of creation. Essential to this vision of the creationist tradition is the belief that in numerous instances God has accomplished by direct action things that could never have happened in the normal course of natural processes. Furthermore, evidence for these special acts of creation ought to be discoverable by the application of empirical study, rightly interpreted by faithful Christians. After all, "A God who can never do anything that makes a difference...is of no importance to us."2

But is this popular contemporary picture of the creationist tradition true to the historical roots of the Christian doctrine of creation. Emphatically not, says Christopher Kaiser in his book, Creation and the History of Science (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991). Trained in both astrophysics and theology, and knowledgeable in the history of both physical science and Christian doctrine, Kaiser finds that a careful study of the relevant literature from the intertestimental period to the present reveals a very different picture. Broadly stated, to see the world as God's creation is to see it as something that exists only by God's wisdom and will, and that "is subject to a single code of law which was established along with the universe at the beginning of time" (p. 6). Under this broad umbrella Kaiser finds four subthemes that together comprise the creationist tradition: (1) the created world is comprehensible "because" the same Logos that is responsible for its ordering is also reflected in human reason (p. 10); (2) the heavens and the earth are united as parts of the same creation, since "Scripture made it clear that the heavens were not to be accorded any special status and that they were subject to the same laws as the earth and its inhabitants" (p. 12); (3) the created world possesses relative autonomy, where "By the 'relative autonomy' of nature, we mean the self-sufficiency nature possesses by virtue of the fact that God has granted it laws of operation" (p. 15); and (4) as God's special creatures, we are called to engage in a ministry of healing and restoration, using our knowledge of the created world for the benefit of others.

Kaiser traces each of these four subthemes over the full span of Christian history, taking note of their development and modification as they were articulated or practiced in a changing cultural environment. Of especial concern to Kaiser is the way in which theological and scientific concepts interacted with one another, each having an influence on the other. The histories of science and theology are not independent, but interactive.

But three of the four themes are relatively unproblematic for the readers of this journal. Most of us are fully aware that the very science we practice is possible only because God has provided a generous measure of order to the properties and behavior of the natural world, and has endowed us with the requisite rational capacities to apprehend that order. We are also aware that the objects located in "the heavens" are made of the same "earthy elements" that we study in our terrestrial laboratories. And we are equally aware that God calls us to employ all that he has given us - including our knowledge of the created world - to the benefit and well-being of others.

But one theme identified by Kaiser as an integral part of the creationist tradition has been problematic through most of Christian history, especially so at the present time - what Kaiser calls the relative autonomy of nature. Hence, for the remainder of this review essay I shall focus only on that issue.

Before tracing its history, however, the term must be defined. As noted above, by "relative" autonomy Kaiser means the God-given powers of the created world to function in an orderly manner according to set patterns or laws.

Like all laws, the laws of nature may come to be viewed as enslaving and inflexible, but, in their original sense, at least, they were viewed as liberating (from chaos) and life-giving. The autonomy of nature is thus "relative" in the sense of being relational (to God), as well as in the sense of not being self-originated or entirely self-determined  (p. 15).

Kaiser's point, as I understand it, is this: the basic substances of this world, and things (whether animate or inanimate) made of these substances, exhibit regular, patterned behavior; the capacities to behave in this lawful manner are neither self-derived nor in contention with God, but God-given (that is, manifestations of the authentic and dynamic being that God has given them) and prepared by God to perform the tasks for which they were called into being. From this perspective, then, the lawful behavior of nature would never be interpreted as an indicator of God's absence or inactivity, but rather as a sign of God's continuing faithfulness in actively sustaining the dynamic capacities that were given to the creation at the beginning.

The Roots of Relative Autonomy

Kaiser cites numerous Old Testament texts that provide a biblical basis for this concept of relative autonomy. The first extrabiblical literature cited by Kaiser is from the intertestamental period, the second century B.C. in particular, in which the idea of nature's relative autonomy is further developed by Jewish writers, partly as an outgrowth of their dialogue with Greek natural philosophy. Dialogue with Hellenistic thought continued into the early Christian era and, according to Kaiser, the idea of relative autonomy.

..was clearly fixed by the time of Basil [Bishop of Caesarea during the fourth century]. Indeed, it was deeply embedded in the Hellenistic-Jewish-Christian tradition that Basil inherited...Basil merely gave practical examples from everyday experience to illustrate the principle of the relative autonomy of nature as it had been understood since the time of Jesus ben Sirach and Aristobulus [second century B.C.] (pp. 20-21).

Continuing in that same tradition,

Augustine (writing 386-430) developed the idea of the autonomy of nature to an unprecedented degree by stressing the transcendence of God...and explaining the unfolding of nature (and history) in terms of seminal causes that God implanted at creation so as to have their effects in a predetermined sequence (pp. 21-22).

Anticipating an accusation that is now commonly directed toward an Augustinian approach, Kaiser is quick to add that

Augustine was not a deist in the modern sense, however...God's eternal decree functioned as a continuously creative activity by virtue of which seminal causes could produce their respective effects. Still, given the fact of that continuous activity, the inevitability and predictability of cause-effect sequences seemed to follow (p. 22).

By identifying the concept of creation's "relative autonomy" as a fundamental element in the creationist tradition, Kaiser has, I believe, done the Christian community a great service. We are well served both by his drawing our attention to this concept and by his effort to uncover its deep roots in the biblically-shaped Judeo-Christian tradition. Having said that, however, I must add that I judge that the concept needs to be augmented in a way that will do even greater justice to the creationist tradition and thereby provide a perspective essential to contemporary discussion - especially the discussion concerning a Christian evaluation of scientific theories regarding the origin and evolution of life.

Kaiser's term, "relative autonomy," draws our attention primarily to the way in which the creationist tradition envisioned the delicate balance between the created world's powers and limitations. The created world has authentic being and possesses real capacities to act in full accord with that being; but both its being and its capacities to act are gracious gifts from the Creator and must be continuously sustained by his will and enabled by his power. Created substances and things have the power to engage in authentic activity, but only within the limits established by the Creator at the beginning.

Historically, as Kaiser's work illustrates, Christians have tended to think of those limits almost exclusively in terms of upper limits: creaturely substances and beings are deemed able to do x and y, but not z. Contemporary argumentation against the concepts of abiogenesis and macroevolution provides numerous examples of this kind of thinking: atoms can chemically combine to form molecules, but never molecules as complex as DNA; complex molecules can, in an appropriate environment, spontaneously assemble to form aggregate structures, but never structures that are genuinely alive; lifeforms can experience mutations that give rise to diversity, but never sufficient diversity to make macroevolution possible.

But such argumentation would, I believe, have seemed foreign to early Christian thinkers like Basil and Augustine. In many respects they showed more concern to recognize the lower limits of nature's capacities - that the creation was endowed at the beginning with no less capacity for action than would be required for bringing forth in time what the Creator intended. Basil's Hexaemeron3 and Augustine's The Literal Meaning of Genesis4 are replete with examples of how these respected exegetes interpreted Scripture, especially Genesis 1, to teach that at the beginning God created, from nothing, all substances and forms, but that the forms of creatures became actualized only in the course of time. Most importantly, these creatures appeared in the course of history not as a consequence of some new, direct and "special"  act of God (an "intervention"), but as the consequence of created substances employing their God-given capacities to bring about in time what the Creator had in mind from the beginning.

According to early creationist tradition, then, God did not have to act like a Demiurge by forcing material substance to assume forms foreign to its own potential; neither did God have to act directly in the course of creation's formative history to compensate for gaps or deficiencies in the capacities of created substances. Every capacity that would be needed was provided from the very beginning. In other words, the creationist tradition includes not only what Kaiser calls the "relative autonomy" of nature, but also what one might call the concept of the"gapless economy" of the created world. Synthesizing these two concepts into one, we have what I have elsewhere called creation's functional integrity.5 Furthermore, since this element in the creationist tradition appears to have been neglected for centuries, as Kaiser's work testifies, perhaps we would be well justified in calling this the forgotten doctrine of creation's functional integrity.

This is not the place to develop the full set of references from the Hexaemeron or The Literal Meaning of Genesis to support this thesis, but my own reading of Basil and Augustine leads me firmly to the conclusion that this forgotten perspective needs to be recovered...both as a foundational element of the creationist tradition and as an effective antidote to the God-of-the-gaps strategy that appears to dominate the conservative evangelical interaction with contemporary naturalism. I would even go so far as to venture that unless this forgotten doctrine is recovered and faithfully employed, the so called"creation/evolution debate" will continue its disastrously unfruitful course and the intellectual community will become even more alienated from the Christian faith.

Two Kinds of Divine Action

But we must return to Kaiser's account of what became of the creationist tradition after the formative contributions by Basil and Augustine. Within the space restrictions of this review we must be content with only a small sample of Kaiser's work; for the remainder, one must read the book. It's well worth the effort.

In eighth century Britain the Venerable Bede

presented the following generation of scholars with an ordered universe of cause and effect in which as many phenomena as possible were reduced to general laws...The eighth century thus marked a turning point at which the creationist tradition...gave rise to the earliest stages of Western scientific thought (p. 25).

During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, however, that tradition appears to have developed into two factions that would, centuries later, separate into irreconcilable adversaries. According to Kaiser, it was during this time "that the dichotomy between the natural and supernatural, so ingrained in modern Western thought, had its origin" (p. 30).

The problem appears to be traceable to the scholastic distinction made "between the regular power (potentia ordinata) of God, reflected in the normal sequences of cause and effect, and his absolute power (potentia absoluta) at any time to suspend or alter those sequences" (p. 30). While this may have appeared to be a theologically and exegetically convenient distinction, it had the unfortunate effect of encouraging the original creationist tradition to split into two mutants, neither of them Scriptural. As Kaiser describes the situation,

In place of a relative autonomy of nature based on the efficacy of God's creative word, one then had an impossible choice: either an autonomous world, created by God but virtually independent of his continued presence and power; or else a world so utterly dependent on God's will moment by moment that all rational, scientific investigation became impossible (p. 30).

If the reader recognizes in this twelfth century bifurcation of the creationist tradition the beginnings of both reductionistic naturalism and anti-scientific interventionism, well and good. But Kaiser wishes it clearly understood that the concept of relative autonomy (which, supplemented with gapless economy, yields functional integrity) is not the culprit responsible for the division and deterioration. "It was not the original biblical and patristic tradition, but a distortion of it, that tended toward the determinism, reductionism and atheism that characterizes so much of modern Western thought" (p. 34). Having lost a sense of the need for God's immanent sustaining and enabling activity in the regular functioning of creaturely capacities, the heirs of the creationist tradition appeared to be faced with a devastating dilemma: choose either a world in which matter functioned with absolute autonomy in a gapless natural economy, or a world in which God's direct and irruptive actions served to fill the gaps in the creation's functionally deficient economy. Does that pathological either-or choice sound familiar

Gaps in Creation's Economy

In the context of our concern for the historical interactions of theology and natural science, the late medieval period (roughly the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries) was made most remarkable by the rediscovery of Aristotelian science and its incorporation into theological discourse. As Kaiser sees it, the problem facing thoughtful Christians in the thirteenth century was essentially the same as one that faces us now:

How can we reconcile a science which seemingly owes nothing to Christian faith, and may conflict with it at any point, with a faith which encourages belief in the possibility of science and values its benefits, yet cannot sanction its teachings or its applications without further scrutiny (p. 57).

A variety of strategies were offered, ranging from sharp division of territory, to synthesis with limited overlap, to full integration of science with theology.

The thirteenth century synthesis of Aristotelian science with Christian theology, with Thomas Aquinas being its chief architect, required a careful balancing of the regular activity of God in the world accessible to science with the episodic or occasional activity of God in personal experience; it further required a careful correlation of the respective roles of human reason and divine revelation. Kaiser views Aquinas as one who both promoted the creationist tradition regarding the relative autonomy of natural processes and encouraged the study of nature for its own sake.

Aquinas...insisted on the pure potentiality of matter. Yet, in order to avoid making nature appear to be recalcitrant to formative influence from above, he ascribed to it a "capacity for obedience to God's command (potentia obedientalis), a capacity instilled at creation by God himself "(p. 79).

But Aristotelian thought included a particularly problematic feature. Aristotle's cosmology, with its hierarchy of spheres and God as the First Mover of the outermost sphere, tended to place divine action at some distance from terrestrial affairs. "So with the influx of Aristotelian thought [into Christian theology] a spatial gap threatened to open up between the regular activity of God and events on earth (p. 70). In Kaiser's view this gap opened up along fracture lines introduced in the previous century with that distinction between potentia ordinata and potentia absoluta, and served to encourage the oft-cited medieval dichotomy of nature and grace.

In effect, the normal, everyday life of medieval humans was viewed as taking place on two levels: one of nature, in which God's providence was mediated through the hierarchy of celestial spheres; and one of grace, in which God's power was mediated, for the most part, by the hierarchy of the Church (p. 70).

The concept of the restricted immediacy of God's normal activity in the world was taken a step further with the introduction of a new metaphor in the fourteenth century: the celestial and terrestrial world became pictured as a vast clockwork, leaving God the role of clockmaker. Kaiser calls attention to a noteworthy progression in the historical succession of metaphors employed to portray the relationship of God to natural causation.

From the ancient Near Eastern ideal of kingship to the Neoplatonic and Augustinian concept of transcendent Being, to the Aristotelian First Mover, to the late medieval Clockmaker, the idea of God's normal activity became gradually less immediate to the events of the world, leaving the relatively autonomous cycles of nature to take on the appearance of a completely autonomous mechanism (p. 73).

One variation on the Clockmaker metaphor, one that remains prominent in Christian belief to this day, must be noted. Henry of Langenstein reasoned that although God had established the normal order of cause and effect at creation, he could suspend that order at any time and did, in fact, suspend it routinely for selected phenomena (stars, for example, twinkled, but planets did not)."Even though Henry's universe was mechanical like a clock, there were gaps in the natural order which could only be filled by an appeal to the direct action of God (p. 76). Thus, already by the end of the fourteenth century, the vision of God as the Creator of a world having both relative autonomy and a gapless economy - that is, a world having functional integrity - had become superceded by a vision of God as the Creator of a functionally incomplete world that required irruptive divine action to make up for deficiencies in the economy of its ordinary causal nexus. As Kaiser put it,"The almighty God of Scripture was well on his way to becoming a 'God-of-the-gaps' (p. 76).

Under the Threat of Absolute Autonomy

According to Kaiser, the 16th century was a period in which the basic themes of the creationist tradition were rediscovered and reaffirmed. Copernicus, for example, is described by Kaiser as a person whose work was guided by "one of the basic ideas of the creationist tradition: the laws of nature are not intrinsic, and cannot be deduced a priori: rather they are imposed or infused by God in such a way that they appear to operate automatically" (p. 110).

Among the principal Reformers there seems to have been a reaction to those spokespersons for the creationist heritage whose emphasis of the regular course of nature appeared to encourage viewing it as fully autonomous Nature. While their solution to the problem may have differed from the twelfth century distinction between potentia ordinata and potentia absoluta, by Kaiser's measure it still "amounted to a differentiation of nature and supernature, or...a clear distinction between God's indirect operation through second causes and his direct operation with or without the cooperation of second causes" (p. 133). The sticking point appears to have been what we earlier referred to as the concept of creation's "gapless economy." According to Kaiser, "In reaction to the naturalism of the Aristotelian philosophers of their time, Luther, Zwingli and Calvin came to view efforts to achieve complete causal explanations as a threat to the sense of God's providence appropriate to Christian piety (p. 134). Consequently, "they cited apparent gaps in the web of second causes, gaps which were evidence of the direct action of God even within the sphere of potentia ordinata" (p. 133).

Although Kaiser sees the Lutheran tradition, extended by Melanchthon and Kepler, as able to retain a sense of the relative autonomy of nature based on the creation ordinances, the Calvinist tradition is cited for giving rise to conflicting emphases. On the one hand there is an affirmation of natural science as a valid study of the created world; on the other hand there is a suspicious fear that if science is too successful in describing natural phenomena within the framework of a gapless economy, then the necessity of divine providence will be cast into doubt. But introducing the idea of gaps in the fundamental economy of the natural world has created an apologetic and theological nightmare. In Kaiser's words, "As belief in the existence of such gaps declined in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the locus of God's immediate influence was gradually to become restricted to inward experience" (p. 149).

But some scientists in the Reformed tradition took strong issue with the idea that the Creator placed gaps in the economy of the created order, gaps reserved for God's direct action. Francis Bacon, for instance, was adamantly opposed to invoking God's providential action as a substitute for natural causation, for "certain it is that God worketh nothing in nature but by second causes" (quoted on p. 137). Kaiser describes Bacon's program as one which encouraged observers of natural phenomena to regain a sense of God's immanent activity in all things.

Rather than trying to carve out a place for piety within the framework of Aristotelian natural philosophy, as Calvin and the other Reformers had done, Bacon projected a new view of nature which allowed both the full operation of second causes and the full dependence of all things on God. In this new order there would be no gaps in natural explanation, so God would have to be seen to function immediately in the whole of nature or else not at all (p. 138).

But the proposition that there were barriers or gaps in the economy of the created order did not retreat into obscurity. In the seventeenth century Robert Boyle, for instance, held that matter, through the lawful divine governance of its physical behavior, could accomplish much, but, in Kaiser's words, "could not be expected to produce the kind of organization one observes in living beings. In these cases, seminal principles must be involved - and these in turn pointed to the design and activity of God" (p. 173).

Newton, consistent with the tenets of mechanical philosophy, thought of matter as inherently passive but continuously subjected to supra-mechanical active principles (like gravity) that made manifest God's active governance of material behavior in perfect conformity with strict mathematically expressible laws. But even these active principles were judged to be inadequate for sustaining the orderly operation of the material world. Newton suspected, for example, that irregularities would eventually arise in the orbits of planets and would require occasional adjustment by direct divine intervention. Similarly, because of the loss of motion caused by dissipative forces, God would have to act by divine intervention to restore systems to their proper functional states. Summarizing Newton's strategy, Kaiser writes that, "The need for supra-mechanical, active principles and for periodic supernatural interventions were his two principal ways of securing God's participation in nature" (p. 185).

The philosopher Leibniz, however, took strong issue with Newton's strategy.

Both Newton and Leibniz were concerned to see nature as the product of the activity of God, but in differing ways. Whereas Newton and his disciples saw the activity of God in his use of supra-mechanical principles and repeated intervention in the activity of matter, Leibniz found it in the operation of the original divine decree by which matter was invested with an energy that would continue indefinitely and undiminished in quantity (p. 159).

The position advocated by Leibniz is the traditional creationist concept of nature's relative autonomy, not to be confused with later mechanistic concepts of nature's absolute autonomy independent of God.

God, according to Leibniz, is like a king who not only provides laws, but also educates his subjects and endows them with the capacity to fulfill them. Moreover, the coordinated fulfillment of such decrees was inherently teleological and could not be accounted for in strictly mechanistic terms (p. 160).

The disagreement between Leibniz and Newton should sound familiar to the reader - it remains unresolved within the Christian community to this day. "To Newton, a lack of complete autonomy in nature was consistent with the omnipotence of God. For Leibniz, on the other hand, it was a denial of the perfection of the original creation and, hence, inconsistent with the omnipotence of God" (p. 183). Then, as now, a common commitment to honor the Creator's omnipotence does not ensure agreement on the particular way it will be expressed in the qualities of the creation.

From Newton to Now

From Newton forward to the present time the story becomes increasingly complex and difficult to summarize. Recall, however, the background: The historic creationist tradition, as identified by Kaiser, incorporated high and biblically-informed views of both God the sovereign and benevolent Creator, and the world as his lawfully governed and beloved kingdom. As the Creator, God is the sole source of both the creation's being and its capacities for action. God is not only the creation's transcendent Originator, but its immanent Sustainer and Provider as well. In the Creator's wisdom and love are found the purpose for the creation's existence and the direction for its meaningful history. And because the universe is God's creation, it is characterized by comprehensibility, unity and relative autonomy (or functional integrity).

Over the centuries, especially with the flowering of empirical science, an increasingly detailed and comprehensive concept of matter was developed, including the awareness that it exhibited regular behavior that could often be described in terms of concise mathematical "laws." Beginning around the twelfth century, perhaps as an outgrowth of an unfruitful theological distinction, the action of matter and material systems grew increasingly to be viewed, not as continuous manifestations of the Creator's immanent governance, but as fully autonomous activity in competition with God's action...the natural versus the supernatural. In that context the creationist tradition became unstable and vulnerable to bifurcation into incompatible strains.

At one extreme, a high view of matter was not only retained but also expanded at the expense of discarding the traditional creationist high view of God. Beginning in earnest in the eighteenth century, scientific naturalism transformed the concept of creation's relative autonomy into a dogma of Nature's absolute autonomy, putting God to rest with nothing at all to do. In the arena of epistemology science came to be treated as the sole source of knowledge, and the Bible was relegated to the museum as little more than an interesting artifact of religious history.

At the other extreme, a high view of God was not only retained but also modified at the expense of discarding the traditional creationist high view of creaturely capacities. Beginning, perhaps, with Suarez, Descartes and Newton, the concept of creation's relative autonomy (and gapless economy) was substantially reduced; matter was seen as incapable of performing certain complex tasks, so that gaps in the functional economy of the created order had to be routinely bridged by acts of divine intervention. Miracles, once seen as extraordinary acts of God, freely performed for their revelatory and redemptive value, became viewed as necessary components in the ordinary functioning of creation's economy. In the arena of epistemology the Bible's role of providing information regarding historical particulars was fortified and the role of the historical sciences (like historical geology, astronomy and biology) became reduced to the function of confirming what had already been deduced from a literalistic reading of the Bible. As I see it, the twentieth century phenomenon of "creation science" is unmistakably an outgrowth of this deviation from the historic creationist tradition documented by Kaiser in this work.

I suspect that most readers of Perspectives find themselves at odds with both of these extremes. For us (I include myself in this category) the question is, How can we articulate the historic creationist perspective in a way that retains appropriately high views of both divine action and creaturely capacities How can we be at once faithful to what Scripture reveals to us regarding God as our Creator and also cognizant of what we have learned, using our God-given capacities, about the world that is his creation

In Creation and the History of Science, Kaiser has provided us with a historical overview of immense value to our contemporary discussion of natural science and Christian belief. Because this study spans more than two millenia, numerous details and themes had to be omitted. What is presented to us in this work is Kaiser's selection, organization and interpretation of a much larger body of source material. Professional historians of science or theology may wish to take issue with some of Kaiser's specific choices and judgments, and some readers may wish that Kaiser had provided more detailed documentation by footnotes in addition to the reading lists provided at the ends of chapters. The indexes of subjects and names are very brief; more complete indexing would have been helpful.

Kaiser's choice to focus his attention on the physical sciences is understandable, given his training in astrophysics. But that means that in his treatment of the last two centuries the important issue of biological evolution had to be left on the shelf. Hence, one of the most problematic issues in the contemporary discussion...the question of whether or not the concept of creation's gapless economy applies to the formation and historical diversification of lifeforms...remains unresolved. Perhaps it was because of the omission of this question that the distinction between "relative autonomy" and "gapless economy" was underdeveloped in Kaiser's treatment of the creationist tradition in relation to the physical sciences.

Another area that deserves considerable additional attention is the role of Scripture and its interpretation. The concept of creation is influenced not only by knowledge gained through scientific investigation, but also by prevailing concepts of biblical hermeneutics and the proper epistemological role of the biblical text in the formulation and evaluation of both theological and scientific theories, especially theories regarding the formative history of the creation.

But no book can cover everything. And although Kaiser's work may have left two large issues for others to develop - the question of a gapless evolution of life forms, and the question of Scripture's role in scientific theorizing - I believe that Creation and the History of Science provides us with a valuable and accessible historical study that will be foundational to our continuing efforts to deal with these two weighty and problematic issues. If the readers of this review wish to participate in that effort, then Kaiser's book must be placed near the top of their reading lists.

1992

NOTES

1 Alvin Plantinga uses this phrase repeatedly in his essay,"When Faith and Reason Clash: Evolution and the Bible, Christian Scholar's Review XXI:1 (September, 1991), pp. 8-32.

2 Phillip E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991), p. 115. In this work, Johnson not only criticizes scientists for instances of overstated confidence in contemporary evolutionary theory, but also argues that the concept of common ancestry is unacceptable to Christian belief and must be countered by holding to "miraculous interventions" in the history of lifeforms on earth.

3 Basil the Great, The Hexaemreon in A Seclect Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, 2nd Series, Vol. VIII, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company).

4 St. Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, 2 vols., Ancient Christian Writers, nos. 41-42, trans. John Hammond Taylor (New York: Newman Press, 1982).

5 See "When Faith and Reason Cooperate," Christian Scholar's Review XXI:1 (September 1991)): 33-45.