Sunday, November 18, 2007


Evolving Creation

Returning once again to Neal C. Gillespie's book, Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation, that problem was not a scientific one or even religion masquerading as science as in modern Intelligent Design Creationism:

[T]he "ordinary argument" for special creation with its emphasis on benevolent and rational design in nature, which Darwin constantly attacked in the Origin, was not, ... in a strict modern sense, a rival scientific theory. It rather represented a persuasion, an atmosphere that permeated natural history so universally that naturalists were often unaware of the extent of its influence.

While, in our day, that pervasive assumption within science has been shattered, the same contestants remain in play:

[S]pecial creation took two forms in the scientific community. One is easily identified by its proximity to the biblical tradition in language and imagery. The other was within the Newtonian convention of natural law in which the Creator was thought to employ certain laws of nature to work his will. This was not supernatural creation in the miraculous sense, but one nevertheless in which God was thought to be directly participating, guiding and supervising, each natural event.

An example of the former would be Louis Agassiz, the premier American scientist of the 19th century, who held that, of the three possible modes of the origin of new beings -- spontaneous generation by the operation of natural laws, the operation of creative laws established by God, and the immediate intervention of an intelligent Creator -- only the last was, in his view, supported by science, though the methods of how God created were unknown.

Such positions obviously linger today, represented by such Biblical creationists as Answers in Genesis' Ken Ham and his museum to nowhere, joined by the more circumspect but no less miracle-addicted ID advocates.

Charles Lyell, on the other hand, along with other nomothetic [law based] creationists, favored an unknown mode of divine action that "stayed within the confines of the laws of nature and, while involving a continuing divine initiative, did not require disruptions of that order." This was a creation no less mysterious than the more Biblical variety but less capricious.

The modern "theistic evolutionists" (a rather misleading term probably coined in more for its ease of use in rhetorical battle than any consideration of accuracy) exemplified by Ken Miller come close to this latter view.

But what made the assumption of some form of creation so pervasive in the scientific community was not faith so much as practicality:

[S]pecial creation, whether miraculous or nomothetic, was commonly recognized by [paleontologists and geologists] to have strong empirical evidence in the fossil series which seemed to support the idea that species appeared full-blown suddenly, endured unchanged, and became extinct without leaving descendents. Equally important, however, the fossil record gave no clue as to how species were created. ...

The assumption that a belief in special creation, in whatever form, was needed to explain the fossil record was, then, the linchpin that held together the opposition to transmutation.

Darwin took away that need and, like a sudden release of pressure from behind a watertight door, it permitted the way to the recognition of the transmutation of life to be thrown open and the acceptance of evolution within the scientific community proceeded with almost unseemly haste.


Theistic evolution actually goes back to the 1920s at least -- can't remember where I saw the term used but try running the search on JSTOR.
I was able to find a reference to a usage as far back as 1974: "Theistic Evolution & Genesis," IN: Gospel Advocate, January 24, 1974, p 52). Also, R. L. Wysong, in his 1976 book, The Creation-Evolution Controversy, apparently gave a pretty contemporary, if skewed, definition: "Basically, theistic evolution contends that abiogenesis (the spontaneous formation of life from chemicals) and evolution (amoeba to many through eons) have occurred, but a creator was instrumental in forming the initial matter and laws, and more or less guided the whole process." That certainly puts its origin back before the start of t.o. However, it doesn't put its origin in the mouths of people any more interested in accuracy than the rhetoricians of t.o.

I suspect it still came into use by pro-evolution people through t.o. but that would be hard to establish. My objection to it is that it tends to confuse people as to what the holders of the position think about science. The people who are described do not in any way think evolutionary theory is anything other than science separate and apart from their theology.
check out this new movie from Ben Stein Expelled.
Greetings. The Lord is actually still moving in spontaneous and miraculous ways, even today. For anyone interested, find the International House of Prayer's prophetic history CDs...they are chock full of completely miraculous events that quite aptly validate the Lord's spontaneous, 6-day creation of the universe. The evidence is all around just have to untie yourself from the dark evolutionary worldview.
International House of Prayer

IHOP? Do I get maple syrup with the discs?
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