Q. E. D., or New Light on the Doctrine of Creation Part 8
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3. Unicellular forms can come only from preexisting cells of the same kind; and even the individual cells of a multicellular organism, when once differentiated, reproduce only other cells after their own kind.
4. Species of plants and animals have wonderful powers of variation; but these variations seem to be regulated and predestined in accordance with definite laws, and in no instance known to science has this variation resulted in producing what could properly be called a distinct new kind of plant or animal.
5. Geology has been supposed to prove that there has been a long succession of distinct types of life on the globe in a very definite order extending through vast ages of time. This is now known to be a mistake. Most living forms of plants and animals are also found as fossils; but there is no possible way of telling that one kind of life lived and occupied the world before others, or that one kind of life is intrinsically older than any other or than the human race.
In view of such facts as these, what possible chance is there for a scheme of organic evolution?
Must we not say that every possible form of the development theory is hereby ruled out of court? There can be no thought of the gradual development of organic nature by every-day processes in a world where such facts prevail. Rather must we say, with the force of the acc.u.mulated momentum of all that has been won by modern science, that, instead of the animals and plants on our world having arisen by a long-drawn-out process of change and development of one kind into another, there must have been just such a literal Creation at the beginning as the Bible describes. As we stand with uncovered head and bowed form in the presence of this great truth, it would seem almost like sacrilege to attempt by rhetoric to adorn it. Its inevitableness, its majesty, its transcendent importance for our generation, would only be obscured by so doing.
The essential idea of the Evolution theory is _uniformity_. It seeks to show that the present orders of plant and animal life originated by causes or processes identical with those now said to be operating in our modern world. It denies that at any particular time in the past causes and processes were in operation to originate the present order of nature which were essentially different from the processes now operating in our world under what we call natural law. Evolution seeks to smooth out all distinction between Creation and the modern regime of "natural law."
On the other hand, the essential idea of the Christian doctrine of Creation is that, back at a period called "the beginning," forces and powers were brought into exercise and results were accomplished which have not since been exercised or accomplished. In other words, the origin of the world and the things upon it was essentially and radically _different_ from the manner in which the present order of nature is now being sustained and perpetuated. The mere matter of _time_ is in no way the essential idea in the problem. The question of _how much time_ was occupied in the work of Creation is of no importance, neither is the question of _how long ago_ it took place. The one essential idea is that the processes and methods of Creation are beyond us, for we have nothing with which to measure it; Creation and the reign of "natural law" are essentially incommensurable. The one thing that the doctrine of Creation insists upon is that the origin of our world and of the things upon it must have been brought about by some direct and unusual manifestation of the power of the Being whom we call the Creator; and that since this original Creation the things of nature have been perpetuated and sustained by processes and methods which (though still essentially inscrutable by us) we call the order of nature and the reign of natural law.
But in view of the series of facts enumerated in the previous pages, the doctrine of Creation is established by modern scientific discoveries almost like the conclusion of a mathematical problem.
How are modern intelligent men and women to avoid any longer this inevitable conclusion of a literal Creation as the method of origin for our world and the things upon it?
The facts enumerated in the previous pages are not new; it is only the present grouping and arrangement of them, and the conclusions drawn from them, that are new. Of all the leading facts enumerated above, only the last one, the one regarding geology, is any longer a subject of serious discussion by educated people. And the general facts as stated above regarding geology have been proved (by the present writer) with such a wealth of facts and arguments that they also must speedily be acknowledged by scientists, when the latter take the trouble to study these facts and arguments. And with geology once adjusted to a system of real inductive science, instead of being as. .h.i.therto under the hypnotic control of speculative fancies and subjective methods, there is no longer any room for speculations regarding the origin of our world by evolutionary processes. It becomes almost a mathematical Q.E.D. _that things were made in the beginning by methods and processes that are no longer operative_, so far as science can observe. This means a real Creation, in the Bible sense of the term, something distinct from the means by which nature is now being sustained and carried on. Any attempt to describe the _why_ or the _how_ of this Creation would be useless speculation; but _this much is science_, and science that is to-day all the more impressive and conclusive because it has been won by centuries of conflict with every conceivable opposing prejudice.
In conclusion we may attempt to speak in a brief way of the present relations.h.i.+p between the Creator and the things which He has made, and if possible to dispel the sad confusion prevailing in many minds between G.o.d's continued immediate action in certain departments of nature and His action in other departments through the intermediate use of second causes.
On every hand we hear proclaimed a form of the doctrine of G.o.d's omnipresence (usually called the divine "immanence") which not only denies all distinction between the original Creation and the present perpetuation of the world, but a form which practically denies all second causes, and which cannot well be distinguished from pantheism, though it would be a spiritualistic or "idealistic" form of pantheism, or "monism," to use the favorite modern term. These extreme advocates of what they term the divine "immanence" go so far as to deny all second causes. And while they are fond of proclaiming this idea as an entirely new discovery, and proclaiming it with all the enthusiasm of proselytes to a new religion, they are also p.r.o.ne to state the (seemingly) opposed doctrine of second causes in such a way that it amounts to a mere caricature, a burlesque, picturing a sort of "absentee" G.o.d, who started the universe running and now merely stands by and watches it go. Thus pantheism and deism are often spoken of as the only alternatives for the choice of the modern man; for the real teachings of the Bible and of Christian philosophy are as completely ignored as if they had never been formulated or taught by intelligent people.
Let us first consider the scientific aspects of the doctrine of second causes, and the doctrine of G.o.d's immediate acting in various departments (or all departments) of nature.
1. We cannot deny that the will of man is a real cause, producing continual changes in the world about us. More than this, if there are not also second causes outside of the will of free intelligent personalities, the whole universe must be a gigantic deception; for it seems to be full of second causes. Long chains of what seem like second causes exist, made up of infinite numbers of links, as when the sun carries an amount of water up into the air, the latter dropping the water upon a mountain in the form of rain, gravity rolling it down the slope in vast force, sweeping away villages and towns, changing the fates of individuals and of nations. To quote two familiar examples from Stewart and Tait: "In a steam engine the amount of work produced depends upon the amount of heat carried from the boiler into the condenser; and this amount depends in its turn upon the amount of coal which is burned in the furnace of the engine. In like manner the velocity of the bullet which issues from the rifle depends upon the transformation of the energy of the powder; this in turn depends upon the explosion of the percussion cap; this again upon the fall of the trigger; and lastly this upon the finger of the man who fires the rifle." Thus even the very strongest opponents of the idea of second causes never deny that the latter seem to surround us on every side, and that it would be possible to trace a continuous line of apparent effects and causes back to the very beginning.
[Footnote 54: "The Unseen Universe," p. 184.]
This view of the matter, it is evident, readily leads to a deistic view of the universe,--or to that burlesque of the Christian view spoken of as the doctrine of an "absentee G.o.d," watching His universe run from the outside, slightly concerned with what it does.
2. On the other hand, a careful study of the correlation of forces shows us that the great First Cause is still very closely related to the operation of His universe. We may start, for instance, with the old argument from the evidences of _design_ in nature, which, though often sneered at of late, cannot be cavalierly dismissed in this way; for, as Dugald Stewart has well said, "every combination of means to an end implies intelligence." But the direct or immediate action of the great Intelligence behind nature is manifest in the marvellous behavior of the cells; which, instead of behaving in a way to indicate that their life processes are due to properties inherent in the atoms and molecules composing them, show every appearance of being _mere automata_ under the direct control of an intelligent, purpose-filled Mind,--a Mind external to themselves, it is true, and gloriously transcending them, but constantly, ceaselessly exercised by an immediate action which we may well call "immanent," in the original and proper sense of this term. Yet vital action is capable of exact correlation with the other forces of nature; and thus the modern law of the correlation of forces teaches us that the energy behind life must be the same as the energy pervading all nature, the various manifestations of which we know as light, heat, gravity, electricity, etc. Thus while the study of the behavior of life or the doctrine of "vitalism" might encourage us to think that in the cells and in the behavior of protoplasm we are witnessing the direct action of an intelligent Creator; yet we find that by the correlation of forces we must _say the same about all the physical and chemical phenomena of nature_. In other words, while the study of mere physical and chemical action might easily lead us to a strong belief in second causes, or to the belief that in this department of nature at least certain "properties" had been imparted to matter and it had then been left to act largely by itself; yet, since the vital processes of living organisms are capable of exact correlation with all other forces, such as light, heat, and electricity, the direct action of this universal all-controlling Mind in all the phenomena of nature seems demonstrated beyond a doubt, leaving apparently little or no room for any action of second causes.
But this view of the matter, as is very evident, is liable to lead to a pantheistic view of the universe, than which nothing could be more horrible.
How then shall we reconcile these conflicting views?
In this case, as in so many others, the Bible comes in to show us the rational _via media_, the straight path of reason and sound philosophy which avoids the absurdities of both extremes.
The plain and unambiguous teaching of the Bible is that G.o.d, the Creator, is a being, a person, infinite in all His powers and perfections, omnipresent throughout the universe; yet that there is a place in which He is to be found, or where He abides, in a sense in which He is not to be found in any other place. This paradox is easily understood when we realize that G.o.d is present everywhere throughout His universe _by His word and by His Spirit,_--His word being as effective throughout the remotest corners of His universe as near at hand, for the very simple reason that matter has no "properties" which He has not imparted to it, and therefore it can have no innate inertia or reluctance to act which G.o.d's word would need to overcome in order to induce it to act, even when this word operates across the boundless fields of s.p.a.ce. He has created free personalities, and He leaves the mind of each of His creatures free to serve Him or not to serve Him, these free intelligent beings becoming thus true second causes. More than this, provision for almost innumerable second causes seems to have been made even among other departments of nature, without however interfering with the direct action of the word of the Infinite One in guiding and controlling them all.
Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, was a.s.sociated with the Father in all the primary work of Creation; and He came to earth to show us what G.o.d the Father is like, that mortals might behold their Creator without being consumed. In Him we are to behold as much of the Deity as it is for our good to know; beyond that we must trust the hand that never wearies, the mind that never blunders, the heart that never grows cold.
In reality the seeming conflict between the doctrine of second causes and that of G.o.d's omnipresence is closely a.n.a.logous to the old (imaginary) conflict between the Law and the Gospel, read from the book of nature instead of from the Bible. The reign of second causes is the reign of law; but G.o.d's immediate action brings in the supernatural, the miraculous, or the Gospel. Each has its proper place; and neither must be dwelt on to the exclusion of the other. We are all under the hard exact.i.tude of the law, with its irrevocable condemnation, until the Gospel intervenes, and not only pardons the past, but enables us to fulfil the law's requirements for the future. The reign of second causes alone would take away man's moral responsibility, making us all mere creatures of our environment, the victims of a merciless determinism, and death would be the inevitable result of the violation of the slightest physical or physiological law. But we are all given power to live above environment, and a beneficent healing power is constantly intervening to save us from the consequences of our errors, healing our wounds and curing our diseases, in this giving us an object lesson of the forgiveness of sin and a promise of our ultimate conquest over all its power. We are all ineluctably bound about by countless chains of second causes, "awful with inevitable fates," until we see through them all the close providential working of our Creator, who is also our Saviour, and who is in no way shackled by His own laws, but conducts all things according to the counsel of His own will.
The Bible teaches us of a Creation as a definite act, completed at a definite period in the past, and it gives us the Sabbath as the divine memorial of this _completed_ Creation. We have seen how science also points backward along the various diverging lines of the great perspective of the ages to the vanis.h.i.+ng point whence they all begin, the birth-day of the world; and we say that thus science confirms the Bible record of Creation. But we also know that when Christ was being examined by the Sanhedrin for healing on the Sabbath, He defended Himself by saying, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." That is, although "the works were finished from the foundation of the world," and second causes are now largely operative in nature all around us, still there is everywhere manifest an active energy, a presence, an Intelligence, "in Whom we live, and move, and have our being."
That we cannot comprehend all this, that we cannot set definite boundaries to these seemingly conflicting views, is not at all surprising; for we are but finite. Even His universe partakes so much of His prerogative of infinity that it is utterly beyond the compa.s.s of our finite minds. Indeed, if either the Bible or the book of nature contained nothing beyond what we could easily comprehend, would it not diminish our reverence and awe for the One behind them, Whom we now regard as infinite in power and in wisdom?
True, the natural human heart cannot bear this thought of the direct acting throughout nature of the infinite Creator. It brings us too close beneath His gaze in our sinful shortcoming and nakedness.
[Footnote 55: A recent clever writer likens some of these metaphysical speculations to the act of a baby sucking at a nursing bottle. So long as there is any milk in the bottle, the baby sucks with pleasure and profit. Unfortunately the little fellow does not always stop sucking when the supply of milk gives out, but still keeps on sucking empty air, with resulting discomfort and colic. We all need to recognize the limits of the intellectual milk supply, and not keep on trying to solve problems that are in their very nature beyond the limits of the human mind.]
And so men draw the veil of their pantheistic or monistic philosophy over their hearts, to hide them from His all-searching gaze. In ancient times they seem to have done the same, as the monuments of Egypt and Babylonia declare; and the intimate knowledge of Nature and its Creator which they had in the morning of our world, degenerated into the nature wors.h.i.+p and polytheism which we find so nearly universal at the first dawn of secular history. It is only the child of G.o.d, the redeemed man, who can view without flinching the sublime fact of a direct Creation, or face the other great fact that what we call second causes are not the real causes of natural action, that the ordinary phenomena of light, heat, gravity, vital action, etc., do not occur because certain "properties" have been once imparted to matter and it then left to act of itself, any more than the child of G.o.d is left to struggle along with the supply of divine grace which was imparted to him at his conversion.
The Christian feels his constant dependence upon his Creator for overcoming power day by day, and he sees the whole universe just as momently dependent upon the tireless watchcare of the great Sustainer of all. The Christian alone delights to look upon the ceaseless service of his Father's love, perpetually ministering to the needs and even to the whims of His creatures. But if this tireless ministry reminds man of his own spiritual nakedness and insular selfishness, it serves also to remind him that it is only the free gift of a righteousness not his own that can clothe the ashamed soul cowering beneath the eye of infinite Purity and unselfish Love.
In our natural state we are like the dead, inorganic matter. Only by a new life that must be imparted to us from above, a real, individual, new creation, can we become alive spiritually. And then only by constant dependence for spiritual life and growth upon the word of the One who first created us can we hope to develop into His true sons and daughters, whose continuous care is momently exercised in controlling every particle of our bodily frame, and by whose continuous guidance in the development of character we hope to become worthy of a place in His presence forevermore.
Our Lord Jesus once said to the leaders of the Jews, "If ye believed Moses, ye would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" (John 5: 46-47). In our days is certainly consistent and appropriate that those who have had their faith revived in the first chapters of the Bible should also have renewed confidence in the last part of the Bible. A belief in a real Creation of the world, as recorded in the book of Genesis, naturally implies a belief in the end of the world as predicted in the book of Revelation. A belief in the former destruction of the world by water is in accord with a belief in its coming destruction by fire, each of these destructions being not absolute but regenerative.
This is in fact the line of argument used in that remarkable prophecy of 2 Peter 3: 3-7:
"In the last days mockers shall come with mockery, walking after their own l.u.s.ts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For, from the days that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they wilfully forget, that there were heavens of old, and an earth compacted out of water and amidst water, by the word of G.o.d; by which means the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished; but the heavens that are now, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of unG.o.dly men."
Two points in this remarkable prophecy deserve special attention:
1. It is a description of the religio-scientific problems of the "last days"; and the cla.s.s of people referred to are represented as "mocking"
at the second coming of Christ, because they have grown accustomed to denying, or "wilfully forgetting," the former destruction of the world by the waters of the Flood. This prediction, as we have seen, is in complete and accurate accord with the present situation; for the doctrine of Evolution is chiefly supported by the accepted theories of geology that there never was a universal Flood. Belief in the current theories of geology and in a universal Deluge cannot be held by the same mind, for they are mutually exclusive: either one makes the other meaningless. And as the popular geology is the foundation of the Evolution theory, so does the latter render useless and incredible what the Bible calls "that blessed hope," the second coming of Christ and the purification of the earth by fire.
2. The mockers here described certainly talk exactly like our modern _uniformitarians_; for they argue that "from the days that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." They imply that in the days of "the fathers" some people were foolish enough to believe differently; but since they "fell asleep" we have learned better. It should also be carefully noted that their theory of uniformity stretches back, not to the _close_ of Creation, but to "the _beginning_ of the Creation." Plainly, then, _Creation itself is embraced in their scheme of absolute uniformity_; and according to their view all distinction is smoothed out between Creation and the present perpetuation of the world by second causes. How could we ask for a more accurate word picture of the modern popular doctrines of the evolutionists and their characteristic methods of reasoning than is here given us by an inspired prophecy nearly two thousand years ago?
The call of the hour to the Church of Christ is for a renewed confidence in that Guide Book which she has brought with her down the centuries. As her Divine Lord went away, He commissioned her to carry His good tidings to all peoples; and so long as she remained true to this commission and to her instruction book, the world's cunning sophistries could not deceive her, nor could the cruel power of a world empire stifle her voice. And now when her absent Lord is about to return again, it surely behooves her to set her house in order, and to return with candor and fidelity to that written code of instruction left with her by her departing Master.
For the old-time friends of the Bible, the night of darkness and doubt is rapidly pa.s.sing; the morning of a fuller knowledge and a fuller confidence is at hand. Gone are those agonies of doubt regarding the truthfulness of the Bible's history and the adequacy of its ethics for the needs of our modern world. Abandoned forever are all those futile attempts at compromise, in a vain and painful endeavor to translate the record of Creation into the language of a pseudo-science now rapidly being outgrown, and to adapt the plan of salvation to the false standards of an artificial age that seems to be rapidly disintegrating before the Church's very eyes. She now realizes that her Bible is more accurate than the world's science, her simple gospel wiser than its philosophy.
The hour has struck; a sublime opportunity is before her; for the G.o.d of nature has Himself opened up before His Church the long-sealed chapters in His larger book, and is now pointing out the marvellous agreement between His book of nature and His written record. The strongest message of the Church has often been heard amid the darkest ages of apostasy. And the prophecies of the Bible have repeatedly pointed out a special message that the Church is to bear to the world in that darkest hour just before the breaking of eternal day,--a message that we now see is wonderfully adapted to this age of evolutionism in science and pantheism in philosophy. Looking down along the darkening vistas of the coming years, the great Jehovah saw how a vastly increased knowledge of His created works would be perverted into a burlesque of Creation, and how this would result in a wide-spread apostasy in which His written Word would be derided and scorned. Thus He timed a special reform for His faithful people to give to the world just before the end, calling upon the disbelievers in Creation then living to "wors.h.i.+p him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters" (Rev. 14: 7). And so now, when the darkness of evolutionism and pantheism is most dense, a light from above has illuminated the record in the book of nature, the language of which is already more familiar to our modern world than the language of the book so long distrusted and almost derided. This message itself from the book of nature is full of the essential ideas of the Gospel, faith in a Creator, who by His tireless care for the particles composing our bodies keeps them in order, and by healing our injuries and curing our diseases inspires us with faith in Him as our Saviour and Redeemer. And in such an hour, in such a world crisis, He has placed within the power of His Church these modern means of travel and quick communication, in order to speed on this last work of His Church so as to complete it in "this generation."
Q. E. D., or New Light on the Doctrine of Creation Part 8
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