June 5, 1964
TORCH AND TRUMPET Breton Village Grand Rapids, Michigan
The well-nigh blanket endorsement of The Twilight oj Evolution given in a forward under the general signature, Reformed Fellowship, and the unqualified endorsement by R. J. Rushdoony in a TORCH AND TRUMPET book review tend to give the layman the impression that Henry M. Morris has given us a reliable catalog of creationism arguments. It is my studied opinion that such is not the case. One cannot arrive at reliable argument through a combination of doubtful exegesis and doubtful science. The work of Morris carries both these weaknesses.
Morris dogmatically asserts that we are “limited exclusively to divine revelation as to the date of creation, the duration of creation, the method of creation and every other question concerning creation” (p. 56). It seems to me that this is a gratuitous dogmatism on the part of Morris as the Bible does not presume to speak in any detail on some of these matters if it speaks at all, e.g., the date of creation. If we follow this dictum then we must conclude that the whole question of origins, i.e., those aspects which Morris mentions, are off limits in our study of general revelation. It is doubtful whether Reformed scholars generally would go along with that conclusion.
Morris suggests that evolutionists are not really true to the inductive (scientific) method because they marshal only those facts which fit their preconceived theory. Having said this and having limited the knowledge of origins to special revelation, Morris immediately begins to read into the account of the flood many conjectures and conclusions which go far beyond the Biblical account in substantiating his theory of catastrophism. Evolutionists are wont to use such conjectural language as “it must have.” This same kind of conjectural conclusion is found with Morris (Cf. Chapter IV. “Water and the Word”). Morris makes frequent reference to sedimentation, upheavals, etc. in his interpretation of geological facts. None of these come in for any reference in the Biblical account. If we may use these items to explain unexplained aspects of the Flood, by what principle are they excluded from the unexplained aspects of creation?
Morris argues that the geologists’ arguments for uniformity are invalidated by the presence of numerous exceptions. For example, the more advanced forms of life are found in fossil form at lower layers and the less advanced at the higher levels. Having said this, Morris then proceeds to argue that the presence of uniformity can be explained by hydrodynamic laws which operated during and immediately after the flood. But is it not the case that the exceptions invalidate his argument as much as those of the uniformitarian?
Morris brings in a scientific tour de force which identifies the beginning of the operation of the second law of thermodynamics with the curse that followed man’s fall into sin. However, one can scarcely conceive of the pre-fall world as existing without order proceeding to disorder. If Morris’ thesis is correct, then we must conclude that the laws of physics were completely renovated with the fall By his previous principle, Morris is hardly entitled to read this into the account of the Fall.
Morris implies that uniformitarians use evolution as a dodge to escape the implications of a creationism and its implied moral responsibility towards a Creator. Uniformitarianism presumably guarantees that the ongoing process will never come to a stage where an accounting by a Creator will be demanded. Entropy increase is called in to refute this uniformitarian assumption. However, it should be evident that the notion of entropy increase adds nothing to the argument here. There are many who presume that this is a world of chance and that it may once again revert to complete disorder on the basis of entropy increase. Tn other words, the second law of thermodynamics does not tend to promote Christian theism any more than uniformitarianism does.
Morris argues that his title is particularly apt because, among other reasons, it suggests that evolution has had its day. There is an increasing number of scientists who are objecting to the kind of ready acceptance which evolution has received ( p. 84 ff.). If this is the tendency, one might conclude that there is a turning away from the apostasy which is at the root of evolutionism, hence The Twilight 0f Evolution. Having scarcely finished this line of argument, Morris quickly turns to discuss the death of evolution. This is to be brought about by the return of Christ. The portent of the imminent return is now the apostasy which is in evidence by the widespread adherence to evolution by scientists in general. It would almost seem that these two interpretations are mutually exclusive.
Finally, Morris seems to subscribe to the grossest kind of literalism in his exegesis. At times his interpretations approach the ludicrous. He suggests, “There is no need to spiritualize the promises concerning the new heavens and the new earth” (p. 71). True to his approach he goes on to say, “As far as the Scriptures indicate, the earth’s needs for water will be fully satisfied by the ‘pure river of water of life’ which proceeds from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (p. 72). By contrast Morris has seen fit to spiritualize Ezekiel 28:12–15 because it suits his particular interpretation.
We admire the great amount of time and effort which Morris has expended in his pursuit of a scientific and Biblical case for creationism. We would insist, however, that he bas been little more than partially successful in either direction, the scientific and the Biblical.
A Biblical approach to origins is of the essence of Christianity. It is the purpose of the Biblical account to point the way to the Creator. It is the purpose of the Biblical account to forefend idolatry. In the Biblical account we have all that is necessary to that end. It seems to me that within these limits we may certainly proceed to examine the inductive evidence for some of the methodological details on which the Bible is silent. To say that there is some latitude here hardly need make one suspect as to his subservience to Biblical truth.
NICK R. VAN TIL
Sioux Center, Iowa
July 6, 1964
Editor, TORCH AND TRUMPET Grand Rapids, Michigan
Professor Van Til seems to have misunderstood some of the arguments presented in The Twilight of Evolution, and this was probably my fault. A common difficulty in discussing issues of this sort is that propositions which seem so clear and convincing to their advocates as almost to be self-evident may be entirely opaque to those accustomed to thinking in other categories.
But the issues are undoubtedly important, so let me try again. The reasons for insisting that divine revelation is required if we are really to know anything about the creation period include the following: (1) no human observer was present during the creation period to record what took place; (2) science, as such (meaning “knowledge”) necessarily can deal only with present processes which, by virtue of their reproducibility, are the only processes amenable to the scientific method; (3) these present processes are not processes of creation, for the reason that they are controlled by the two laws of thermodynamics, which explicitly deny that any creation is now taking place; and (4) the Scriptures also explicitly and plainly say that no creation is now taking place but, rather, that all God’s works of creation were finished from the foundation of the world.
I did not suggest, at least not intentionally, that evolutionists use only those facts which fit their theories. But the problem is that their basic, perhaps subconscious, humanistic perspective impels them to interpret all the facts which they do encounter in such a way as to correlate with the evolutionary (man-centered) world-view. Christians, on the other hand, if they are to be consistent with their Biblical (Creator-centered) presuppositions, should both consciously and conscientiously attempt to understand all physical facts and phenomena within that framework of revealed Truth which God, as Creator of both the external universe and the minds with which we are to comprehend it, has seen it to give us. And since questions of origins are ready outside the scope of science, in the proper meaning of the term, neither set of presuppositions is “scientific.” Both are matters of faith and nothing else. It may be possible, with enough assumptions, to interpret all the (acts in such a way as to support the uniformitarian, evolutionary, non-theistic, man-centered cosmology. But it is also possible to interpret the same facts (much more directly and logically, I believe) in such a way as to support the Biblical, creationist, catastrophist cosmology. The choice between the two is thus not a scientific decision at all, but rather a spiritual decision.
The basic framework of earth history, as recorded in Scripture, centers around a real Creation, both complete and perfect, followed by the Fall and Curse, and then the worldwide catastrophic Deluge in the days of Noah. All of these events were plainly global in scope, according to Scripture. Many details concerning these events are given in the Bible, all of which must be normative for a true Christian cosmology and cosmogony, and which must there· fore serve as guidelines for our interpretation of the various phenomena and facts of science. But it is only these Biblical data and the basic Biblical framework that we need be especially concerned to defend, not the various details of scientific interpretation which we might offer as tentative hypotheses within that framework.
For this reason, I shall not attempt to meet Professor Van Til’s objections to my suggestion) concerning the possible geologic and hydrodynamic activity during the Flood. 1 think they are plausible and that they rather satisfactorily explain the actual data, but it may turn out that other explanations will be better. The important point is that such explanations must be consistent with the Biblical record, which means that the pertinent data must be interpreted within the framework of real Creation, the Curse and the universal Flood. This stricture necessarily rules out the evolutionary hypothesis and also, to the extent that it rejects the above facets of the Biblical framework. geological uniformitarianism.
Professor Van Til strenuously objects to the proposition that the second law of thermodynamics may be related to the Curse, and of course this idea also need not be regarded as fixed Scriptural dogma. But the Bible is plain in stating that everything God made during the Creation period was very good, and it is evident that this at least means there was no disorder in His original creation. It is also plain that the Curse was pronounced on the whole world, and that this involved profound physical changes as well as a spiritual judgment. The “bondage of decay,” in which the whole creation now travails, could hardly have been a characteristic of the perfect primeval creation. And this present universal tendency toward decay and disorder is nothing more or less than the condition which is formalized scientifically in the so-called “second law.”
There is no necessary connection between the first law of thermodynamics (energy conservation) and the second law. That is, it is perfectly conceivable that all the world’s various physical processes. which always embody energy exchanges and transformations, could have been originally designed to operate without “friction” or energy degradation (that is, without a decrease of order). That fact that all such processes now do involve a degradation of order is scientifically certain, but no one knows why this is so—unless indeed the explanation is found in the primeval Curse on man’s dominion, pronounced when man introduced spiritual disorder into it.
I did not mean, by the title Twilight of Evolution, to imply that there is a turning away from evolution by any more than a small minority of scientists. I thought the significance of the title had been clearly explained in the book, and do not understand brother Van Til’s polemic on this particular point, unless he perhaps overlooked those sections in which the several implications of the title were discussed. But this is a minor matter.
Similarly, my interpretations of Revelation 22 and Ezekiel 28 are not essential to the purpose of the book, so I’ll not try to defend these either. They are not original with me, of course, but have been advocated by many excellent Biblical exegetes. I am sorry that he feels they are “ludicrous,” of course. but he is entitled to his own judgment.
Since all royalties on The Twilight of Evolution go to the Reformed Fellowship. perhaps it is permissible to suggest that the individual concerned with these problems get the book and read it, carefully, himself, not allowing himself to be influenced unduly by the “well-nigh blanket endorsements” of Pastor Rushdoony and of the Reformed Fellowship, in its “forward” (sic), nor by the well-nigh blanket condemnations of Professor Van Til.
HENRY M. MORRIS Blacksburg, Virginia