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Old Testament Study – Science and Scripture
AUTHOR: Culver, Calvin
PUBLISHED ON: May 12, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN
PUBLISHED IN: Bible Studies

            Old Testament Study – Science and Scripture

    We come now to an issue which must be addressed, however briefly: the
problem of the relationship between science and scripture.  This is a highly
controversial topic, which has generated volumes of discussion, and will
undoubtedly continue to do so in the future, but for now I will simply call
your attention to a number of facts, and tentatively offer a few of my own
conclusions.

    Let’s state the problem in the following manner: The problem is that some
interpretations of the scientific data contradict some interpretations of the
biblical data.  I have stated the problem in this way in order to emphasize
the root of the problem – the problem lies, not in the facts themselves, but
simply in the interpretations which various scholars have placed upon those
facts. There are, as we shall see, some interpretations of the scientific data
which do not contradict the biblical accounts (or, conversely, some
interpretations of the biblical data which do not contradict scientific
accounts).  In sum, we must always bear in mind that there is no inherent
contradiction between the biblical and the scientific data.

    So, let’s be more specific.  What are the problem areas?  They are,
primarily, the areas of biology and geology.  I will in this lesson discuss
something of the biological issues involved, then turn in the next lesson to
questions of a geological nature.  There are many biologists who insist that
the biblical solution to the question of the origins and the development of
life does not square with their understanding that life came into existence by
chance or random, purposeless activity, and that all life as we know it today
evolved from an original single-celled being.  What we have here, really, are
two distinct problems: the first is that of the origin and development of the
universe and life.  The second is that of the biblical claim of uniqueness for
man.  This claim is being hotly contested by those whose interpretations of
the scientific data see a long train of development of all life from lower
stages of existence to higher.  And the claim is certainly also made that the
evidence does not support the theory that all mankind finds its origins in a
single pair of human beings.  These scientists would want to suggest that
there were many primitive men, and that the human race evolved from many
anthropodal forms, not just one human pair.

    Let’s stop here a moment and ask something about the type of evidence used
by the natural scientist to erect or to support this type of theory.  In order
to provide a framework within which to organize this data I will be using, in
modified form, the taxonomic tables of one George Gaylord Simson, a biologist
who in 1942 wrote a book called _Tempo and Mode in Evolution_ in which he
divided all biological evidence into three categories.  While I will be
employing Simson’s language, I will be organizing his categories somewhat
differently.  The three categories as I will be using them are as follows:
Phylitic, Speciation, and Quantum.

    The first of these categories – the phylitic – includes the evidence of
the fossil records – those remains of dinosaurs, ancient fish, insect life,
and the like which have through natural processes become entrapped in river
beds and other deposits, leaving impressions which have through geological
activities been transformed into stone, preserving for us a record of the
life.

    The evidences classified as speciation are largely those evolutionary
changes we see occurring among living beings.  For example, I could cross a
German shepherd with a doberman pinscher to create a new strain of dog.  If I
continue doing this, and then mate those of this new strain to produce further
offspring, I can create a new breed of dog.  There are many incidences of this
sort of change and adaptation which may be observed to occur naturally all
around us. These are what Simson termed ‘speciation’, or ‘species building’.

    If we look at the taxonomic tables developed by Simson, we are told that
living beings can be classified, from general to specific, into the following
categories: phylum, sub-phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.  The
types of evidence discussed in the previous paragraph may be seen, in light of
the taxonomic tables, to be very strictly limited to the level of species, or
at most of genus (thought that is debatable).  This is to say that all
observable changes occurring today do so at the species level only.  Even
carefully controlled, rigidly guided laboratory research – research, for
example, to develop a hardier strain of corn or wheat – has been unable to
affect change above the level of species.

    Even the broadest view of the fossil – or phylitic – evidence discovers
that, though there is no clear-cut definition, the various types of
interrelationships that may be positively discovered in the fossil records do
not go beyond order, and even at that there are large gaps between the various
types of evidence – e.g. for various kinds of fish or reptile.  How then do we
account for these gaps?

    To attempt to do so, we must turn to the third category of evidence – the
quantum evidence.  While both the fossil record and observation provide
evidence of change or evolution at the species level, there is no evidence
available to support change at levels above that order; that is, there are
gaps in the evidence.  These gaps are called quantum gaps, and the spanning of
these gaps the quantum leap.  These quantum leaps suggest that for reasons as
yet unknown to us there were sudden jumps in the evolutionary process, jumps
which occurred suddenly enough to have left no trace; there is no physical
evidence of their existence.

    Without evidence, then, we find ourselves caught up in the entirely
hypothetical part of evolutionary theory.  There have indeed been many
attempts made to explain these sudden quantum jumps -theories ranging from the
bombardment of earth by ultraviolet or radioactive solar rays to as-yet-
little- understood complexities of the DNA structure – but the point is that
no hard evidence exists for evolutionary change beyond the species level.  In
fact, such evolutionary processes would require millions of minute mutations
simply to turn a scale into a feather, to say nothing of the corresponding
musculo-skeletal structural changes that would be required to make use of the
feather.  Further, such changes would have to occur in not just one but two
members of a species – a male and a female – who would then have to mate to
produce offspring and perpetuate the change.  And again, there is absolutely
no hard evidence that such mutations have ever taken place.  This is not to
say that such changes couldn’t take place but only that one is left at the
point of accepting theories of the quantum leap simply on principles of faith.

    In sum, then, the biological problem is essentially a problem of
interpretation: we find some evidence of development – or evolution -but does
this mean that evolution has occurred in a straight-line fashion?  Does it
mean that when the Genesis accounts say life was created according to its
kinds that we must impose certain boundaries on our vision of the evolutionary
process?  Or perhaps there is another explanation entirely.  We simply cannot
say with certainty.

Calvin Culver

Computers for Christ – Chicago

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