Friday, February 20, 2009

What Led Darwin Astray? Part II

“Why is the Origin of Species such a great book? First of all, because it convincingly demonstrates the fact of evolution: it provides a vast and well-chosen body of evidence showing that existing animals and plants cannot have been separately created in their present forms, but must have evolved from earlier life forms by slow transformation. And secondly, because the theory of natural selection, which the Origin so fully and so lucidly expounds, provides a mechanism by which such transformation could and would automatically be produced…” Julian Huxley, Introduction to Origin pg 10
In his introduction to Darwin’s groundbreaking work The Origin of Species, Julian Huxley—grandson of “Darwin’s Bulldog” Thomas Huxley—praises Darwin’s contributions to evolutionary theory, and the way he knowingly contradicted the prevailing views of the 19th century church. As you read the quote above, notice how Huxley characterizes the creationism of the day (and dismisses it as a myth). First of all he correctly notes that the church was teaching a doctrine known as “the fixity of species,” an idea inherited from Greek thought, which claimed that the natural world cannot and does not change over time.

“…showing that existing animals and plants cannot have been separately created in their present forms…”

And secondly, Huxley points out that “natural selection” provides a purely materialistic mechanism for transformation. Both of these concepts (change over time, and natural selection as a mechanism for that change) ran counter to the philosophy of the English church at that time.
“Until recently the great majority of naturalists [many of whom were clergy] believed that species were immutable [unchanging] productions, and had been separately created.” Charles Darwin, Origin of Species pg. 17
After all, if species adapt and change in response to changes in their environment, wouldn’t that imply that God’s creation was somehow “imperfect?” Wouldn’t it undermine God’s sovereign governorship of His creatures, if nature were in some way responsible for sustaining the viability of a species?

The answer is both yes and no.

Before we address these questions in depth, we need to quickly dispel a common myth about modern Creationism. I’ll make this really plain and simple.

Creationists recognize that species do change and adapt.

Historically this was not the case. The 19th century church espoused the erroneous doctrine of the fixity of species. We DO NOT. It is an unbiblical idea, and no longer has any scientific credibility. There are numerous real-world examples of species’ characteristics changing in response to weather patterns, food supply, predation and other environmental pressures. But most importantly, we understand that the Biblical account—when properly interpreted—allows for such adaptation, without in any way compromising the truth of the Genesis account.

Nonetheless, many evolutionists continue to misrepresent our views. Douglas Futuyma defines “special creation” as “the doctrine that each species, living and extinct, was created independently by God, essentially in its present form” (Todd C. Wood’s “Species Variability and Creationism,” Origins 62 (2008))

In future posts we will deal with natural selection and adaptation, examining the Genesis account to properly understand meaning of the word “kind.” We will take the popular evidences of evolution and point out how they instead point directly to the Creator and affirm the truth of the Biblical account.
Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” - Genesis 1:20-22


  1. I agree that folks will undoubtedly misrepresent a "camp" in which they are not entrenched. That goes for Godly individuals trying to understand ungodly perspectives as well as the ungodly trying to understand the Godly.

    I'm curious about your usage of the word 'species.' Do you distinguish between 'species' and the Hebrew word we usually read as 'kind?'

    I'm also curious about your choice of quotes at the beginning of your paper "Darwin's Finches - Reexaming the Icons of Evolution", March 2009. You quote Immanuel Kant at the end of a series of quotes that make it appear as though you agree with Kant. That agreement seems apparent because of your declared faith and all the other quotes are scripture.

    Scripture tells me that creation took six days (yoms). Nowhere in scripture is a yom referenced where the meaning is anything other than 24 hours.

    Kant's choice of words was very poor. When he referred to "the Creation" he was probably referring to the six day event. But when he later used "Creation" he was probably trying to refer to our God. In any case, what he was saying was completely unbiblical or unscholarly.

    So, is your list of quotes meant to be orthoganal?

  2. Jeff, allow me to apologize for the amount of time which has elapsed between your comment and my response. Blogging has never been my forte.

    In the conflict of ideas, there will always be a host of misrepresentations, slanderous accusations, straw men…etc., and you’re right – both sides sometimes engage in this behavior. I assure you that I took every effort not to misrepresent or misquote the views of modern Darwinists—in fact, I spent a tremendous amount of time going over their writings and studying the current theories. It is, after all, Darwin’s 200th birthday this year, so evolutionary hype abounds. They’re quite clear about what they believe (though at times they’re ridiculously contradictory).

    My goal with the essay was to expose and explore the foundations of Darwinism—historical and theoretical—and point out the fundamental flaws in natural selection theory.

    With regard to your question about “species,” I’ve defined it in the glossary as:

    “A unit of one or more populations of individuals that can reproduce under normal conditions, produce fertile offspring, and are reproductively isolated from other such units.”

    So there’s my technical definition. And yes, I would distinguish “species” and Biblical “kind.”

    Also, regarding the Immanuel Kant quote. I was attempting to juxtapose his humanistic evolutionary view with the Scriptural account, but I admit that it could be easily misconstrued as me agreeing with Kant. On the contrary, I absolutely agree with you about the literal 6-24-hour day Creation as described in Genesis. My quotes could have been more carefully selected...