Christian Perspectives on the Origin of Species
188 Pages

Christian Perspectives on the Origin of Species


Mission statement -

Core Academy of Science encourages young Christian scholars to explore the hardest problems in creation. Engineers sometimes classify problems as easy, hard, and impossible. Easy problems are trivial because they can be solved merely by applying known principles. Impossible problems cannot be solved no matter how hard we try. Hard problems are the problems in between that require the most work but yield the greatest rewards. Sometimes hard problems are accumulations of many easy problems, and sometimes they turn out to be impossible. When a hard problem is solved, though, it is widely celebrated.

For Christians and especially young-age creationists, understanding creation has many "hard problems." Evidences of the great age of the universe and earth can be difficult to explain. Likewise with evidences of evolution. Creationists reject the conventional explanations that involve millions of years and humans evolving from animals, but alternative explanations that satisfy our scientific curiosity and our desire to remain true to the revealed Word of God are much rarer and not widely accepted. It is much easier to focus on the detection of error rather than the more difficult discovery of truth.

This focus on error rather than truth pervades evangelical Christianity, because it's relatively easy. We all like the easy and impossible. We teach our children to recite verses from the Bible and answers to our catechisms, but when they ask difficult questions, we say, "Only God knows." We might even scold them for being impertinent or irreverent.

Core Academy equips the next generation to tackle these great mysteries by first and most importantly helping young scholars to develop a bold, confident faith. All too often, scholars who face challenging puzzles become disillusioned and stray from the faith. Our first goal, then, must be enriching and nurturing strong faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Creator.



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Published 04 March 2009
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EAN13 9781725244832
Language English
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C E N T E R F O R O R I G I N S R E S E A R C H Issues I N C R E A T I O N
ChRIsTIàN PeRspecTIves oN The ORIgIN of SpecIes
EditEdbyPaula. GarnEr Biblical Creation Ministries
Center for Origins Research Issues in Creation Number 4 January 16, 2009
W I P F&S T O C KEu g e n e , O r e g o n
CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVES ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES Copyright © 2009 Center for Origins Research. All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in critical publications or reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher. Write: Permissions, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 199 W. 8th Ave., Eugene, OR 97401. ISBN 13:978-1-60608-523-3 Manufactured in the U.S.A.
Christianity and creationism are often linked to species îxity, but this opinion has not been the only position taken by Christians on the question of the origin of species. This compilation collects Christian writings on species from the seventeenth century through the twentieth century, highlighting the diversity of opinions.
Preface 1. Francesco Redi  (1626–1697) 2. Carolus Linnaeus  (1707–1778) 3. William Herbert  (1778–1847) 4. Louis Agassiz  (1807–1873) 5. Asa Gray  (1810–1888) 6. Fleeming Jenkin  (1833–1885) 7. St. George Jackson Mivart  (1827–1900) 8. Erich Wasmann  (1859–1931) 9. Harold C. Morton (ca. 1925)10. Byron C. Nelson  (1893–1972) 11. Dudley Joseph Whitney  (1883–1964) 12. Douglas Dewar  (1875–1957) 13. George McCready Price  (1870–1963) 14. Harold W. Clark  (1891–1986) 15. Frank L. Marsh  (1899–1992)
Paula. GarnEr
It was not until the seventeenth century that the word “species” began to develop a distinctively biological meaning. Until that time, there was no clear concept of a “species” in the sense that we understand it today. The closest approximations to a biological taxonomy in the mediaeval world were the bestiaries, highly fanciful catalogues of animals and birds, and the ancient herbals, which listed plants according to their perceived medicinal properties. However, with the age of discovery new continents began to be explored, and the number of known varieties of animals and plants grew rapidly. Catalogues listing a few hundred types soon gave way to those listing thousands. The need arose for a system by which this burgeoning faunal and oral diversity could be described and classiîed. This need was met by the binomial system that has become the foundation stone of modern taxonomy. It was developed by the celebrated Swedish naturalist, Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), who formalised the method of identifying each species by a unique combination of generic and speciîc descriptors. Since the time of Linnaeus, the true nature of species has been the subject of intensive discussion and debate. Are species the fundamental units of nature–immutable and unchanging? Or are they simply units of convenience–dynamic and malleable? Such questions have engaged the interest of scientists and philosophers for the last three hundred years. The purpose of this monograph is to survey the range of views on these matters expressed by scholars from within the Christian tradition since the seventeenth century. I have sought to discover from their writings what these scholars were thinking about the origin and nature of species. What views did they express? Was there any uniformity? Or did they encompass a variety of different positions? Was there ever what we might call a “consensus” Christian view? Selections from îfteen Christian scholars have been included, 1 ranging in date from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. They are intended to be representative, though not exhaustive or comprehensive.
Where spelling or other errors occur in the original texts, I have indicated this with sic. However, I have not sought to correct those instances where authors have failed to italicize genus and/or species names.
ChRIsTIàN PeRspecTIves oN The ORIgIN of SpecIes
Some are from well known and popular authors, such as Louis Agassiz and Asa Gray. Others are less well known, and their writings are reprinted here for the îrst time since they were originally published. Among these scholars a surprisingly wide range of views is expressed. Some undoubtedly propounded the immutability of species, a view that had become particularly popular in the period leading up to the publication of Darwin’sOn the Origin of Species(1859). However, in most cases the beliefs of those advocating îxity seem, interestingly enough, to have been motivated by considerations other than biblical literalism. Certainly it is difîcult to regard prominent supporters of îxity such as Louis Agassiz and Fleeming Jenkin as fundamentalists. Other scholars, including some notable contemporaries of Darwin, quickly came to accept unlimited species change. Indeed, one of the leading nineteenth century spokesmen for what today we might call “theistic evolution” was the American Presbyterian Asa Gray. However, I have also included a number of contributions by a disparate group of Christian scholars, often dismissed or misunderstood today, whose views are not represented by the extremes either of species îxity or unlimited change. Instead, these authors accepted the evidence that species could change, but believed that they did so within limits. They rejected îxity as incompatible with scientiîc observation, but felt that Darwin had extrapolated the observed changes well beyond what was justiîed by the data. If there is a bias in my selection, it is towards the inclusion of these more obscure authors, precisely because they are so often neglected today. It is also true that the views of some scholars changed over time, with perhaps Linnaeus being the best example. Often regarded as the proponentpar excellencespecies îxity, Linnaeus of actually came to a very different perspective later in life. I am pleased to include in this collection a new translation by Tim Grifîth of Linnaeus’ De Peloria, in which his developing doubts about species îxity are expressed very clearly. The views represented in this monograph do not necessarily accord with those of the monograph’s editor or of the Center for Origins Research. Unlike some of our contributors, I reject species îxity and unlimited evolutionary change on biblical and scientiîc grounds. Nevertheless, I have included authors of these persuasions to demonstrate the diversity of opinions that have been expressed by Christians on this issue. The truth is that there has never been a uniform Christian “view” on the origin and nature of species. The choice popularly portrayed between creation and evolution, between îxity and unlimited change, does not represent the spectrum of views expressed by Christians over the last three centuries, nor does it reect the views of modern creation biologists based on the insights provided in the Bible. It is a false dichotomy and the truth about species change probably lies somewhere between these two extremes.