This short article is directed specifically at my fellow young-earth creationists. This is not really any kind of thesis or polemic. I am simply trying, as much as it is possible in this forum, to spotlight this issue and make my fellow biblical creationists aware of this aspect of the creation-evolution controversy.
My introduction to biblical creationism, or scientific creationism, came shortly after I came to faith in Christ in January of 1978 via the now famous book, The Genesis Flood, by Henry M. Morris and John C. Whitcomb, first published in 1961. Henry Morris may be regarded as the “granddaddy of us all” who would currently describe ourselves as biblical creationists and proponents of scientific creationism. Morris and Whitcomb made a tour-de-force case for geological catastrophism and a global flood at a time when the secular academicians were still totally devoted, a priori, to the concept of geological uniformitarianism, a concept requiring a very ancient earth millions or billions of years old. (In the intervening years, secular geologists have retreated significantly from their stance of absolute uniformitarianism and have adopted a view incorporating what could be called “Multiple Catastrophism” — largely, in my view, due to the influence of Morris and biblical creationists in general, although I doubt any of them would admit this.)
Shortly afterwards, I came across another book, by Arthur Koestler, titled Janus. Koestler was one of the most significant and influential writers of the 20th century. I was already a kind of Koestler fan at that time although my conversion to Christianity decisively and permanently put me on a different intellectual path than Koestler. I still enjoy reading Koestler’s works. Koestler has many moments of great profundity. In Janus (and in his precursor book, The Ghost in the Machine, 1965) Koestler advocates a view which could be called “non-Darwinian evolution,” or, more affirmatively, vitalistic evolution, although I do not believe Koestler ever used that terminology.
In Janus Koestler powerfully and articulately critiques and repudiates (conclusively in my view) the entire chance schema upon which neo-Darwinism is based. To get a sense of Koestler’s orientation on this matter, one of his chapter titles is, “Strategies in Evolution.” The title is meant to be taken literally. Koestler was not sneaking teleology (purpose) in the back door through equivocation and verbal sleight of hand in order to obscure real-world teleology like so many evolutionists have routinely done over the last 160 years. Koestler’s thesis is that evolution is a directed process. Unfortunately, Koestler absorbed the old-earth presuppositions of the Darwinists without question or examination.
Then, in 1980, I was browsing around in a book store as was my frequent practice and came upon a new book by Steven M. Stanley, The New Evolutionary Timetable. Stanley was one of the Evolutionary Trinity advocating and, I think it is fair to say, orchestrating, a watershed movement away from Darwinian gradualism, along with Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge toward what they have termed “punctuated equilibria,” the concept of rapid evolution via small populations of species isolated from the parent group. This movement was and is essentially an effort to come to terms with the totally and manifestly non-evolutionary testimony of the fossil record and also the equally disturbing (but less publicized) disappointment with the results of microbiology and genetics which were slowly but certainly subverting and eroding the all-important foundation of Darwinism, namely homology.
Looking back on it, this sequence of investigation on my part must have been providential. I can’t think of three better books to read to get an overall grasp of the major players in the creation-evolution controversy and where the evolutionists are heading. In both cases, we have the tendency toward rationalizing the facts in a manner whose underlying purpose is to deny Divine creation, and especially biblical creation. I came to the very strong conviction after reading Koestler and Stanley that I could see the future of evolutionary thought. Koestler’s vitalistic thesis is ultimately more credible than the punctuated equilibria of Gould-Niles-Eldredge because punctuated equilibria so signally and flagrantly fails to account for the manifest teleology in nature, whereas vitalism or pantheism at least comes to terms with teleology. Being painted in the proverbial corner, evolutionists are now going to have virtually no choice but to assimilate teleology into their dogma.
Where is evolution heading?
Mark my words: the old neo-Darwinism will become increasingly marginalized as time goes by. It has been thoroughly discredited and is no longer intellectually respectable. Darwinism and neo-Darwinism are effectively dead. But this does not mean that evolution is dead. The devotees of evolutionary faith and a very ancient earth are not going to just naturally become Christian, biblical creationists. Hear the Word of God:
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.”—Romans 8:7
This is the reality of fallen humanity enslaved to original sin and the corruption of human nature. Jesus made it plain: “Unless a man is born again he cannot see (perceive) the kingdom of God.” (John 3). Those who do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling within are spiritually blind. They cannot perceive the kingdom of God. It is simply inevitable that those who do not know the Lord will seek alternate explanations to the biblical account for the fossil record and the biological world (and the cosmos, for that matter—but that is an entirely different train of thought).
I have a prediction: as the manifest fact of teleology (purpose) in the living world becomes more and more widely known and grasped by scientists, those who do not know the Lord are going to gravitate toward vitalistic or pantheistic explanations to account for natural phenomenon demonstrating teleology.
…all of which brings me full circle to my title. Don’t confuse the ID (Intelligent Design) crowd with biblical scientific creationists. They are a horse of a different color.
You can usually discern non-biblical ID proponents by their stance on the age of the earth. They are usually old earth advocates. I have noticed a tendency among some biblical creationists to regard the ID proponents as somehow automatically belonging to the family of orthodox biblical creationists. Don’t misunderstand them. They are not. My prediction is that in the long run, non-biblical ID proponents will gain the dominance in the academic world and the proverbial line in the sand will be drawn between biblical creationism and the new evolutionary Intelligent Design proponents. Now don’t get me wrong. The ID crowd are doing a lot of great scientific work. But you simply cannot escape the influence of pre-logical philosophical presuppositions upon scientific analysis unless you are willing to question them, and I see no sign that any of the ID crowd are examining their presuppositions about the age of the earth or evolution per se. These things are still regarded as sacrosanct, and therefore represent a form of idolatry.The inner impulse seems to be to preserve the doctrine of evolution at all costs and capitulating to intelligent design is, for them, a necessary evil. Its’ obvious implications are going to be denied. As long as it can be assimilated into some kind of evolutionary theory, so what? Proposing an alternate mechanism for the process is not the same thing as questioning the basic proposition.
In my next article, “THE YOUTHFULNESS OF PLUTO,” we will turn our attention to astronomy and the much-anticipated New Horizons probe to Pluto and the unexpected (from the secularists perspective) indications of Pluto’s youthfulness.