Comments on White

Ted Davis (
Mon, 03 Aug 1998 10:27:04 -0400

Glenn Morton asked me I to "comment on whether White is correct in
his assertion that theology argued against the fossils being organisms."

He then quotes White at length on Beringer, followed by this final
quotation: "So now against geology it was urged that the scientific doctrine
that fossils represent animals which died before Adam contradicts the
teological doctrine of Adam's fall and the statement that 'death entered the
world by sin.'"
~Andrew D. White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in
Christendom, 1, (New York: George Braziller, 1955), p.218

One could spend all of ones time responding to White in detail. Glenn is
right that many of his facts are correct -- as far as they go in his *very*
limited, biased presentation of them -- though many are also wrong. As is
often true with White, In this case he could have some basis for saying
this; I can't tell, because it isn't clear in context which people/views he
is referring to. However, as a generalization it isn't correct. Rudwick
(the book cited by Glenn) and several other good sources show very well that
diluvialism encouraged rather than discouraged belief in the organic origin
of fossils. What tended to argue against the organic origin was Greek
philosophy, either in the form of the chain of beings (from both Aristotle
and Plato) or in form of Platonic forms, which influenced Beringer's
position. So much for White's first statement.

As for the second statement, White is correct that accepting the organic
origin of fossils while also accepting their pre-Adamic origin led to
serious questions about the efficacy of the fall. I have discussed this in
earlier posts on Edward Hitchcock (who is mentioned in passing by White,
incidentally, on p. 223), which readers may search out for themselves. In
my view, it is this more than any other reason why scientific creationists
insist on a young earth.

Ted Davis