A week ago I posted the following questions:
What does the term "special creation" mean?
From what source or tradition does it derive? Is its source biblical?
theological? philosophical? scientific?
When, and in what context did it come into use?
Robert Rogland answered:
I believe the term "special" in "special creation" is simply derived from
the word "species." "Special creation" is the view that God created each
and every extinct and extant species. It does not allow, or did not
originally allow, for microevolution, much less macroevolution.
It seems that this is the correct answer. For a fascinating development of
this from the perspective of a historian of science, see the two essays
One of the more interesting of Aulie's points is that the "doctrine of
special creation" -- prominent as a serious and respected biological concept
during the late 18th and early 19th centuries -- derives NOT from the Bible,
but rather from Plato and Aristotle (the fixity of species that are earthly
manifestations of eternal "ideas"; the eternality of matter; the
hierarchical ordering of creaturely forms, etc.).
What Darwin denounced was not the theological doctrine of creation per se
(the world owes its being to a Creator-God), but the inadequacies of the
biological doctrine of special creation built on the ancient Greek
1. Aulie, Richard P. (1983) "Evolution and Creation: Historical Aspects of
the Controversy," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 127(6):
From the Conclusion:
It is difficult to imagine that churches today would knowingly adopt a
biological idea of a bygone age and make it a substitute for the ancient and
time-honored Judeo-Christian doctrine of creation that played so crucial a
role in the rise of modern science. If the doctrine of special creation had
discernible roots in church history or if it was an unambiguous derivative
of biblical exegesis, churches might have reason to gird their loins and do
battle. But that is not so. Churches have no need to clothe themselves in
this tattered and long-since discarded garment of biology.
It is no accident of history that the theory of evolution arose in the West.
Evolutionary theory presupposes a worldview, a Weltanschauung, that is
derived from Judeo-Christian thought. The argument therefore can scarcely be
sustained that evolution stands opposed to theism. On the other hand, it is
the doctrine of special creation that stands contrary to those fruitful
themes that arose as early as the time of the Maccabees and the Patristic
age. Special creation presupposes a worldview that has roots in Greek
antiquity. In conceptual origin and methodology, special creation is a
denial of those themes concerning nature and religion that were reaffirmed
and passed on to us by the Renaissance and Reformation.
2. Aulie, Richard P. (April, May, 1972) "The Doctrine of Special Creation"
American Biology Teacher, pp. 11-23.
This study examines the anti-evolutionary views that are promulgated in the
high school biology text recently published by the Creation Research
Society. Three main features of the doctrine of special creation -- the
design argument, catastrophism, and the ideal type -- are examined in a
historical context. It is argued that this creationist model, here
distinguished from the Judeo-Christian doctrine of creation, is essentially
non-Biblical in character.
The creationist model in the textbook is very similar to the interpretation
of similarity and variability that prevailed in the late 18th and 19th
centuries. Moreover, with its emphasis on fixity, creationism represents in
large measure an extension of Greek philosophy. It was part of the biology
that, until the publication of Darwin¹s origin of species, was strongly
influenced by the thought of Plato and Aristotle. By contrast, the theory of
evolution could only arise where, in the West, the antecedent ideas of
progress, origin, linear time, and future fulfillment were part of the
The Judeo-Christian doctrine of creation and the theory of evolution may be
complementary, but they can never be alternative views of organic nature.
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