What is "special creation"?Similar to the debate between evolution and creation -- science and religion -- is an even broader tension within our universities between professionalism and scholarship. This difference was the basis of life struggles that inspired my novel and web site (http://www.fireflysun.com), most notably the link "Psychology Falls Down of WTC Tragedy" (http://www.fireflysun.com/falldown.html). Inspired intellectuals like yourselves who represent the last bastion of scholarship repelling the technico-professional juggernaut may appreciate the views expressed on this site.
J. Wyatt Ehrenfels
PhD, Social-Personality Psychology
----- Original Message -----
From: Howard J. Van Till
Sent: Saturday, December 15, 2001 10:21 AM
Subject: What is "special creation"?
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 listed below.
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 worldview.
1. Aulie, Richard P. (1983) "Evolution and Creation: Historical Aspects of the Controversy," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 127(6): pp. 418-462.
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 Judeo-Christian tradition.
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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