You are hereBeyond Creation Science: How Preterism Refutes a Global Flood and Impacts the Genesis Debate – Part 10
Beyond Creation Science: How Preterism Refutes a Global Flood and Impacts the Genesis Debate – Part 10
by Timothy P. Martin
Secondary Means in Creation
A third item of fundamental importance in the Genesis debate is the question of secondary means in God’s creation of the universe. Is God’s act of creation cheapened or lessened by the presence of any process or time within the act itself? If there is a physically explainable cause and effect, does that negate Divine activity? Is the question either/or, or is both/and a possibility? Secondary Means in Creation
A third item of fundamental importance in the Genesis debate is the question of secondary means in God’s creation of the universe. Is God’s act of creation cheapened or lessened by the presence of any process or time within the act itself? If there is a physically explainable cause and effect, does that negate Divine activity? Is the question either/or, or is both/and a possibility? The Creation Science view presents the case for biblical creation as categorically either/or (either immediate Divine creation or naturalistic process and time). On the other hand, old-earth creationism accepts varying levels of secondary means within God’s complete act of creation. Bernard Ramm introduces the issue this way:
The idea of creation is rather complex. Evangelicals were not always aware of the great deal of thought put into this matter by Augustine and Aquinas. As a result evangelicals posed the problem as resolving down to: i) fiat, instantaneous creationism; or (ii) atheistic developmentalism. This is certainly a gross over-simplification, not a genuine probing, of the entire concept of creation. By putting the question this way, every bit of developmentalism in science made the evangelical position that much more difficult of defence. Evangelicals, by putting such a premium on discontinuity, had no recourse but to fight any continuity in the sciences as if it were the devil himself. With no real philosophy of creation, evangelicals defended a position that violently countermanded the findings of science.
Christians who see creation through the theological eyes of redemption should ponder the issue deeply. Paul draws the explicit analogy between creation and new creation by saying:
For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:5-6.
Early Christian theologians spoke a great deal about this close relationship between creation and redemption. St. Athanasius opens his famous work, On the Incarnation, by saying:
We will begin, then, with the creation of the world and with God its Maker, for the first fact that you must grasp is this: the renewal of creation has been wrought by the Self-same Word Who made it in the beginning. There is thus no inconsistency between creation and salvation for the One Father has employed the same Agent for both works, effecting the salvation of the world through the same Word Who made it in the beginning.
The original creation is the pattern for recreation in Christ. Creation and new creation reflect one another. That means our redemptive experience of God’s salvation is relevant, analogically, to original creation. Yet how many Christians would put the issue of their own conversion to Christianity as an either/or situation between God’s immediate act and His use of any secondary means? Perhaps setting God’s Divine activity in opposition to His use of any secondary means countermands not only science, but the redemptive pattern as well.
Radical Calvinist and radical Arminian views of salvation tend to rely on this same simplistic either/or assumption when it comes to salvation or “new creation.” On this point both extremes of Calvinism and Arminianism agree: salvation is immediate, either by God’s choice or by man’s choice. They are essentially two sides to the same either/or coin. These opposing sides then fight till the end of the world on top this shared assumption. But if God uses cultural circumstances or parental training or personal evangelism or difficult personal crises as tools, are they not secondary means? All of these examples bring people into gospel faith and cause them to choose salvation life as presented in Scripture. Does God’s use of secondary means cheapen or lessen the supernatural in our new creation through conversion to Christ? It does not.
God uses secondary means in accomplishing His salvation recreation of His people. Most Christians can look back on their lives and see how God moved through a multitude of common events over time to bring them into salvation and grow them in gospel life.
It should also be pointed out that God’s act of salvation is not just limited to our lifetimes. We can look back centuries, even millennia, and see how God’s work in history prepared the world for us to be born in a culture with a Christian heritage and witness, or to come into contact with that witness one way or another. Our individual stories of salvation and new creation within God’s kingdom did not begin with our own lives: they go all the way back to God’s providential action from the beginning. If we stop to think about it, we will see how all Christians are new creations as a result of God’s work over time. That reality is not limited to our past, either. Our lives also prepare the way for distant generations to come as God continues to make all things new in Jesus Christ.
For another illustration we might consider how the issue of secondary means plays into how most Christians view modern medical technology. Christians generally have no problem making the best use of traditional and alternative medicine while accepting the benefits of health and extended life expectancy as a blessing from God. Medical technology and God’s Providence do not come to us as an either/or choice. Unfortunately, Christians have not always seen it that way. Simplistic Christians of the past often opposed advances in medicine and sanitation. They opposed these things because they were seen as interfering with God’s sovereign Providence in human lives.
These observations lead us to a pertinent question about God’s original creation. If secondary means are evident in our experience of salvation recreation over an entire life of Christian discipleship, why would secondary means involving process or time present a grave threat to a biblical understanding of God’s original act of creation?
At the very least, it is questionable to approach creation in a stiff either/or dichotomy as if the only option lies with either instantaneous creation or naturalistic Darwinism. What many overlook is that presenting creation in this manner boomerangs back on orthodox Creation Science teaching. This proposed antithesis between fiat, instantaneous creation and biological developmentalism over time presents an impossible dilemma for Creation Science catastrophism. The system is impossible apart from radical developmentalism from the biological life on the ark to the biological life we see today. Creation Science proposes that all breath-based, biological life on the globe developed (speciated) from the limited contents of Noah’s ark.
Henry Morris presents a chart in The Genesis Flood of what is termed in Creation Science literature as “micro-evolution.” He pictorially suggests that from a single horse-kind on the ark have descended all beasts such as onagers, kiangers, donkeys, horses and zebras. He also suggests that all species of foxes, wolves, dogs, coyotes, hyenas and jackals descend from a single dog-kind on the ark. The implication is that all breath-based biological life on earth springs from a relatively few ancestral animals on the ark. In other words the biological world we witness today did not exist when the animals left the ark.
All this evolution must have occurred within a very short time after the flood for many of these animals we are familiar with are specifically referenced in ancient literature. In light of this suggestion of radical post-flood development, one wonders who believes in evolution more – the Creation Scientist or the Darwinist! Hugh Ross and Gleason Archer point out this dilemma arising from the twin beliefs of a young earth and a global flood:
Thus, young-earth creationists propose an efficiency of natural biological speciation greater than the most optimistic Darwinist has ever dared to suggest.
Much Creation Science material is given over to explain this bizarre about face: Creation Scientists now argue for efficient and powerful “micro-evolution” in the production of all biological species after the flood. What powered this evolution? Creation Scientists claim it was a change of environment and biological conditions caused by the flood. Henry Morris offers this insight which is echoed in much Creation Science literature:
An equally serious fault in this type of reasoning [how the animals from all over the world got to the ark and then back to their current location – T.M.] is that it begs the question of the extent and effects of the Deluge. It assumes, for example, that climatic zones were exactly the same before the Flood as they are now, that animals inhabited the same areas of the world as they do now, and that the geography and topography of the earth continued unchanged. But on the assumption of a universal Deluge, all these conditions would have been profoundly altered. Arctic and desert zones may never have existed before the Flood; nor the great intercontinental barriers of high mountain ranges, impenetrable jungles, and open seas (as between Australia and Southeast Asia, and between Siberia and Alaska).
Neither Morris nor others who follow in his steps really stop to think how this suggestion digs Creation Science into a deep hole in regard to radical evolutionism. Let us ignore the climatic-zone issue and merely consider the proposal that arctic regions didn’t exist before the flood. It doesn’t seem to cross Morris’ mind that there is much biological life today within arctic climates.
What about polar bears and penguins? Did some bear-like ancestor from the ark just have a hankering for this new cold climate and migrate into the arctic regions adapting as it went north? Are Penguins descendants of some large bird-kind which found swimming in icy waters a more efficient use of their wings? The list could go on regarding seals, whales and arctic tundra plants. But what the Creation Science system inevitably teaches is that life in arctic regions evolved there from the time of Noah since arctic regions were likely non-existent before the global flood.
Consider the next suggestion on Morris’ list. He is not alone when he suggests there were no desert climates before the flood. But if there were no desert zones before the flood, then where did the plants and animals specific to desert environments come from? In that case, cacti are a demonstration of remarkable evolution since Noah’s day. If non-desert dwelling plants can – indeed, did – produce the prolific spectrum of cacti species, one rightfully wonders what the limits of biological evolution are. The same can be said for water-conserving animals from camels to mice as well as reptiles. They all must have evolved from a radically different climate before the flood. This is the inescapable implication of Creation Science catastrophism. They must teach that radical evolution since the time of Noah has produced the wide distribution of species we now observe around the world.
Or think of Morris’ next the suggestion regarding high mountain ranges. This writer has spent much time above 8,000 feet in the Rocky Mountain West. The amount of wildlife perfectly suited for these high-elevation climates is breathtaking. Creation Science implies that the mountains we know today were formed rapidly as a result of the Genesis Flood, not over millions of years by widely accepted geological processes. But if there were no alpine environments as we know them before the flood, then where did alpine trees and plants which grow only above certain elevations come from?
We could press the question further. What about marmots which play among the highest crags in the thinnest air and harshest weather? And no one can forget mountain goats with their specifically formed suction-cup hooves and awe-inspiring muscular balance along with their sole diet of alpine vegetation and lichen which are specific to high, harsh elevations. These elevations ostensibly did not exist before the flood which Creation Science teaches formed the mountains. Did these ecosystems spontaneously generate from the rocks and dirt of alpine locations? Or did they “evolve” there? If that “micro-evolution” since the flood is scientifically explainable, does that cheapen the fact that God is the one who has created all that we witness today in arctic, desert, or mountain environs?
Creation Science literature presents our experience of rapid variation in the modern world with domesticated plants and animals as proof that this “micro-evolution” does happen in real life over short time spans, and so could happen in the post-flood world. Morris writes:
Over 500 varieties of the sweet pea have been developed from a single type since the year 1700 ...over 200 distinct varieties of dogs, as different from each other as the dachsund and the collie, have developed from a very few wild dogs.
This example is woefully inadequate to the task at hand. The example of variation among sweet peas or sweet corn, for that matter, is of no helpful comparison to the adaptation of specific animals to an arctic climate, post-flood plant speciation to produce cacti in deserts or life in alpine environs, all of which ostensibly did not exist before the planet changing, catastrophic global flood. Nor is the variations among dogs anywhere near the level of producing various species of foxes, wolves, hyenas, jackals, etc., from one common source variety. This example is a mischaracterization of the scope of biological change. Different kinds of sweet peas are still sweet peas. The same for varieties of sweet corn and dog breeds. They are still corn and dogs.
Another problem with this line of reasoning is that virtually every single example of multi-variation within species used by Creation Scientists to prove “micro-evolution” is a domesticated example under the control of intelligent human direction. The multiplication of varieties of sweet peas or dog breeds or chicken varieties in the modern agricultural experience does not happen all by itself in a natural environment. It happens only under the direct control of humans who intervene to accomplish a specific purpose.
Oddly enough, the one natural example of speciation offered as evidence in Creation Science material is Charles Darwin’s own work with the finches of the Galapagos Islands. One Creation Scientist writes:
Darwin reasoned that at some time in the past a high wind carried a mating pair of these birds from the mainland to this remote spot in the Pacific. Since that event the descendants of the original pair adopted different ecological niches and in doing so had diverged, or become differentiated. Darwin’s explanation is most probably true, but since his time enthusiasts have claimed that the original species has differentiated into fourteen separate species.
The irony at this point is almost too much to bear. Many old-earth progressive creationists suggest there is a reason we have the fossil record with various epochs and geological layers specific to certain types of fossils. They point out the dearth of transitional forms cannot fill in some biological chain of life from amoeba to man. They claim the missing links remain missing because God created new life according to His plan in each period of geological time. The scientific evidence is mounting that incremental Darwinian evolution is neither efficient at speciation nor capable of producing its necessary chain of life. The fossil record has not produced the many transitional forms Darwin expected would turn up. Yet, the old-earth “progressive” creationist is the “Darwinist compromiser” while the Creation Science advocate, committed to biological evolution even wilder and faster than Darwin ever proposed, is defending biblical truth in the matter! The stark reality is that advocates of Creation Science are bedfellows with the Darwinists. Henry Morris mentions this unusual situation:
The evangelical advocates of a local Flood... claim that most of these animals were probably created in the ecological niches where they are now found... An unusual feature of this division of opinion is that, in certain respects, most advocates of a universal Flood join the evolutionists in contending for the migration of animals from distant areas, as opposed to the theory of a special creation of animals in their present (post-diluvian) ecological zones.
Migration is an important part of the Creation Science system since the ark must be the source for all breath-based life across the entire planet. All animals today must find an ancestor on that voyage since all species must descend from the ark’s contents. Even unbelieving advocates for evolution sense an ironic twist in Creation Science teaching. Michael Ruse, a Darwinist proponent, states:
[George McCready] Price was not that bothered by evolution as such. Geology and the flood were what really counted to explain the diversity of species we see today. He was prepared to allow a fair amount of organic change after the animals came out of the ark, since clearly Noah did not have room to take two specimens of every living kind.
It’s not hard to see how the Creation Science system, at root, is merely a competing theory of evolution. As such, many of the objections those dedicated to Creation Science present against evolutionary development over time apply equally well to the Creation Science paradigm. Ruse later points out the basic similarity between Darwinian explanations of biological life and the Creation Science explanation demanded by a global flood. Ruse writes:
Of course, one can point out that traditional [young-earth] creationists allow something like this. Price allowed change to occur after the flood, to obviate the space limitations of the Ark. The worry among [young-earth] creationists has never been transmutation as such but more the overall picture it represents.
Without further review of the fantastic evolution of jungle environs or deep sea life (since the ocean floor lowered to its current depths to hold the water from the flood) demanded by the logic of Creation Science, a basic analysis shows how the simplistic catastrophism of Creation Science must embrace radical evolution to account for the wide variety of plants and animals we witness today. Remember, the heart of their own polemic against both old-earth creationists and naturalistic evolutionists is an either/or choice: we are told biological life must be explained either through God’s direct, immediate, fiat creation or atheistic naturalistic processes. The choice they present seems simple enough. They say Christians must believe God’s Word or Darwinistic naturalistic evolution.
If this polemic is applied back to the Creation Science paradigm, then God has not created the biological world we witness today! Why? Because the biological world we witness today is a result of hyper-evolution and wild speciation after the flood. Catastrophism, as defined by Creation Science, implies we have no experience of what God’s creation was like between the fall of Adam and flood of Noah. The flood becomes an impenetrable wall we can never scale.
Once this admission occurs, the glaring contradiction is plain. If the flood both fundamentally and radically altered the earth’s physical climate and topography, then every animal that stepped off the ark and every plant on the new earth would have to evolve into this new world or die. The terrible dilemma of the Creation Science paradigm boils down to this: the more they embrace radical catastrophism to explain the observed geological evidence, the more they must embrace radical biological evolution over the earth’s geography after the flood. Creation Science is in the unenviable and incoherent position of embracing hyper-evolution in order to defend against Darwinian naturalistic evolution.
The fundamental issue of secondary means in God’s creation of the universe is of utmost importance to grapple with, no matter what creationist position a Christian comes to. Those who overlook the issue up front will be tortured by self-contradiction and incoherency in the end. The Gospel of Jesus Christ demands we do better than the hyper-evolutionary hypocrisy of the Creation Science view of the Genesis flood.
To be continued…
Copyright 2005 by Timothy P. Martin. All rights reserved. Reprinted by Permission
[Beyond Creation Science (2nd Edition) will be available at the Planetpreterist bookstore]
 Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1954, 1978), p. 19.
 It certainly countermands the historical fact that God used the Roman Armies to accomplish His promised destruction of Jerusalem and Judea. He also used Judas’ greed and treachery to bring about the sacrifice which would ultimately lead to the atonement of His covenant people.
 John C. Whitcomb, Jr. & Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implication (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1961), p. 67.
 Hugh Ross & Gleason L. Archer, The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the Days of Creation, ed. By David G. Hagopian (Mission Viejo: Crux Press, 2001), p. 127.
 John C. Whitcomb, Jr. & Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood, p. 64.
 John C. Whitcomb, Jr. & Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood, p. 66.
 Ian Taylor, In the Minds of Men: Darwin and the New World Order, 3rd Edition (Toronto: TFE Publishing, 1991), p. 147.
 The new theory expanding on Darwin’s explanation is often called Punctuated Equilibrium.
 John C. Whitcomb, Jr. & Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood, p. 80.
 Michael Ruse, The Evolution-Creation Struggle (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005), p. 239.
 Ibid., p. 257.