Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 6. 1965.
Prof. Distorts Science!
Prof. Distorts Science!
Sirs,—Professor Richardson's article on "Creation or Evolution" raises some points of conflict between these two theories. He says that those who attack the first two chapters of the Bible must, "consider carefully whether the present scientific theory of organic evolution could be as precisely and satisfyingly presented as an explanation and serve also as an introduction to a history of religious beliefs." It should be pointed out that the theory of evolution was never put forward as an introduction to the Bible and if it is less satisfying it is also less dogmatic. Surely the theory of evolution was never designed to be emotionally "satisfying" but rather to satisfy certain criteria of scientific investigation.
He goes on to say that, "To challenge the purpose of the Bible as a whole on the grounds of a scientific theory concerned only with the first two chapters cannot be supported in any philosophy ..." Professor Richardson does not say what this purpose is but there are two common possibilities; either as a figurative description of "reasons" for man's existence, or as an actual description; in the case of Genesis, of the creation of the universe.
Insofar as the first possibility does not concern itself with science the above statement of his follows. However, the Bible is more often used by those believing in its "message" as an actual description of such things as creation. Thus if one supports the Bible as providing answers to scientific questions one is in the position of maintaining that the theories evolved 2000 or so years ago and since unchanged are more "scientific" than the theories put forward today in the light of man's experiences since then.
If this latter purpose of the Bible is the one which Professor Richardson has in mind I would suggest that there are very good grounds for challenging the "truth" of the Bible.
Finally he maintains that "those who argue for evolution often fail to grasp the import of subsequent chapters which explain how man came to distinguish good and evil."
I know of no theory of evolution which denies or affirms theories of the distinction of good and evil. This is surely independent of evolution and to attack the protagonists of evolution on these grounds is not only unscientific but illogical. The fact that "Organic evolution can give no explanation of this horrible invention" (evil) merely reflects the fact that it is not within the sphere of natural science to provide such an explanation, but rather of history and moral philosophy.
In conclusion Professor Richardson attacks the theory of evolution for not going outside its proper sphere of activity in natural science. I would rather see science theorize on present evidence as it does in most cases today, than see it distorted to fit previously-conceived ideas on the nature of the universe.
D. R. Thomas.