Saturday, January 10, 2009

Frank's Lament

My post on Thursday must have struck a nerve, because I got a couple of email responses (which is more than the complete silence I usually get). Not surprisingly, other creationists have also been accused of being evolutionists. After reading these emails, I was reminded of a document in the Price papers [PDF] at the Center for Adventist Research at Andrews University. It was written in 1943 by Frank Lewis Marsh. At the time, Marsh was working on the manuscript of Evolution, Creation, and Science (originally published in 1944), and he'd sent the manuscript to members of the Deluge Geology Society for comment. The document to which I refer is titled "Confessions of a Biologist" and contains Marsh's response to the criticisms of his work. I thought you might get a kick out of reading it, so here's an excerpt:

Each of us has his personal opinion of the relationship between the present-day groups of organisms and the first forms of life to appear upon this earth. In view of the wild rumor which comes to me that some of you men think I am an evolutionist, I will at this point do an unusual thing and state briefly my personal theory of the origin of life and the connection that beginning and present forms.

MY THEORY: I hold that not many thousands of years ago, on the third, fifth, and sixth days of a literal week, Creation Week, the Creator made to appear upon this earth a richly diversified flora and fauna consisting in many instances of individuals just as complex in structure as any of our present-day forms. These original, created kinds I will call "Genesis kinds". I hold that these distinct kinds, even when quite similar morphologically, were isolated from each other by chemical differences which made it impossible for a germ cell of one kind to unite with a germ cell of any other kind and produce offspring. In other words, I believe it was impossible for one kind to hybridize with any other kind because of this condition of physiological isolation.


I hold that at the time of the flood God preserved alive in Noah's ark two of all "unclean" kinds and seven of all "clean" kinds of dry-land animals. How many of the original races of each kind were preserved my theory does not conjecture.


If hybridization can occur even to the accomplishment of the early stages of segmentation, I hold that two individuals must be members of the same original kinds.


I hold that all the processes of change which have ever existed in organisms have never been quantitatively nor qualitatively capable of accomplishing the variation of an organism other than within a certain circumscribed area around the original kind. Each new variant is manifestly a bona fide member of his kind. Variation is the law of nature but each organism can never produce a variant which is sufficiently different from itself to constitute a new kind (meditate upon this statement, please). Many Linnaean species and a vast number of species names assigned since his time are but variants or races of original kinds.

This in brief is my theory. Fellow members of the Society, am I an evolutionst?

No, Frank, you're not an evolutionist, and neither am I. I'd probably quibble over some of the details, but that's basically what I think too.

It's funny how everything old is new again, but one thing has changed in the 65 years since that was written. There are more creationists now being accused of being evolutionists than ever before. Is that a good sign? In a strange way, I think so.

I'll be back next week with a further peak at discord within creationism when I look at Harold Clark's New Diluvialism.