Science and Faith
By Arthur C. Custance
Both science and Biblical theology are of God. Both are true as to their nature and sacred as to their origin. The Christian and the scientist to be whole in his concept of reality, which is both physical and spiritual, and to truly know the origin and end of mankind and to genuinely know the passion that life was intended to be must embrace both scientific fact and Biblical truth. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case with those who populate these two frames of reference; therefore, this writer has chosen to present a review of Science and Faith, Zondervan Corporation, 1978, by Arthur C. Custance and to post it in his “Skeptic’s Corner” on his web site, www.bibleone.net. Most if not all of Mr. Custance’s works are available free of charge at www.custance.org. This writer strongly encourages all readers to avail themselves of these factual works that incorporate both Bible doctrine and scientific fact by this most distinguished and educated author.
Arthur C. Custance (1910-1985) was born and educated in England and moved to Canada in 1928. At the University of Toronto he majored in Physical and Cultural Anthropology. In his second year at the university he was converted to faith in Christ. The experience so changed his thinking that he switched courses, obtaining an honors M.A. degree in Hebrew and Greek. In his 13 years of formal education, he explored many facets of knowledge and was particularly interested in anthropology and origins. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Ottawa in 1959 while serving as head of the Human Engineering Laboratories of the Defense Research Board in Ottawa (Canada). He was engaged in research work for 15 years. He also served from 1940 to 1951 as a Professional Engineer and Consultant for organizations as Otis Fensom and Henderson Electric. His scientific achievements were the design and developed of the respirator mask, the mask-sizing meter, the anthropometric facial contour measuring device and the Custance Sudorimeter for accurate measurement of levels of heat and stress. He also wrote and published The Doorway Papers, and in retirement in 1970, he wrote 6 major books. His writings are characterized by a rare combination of scholarly thoroughness and biblical orthodoxy.
Arthur Custance’s book, Science and Faith, which is Volume VIII of “The Doorway Papers,” contains four papers written by the author, all of which bear witness to the existence of Divine forethought in creation, as well as emphasizing the importance of recognizing this evidence in the search for meaning and purpose in life. Additionally, his papers are jam-packed with scientific and technical references illustrating his thesis. These four papers are:
Paper One—The Universe: Designed for Man
Arthur Custance surfaces the fact that society as a whole, due to various calamities of varying magnitude, has suffered a spiritual trauma that has reduced it from a position of meaning and purpose that lifted man above his circumstances to a present position of myopic achievement of means, rather than ends, which leads only to meaningless and boring existence. As he concludes,
“So the crucial question, really, is whether the universe does have meaning: and, in the final analysis, this meaning must be “meaning for man.” Is it possible, then, to make sense out of such a gigantic display in terms of the time taken, the distances involved, and the inconceivable masses of material which compose it, to find in all this vastness that such a puny creature as man is the ultimate explanation? How did it all begin, and why: where is it all tending, and to what end? Is man of consequence in this tremendous drama? Does the evidence provide us with adequate cues in cosmic terms sufficient to justify the conclusion that the universe is “not” a meaningless accident destined to burn itself out to no end, but a demonstration of the power and the wisdom of God and so designed as to convey this message to a creature such as man is?”
Chapter 1—The Power of God as Creator
Arthur Custance begins this chapter by discussing the two different kinds of models of the universe, the mathematical and the mechanical or physical. The first is for those who dwell in “ivory towers” and who find it unnecessary to reduce their understanding to physical realities. The second one appeals to those who are not satisfied until they can visualize a structure for which analogies in mechanical terms are available. Mr. Custance admits to favoring the mechanical model.
He then spends some time in explaining the “Doppler Effect,” the physical difference in sound vibration (pitch) admitted by an object as it approaches, as it passes and then as it moves away—the effect due to the compression of sound waves at one’s ear. He further explains that the same effect, although not as detectable by human eyesight, happens with an approaching object that emits light, a color shift known as Red Shift.
This Red Shift led astronomers to one of two conclusions regarding the universe. The Red Shift, due to the magnitude of the speeds involved, is apparent as man views distant galaxies. The conclusion from such observation is that the distance between the earth and these galaxies is increasing, subject to the following:
Mr. Hubble then concluded, after extensive study with even larger telescopes over many years, that “all the nebulae were once jammed together in a small volume of space. Then, at a certain instant . . . an explosion occurred, the nebulae rushing outward in all directions and with all velocities.” Based on Mr. Hubble’s findings, other astronomers came to the conclusion that this “first explosion” occurred some 15,000,000,000 years ago. At that time all the matter in the universe was concentrated in what is termed as the “primeval atom,” with a density of “at least 100 million tons per cubic centimeter.” These observations led astronomers to refer to the concept as the “superdense state” theory of the origin of the universe.
The second conclusion regarding the universe is that, according to Mr. Custance, “we know that the total available energy in the universe is being dissipated as the universe expands until, presumably, the whole vast system will ‘die a heat death.’ This steady loss of organization is referred to as an increase in entropy—one might almost term it an increase in disorganization. If this process has been operative since the creation, we must assume that at first the initial primeval mass was totally organized.” To this, Sir Arthur Eddington, author of The Nature of the Physical World (1930), stated, “. . . this organization is admittedly the antithesis of chance. It is something which could not occur fortuitously.”
Arthur Constance continues with the documentation of various scientists and astronomers, which reveals that not only is much of the universe beyond man’s understanding but that “the universe may not in reality be solid at all, but rather an expression of pure energy;” and thereby leads many of them to the ultimate conclusion that the origin and the nature of the universe could only be attributed to a supernatural source outside the laws of nature. This conclusion “that physical reality is not the ultimate reality: that which lies behind is some kind of nonphysical Power or Agency,” according to Mr. Constance, is in line with Hebrews 11:3:
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
The more astronomers and scientists studied the issue, the more they were at a loss as to what preceded the materialism of the universe. There simply could not understand or accept that from nothing (non-matter) could something (matter) materialize. This led Mr. Custance to say the following:
The idea of creation, of something out of nothing, is of course incomprehensible to the scientific mind. Its rejection as a useful concept accounts in large measure for the popularity of the theory of evolution, which seems to postpone the need for it. It is of course only a postponement, because even a perfectly unbroken chain of minute evolutionary stages must still have a beginning somewhere, and pushing it further and further back into the past doesn’t really provide an alternative explanation.
Because the intellectual climate of the past was not as strongly materialistic and opposed to the supernatural, individuals such as Thomas Huxley—Darwin’s watchdog and chief defender—recognized the propriety of retaining the concept of creation. One of his most revealing statements to this effect is as follows:
It seemed to me then (as it does now) that “creation” in the ordinary sense of the word, is perfectly conceivable. I find no difficulty in conceiving that, at some former period, this Universe was not in existence and that it made its appearance . . . instantaneously, in consequence of the will of some pre-existing Being. Then, as now, the so-called “a priori” arguments against the existence of God, and (given this existence) against the possibility of creative acts, appeared to me to be devoid of reasonable foundation.
Arthur Constance then introduces the “two incomprehensibles,” one of which man must accept. They are that (1) the universe must always have existed and there must never have been a time, no matter how distant in the past, at which it did not exist; or, (2) there must have been some moment in the past at which it did not exist and then suddenly did exist.
The Big Bang concept of the universe, which demonstrates an expanding universe cosmology and as is believed by scientists and astronomers to be verified by the Red Shift phenomenon and other discoverable facts such as the recent discovery of microwaves (short radio-like waves from outer space), appears to be widely accepted as the most likely account for the origin of the universe; and, it certainly accords with Scripture to this extent at least, that it requires a very specific initial moment of creation, and it suggests that there must be an end one day.
Chapter 2—The Immensity of God’s Handiwork
In this chapter Arthur Custance explores the concept that the universe can be elaborated as a mechanical model using the analogy of an exploding bomb and what happens to its expanding fragments. Such is likened to a balloon (a sphere) that is continuously filled by air. All matter of the universe is then concentrated, in the form of galaxies, on the outer shell of the sphere and leaving only non-matter (space) in the ever growing center. He states the following.
Assuming that no more matter is being created, the expanding shell will do one or both of two things: it will become thinner as expansion continues in the same way that a rubber balloon becomes thinner as it is blown into larger and larger size, or it will maintain its thickness as a shell by the simple expedient of having the particles spaced more and more distantly from each other so that the material of the universe is attenuated.
The facts appear to indicate that space, as man knows it, follows more closely the second possibility. As Mr. Custance concludes, “Space is strictly the film of the balloon itself. It therefore has a finite depth which is the thickness of the shell, but an object can move indefinitely through it by going round and round. Thus arises the concept of a space which is curved. And all the material in the universe appears to be occupying this comparatively then shell—which, however, preserves its shape like the skin of an inflated balloon, not because there is some kind of air pressure within it, but because repellent forces between the particles act to hold them in a kind of negative tension and to drive them further and further apart, thus causing the whole shell to expand at ever-increasing speed. It is apparent that the rate of expansion is so great even now that galaxies diametrically opposite to each other in this vast shell are already flying apart at speeds approaching the speed of light.”
[Reviewer’s Note: This corresponds to the finding by Edwin P. Hubble in 1929 where he determined that the estimated velocities of the galaxies as determined by their Red Shift were faster as the distance of each nebula from the earth was greater.]
To this observation, the following statement by Mr. Custance is noteworthy, as follows:
It seems that ultimately this giant balloon must either reach a point of equilibrium where there is no energy left for it to push itself any further—a condition which would be one of total entropy or, in slightly different terms, a heat death—or something might happen to reduce these tremendous forces which drive the galaxies apart suddenly and dramatically to zero. Then, like a pricked balloon—or better still, a pricked “bubble”—the whole gigantic universe would collapse upon itself and “fold up like a garment.” Indeed, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that the heavens (which are the work of His hands) “shall perish. . . . and they shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shall [God] fold them up, and they shall be changed” (Heb. 1:10-12).
The universe by all standards of measurement is growing old. The time will come when God will withdraw the energy that sustains it. Then it will “fold up like a garment.” Mr. Custance finds it amazing how the Word of God anticipates man’s findings.
Arthur Constance then discusses the properties of light. Light behaves as though it were a “wave phenomenon” and in other ways as a “particle phenomenon,” the particles being called photons. Light radiation exerts pressure on objects. It also apparently has weight, as demonstrated by the increased weight of a photographic plate when it has been exposed to light. All such data demonstrates that light has mass. Furthermore and because it does have mass, light is subject to magnetic forces, for it is bent in the presence of a magnetic field. Mr. Constance then concludes, “If the magnetic field through which the beam of light is passing is curved in the way that space of the universe which we have been considering is curved, then a beam of light will not travel “straight” but will follow the curve like a train following a long slow curve predetermined for it by the railway tracks. Thus light reaching us from some of the distant galaxies does not reach us by striking across the balloon by way of a short-cut, but is channeled round the shell itself.”
This only accentuates the vastness of our universe. The scale of magnitude of it is so inconceivable to man that instead of normal measurement standards—feet, yards and miles—he must use scale involving light-years (the distance that light travels or 186,000 miles per second in one year, which is approximately 6,000,000,000,000 miles). It is believed that some of the distant galaxies are millions of light-years away. Mr. Custance then states, “Moreover, the universe has already expanded to such a size and the distances have become so great that probably the greater part of it has long since passed beyond our observational powers. The light from these most distant galaxies simply will never reach us.”
Matching these inconceivable distances are inconceivable quantities of material. The earth’s sun is one of about 100,000,000,000 stars that compose the earth’s galaxy, which is a member of a small cluster of 19 galaxies and occupy a region over 3 million light-years in diameter. Then there are numerous other galaxial clusters. The first large cluster is about 30 million light-years from us, and it contains over 1000 galaxies. This goes on and on, in every direction. Over a billion galaxies can now be observed, indicating a total of 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars.
The question then arises, since earth is only an infinitesimal speck within such vast a universe, can such a particle have any significance? Man has a bent in minimizing his own significance in the universe. He receives an odd satisfaction in underscoring the hugeness of the universe by contrasting his mere 160 pounds with it and the enormous time-scale of the universe with his own three score and ten years. This materialistic view has so impregnated man’s thinking that he now seeks to measure himself and his personal worth in quantitative (physical) terms.
But the very fact that man has demonstrated the capacity to search out the immensity of the universe reveals that his status is not to be measured only in terms of quantity, but in terms of quality. In other words, man is both physical and spiritual. The capacity for man to be self-aware and to make judgments reveal that man has, in the words of Mr. Custance, “a capacity . . . which cannot be accounted for in any of the terms by which we measure the immensity of the universe. . . . Those who loudly proclaim that man is an insignificant by-product are, by their very proclamation, bearing a silent witness to the fact that they themselves are not a product of it at all, but are standing outside of it and making a judgment about it. There is no question that Scripture in a thousand ways singles out the individual as being something other than, more valuable than, and of vastly greater significance to God Himself than the mere chemicals of which his body and even his brain is composed. He may look up at these tremendous galaxies and wonder at his own tiny size. But he has this advantage: the galaxies don’t know that he is down here, but he knows they are up there.”
Chapter 3—The Wisdom of God as Designer
In this chapter Arthur Custance reveals that the earth is suited as a habitation for man. He shows that, contrary to the belief that the universe must contain untold thousands of planets similar to earth upon which life may have similarly evolved, scientific and astronomic evidence demonstrates that this is not the case. As he states, “The basic constituents of the universe are “not” the substances which compose our earth and make it a suitable place for life.”
Mr. Custance explains that the materials out of which man is made (carbon, etc.) are extremely rare substance in the universe; the substances man relies upon for his technical civilization (iron, aluminum, etc.) are equally rare; and even the very oxygen man must have to live is little more than a trace element within the universe. The assumption is that these are found everywhere. They are not. After referencing several authorities on this subject Mr. Custance states the following:
This, then, is the considered opinion of some of the world’s most informed expert in these fields. The earth and all that makes it a fit habitation for man is an extraordinary creation. It must by all odds be unique. And its subsequent history seems equally exceptional. If the concurrence of so many interlocking “exceptional circumstances” is purely accidental, then surely faith in chance is faith in an even greater miracle than the faith of the Christian who believes it is all evidence of divine design with “man” in view.
Virtually everything about the earth appears to verify that it is the object of special design, such as:
These, and other facts, led Mr. Custance to make the following comment:
The more carefully we examine the total milieu in which we live, the more evident it is that an extraordinary chain of events has led to the appearance of a world such as ours, as though the whole object of its existence was that it might be a habitation for man. Indeed, Isaiah 45:18 tells us expressly that this is so: “For thus says the Lord who created the heavens, God Himself who formed the earth and made it; He hath established it. He created it not in vain; He formed it to be inhabited.”
Arthur Constance continues by showing that the size of the earth, by the laws of physics, must in fact be exactly the size that it is in order to prevent the retention of poisonous gases inimical to life, to insure the integrity of the structure and tissues of the human body and the present formation of even insect life.
Mr. Constance then deals with the question of kinetic energy, showing that these considerations actually provide a clue as to the optimum size of man as a free-standing animal. As he states, “Thus man is small enough to be able to stand erect as a habit of life. Because of the size of the earth and its limited gravitational forces his two legs will nicely carry the weight of his body. Yet he is large enough to handle fire and to extract from the environment substances necessary to create a civilization which permits him to have dominion over the earth. His size is not an indifferent consideration.”
Mr. Constance then explores the vastness and greatness of the universe, how it impresses man by not only its magnitude but by its orderliness. Man has discovered that the universe shows evidence of a designing or controlling Power that has something in common with man’s mind. Built within nature is a “rule of law,” which governs plant life (tropism), animal life and celestial bodies.
And the wonder of it is that the mind of man has been so designed to appreciate, although to a limited extent, all of this. In fact, as he so aptly states, “Something entirely new has been imposed on material substance in the appearance of man, who not merely has some kind of consciousness but is “conscious” of his consciousness.”
The more man investigates the universe and all that is within it, the more he comes to the conclusion that it is a product of magnificent design. In it man can see something of God’s wisdom and can wonderfully discern this wisdom more particularly as it relates to his own existence, wherefore Mr. Custance states:
Julian Huxley saw man as unique above all other living creatures by reason of his power of conceptual thought. It is this faculty which makes man capable of entering into fellowship with God and returning His love. And this appears to be the fundamental reason why God created man in the first place. If, as Wheeler proposes, the universe itself is essential for the existences of the earth, and the earth for the existence of man, then God created the universe in order that He might create man.
The conclusion of the chapter is that the creation of the universe for man makes very good sense and that, in the final analysis, the meaning of the universe, the reason for its creation in the way that it was created, is best found in the existence of man himself, a unique creature made in the image of God that he might be able to share God’s thoughts.
Paper Two—Scientific Determinism and Divine Intervention
Arthur Constance laments that his thesis in this paper is deceptively simple but can easily be misunderstood and misrepresented. It considers the present efforts by scientists, and especially biologists, to reduce all life to inanimate components, making the living no different from the nonliving. These efforts are fueled by the fact that “life is indeed mechanism.” But the question is, “How does man relate mechanism to Divine intervention?”
Mr. Constance’s concern is that by understanding the mechanism of life, one may conclude that this is a tenet of evolution, which is not the case. Although there exists circumstantial evidence that man has interpreted as supporting the evolution theory, the meaning of all such evidence is equivocal. It can just as easily be interpreted as evidence of economy of design. The evidence, to use an analogy, appears to be a “bunch of disconnected twigs than a tree;” and where the evolutionist finds it necessary to arbitrarily tie these twigs together, the person who accepts Creation can accept the facts as they exist and that perhaps the twigs never were a tree. Arthur Constance then states:
I suggest, in light of the facts presented in this paper, that God must have designed a mechanism with tremendous potential which could be used again and again in the subsequent creation of living forms. All these created forms operate on the same basic formula, but with different coded messages written in their DNA that are analogous to different languages which nevertheless use the same alphabet. . . . so the DNA code appears to be a universal font of type, but the messages “printed out” by it may be specifically separate and nonconvertible. Each original DNA “language” was therefore designed to separate out different lines, i.e., different kinds of living forms, which no more make sense when crossed than it would make sense to scramble the pages of English, French, and German books and bind the unrelated pages between a single cover.
Mr. Constance suggests that God created specific DNA codes for each species or kind so that a confused message results when such lines are crossed, leading to a nonsense program which defeats the attempt. This fact guards against confusion in the animal world without the need to design thousands of different mechanisms. This also allows for varieties to arise within a species by “changing the spelling of the words while maintaining the identity of the language.” This accounts for the evidence of mechanism in life and today works as perfectly as when it was created except where sin has disturbed it. Mr. Constance then says:
Yet I believe that the message in man was once different in some way, a message which made man potentially an immortal creature, physiologically not subject to death. Man “poisoned” himself as it were in Eden; and the poison disturbed the original code and reduced man’s body to something less than it was . . . to the status of a mortal creature . . . . But the Fall did not convert man as a person into a mere animal with superior intelligence. He was still a distinguishing component in his total make-up which animals do not share, a component which is dealt with in this paper and which makes not only his origin but also his destiny different from that of all other creatures.
I propose that mechanism does characterize God’s created order, not only in its inanimate elements but even in its living ones. I propose, moreover, that this mechanism is so perfect that God need not as a rule intervene in it and will not therefore actually be discernible by any scientific research into its workings. But when man sinned, he introduced a disruptive element which has so upset the mechanism in “certain areas” that God must now intervene redemptively to maintain it against a total breakdown.
[Reviewer’s Note: The fact of mechanism in life is, in fact, proof of design, which in fact, is proof of a Designer]
Chapter 1—The Nature of the Conflict
Arthur Custance initially states that the determination of science has been to reduce every phenomenon to physics and chemistry, which has been called its “implacable offensive.” The goal is to demonstrate that everything is mechanism and therefore God is an unnecessary hypothesis. This disturbs many Christians.
It has proven disturbing because science has been very successful in its goal, even in the realm of living things. When the “offensive” began, there were many gaps in understanding, many areas of ignorance, and many apparently impassable hurdles that seemed beyond the competence of science. Christians at this time were little concerned, knowing that it was within these gaps and hurdles where God alone was the answer. But as science closed these gaps one-by-one, the room for Divine intervention was steadily reduced until it seemed that the only place left for the Creator was as the supplier of the raw materials at the very beginning. Then when science challenged this concept by the demonstration that matter is only a manifestation of energy, the Creator was pushed back even farther becoming merely the power supply.
Yet the Christian through experience knows that God really exists in a personal manner and who is compassionate and a very present help in time of trouble. By experience the Christian knows that his life can be just as filled with Divine interferences as the lives of the Old Testament saints. Experience also teaches the Christian that God’s interferences may also rearrange certain aspects of the physical world and the laws that govern them. The Christian knows that God is still at work within the created order.
So the dilemma, as Mr. Custance so aptly puts it, is thus:
How, then, do we orient ourselves toward a mechanistic view of reality which must have some truth in it to succeed so well, and yet which seems to leave no room for God anywhere at all? How do we square it with what is equally undeniable in Christian life, namely, the fact of supernatural intervention in the very same arena? Is reconciliation possible? Or must we separate the two lines of evidence and say that one belongs in the realm of demonstrable fact and the other in the less certain realm of faith only?
The answer, according to Mr. Custance, which can bring both intellectual satisfaction and spiritual encouragement, is found in the implications of two statements of Scripture. At first the two statements appear to be contradictory, but in fact they are not. They follow:
Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
It is obvious that when God took His rest, it was not due to fatigue. The Hebrew word rendered rest means rather “to disengage” or “to terminate active involvement in.” God did not cease from His work in creation because He was tired, but because He had finished what He was preparing. In other words, the machinery of nature had been perfectly designed and ordered so that it could now be left to run by itself, being endowed with all the means of self-regulation, with all the feed-back systems and servo-mechanisms and which no longer needed maintenance and supervision (intervention).
Man has been able create projects of this nature, such as the Alouette satellite developed by the Canadian government, that can in effect “tend to itself.” God simply did this on an immensely grander scale—the universe. Because God does things perfectly (Psalm 18:30), it may be assumed that His work in creation, which is in fact a seemingly countless number of mechanisms (from the tiniest cell to the largest galaxy), needs no subsequent readjustment or intervention. Because of this, it is then easily understood why it is apparent to science that there need be no evidence whatever of any Person behind the mechanism of the creation, except as it pertains to its Architect in the first place.
The only problem with this, at least as far as the intellect and wisdom of man is concerned, is that the Creator who is no longer attending His machine comes to be viewed not merely as absent but as nonexistent. As Mr. Custance puts it, “There is no question of the reality of this danger. It should be recognized that “the more perfect the work of the designer and builder, the less evidence of His actual presence would there be in the end-product. Moreover, if the individual who examines this end-product has such tools of research and such methodology as to allow him to deal effectively only with this kind of mechanism, then he can of necessity perceive nothing else. . . . This is equally true whether the mechanism is living or nonliving.”
It is therefore conceivable that the very perfection of God’s handiwork is what deceives man. When man examines the work of “man’s hands” (things which are made by hand rather than by machines), he readily recognizes its imperfections and thereby distinguishes it from machine-made products. If a person, by his own hand, made a flawless product, it would probably be suspect as a forgery (a machine-made product posing as “handicraft”). An essential element of the character of man’s craftsmanship is its freedom from the bondage of machine-like perfection. By contrast, God’s handiwork is perfect, so that it is easily confused with what man recognizes as machine-like. And the more perfect an item or a system is the less evidence exists, which man is able to fathom, of a Creator.
As Mr. Custance puts it, “The very lack of evidence of any such Presence, when it is examined by tools appropriate to pure mechanism, is proof in itself that God’s work is perfect and ‘not that it is not God’s work.’ Were we to discover faults in the mechanism, we should either have to say that God’s work is not perfect or that something has damaged the mechanism since it was created. Moreover, the more precise our understanding of the mechanism, the more likely is God’s absence to be confirmed. ‘Purely scientific understanding will exclude the Designer to the extent that (1) the design of the mechanism is perfect, and (2) our understanding is precise and correct. Contrary therefore to what one might expect, complete understanding of the mechanism is just as likely to create atheists as believers.’ . . . The absence of any evidence of a superintendent on the job is therefore a ‘compliment’ rather than a ‘challenge’ to the Creator!”
For the Christian, when a defect is found in the mechanism of creation and knowing that God only creates perfectly, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that “something happened to it subsequently to disrupt it.” Scripture tells us of this disruption. It happened when man sinned and fell away from God. This disturbing element of sin then began its destructive effects in man, thereby disrupting what otherwise would have been a faultless self-regulating living mechanism. Not every mechanism within creation was effected; although, much did change to the worse. It is something like a perfectly made watch into which enters a bit of dirt and thereby disturbs its time-telling capability. The watch need not be destroyed; it can be corrected by cleaning. This is analogous of the natural order—it is the “dirt” or sin, a product of the Fall, that effects man’s present condition and which since then and now requires God’s intervention.
But the natural order of the universe, which is still working in accordance with the perfect laws that God initially established, need none of His intervening efforts. It is part of the created order that still operates undisturbed by the consequences of man’s fallen nature. Here God needs not to intervene; although, He may do so as He wishes. This led Mr. Custance to state, “Intervention is always redemptive in character; what is undisturbed and unaffected by sin requires no redemptive intervention, simply because it ‘is’ still operating perfectly as God meant it to.”
There is no question that the original mechanism of creation has remained remarkably intact, even proving unexpectedly resilient in its powers of recovery from the disturbing influences of human misbehavior.
But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working."
Although still much confined, sin has spread beyond it carrier, man. Wherever its influences have been evident, God must intervene to reorder, reorganize, renew, restore, repair, regenerate—in short, redeem. Because of sin, God had to go to work again redemptively, to preserve the whole fabric from becoming chaos. It is when man deals with living things that the sorting out of evidence for the disruptive effects of man’s Fall upon the “natural order” becomes a problem. This is because, even though the molecules of a living substance obey the strict laws of cause and effect characteristic of the rest of the unattended mechanism, the aggregates of them begin to take on a new character in which the whole becomes more than merely the sum of its parts.
Plants have all the earmarks of a mechanism and respond appropriately to physicochemical forces; yet they are alive. And some forms of animal life seem equally to be mere machines for converting energy. The fact is that the nature of life eludes man. As aptly put by Mr. Custance, “A molecule of something ingested by an animal could be traced through the process of digestion until it lodged somewhere in living tissue and became one with it. But at what point does that molecule become alive?”
Even though man is able to now manufacture synthetic DNA (but only from something else that is alive), there can be no assurance that this synthetic DNA is indeed alive in itself or simply a mirror-reflection that has all the appearance of being alive but none of the reality. Yet even in these basic elements of living things, natural law seems still to play the governing role and pure mechanism is apparent.
Because of this, it appears that God in creation initiated a system of natural law that resides within all living systems that is reproducible from biosystem to biosystem, riding upon a long line of carriers, and which to man appears only as machines, “except that some spark derived from the main fire lights them with life if they are correctly put together.” Mr. Custance then conveys a cogent quote from Sir Arthur Eddington when he was seeking to define life, which is, “. . . we may say that one ‘and’ one make two, or this ‘and’ that constitutes life, yet it is the meaning of the ‘and’ that is critical. Life is more than the sum of its parts.”
Man has further learned that there are certain elements of freedom within all life and He goes on to say, “atoms behave individually as though they were not ‘completely’ bound always to do the same thing: though in concert these freedoms cancel out and leave us with a strictly deterministic mechanism. With living things, even at the molecular level, there also exist certain freedoms which allow for variation in the developing organism, though in time we may discover that this kind of freedom is less indeterminate than it now appears to be: the very fact that mutations are reversible seems to me to suggest this.” In discussing the subject, Waddington suggested that some law governs the reversibility . . . . “R.L. Wysong reports the discovery that when DNA is injured by a mutagenic agent and its ‘letter’ sequence is upset, the normal sequence may be restored by a kind of ‘biochemical first aid kit’ present in the cell; the aberrant sequence is enzymatically cut out of the chain and replaced by the original sequence.”
God built these freedoms into His creation, and He allowed man the freedom to exploit them. Yet man abused his own freedom, and he has ever since abused the freedoms that exist in the created order. But there are many natural laws that remain regardless of the influence of man, such as “gravity.” In these mechanism continues to operate in a perfectly deterministic and authoritarian way. Man can do nothing to change them except to exploit their very predictableness for his own benefit and then to abuse that benefit. This is seen in man’s efforts to engineer some forms of animal life, such as the dachshund, and in his efforts to re-engineer human beings. In light of present knowledge the possibility now exists for test-tube babies [Reviewer’s Note: this has now happened] and cloned communities of people; although this gives rise to evidence of one barrier to be discussed in the next chapter.
Arthur Custance recapitulates with the following:
“. . . what the Bible means when it says that after so many days of work God ‘rested’ (i.e., stooped work, having finished what He was doing) is that He had in fact created and finished (Gen. 2:1-3) a perfect mechanism—the Natural Order. It was self-sustaining, self-regulating, self-correcting, deterministic in appearance, uniform in principle of action, servo-mechanized with countless interlocking feedback channels, and autonomous to such a degree that if a scientist had examined it with the finest research tools and the most sophisticated methodology, he would have found no evidence of God as superintendent over it at all. God had so perfected it that He could ‘cease from it.’ It was a ‘finished’ work. It could be counted upon to run itself indefinitely. . . . Then man sinned—and there was introduced into the whole scheme a new element, an element of disorder, disruption, decay, and unnatural death. At this moment God had to step in once more and go to work, not only to preserve it against total disruption, but to redeem it. And because of the noetic effects of sin which limit man’s powers of perception and prevents him from seeing with any certainty what lies ‘behind’ the natural order, He has also to reveal certain things which man needs to know about himself and his origin and his destiny, which he is not able to discover for himself merely by observation and reflection.”
“Because the fallen nature of man has introduced elements into the working of the machine for which it was not designed to compensate automatically, God’s interventions in a redemptive capacity have always appeared to be of a different order and not susceptible to natural law. They do not belong within the order of natural phenomena but are supernatural. For those who by experience of second birth have been enabled to recognize this aspect of redemptive intervention, the intervention is clear and undoubted; but such intervention is not after the pattern of the original ‘ceased-from’ order of nature and therefore not discoverable by tools and methods which have been designed solely for the latter. So they are unrecognized and unconsidered, and usually denied altogether—on the grounds that there is no scientific evidence for them.”
The “faith” of science is that the answer to anything unknown is simply more science. Science will not admit to any supernatural agency. And in closing Mr. Custance says, “Thus it has come about that a purely mechanistic philosophy, which to the Christian seems so totally ‘unbelieving’ has nevertheless allowed tremendous advances to be made by scientific research in the understanding of the perfection of God’s handiwork. However, it is only the mechanism itself that is thus elucidated, not the ‘meaning’ of it. The evidence that the machine has been disturbed by sin is either not recognized or ignored—or simply denied.”
Chapter 2—Evidence of Mechanism
This chapter is essentially a catalogue of the successive victories of the “implacable offensive” of scientific methodology, a record of the steady progress made by science toward reducing all phenomena, living and non-living, to mechanism. It reveals that each of the millions of cells that make up an organism from their “birth” act as if it has a “mind of its own.” Each cell seem to know its destiny, whether it will become part of an eye or a leg or a chicken feather. It also knows how to find and group itself in proper arrangement with other like cells to make up the body part for which it is designed and programmed. This is deterministic mechanism at the lowest level.
This mechanism also resides in the parts of the completed living organism, as witnessed by the continuous function of those parts even when separated from the body and any form of guiding consciousness. Mr. Custance gives several examples of this in the chapter at this point, many involving animals but also some of humans, but all quite horrifying to contemplate. The conclusion is that “a great deal of what we have attributed directly to God’s activity in supplying some kind of vital soul, which thereafter acts out its will through the living body, may not always be ‘soul’ at all. It may be simply the action of electrochemical forces, without ‘conscious’ purpose fulfilling merely the laws of nature in a strictly mechanistic cause-and-effect manner.”
As these studies, primarily regarding animals, both domestic and non-domestic, are considered, along with a few accounts of certain prohibited studies associated with humans during past wars, the following conclusion has emerged. With animals behavior appears to be instinctive and wholly mechanistic. By contrast, it seems highly unlikely that there is any truly mechanistic or instinctive behavior in man, though there is plenty of evidence of conditioned reflex activity—activity which is engendered by experience but not encoded in the genes.
Here a discussion ensues regarding what is apparently the best example of life that is purely mechanistic—plant life. Various studies of plants are considered, to include the Venus-flytrap. But Mr. Custance states, “. . . it seems certain at present that plants have no consciousness in the sense that human beings speak of consciousness, and therefore they are not acting with deliberation but entirely mechanistically.” The mechanistic chain appears to start in living things from the beginning, at the cellular level. Like a factory working at capacity, life starts from scratch with the basic amino acids. Protein is mechanically and systematically synthesized at a consistent and continuous rate, hour after hour, year and year and without miscue. As Mr. Custance says, “The duplication is so accurate, in fact, that the rate of error would correspond to the making of less than a single spelling mistake involving but one letter in the printing of an entire set of the ‘Encyclopedia Britannica.’”
The fact is then established that to start the operation of a mechanistic factory in order to develop a new organism, there must already be at least one living organism in existence, and in a very large class of living things there must be two. An example is in vitro where a sperm is injected into an ovum outside the womb. Once fertilization takes place, the combination is placed back into a womb for full-term growth. The two components are brought together under ideal conditions and thereby unite, initiating the process of embryonic development. It is not a mystical union, and the very fact that man is able to manipulate this union and process indicates that man is dealing with a mechanism.
Now for Christians who believe that children are a gift from God, this leads to very serious and challenging questions, not the least to consider is the morality of the issue. Nevertheless it has been proven that this manipulation with life can be transacted at will. [Reviewer’s note: During the time this paper was published, prior to 1978, the in vitro procedure was nowhere as advanced as it is today and the success rate regarding full-grown development was questionable; thereby, leading Mr. Custance to express doubt whether “full term” development of humans was possible with this procedure. Today man and science knows this is indeed possible.] The fact that humans can in fact be produced via the in vitro process is proof that birth is subject to the same natural laws and can be treated equally as a mechanism.
The embryo as it develops appears to be loaded with self-regulating mechanisms. Mr. Custance states, “So strong is this power to reorganize that kidney tissue can be minced up and yet under appropriate conditions will reorganize itself into true kidney tissue. In fact, it has been possible experimentally to produce normal embryonic kidneys by mincing, pooling, and scrambling kidney tissues from several ‘different’ embryos. The organizing properties of these tissues survive not only disintegration but also mixing.” This mechanistic property may also be seen in a heart that continues to pulsate after being removed from the body. The mechanism is at the cellular level.
The truth is that law governs the growth of cells into organs. Living tissue, like nonliving tissue, is law-bound. As is stated by Mr. Custance, “Presumably God has no need, once having ordained these laws and set them in operation, to superintend every stage in order to maintain the system as a whole.” And, except where a miracle is concerned, strict natural law governs the whole process of development and maintenance of life.
Mr. Custance then concludes:
I think one has to accept the fact that conception, in the final analysis, is a mechanism which will work unfailingly in man as in animals wherever the “rules” are followed. It is simply part of His duly appointed order. It is not in “this” aspect of procreation that God proffers His “gift.” I suggest that the gift of which Scripture speaks in this connection (Ps. 127:3) must come later in the over-all process of the emergence of a new human being. It is not life itself which constitutes the gift, for animals have life by essentially the same processes. It is the “spirit” given to the body which is the gift of God. One kind of spirit is given to an animal and another kind of spirit is given to a man, and the difference, according to Scripture, is observable in their destiny. The “spirit” of the animal, being derived in some way from its body and being appropriate to it, returns with the body to the dust (Eccl. 3:21). By contrast, the spirit “given to” man returns to God (Eccl. 12:7). The two spirits are qualitatively different. It is conceivable that the spirit of the animal arises automatically out of the living substance which organizes itself to give it its special form and character. By contrast, Scripture seems to tell us that man’s spirit is a creation of God (Eccl. 12:7). Its different destiny implies a different origin.
[Reviewer’s note: Mr. Custance expresses doubt at the end of this chapter that a human body which originates in vitro will have a “human spirit,” believing that it may be possible only to acquire an “animal spirit,” making it a “tragic monstrosity.” The reviewer believes this is not the case, but that God introduces a “human spirit” into any human body that has originated and has developed full-term by way of His divinely established natural law. Of course, when this “human spirit” is actually introduced into the body, which thereby establishes the combination as a “living soul,” can be argued. There are those who believe this takes place at the moment of conception, the “breath of life” being transmitted via the blood, whether in the womb or in a laboratory dish. And there are those who believe true human life takes place upon birth, upon first breath outside the womb, similar to Adam who was completely formed but did not become a “living soul” until God breathed into him the “breath of life.” How one believes on this issue may have a significant impact regarding many issues, not the least of which is the issue of abortion.]
Chapter 3—Some Tentative Conclusions
Arthur Custance comes to several conclusions in this the last chapter of his paper, Scientific Determinism and Divine Intervention, which are:
Arthur Custance ends this chapter with this: “Scripture is an adequate revelation of that which man could not discover unaided. If its statements are taken and believed with complete seriousness, the child of God who rests upon it has the only defense capable of preserving his faith in the face of the implacable offensive of science. Science may tell us the mechanism of it all; Scripture tells us about the ‘meaning’ of it all.”
Paper Three—The Medieval Synthesis and the Modern Fragmentation of Thought
Arthur Custance expresses his concern that the reader may interpret his position in this paper incorrectly and come away with a misunderstanding of his message. There are three possible areas of misunderstanding, as follows:
Chapter 1—The Medieval Synthesis
Within this chapter Arthur Custance outlines historical events that demonstrate that the world of the early Middle East and the world of primitive man was a much more personal one and was, therefore, logically filled with evidence of purpose. Even though man in those times faced physical hardships, rarely experienced by modern man, he was essentially more accepting of and content with his lot in life, such attitude grounded in his belief system of God, his purpose in life and his ultimate eternal destination.
Mr. Custance argues that the human mind normally seems to be so constituted as to prefer or require some kind of world-view that makes sense out of life, that sets the events of life, one’s own and that of others, within a framework that leaves as little room as possible for accidental occurrences. Because of this natural inclination within man, a world-view incorporating spirituality was predominant. As for this, Mr. Custance states the following:
Moreover, by very reason of the fact that this world-view attached equal importance to supernature (with which one cannot experiment in the ordinary sense) as it did to nature (where experiment is proper), the schools inevitably became occupied with argument and—reinforced by the philosophical bias of Aristotle—looked upon experimental verification as both unnecessary and undignified.
The world-view of “medieval times” is designated by Mr. Custance as the Medieval Synthesis. During these times every line of thought and study was integrated with and by one objective view, which was to clothe the mind of man with a garment of understanding that would enable him to come humbly but with assurance into the presence of God and worship Him knowingly, recognizing the extent of his responsibilities and accepting his position in the economy of things with proper dignity, and—so they supposed—having also a full understanding of God’s thoughts.
In this atmosphere there developed educational institutions that approached most nearly the ideal of a true “uni-versity,” a student body engaged in a real totality of studies in which every subject was consciously related to all others, and for which theology supplied the guiding principles. Theology was regarded as the “Queen of Sciences.” The test of truth was not experimental verification but harmonious inclusion within the system. This was an “orderly system” of thought, appealing to the very core of man’s being. In it was an extraordinary unity of purpose, a unity of “spiritual” (better to say “religious”) zeal, not merely of civic pride.
During this time and because of the Medieval Synthesis, which placed eternal values upon all men, the relationship between rich and poor, although unfair and imbalanced, was better accepted by the poor. This is reflective in Mr. Custance’s statement, as follows:
Meanwhile, enough of this world-view reached the individual to provide a “map” for him which, faulty though it was, nevertheless did allow him to recognize mentally the spot which marked his own position and about which he could relate himself to the universe and to God and to his fellowmen in a way which compensated for his unhappy lot, because not only was he not “lost,” but he also firmly believed that God had a plan for everything (including himself) and that compensation might be found in the next world. . . . It was the general acceptance of the teaching and the world-view of the Medieval Scholars which brought whatever peace of mind they had to the common people and delayed their rebellion against their unhappy lot for so long. . . . Although this medieval world was “dark,” men were happier walking in the dark with a small candle to see by, than walking in the light with no eyes at all.
But as man progressed and the scientific method and man’s inquisitiveness became more established, change began to take place, which would dramatically affect the Medieval Synthesis. Mr. Custance ends this chapter with the following statement:
The change taking place was a profound one. Yet in some respects it tended only to encourage the more minute elaboration and more involved justification by rational argument of the world-view which had already firmly jelled. It is the weakness of all such structured systems that when facts no longer support them, the facts are suspected and dogmatism takes the place of truth. Not until the fall of Constantinople in 1453—and with its fall the emigration of the learned Greeks who had there preserve the culture which had been destroyed in the West—did the fatal weaknesses of the Medieval Synthesis become fully apparent. It was the new knowledge which these Greeks carried with them into Europe that finally brought such a challenge to the old intellectual order as to show clearly that it had reached the limits of the mold in which it was cast. That mold was shattered by the new spirit of inquiry, and its destruction left men everywhere toying with the fragments.
Chapter 2—The Modern Synthesis
Arthur Custance argues in this chapter that a new synthesis is now being offered that parallels the medieval one in many remarkable ways, which has also reached a stage that is very close to that assumed by the Medieval Synthesis when just before it began to break up. The causes (internal and external) of the collapse of the old world-view were many and complex, but all undermining certain concepts fundamental to the integrity of the whole. Whereas under the old, man was central in God’s creation and since he lived on earth, earth itself was distinguished in a similar way—assumed on theological grounds to be at the center of the universe; now under the Modern Synthesis, and since science no longer considers the earth as the center of the universe, many of the other fundamental concepts are also attacked and denied.
In looking back, various events accelerated this change of world-views, such as (1) the development of printing, (2) the perfection of gunpowder, (3) the discovery of the New World and (4) the Black Death. All challenged the established old world-view, which could not produce easy answers to the changes. Theology as a “Queen” was deposed and her right to arbitrate denied in one area after another. Not only was the guidance of theology rejected, but the need for it to relate all other disciplines into a harmonious whole was ignored. The church as an institution, with a growing sense of futility, became less and less effective as a spiritual force. So successful was the scientific method in increasing man’s dominion over nature that the use of reason alone and the replacement of faith by a growing skepticism became the order of the day.
This series of events and “progressive beliefs” led the Reformers to scorn all science, which left open the door for science to assert its claim to complete autonomy. The rift between faith and science widened rapidly, and the emergence of the New Humanism seemed about to provide the common man with an alternative religion much more amenable to the spirit of the times. Finally, there came to be a secular ordering of life—even of religious life. The purpose of education increasingly became the emancipation of man rather than the worship of God, and the goal of life was the creation of a heaven here on earth much better suited to man’s enjoyment because it was entirely of his own design.
University life gradually ceased to be a totality of studies pursued with a single object and harmoniously integrated into a satisfying world-view. As universities have become multi-versities, so the universe itself has ceased to be a universe in the medieval sense and has become instead an unimaginably great aggregate of bits and pieces, apparently purposeless in itself, of which our little earth is an inconsequential fragment, and man himself an even more insignificant by-product.
This concept was expressed with alacrity by George Gaylord Simpson in the early 1950’s:
Man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind. He was not planned. He is a state of matter, a form of life, a sort of animal, and a species of the order Primates, akin nearly and remotely to all of life and indeed to all that is material. . . . There was no anticipation of man’s coming. He responds to no plan and fulfills no supernal purpose. He stands alone in the Universe, a unique product of a long unconscious, impersonal, material process, with unique understandings and potentialities. These he owes to no one but himself, and it is to himself that he is responsible. He is not the creature of uncontrollable and indeterminable forces but is his own master.
Mr. Simpson’s expression is nothing less than a philosophy that rejects God. It led Mr. Custance to say, “It would have seemed utterly incredible to the medieval mind that human beings could really accept and live by such a philosophy. And yet it is so. But there is evidence that just as the older view which had invited such an expansive exercise of faith and demanded so little use of reason was ultimately destined to collapse, so now we may discern that the modern view which depends so largely upon reason and disallows the exercise of faith is also showing signs of its inadequacy. The human spirit cannot long survive a diet of such dry bread.”
The Medieval Church made dogmatic statements that were outside its competence; likewise, science today does the same—declaring an omnicompetence that it does not in fact have and did not originally claim. Man in time found himself largely free of restrictions—but also in a completely impersonal universe. It was not long before the entire absence of purpose or meaning in history proved intellectually disturbing, and efforts began to be made once again to reestablish a meaning on some basis other than a theological one. Mr. Custance lists several scientific works, which are endeavors to establish, along with fact, some kind of faith in some kind of meaning and purpose in history. He goes on to say the following:
For most of us, a purposeless universe is not merely disquieting in the negative sense, but positively debilitating, undermining our sense of value in things which do not serve personally useful ends, and leading to a very unhealthy state of skepticism about “good” of any kind. . . . the absence of an integrated world-view—is itself harmful.
A belief system that is composed of mutually contradictory elements, such as is the case with the Modern Synthesis, cannot survive; it must have an inner logical—rather, theological—consistency; it must have the power to create an integrating framework for all else. While the lot of the average man has physically improved and culturally his opportunities are now immeasurably greater than they were in the Middle Ages, in the matter of controlling individual behavior the advance has not been so spectacular.
When Darwin’s Origin of Species appeared in print in 1858, man, it seemed, had at last discovered the unifying principle he had sought. The word evolution became a household term. Where it had been sufficient in medieval times in the face of any mystery to refer back to God, it now became necessary in the same situation to refer to evolution. Once the concept of evolution had taken hold, it became a consuming passion.
Evolution eventually became the religion of science, adhered to in the same dogmatic fashion as the Medieval Church adhered to theology. Facts were not relevant, as long as the dogma was left undisturbed. But there have remained certain missing links of a quite critical nature, which tend to be minimized—yet persist. These are (1) the link between matter and no matter, i.e., the origin of matter itself; (2) the link between dead matter and living matter; (3) the link between man and other primates; and (4) the link between consciousness and self-consciousness.
Considering these briefly, we have first the origin of matter. We can no more conceive of the infinity of matter than we can of the sudden creation of it ex nihilo. Both require an exercise in faith. Regarding the next two, it is optimistically believed by the scientific community that they are well on the way to resolution. [Review’s comments: these links have never been found] As for the forth link, superficially, self-consciousness does not seem to be essentially different from consciousness. But every line of research so far explored has proven that it is quite different. Such research has only strengthened the views: (1) man alone possesses self-consciousness—no animal has it, and (2) self-consciousness is possessed throughout all of civilization. Man’s every thought and word is ultimately dependent upon his powers of abstraction and his use of language, both of which are universally considered to be dependent in turn upon the possession of self-consciousness. Mr. Custance makes the following statements:
The consciousness of creatures other than man is evidently not a lower form of self-consciousness but something qualitatively different, though perhaps sharing some element of it. . . . The evidence that animals do not have this self-awareness is extensive and involved: it is one of the few conclusions resulting from research in the behavioral sciences on which, as far as I know, there is virtually unanimous agreement. . . .
But self-consciousness is a step further: in this instance matter does not merely respond to stimuli, but actually becomes aware of its own inclination to respond, which is a very different thing. “Matter has become conscious of itself,” as Mascall has put it. And by so doing, it becomes possible for it deliberately to delay or check is own response. This delay is what makes man a freely acting creature, liberated from the chains which bind action to reaction and which characterize all instinctive behavior.
Yet the scientific community argues for an unbroken chain in the process which “tends” of itself to move toward higher organization and capabilities entirely without the introduction of any new element or force. All mystery is explained away by using the magic word evolution. It seems that once an idea has been accepted by enough people of importance it becomes self-perpetuating, being thereafter accepted by newcomers to the field not because it has been demonstrated by the scientific method but because of the weight of authority behind it. The unbelievable can be stated in such a way as to make it sound perfectly reasonable.
Science has had numerous successes by treating nature as a machine. The assumption is then made that because man is part of nature, he too is essentially a machine—and therefore ought to be treated the same. But Mr. Custance states:
It is a long way from pure materialism to the admission that the very first atoms had a kind of mind-like component and “knew” what to do from the beginning, even though the knowing was a very lowly process. But to suggest that they had a kind of self-consciousness is to imply that they not merely knew what to do, but knew they were doing it! It is a matter of admitting they possessed consciousness in some lowly form, even “self-consciousness.” If this is not so, then self-consciousness is an intruder originating outside the system and not merely a result of the unfolding of the potential of matter itself. But such an intrusion cannot be allowed, and Huxley is thus virtually forced to say that man “is nothing else than evolution become conscious of itself!” It is amazing what words will do—and how easily they can gloss over a fatal flaw in an argument.
There is really only two views possible: consciousness is inherent in all matter, even in atoms, or it has been introduced from outside. From where did self-consciousness arise? The current mechanistic view is quite unable to account for it. Man stands outside the rest of creation, able to contemplate both it and himself, and able also to ponder the meaning of his own strange lack of relation to it.
The psalmist, too, asked, “What is man?” (Psalm 8:4). The answer to this question is not satisfying unless it has reference to the end for which man exists. If this end is merely to contribute to the acceleration of a hitherto blind process, it seems quite unrealistic to believe that such an end will provide a spring for action that requires sacrifice and devotion or calls forth the best in man. Mr. Custance states the following:
To provide me with the inspiration that is required to strive for something else than merely my own selfish interests, I must have a goal that I can visualize and I must be convinced that the goal is worth sacrificing myself for. The “new revelation” makes no attempt to define the goal; it only seeks to assure us that there is one. This is not the stuff out of which convictions are made, and without convictions life is flat and dull indeed!
The displacement of the Medieval Synthesis in which “meaning” was achieved by relating man to God had led to a synthesis in which men are no longer related to God or even to one another . . . but only to the rest of the animal world at the best, and all other atoms in it at the worst. How is life to have any real significance in such an atmosphere?
In the old days, it is true that men were very tired because they had to work so hard. Today we are merely bored, which is far worse. We are bored because all real drama has gone out of life, so that we find ourselves searching frantically to alleviate our boredom by entering into drama synthetically in books, movies, theater, television, and even spectator sports.
The essential drama of medieval culture took place within the church. Life was a succession of episodes in man’s pilgrimage to heaven. It has taken eight centuries to replace the conception of existence as divinely composed and of purposeful drama to the conception of existence as a blindly running flux of disintegrating energy. Regardless of its faults, the Medieval Synthesis more nearly satisfied man’s spirit because man had a definite role in the drama; whereas, the present Modern Synthesis, by contrast, makes the individual virtually of no significance. As Mr. Custance puts it:
The common man in medieval times must often have felt that he was little more than a puppet, but at least he had the assurance that there was a “Puppeteer,” who was very much aware of his performance. The common man today often has the feeling of being merely a thing of circumstance, a feeling which is only heightened by the added suspicion that the puppeteer is “mindless chance.”
The closing question of the chapter is: “Can Christianity today succeed where Medieval Christianity failed?
Chapter 3—History Repeats Itself
The number of parallelisms between the Medieval Synthesis and its modern counterpart are remarkable. The dogmatism that appears in both reveals that there is very little difference between the two mentalities, even though they are diametrically opposed to one another.
Whereas in Medieval times a definite authoritarianism or pigheadedness was primarily the sole possession of the church, today this same authoritarianism is embodied in those who purport the scientific method. Now, three hundred years later, in a remarkable way history has begun to repeat itself. The Christian finds his faith challenged once again by another “working hypothesis,” the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis—which in spite of its inability to produce clinching proofs makes precisely the same claims to be “fact.” Mr. Custance states the following:
The new Faith has its heresies (Lamarckism) and its infallibilities (Natural Selection), and of course, it has its sacred relics—bones, no less! The Holy Grail was never sought with more spiritual zeal than are missing links today, and the most amazing miracles are assented to without the slightest hesitation where the theory demands them (the conversion of scales into feathers, for example). It is the final truth, and opposition to it partakes almost of the nature of immorality. Indeed, in the university world, to challenge it is to leave oneself open to excommunication.
The principle of concordance allows one to claim as clearly proven what in fact has not been proven at all but is merely an agreeable idea. Evolutionary literature is full of these kinds of “proof.” Clearly, in the absence of proof this is merely an assurance of faith, which is quite confusing, since in the field of human evolution man is invited to acknowledge freely that he is acquainted with proofs and then in the same breath must understand that these proofs are not yet available. Mr. Custance states the following:
So while Simpson argues that those who accept evolution are supporting science whereas those who propose creation are simply expressing dogma, one cannot help but feel that the tremendous emphasis on the “proofs” that evolution has taken place, by so many modern proponents of the new Faith who nevertheless cannot show what they are, is itself a “retreat” from fact to faith, from science to dogma.
The inverse parallelism which exists here between the two syntheses, to my mind, demonstrates rather clearly that we have not moved very far along the road toward the establishment of complete freedom of thought.
Scientists suppose they have an omnicompetence, which is not true. It is repugnant that a person should be forced to say he does not believe in something that he does in fact believe or be declared persona non grata. Yet, in essence this is the case in many universities today where the evolutionists now stand in the shoes of the Inquisitors. Many institutions of higher learning in certain departments have crystallized their thinking into a dogmatic form that will brook no disagreement, even though they still claim to be the champions of freedom of thought. This authoritarian spirit is most prevalent in departments that deal with the life sciences, a field of inquiry in which by the very nature of the case absolute proof is often most difficult and the temptation to substitute theory in place of fact is most acute.
Concluding this chapter, Mr. Custance states the following:
The Medieval Synthesis has been condemned by moderns both because it was a system based on faith and structured around a central idea incapable of proof by the scientific method, and because its custodians refused to accept as a fact what at the time was only a working hypothesis, the implications of which were hostile to it. In this respect the Modern Synthesis is not essentially different. It too is a venture of faith which so far appears incapable of experimental proof, and the authorities who propose it are adopting precisely the same dogmatic attitude toward anyone who challenges them.
Nevertheless, there is one profound difference between the two situations. The Medieval Synthesis somehow succeeded in ennobling all kinds of human activity, even to some extent war. The Modern Synthesis has virtually removed the word “noble” from the English language. It has allowed the justification of the most selfish and barbaric forms of human behavior, between individuals and between nations, on the grounds of expediency because, despite all protestations to the contrary, it is a philosophy formulated on the principle that the fittest ought to survive without first having defined by what standard fitness is to be judged.
Chapter 4—The Fragmentation of Thought and Life
The demise of the Medieval Synthesis and its replacement with the Modern Synthesis has created the effect of a new spirit of freedom of inquiry, a new sense of liberation from the confining restraints of theology, bringing to each discipline a fresh vitality. This has led to an independent development within each discipline, which in turn resulted in their own terminology, their own modes of evaluating evidence and their own standards by which to judge truth.
But this fragmentation, instead of leading to a synthesis of truth, has led to isolation of it. This in turn has led to a certain amount of confusion, first in the public mind but later among intellectuals, which has resulted from the tendency to equate—quite mistakenly—control with understanding. Yet control and understanding are not at all the same. The fact is that although man possesses a satisfaction from having more control over the forces of nature, he is nowhere nearer understanding these forces or possessing the satisfaction from such an understanding. And a satisfaction of control is no substitute for a satisfaction of understanding. As to this, Mr. Custance states the following:
Only God knows the universe through and through—so we need His help to achieve even sufficient understanding to make sense out of the sum total of our experiences. We have indeed increased our control, and to this extent science has contributed to man’s dominion over the earth; but it has not brought with it any deep and abiding satisfaction.
This has been the product of bifurcation (a division) between faith and science and an ever-increasing specialization in various disciplines. This apartheid of truth was first made between the kind of knowledge that can be achieved by reason and experiment, and the kind of knowledge that requires revelation to complete it—in short, between science and theology. Nature and supernature were henceforth to be categorized, and each became the preserve of a distinct community, which soon formed opposing camps. Whereas once some things were known and some were believed, and both were absolutely true; now faith has ceased to have substance.
The result is a major difference between toil supported and unsupported by the passion of faith, a by-product of this process of fragmentation. To this Mr. Custance states the following:
The re-creative effect of manual labor has been surrendered by this process of fragmentation, and whereas men once returned home physically tired but not altogether dissatisfied with the day’s work, they now return home tired because they are completely bored. The man who made the wheelbarrow was scarcely aware of the passage of time. It flowed unbrokenly and unnoticed. The man who now makes the pieces of a product finds the day to be composed of precise increments of time, the passing of which he is acutely aware. Impatience to get on with the job is replaced by impatience to get away from it. For most men there is nothing sacred about work any more, nor is there honor in a task well done (only the possibility of promotion), nor does the doing of it have any significance beyond the fact that it fulfills the requirements of a contract with an employer. Even Christians, it is sad to confess, refer their daily work to the Lord only in emergencies. . . .
The sense of identity has been lost—identity of the man with his work. . . . People tend to express their failure to find satisfaction in their work by complaining of other things—long hours, low wages, poor conditions, and bad employee-employer relationships. It is amazing what conditions a man will put up with if he is really fulfilling himself in his work . . . which in a way explains why Medieval man accepted so many ills with so little complaint. The older words—Integrity, Honesty, Dedication—are replaced by the one terrible word, Boredom.
Man is at his best when he has purpose, direction and conviction; otherwise, he is apathetic or cynical. To be convinced about nothing is the saddest state in which a man can be, and it is a characteristic of the Modern Synthesis. The man who has no convictions is the man who is bored, and boredom inevitably seeks its own release vicariously. Because boredom brings fatigue, physical as well as mental, bored people look for stimulation as spectators rather than participants.
Fragmentation is a product of every aspect of modern society. It exists within the home and within the workplace. Even the power of comprehension is fragmented. Rapid transport shifts the individual with respect to his environment, and the phone and the film shift the environment with respect to the individual; and every personal contact, by phone, on the television screen, on the bus, on the plane, wherever people meet people, tends to be fragmentary in nature. The mobility of working people contributes to this social fragmentation by constant shifts of job and changes of address. Families no longer gather around the “hearth” or the “dinner table” to gel together; instead they are always on the run, as ships passing in the night.
In less modern times people were often physically exhausted, but then they found pleasure in rest and sleep. Today man is tired because he is bored and sleep has almost gone from him, leaving him with no escape from his boredom or his tiredness. Much of this is the result of the fragmentation of society. Mr. Custance states the following:
It is a curious thing that the “expansion” of knowledge has resulted from a “contraction” of interest. The pinpointing of some minute aspect of the whole fabric has so enlarged the total fabric itself as to make it incomprehensible in its wholeness. Since the pieces have meaning only in relation to the whole, they too lose all meaning. When we dissect the individual, isolate aspects of his behavior, and attempt to assess the man himself by concentrating on his parts, we lose the individual. We truly isolate ourselves, and if anything in the world is most likely to destroy interpersonal relationships, it is isolation and fragmentation. We take our clocks apart and are somehow surprised that they no longer tell the time!
Starting with divided personalities and proceeding upward through divided homes to divided communities and divided classes, the end is nation against nation. The fundamental cause of it appears to be that there is no single guiding principle governing the object of all men’s daily lives.
Mr. Custance ends the chapter with this statement:
The saddest thing of all is that in the absence of some understood goal for life, the tremendous striving for means always proves to be a tragic exercise in futility, so that the most idealistic conceptions of thoughtful men directed toward the maintenance of peace lack the one essential requirement—namely, the “object” of peace. Never before did man have in his hands so much power, and never before was man so powerless. Never before were means so abundant, and ends so entirely lacking. The hope of the future lies in a rediscovery of man’s true end.
Chapter 5—The Chief End of Man—and the Means
There is a vital distinction between the kind of truth that is acquired by believing and the kind that is attained by the rational processes of thought. The first involves an emotional involvement; the second only mental assent. The first is often the basis of conviction, which results in action; the second is more frequently the basis for the restraint of action. In other words, it can be safely asserted that a man is what he believes, not what he knows. Knowledge gained by belief involves the will and provides the spring for action. So man is composed to two kinds of knowledge—believed knowledge and assented-to knowledge.
Rational knowledge is essentially dependent upon recognition of what is “conceivable.” But a Christian by faith may posses knowledge that otherwise is inconceivable. For instance the knowledge that something was created out of nothing (Hebrews 11:1) is inconceivable, yet many Christians know this to be true. This is where revelation is absolutely essential. Without revelation there are real limitations to what a person may know. Whereas a non-Christian is never completely sure of that which he cannot conceive, the Christian can be sure on such matters. The difference in mental set is fundamental and underscores the fact that a Christian not merely believes something because he understands it, but understands it because he believes it.
There are issues that simply cannot be addressed and answered by the rational process. For instance it is of paramount importance for man to know with certainty his true origin and his true destiny. Origin and destiny are closely related: the one relates to the other. Indeed, where purpose is involved, the destiny determines the origin. In evolution, where purpose is excluded, the origin determines the destiny—from nothing to nothing. So what is the chief end of man? For the Christian, divine revelation reveals the answer and it is decisive.
The chief end of man is to please God (Revelation 4:11). It was for this that man is and was created, and everything else is subservient to this end. There is really only one standard by which man will be ultimately judged and that is whether he was pleasing to God. And this amounts to what a person is and not what he does that counts with the Lord. All man’s doings—casual tasks or life work—must be a means, never ultimately the end. In everything he does, the object must always be simply to please God.
It makes all the difference to one’s evaluation of the worth of a life whether he thinks in terms of ends or means. At the present time in all areas of life, what had once been recognized as merely means to one well-defined end are being made ends in themselves. Man is often tempted to confuse means with ends and to look upon the journey itself as though it were the destination. In fact it is quite difficult for the average person to define what the end (the fundamental purpose of all his striving) is for his living. It is far easier to define the means, and how to acquire them, than it is to define the end for which they are being acquired. Thus man lives almost a life before he gives much thought to why he is living at all. And when the time comes to think about such a matter, it is almost always too late.
Natural wisdom (wisdom), rather than faith, is an intellectual exercise applied more appropriately and with more success to the question of means. Conversely, faith is much more important in the matter of goals or ends. The proper goal for man is closely linked with his origin, which leads to the answer of what he is today. And in this question of origin, faith plays a very important role in both the creationist and the evolutionist concepts, because absolute proof is impossible in either one thereby requiring faith in both.
Under the Modern Synthesis this faith may only be placed in means, such as the acquisition of wealth, the striving for comfort or many other temporal goals within this life. But the Medieval Synthesis more naturally employed faith toward ends.
Yet even in Christian circles faith can be misplaced toward means. About this Mr. Custance made the following observation:
It so easy, even for a Christian, to forget that to achieve holiness of life, to serve mankind in love, to sacrifice a promising career and go to the mission field—all these are merely means to an end, not ends in themselves. They must be done “to please God,” or they are merely to please ourselves. Motives can be terribly confused—even among the children of God—and this includes all kinds of sacrifice which may be made apparently out of a pure heart. . . . Even the desire to be Christ-like in character may be quite wrong if it becomes an end in itself. Not a few have sought to be saintly for dubious reasons. This, too, must be a means; and the end to please God. It is so simple and yet so profoundly difficult.
When man’s true origin is denied, his true end is obscured or lost. This is why life has become pointless for so many. No means can be successfully substituted for ends—neither wealth, nor health, nor any of the other commonly desired things of life. Not even godliness. To substitute means for ends always brings disillusionment.
Mr. Custance makes the observation that this treatment of means and ends may interrupt the flow of thought of his paper as a whole, but his purpose is to underscore that the quality of man’s life is determined by what man sees to be the goal or end for himself. Today faith is out of fashion, and the high aim of making the things of this world serve the purposes of the next has been replaced by making the things of this world ends in themselves. The achievement of means has become the goal.
It follows naturally that faith tends to be eclipsed by reason. Faith becomes a place of refuge only in times of emergency, and in this modern world the man of faith is a second-rate citizen. The more faith he has, the less likely he is to have means (possessions or wealth)—a fact which once led and still leads many to assume that there is some kind of virtue in poverty.
So, faith comes to be a substitute for reason, and it is apt to be employed where it is quite improper to employ it, namely, in the matter of means—a cardinal error. Mr. Custance ends the chapter with the following comments:
To summarize, therefore, what we have been setting forth in this short chapter: it may be said that both the individual and society as a whole must make the proper use in the appropriate places of both faith and reason. An order of society which lives exclusively by faith or exclusively by reason will ultimately fail to fulfill the total needs of its members and will collapse. There is an essential place in the life of man for the exercise of faith where reason will not serve and an essential place for reason where faith will not do. Essentially, reason applies in the matter of means and faith in the matter of ends. Only the Synthesis which pays strict heed to this fundamental truth can ever prove lastingly satisfactory.
Chapter 6—Toward a Christian World-View
In this last chapter of this paper Arthur Custance comes to some observations and conclusions derived from his observations in previous chapters and from the fact that, in his personal experience, very few who do not have proper faith have no answer regarding the purpose of being alive. Some of the immediate observations and conclusions at the front-end of this chapter that Mr. Custance expresses are as follows:
Arthur Custance continues with this theme utilizing various scriptures. He advances the fact that the natural mind has been infected by sin, and is no longer capable of arriving unaided at the whole truth. Man requires a regeneration of his fallen spirit, which brings a renewing of his mind (Romans 12:2), a renewal which literally brings a transformation in his thinking. This transformation allows many hitherto unrelated thoughts to form into a meaningful pattern. Not only does the universe begin to make sense and life begins to assume meaning, but the will of God becomes clear—he is then able to prove (know for certain) the good and perfect and acceptable will of God.
Arthur Custance goes on with the following:
In writing to the Ephesians (4:23), Paul speaks of being renewed in the spirit of the mind. I think here he is referring not so much to the mere processes of thinking in a strictly objective sense, but to the bias of the mind which in many respects is far more important. . . . In Colossians 3:10 I believe Paul has this in view when he speaks of the new man which is renewed in knowledge. Writing to Timothy, Paul reminds him that God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). These three form a combination of great importance; any two of them without the third can lead to disaster. Love and power without a sound mind is very likely to lead to passion [Reviewer’s note: read “emotionalism”]. Power and a sound mind without love is very likely to lead to corruption. And love and a sound mind without power leads to futility.
Scripture doesn’t tell Christians that man’s mind unredeemed is useless, but that it has severe limitations. These limitations become particularly apparent when man attempts to deal with his origin and his destiny. In his search to find a meaning for life, man is inevitably handicapped by the uncertainty as to his own proper destiny. Ultimately, he ends up by seeking the answer outside himself, outside the time-frame that hems him in. This quest for meaning turns men’s thoughts to God as the Controller and Ordainer of human destiny. Then it becomes of paramount importance for a man to know what God is like, for upon this hinges whether man may have hope or only uncertainty at the end.
To know God, man’s mind must undergo a transformation. Human nature can know God only in a limited way. Handicapped by sin, this knowledge is incomplete and uncertain. Man needs something of the Divine nature before he can know God—an acquisition that can only be brought about by a rebirth, which constitutes him a son of God. Only by sharing God’s nature as a child of God can man come to know God as one person knows another. The natural mind is not able to achieve this kind of knowledge (1 Corinthians 2:11). All this is first a matter of faith, and only after it is experienced does it partake of the nature of true knowledge, which then becomes reasonable in its own right.
Faith, therefore, becomes key to a new kind of knowledge (Luke 11:52)—the result of a special relationship that is appropriately set forth in Scripture as that of a child to his father. The relationship between God and man was destroyed due to man’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden; it is therefore man’s sin that separates him from God. But Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary took upon Himself the sin of man and paid the penalty-price for this sin, in man’s place, the innocent for the guilty. All man needs to do is by faith (genuine trust—a decision within his will) accept Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary, resting upon it completely for his salvation, which is the restoration of fellowship between man and God) and the assurance of eternal life.
Once a person makes this genuine and willful decision of faith (trust), all subsequent experience is providentially directed toward increasing the pleasure which God takes in that individual; and part of God’s pleasure is to reconstitute the thinking processes of the individual so that he can gain a new understanding of the meaning of God’s creation and acquire a new sense of purpose in life. Not only do his motives become gradually purified, but his powers of comprehension acquire a new dimension.
The new child of God, and Christians within God’s will, acquire a new world-view—a system of beliefs having an organic unity in which no one element can logically be sustained in isolation. In any system of thought, one must always start somewhere, and the validity of the starting point must always be accepted on faith. All systems of thought begin with an assumption—an assumption held by both scientist and Christian as an “article of faith.” But it is only by starting with God in faith may a person reach a proper world-view that incorporates both aspects of reality: those which are strictly physical, and those which are nonphysical—the material and the spiritual. Together they constitute the whole of reality.
If man only sees the material side of life, much cannot be understood. Likewise, to deny the material or facts of science in life, accepting only the spiritual, cripples a person. Science has no explanation for miracles—an interference by God in the natural order—which may take place regularly. As to miracles, R.E.D. Clark makes an astute observation regarding scientist and evolutionists when confronted by them, as follows:
When the scientist, to justify his unbelief, demands proof, he is very seldom influenced by the proof when it is produced. He merely demands further proof of a higher order, and thus the gap is never bridged. . . . Evolutionists demand evidence of creative design, but when shown it, merely raise the standard of the evidence they require or the kind of proof they will accept. And this goes on indefinitely, so that the bridge is never crossed. This demonstrates that such forms of unbelief are not really rational at all, though they are always claimed as such. The point is well illustrated from the number of occasions upon which scientists have publicly announced that if such-and-such a thing would be shown, they would at once abandon their old view and adopt the new one. Yet, when these conditions were fulfilled, they did “not” do what they promised.
God has provided revelation, which does not give man all the information he would like, but it supplies man with certain pieces of knowledge, certain facets of truth, which are otherwise entirely beyond man’s reach and yet are absolutely essential to his understanding of his destiny. Clearly what man needs is guidance. For this he needs knowledge that evidently the scientific method cannot provide. Only Christianity can provide such knowledge, which is basic to true understanding of all things experienced.
The basic fault with science is in its basic premise, which is that the scientific method is the only valid way to explore reality. In this premise man, as a human being in the biblical sense of having a significance beyond time and space, is annihilated—to be replaced by man the animal, highly complex but still essentially animal, having animal aspirations. Thus a whole dimension to life is lost—the most fundamental dimension of all, the spiritual one, and the very dimension that is the basis of the only goal for man that is worthy of his potentialities. As Paul put it, “If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19) So, the scientific world-view only breeds a sense of pointlessness and futility. Because of this Mr. Custance states the following:
Besides its prime concern for the personal salvation of the individual, the church must also bear a clear witness before the world to the fact that man is not just a superior kind of animal, but that he has a unique relationship to God, involving not only a unique origin—of which Genesis provides the details—but setting before him a unique destiny of which the rest of Scripture has given a sufficient account. This witness must be given before all men, not merely those who are Christians; these things apply to all men.
No Synthesis which is not firmly based upon these great truths can possibly provide for man a satisfying world-view by which he may order his daily life and fulfill his role in society. . . .
Man is not a superior animal, but a child of eternity. I am persuaded that the world needs constant reminding of this fact, and that there can be no understanding of “the phenomenon of man” unless his special origin and destiny are recognized fully. The ills of society cannot be properly diagnosed, nor can any proper provision be made for the real fulfillment of human aspiration, even at the ordinary social level, unless the true nature of man as a fallen but redeemable creature is acknowledged.
Paper Four—The Fitness of Living Things and the Significance of Dauermodifications
Chapter 1—How is Fitness Acquired?
Arthur Custance opens this chapter with this, “Those who live nearest to nature never cease to wonder at the “fitness of” living things. Until man intrudes, nature seems replete with evidence of wise design. Every creature is equipped with all the structures, all the skills, and all the instincts necessary for its own continuance as part of the web of life. Man alone appears to be an alien and a disturber.”
Mr. Custance uses this chapter to explain that while Christians are able to understand the changes that take place in nature within each species, the scientist, who denies the supernatural, must come up with some other explanation. Many of the changes that take place in a species that enable the species to better deal with the environment are passed on or inherited from age to age. One of the earlier students of nature who sought to account for this fitness without any direct appeal to supernatural intervention was Jean Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829). He observed different generations of species, which reflected a process akin to compound interest, that is, each generation improved upon the fitness of the previous one and thus all living creatures constantly enhanced their chances of survival—not by a process of elimination of the unfit, but by the improvement of their own fitness. He recorded this process and his recordings evolved into a thesis known as “Lamarckianism,” which came to be defined simply as “the inheritance of acquired characteristics,” and the acquired characteristics were modifications of structure resulting to the benefit of the organism from the direct influence of the environment.
This position differed somewhat from the theory of Charles Darwin, but even Darwin eventually appeared to come around to it. The amazing fitness of organisms within their own particular habitat demands an explanation. And the explanation must also account for the fact that living things seem to have a large capacity for adjustment to environmental pressures and seem to be able to pass on the benefit of these adjustments by inheritance to succeeding generations. Recently science in considering that the environment might have a direct influence upon an organism responding in an inheritable way has led to the conclusion that there are probably carriers of inheritable material in the cytoplasm of the cell and not just in the nucleus. These carriers, which have been termed plasmagenes, are responsive to the direct action of the environment.
This response of the organism to direct environmental pressure, which leads it to inheritable modifications that continues for a time even when the stimulus that provoked it is removed, has been termed dauermodification. This mechanism serves the dual purpose of preserving the line in its purity and maintaining the species as such, while at the same time opening the way for a form of adjustment that allows a particular species to spread successfully into different habitats that it could not otherwise occupy. The nuclear genes therefore preserve the species as such: the plasmagenes preserve the local population as a variety.
Mr. Custance ends the chapter with several remarks, several of which follow:
The difference between the conventional Darwinian view of natural selection and the view which is now beginning to crystallize, based on plasmagenic inheritance of acquired modifications, is this: the former depended upon a process of selective “elimination” of the unfit, whereas the latter favors “survival” by inherited adaptation. . . .
It is as though the Lord has so designed the mechanism of inheritance in order that the “kinds” of Genesis will not be destroyed or blurred, while yet allowing modification which greatly increases the range of climate, altitude, food resources, and so forth, that the particular species can occupy. There are numerous illustrations of this type of response among plants and animals; and there are some striking illustrations of it for man himself.
Chapter 2—The Nature of Dauermodifications
The term dauermodification, first used by V. Jollos in 1913, has still not found its way into evolutionary literature in general, because the climate of opinion is not sufficiently favorable toward the concept for which it stands. Yet the phenomena that it was coined to define have been observed and demonstrated experimentally for many years. Dauermodifications are the kind of modifications that are observed in living things in response to environmental pressures and which, when they occur in one generation, appear to be inherited by the next.
Arthur Custance then brings forth several examples of species throughout the world that due to environmental pressures were changed via dauermodification, many of which, once the environmental stress factors disappeared, gradually returned to their prior state. Then Mr. Custance ends the chapter with the following:
Today there is a wide measure of agreement that organisms have the power to improve their fitness by adjusting their form and function and passing on these adjustments to their offspring. Nuclear genes do not seem to be involved, and for the most part the older established doctrines of nuclear genetics remain valid. Nuclear genes are indeed surprisingly impervious to environmental pressures, but plasmagenes are not. A way is thus opened for any organism to contribute to the greater fitness of its descendants, and the whole of nature is in a position to reinforce the fitness of things without becoming in bondage to an altered form which in a later reversion of the environment would spell its doom.
Chapter 3—Evidence for Dauermodifications Below Man
This chapter’s title is self-explanatory.
Chapter 4—Dauermodifications in Man
Again, the title is self-explanatory. And he ends the chapter and this paper and the book with the following remarks:
God had provided two pathways of inheritance—the nuclear to preserve order, and the cytoplasmic to allow variety and ensure fitness. A half-truth—the recognition of the laws governing nuclear inheritance, hitherto taken as the “whole” truth—seems to have led us into the fundamental error of making chance the creator of order. Perhaps we are now in a better position to correct this incomplete picture and recognize once again the providence and wisdom of God in creation.
[Reviewer’s closing remarks: The Christian should understand that both God’s Word and God’s scientific principles and truths are both totally true. Neither should be denied. But it is important that reality is composed of two realms of truth, one natural and one supernatural. One may be assessed through observation, experimentation and reason; the other by faith. But without both, total reality can not be known. To adhere to one without the other leads to dogmatism that will be unpleasing to God—and the end (purpose) of man is to please God. Only by accepting both is man able to fully understand his origin and his destiny, which will erase boredom form his life with genuine purpose, direction and adventure.]