Did I get your attention with this title?
(I have been thinking about science and creation this week. So has LDS Dave B. over in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I invite you all to our “Celebration of the Creator” this Sunday. It is going to be great.)
One of the most important influences on the development of the “species” concept came from Greek philosophy. In the fourth century before Christ, Aristotle had taught that every entity was characterized by an eternal and unchanging set of features or form–its immutable “essence.” Such “essentialist” thinking was eventually applied in biology, leading to belief in the immutability of species.
Of course, Aristotle did not believe in biblical creation, but many Christians who later adopted his ideas did. Thus, by the seventeenth century, the concept of the immutability of species had become linked to belief in their separate creation. The Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus, famous for laying the foundations of our moder biological classification system, expressed his essentialist thinking like this: “We count as many species as there were created forms in the beginning.”
In this way, a Greek philosophical concept became Christianized. Although it was given a biblical facade, this belief was really rooted in Aristotelianism (AnswersMagazine, Jan.-Mar. 2009, p. 38).
Dr. Todd Wood asserts, “Many people think the Bible teaches that God created modern species in the beginning and then Darwin proved the Bible wrong. The truth is more interesting. When fossils of extinct species were discovered in the fossil record, scientists started to ask, what mechanism changed species? Darwin didn’t raise the questions, and his followers didn’t settle them” (p. 67).
Todd Wood raises some heart questions for biologists.
How do created kinds generate species? Is it just random variations and natural selection like Darwin said, or is there something else involved?
How fast can species change? Creationists believe that earth is only 6,000 years old, but the Bible records modern species in the time of Abraham (Genesis 12:16). Could there be some kind of “trigger” that makes species change quickly?
How much can species change? Is there some intrinsic limit to change, and if so what is it?
Why do species appear to be so well designed? If species can change and even adapt to new environments, how do they end up so beautifully designed? Does God somehow oversee the changes, or is the change itself part of God’s design?
Dr. Todd Charles Wood, president of the Creation Biology Study Group (BSG) declares,
We’re not just trying to answer some weird questions or refute the scoffers. Our goal is God Himself. We’re trying to understand His creation, His design, which ultimately is a reflection of His very nature. What better goal could there be?” (p. 77).
I agree 100%. There is no better goal.
(Of course, then my LDS friends want to take the discussion up to the highest notch. How much does Greek philosophy corrupt our beliefs about the Creator?)