By Dale Smelser
There is some good usable material in this book, and some that probably was included principally because it was part of a paper on a theme Dr. Arthur Custance wanted to include in this volume. His information comparing the argument from teleology to the inadequacy of chance is strong. There is argument compatible with the quoted statement of Nobel Laureate A. V. Hill concerning “innumerable examples” in nature of superb engineering, which invites acknowledgment of an Engineer. Custance also examines statements of evolutionists such as George Gaylord Simpson and, under the scrutiny of a fellow scientist, leaves evolution’s postulates looking bare indeed.
His chapter on “Growing Evidence of Creative Activity” is a worthy addition to material published by others, not simply a rehash of the Creation Research Society’s material. This is not to disparage that, but Custance does his own thinking. He is effective in dealing with evolutionary “dead ends,” showing that just where the evolutionist needs a bridge, he never finds it. New types always suddenly appear with 99 percent of their history missing. Custance observes and demonstrates that the evolutionist has a faith based on “things not seen.” He demonstrates the enormity of the evolutionist’s problem and shows why a few evolutionists such as R. B. Goldschmidt are moved to conclude that no intermediate forms ever existed or were required. “He (Goldschmidt) proposed for example, that on one occasion a reptile laid an egg and to mother’s enormous surprise, a bird hatched from it “
Custance deals with problems the evolutionist presents to the believer in creation also. He does not run away from problems. He sometimes speculates as to possible and plausible solutions. Scientific data is (are) presented. For instance, the extraordinary variability of the human form in history, which the evolutionists see as progression, Custance is able to explain environmentally and genetically, and as contemporaneous.
His material on convergence is provocative. Convergence involves the existence of forms with similar features because of similar need, and which look alike, but which are phylogenetically unrelated. This fact is inconsistent with evolution’s argument from comparative anatomy, which says that the similarity of a character in different species shows common ancestry. Custance argues that homologies (similarity of structure) are neither due to chance, need, nor descent, but to a built in-design factor. His range of information is impressive.
He then, upon the basis of convergence, demonstrates how human skulls may be found sharing characteristics with apes, and yet be unrelated to them. He details how habits of culture, especially when sharing a similar diet and eating habits with apes can, given the human skull’s plasticity, produce ape-like characteristics. Diagrams and pictures help make the point. He believes of course, that such skulls represent man in a degraded state, not that in which man began. He does not believe that skull shapes we consider crude are necessarily the ancestors of more “refined” shapes.
In his section on “Evolution: An Irrational Faith,” Custance’s tone changes. He has thus far been mild, challenging but restrained. Here he takes off the gloves and, mixing metaphors, drives nails in a coffin he has preassembled for evolution. Biblical critics who contend 2 Peter had a different author from Peter because of differences in vocabulary, temperament, and style, would doubt the same authorship for the previous material. But considering what he says, no one can suspect him of being irresponsible.
While he has some good material challenging the “survival of the fittest” as an explanation for the order of life, he makes, I believe, a weak argument in contending frequent survival of the unfit. Some of his examples undoubtedly would become extinct and some did. He does, though, effectively refute the concept that nature is in a struggle wherein creatures are “red in tooth and claw.” In dealing with such, some of this argument may seem to deal with aspects of evolution that the scientific layman would consider minor. But taken as a whole, he is tearing down cherished strongholds that have been dear in evolutionary rhetoric, minor or not. Such should embarrass the evolutionist, but some of this could have been omitted and a condensed version of the book, wherein is a lot of usable substantive material, would probably be sufficient for most of us. But who is to say that how he wrote it and what he included will not effectively shake some young infatuated evolutionist?
Another feature of the book is an old idea of creation Custance accepts. He believes that God performed series of creations, starting with plant life that could grow in sand and crushed rock. With its decay came soil available and ready for the creation of other plant life. With that the earth was successively ready for new forms of life that God then brought into existence. When everything was ready for man, great catastrophes occurred, destroying most of this, and God then in six days brought into existence the order he desired to have and preserve, of all that he had before made.
In this he sides with Dathe and Rotherham who render Genesis 1:2: “But the earth had become a ruin and desolation,” instead of “And the earth was waste and void.” Thus in some instances the text says, “God created.” But in others where there was a remnant of life left. “The earth brought forth.” He contends this is not a concession to geology, and indeed attacks principles of the geological column imagined by the evolutionist. His is an idea that had gained some acceptance in the nineteenth century only to be eclipsed by Darwin’s Origin of Species.
Custance supposes that a tilt in the earth’s axis would have brought to pass such a catastrophe as he proposes, freezing animals in zones no longer temperate, and wrenching the earth’s crust, burying entire populations. Compare the frozen mammoths and gigantic animal graveyards. However, his scheme presupposes the existence of the sun during the earlier ordering of life, and in the Genesis scheme, the sun did not appear until the fourth day of that creation. Genesis is not just an ordering of life on the earth in an existent universe, it is the creation of the universe. There are many other arguments, I believe, against the position, but I am content merely to present the position here. For many it will detract from the book, but if one allows each set of information to stand on its own, he will find some value in the book.
My personal reaction to these four volumes? I like Noah’s Three Sons best. I liked Man in Adam and in Christ least, for reasons heretofore chronicled.
Truth Magazine XXII: 29, pp. 472-473
July 27, 1978