by George McCready Price (1870-1963)
(This was ©1925 by Southern Publishing Assoc.)
PUBLIC DOMAIN - FREE to Copy & Use
Chapter Eleven - Christian Philosophy
PHILOSOPHY may be defined as an orderly account of the universe in the light of all our available knowledge. On this basis, every person has some sort of philosophy,— he has some sort of explanation of the great facts of existence. The evolutionist has his philosophy, and the Christian has his; and necessarily the two are quite different from each other.
If we come to grips immediately with the chief point on which these two systems differ from each other, we may begin by saying that the essential idea of the evolution doctrine is uniformity. It says that the present is the measure of the past, and the measure of all the past. It says that life in all its various forms and with all its characteristics must have come into being by causes similar to or identical with those forces and processes which now prevail around us. As H. E. Compton expresses it, evolution "teaches that natural processes have gone on in the earlier ages of the world as they do today, and that natural forces have ordered the production of all things about which we know."—"The Doctrine of Evolution" (1911), p. 1.
Two thousand years ago a writer of the early Church predicted the prevalence of just such a doctrine, and very neatly and very accurately described its advocates as saying that, "since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." (2 Peter 3:4.) The reader will note that the words are, not "from the close of the creation," but "from the beginning of the creation." In other words, creation itself is included in the scheme of uniformity here expressed, just what we have found is the characteristic doctrine of modern evolutionists. And the reader should also note from the context that the people here spoken of and described are said to mock at the suggestion of the second coming of Christ, because of their cherished philosophy of uniformity, as already expressed; and that they have arrived at their philosophy of uniformity because they have already grown accustomed to denying the fact of a universal Deluge. All of which, we must own, sounds very modern indeed.
Creation a Completed Work
The essential idea is that creation is a completed work and is not now going on. And the Bible expressly says that the Sabbath was given to the race as a memorial of this completed work of creation, and as a reminder that the origin of things was somehow different from the present order of things, which we call the reign of natural law.
In a former work ["Q. E. D., or New Light on the Doctrine of Creation" (1917)], I have shown how the failure of modern evolutionary science to account for the origin of matter, energy, life, and "species," or the more distinct kinds of life, constitutes a proof, a Q. E. D., that there must have been a real creation "in the beginning." I need not repeat the argument here. It may suffice for us now to pass along to discuss in a very brief way the three great problems of philosophy; namely, God, personal freedom or free will, and the future life. Many other questions are of course involved, but these are the three pivotal points about which all philosophical discussions have turned, ever since the time of the ancient Greeks.
The Way to Find out God
A Running-down Process
The scientific view of the universe is that the stuff of which
man himself and the objects around him consist, must have a real existence.
Chemistry tells us that there are some ninety-two kinds of matter composing
the earth and the things upon it, these ninety-two kinds of stuff being
called the chemical elements. The recently developed science of
physical chemistry, by means of the phenomena of radioactivity, has shown
that these elements are running down or disintegrating; the heavier elements,
by loss of electrons, constantly changing into some of the lighter ones.
But it has found no hint of anything like the reverse process anywhere
throughout the universe. A very reasonable Inference from these facts is
that this stuff called matter must have been created by God at some definite
time in the past. These ninety-two kinds of elements could not have existed
from all eternity; for this running-down process would all have been over
Thus we seem to have a scientific proof that the stuff of which the world is composed must have been created. But by a little careful reasoning also, we can arrive at the conviction that it must be so. For if we assume that this stuff, matter, has existed from all past eternity, we are thus making matter independent of God. That is, matter must have certain properties — or all its properties — which God did not give it; and therefore it may well be supposed that in some respects matter is quite unmanageable and God cannot always do with it quite as He likes.
A Finite God
Now many philosophers both ancient and modern have adopted this very position. William James was one of these; and he has had many followers. By this doctrine of a finite God, one who is not in full and complete control of the universe, these authors have sought to account for the physical and moral evil in the universe. This view does seem to account for the evil in the universe as being due to something inherently wrong or unmanageable in matter itself. But it degrades God to a mere finite being, much like ourselves, who may be doing the best he can under the circumstances, but one who is in no respect the Creator of all things.
The evolution theory is quite sympathetic with this theory of a finite God. Physical and moral evil looms up hugely in the theory of organic evolution; and few theistic evolutionists have had the hardihood to say that an infinite, all-wise, all-powerful Creator, who had already created matter itself, deliberately made man by the long-drawn-out agony of organic evolution. They have usually dodged the difficulty by claiming that matter is itself eternal, and that, as Le Conte expresses it, evil "must be a great fact pervading all nature and a part of its very constitution."—"Evolution and Religious Thought" (1899), p. 865. But this is not Christianity; it is paganism stark and unadorned. Exactly the same view of matter as being inherently evil, and also as having existed from all eternity, was taught by all the ancient pagan philosophers. In our day this old foe has reappeared with a new face; but its revival here in modern times only serves to show how many essentially pagan notions are being taught all around us even under the guise of Christianity. The Bible teaches that evil is not eternal, either past or future. It had a beginning; and it will also have an end.
Freedom to Choose
At present God is allowing sin to work itself out into full development,
to show the universe what a horrible thing it really is. The cross on Mount
Golgotha is an everlasting testimony to the universe that sin is a horrible
thing; that when allowed to run its course it will turn angels into demons
and men into mere tools of demons.
A Nightmare of Despair
We have now considered two of the three great problems of philosophy. The one remaining is the problem of a future life.
"If a man die, shall he live again?" cried the afflicted patriarch; and for the many thousands of years since then this question has been asked by multitudes of the children of men, who could not see beyond the portals of the tomb.
Listen to the despairing wail of one of our cleverest modern writers,
one born to little less than royal luxury and culture, but who has rejected
the Christian hope for the despair of evolution as a world-process:
"Brief and powerless is man's life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. . . . The life of man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, towards a goal that few can hope to reach, and where none may tarry long. One by one, as they march, our comrades vanish from our sight, seized by the silent orders of omnipotent Death."— Bertrand Russell, "Mysticism and Logic," p.56.