Recently I received information from a pastor in the Reformed Church in the United States (German Reformed) to the effect that evolution is taught not only at Calvin College but also at Dordt College, which, I think, is generally thought to be more conservative than Calvin. The information which I received, however, shows ‘that Dordt does not play second fiddle to Calvin when it comes to evolution.

Here is the story.

On April 10, 1987, at Hillsdale College, there was a debate between Dr. Duane T. Gish, from the Institute for Creation Research, and Professor Richard Hodgson, Professor of Astronomy at Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa. The debate was on the creation model of origins versus the evolution model of origins, and it took place at Davis Middle School, Hillsdale, Michigan. Dr. Gish debates and lectures on creation science frequently and in many places. Anyone who receives the literature of the Institute for Creation Research will know of this.

From my German Reformed pastor-reader I received information about Professor Hodgson’s position in this debate. Later I verified that information from students’ tape recordings of the debate. And while the recordings were not as clear as one could wish, due to, the distance of the recorders from the speakers, I believe the following transcribed remarks of Prof. Hodgson are accurate. The punctuation and the paragraphing are mine. Here are the concluding remarks of Prof. Hodgson’s speech in that debate:

“I think we have to realize that as we look at this whole picture, we ask the question: do mammals, for example, have a common ancestry? Do all taxanemic phyla and kingdoms go back to a single ancestral line? They are good questions, and they are not easily answered. On the basis of presently available scientific evidence, I think we cannot be totally sure. The strains of curious mammals—and birds, too, for that matter—show strong reptilian skeletal structures, indicating a highly likely reptile ancestry. Again, a transition from fish to lung fish to amphibians does to some extent seem to be in evidence in the discovery of some species that have been found.

“Furthermore, as we look at the history of earth rocks—and some micro-fossils go back more than three billion years—we are confronted with the fact that the simpler kingdoms . . . occurred before the more complex forms of life. So there seems to be a gradual diversion over time into more and more complex life forms. The earliest life forms were exceedingly simple and did not even have nucleated cells. More recent life forms have been, of course, multi-celled, with some very complicated organs that are involved.

“So to summarize the point I would like to say the following. The case for evolution, I believe, is a good one on the basis of available scientific evidence. The possibility, however, of divine creation of some basic life forms, particularly at higher taxonomic levels, over widely spaced intervals of time—not just a few thousand years now—is a possibility which cannot be ruled out on the basis of present scientific observational evidence. And so I think that that is about where we really have to leave it. I think that there are some things that strongly suggest evolution as an explanation for a lot of the varieties of life that we find. Whether it will explain everything, of course, will remain somewhat for the future to discover.”

There you have it.

Prof. Hodgson, of Dordt, is as much of an evolutionist as is Dr. Van Till, of Calvin.

—HCH