Did Satan make Darwin do it?


Caution Creationists3

Much has been made of Ben Carson’s comment that Satan guided Charles Darwin to accept evolution. This comes from a lecture for the Seventh Day Adventists in 2011 which you will find embedded in this article.http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danthropology/2015/09/ben-carson-says-charles-darwin-created-the-theory-of-evolution-under-the-influence-of-satan/

To claim that Satan led dear Darwin astray is pretty face-palming for a potential President of our former colonies the United States. However other candidates hold similar views including Mike Huckabee, a southern Baptist minister.

Carson is a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church which is one of the many millennial groups which came into being in the 19th century. Most of their beliefs are typical of conservative evangelicals /fundamentalists but they are several additions, which are not optional bolt-on extras.

These are that one must believe in a 6-day creation of the earth some 6000 years ago as this is the direct conclusion of believing the Fourth Commandments means that you must worship on Saturday as the Sabbath – hence SEVENTH Day Adventist. (Some say the universe is older but the earth is only 6000 years.)

Also many of Ellen White’s writings are on a par with the Bible, including what she says about the Deluge and geology (see below)

Beyond her writings White said little , but as a result of following here writings George McCready price rejected geology and evolution and spent his long life writing numerous books countering geology and deep time. His focus was on geology as he held that “geology is 90% of evolution”. Thus to kill geology is to kill evolution Q.E.D.!!!! I discuss Price and his influence below.

10389436_10203030956276827_2185931412440811414_nHere’s a rather flippant alternative explanation of the order of the strata!!

In 1961 Morris and Whitcomb published  The Genesis Flood which has been the manifesto of modern creationism. It set in motion a movement which has baffled many, especially how otherwise sensible people can fall for such utter twaddle – or should I say an alternative science! Morris took much from Price but did not acknowledge his debt.

156px-Henry_MorrisLater Morris also claimed that evolution is of Satan, who has deceived so many modern scientists. He also claimed that Nimrod (Gen  10vs8-9) was the first evolutionist, but I cannot see why.


Many will be baffled by Carson’s claim, which ridiculous though it is, has roots in the teachings of the Seventh Day Adventist church. Below is a more serous account of the issues in the SDA.

however if Satan led Darwin by the nose, then he also led the following by the nose like these 19th century clerical geologists ; Sedgwick, Buckland, Hitchcock ,Silliman and of course

Bishop Samuel Wilberforce


It is very difficult not to introduce levity and flippancy in discussing this, but it is the extreme of absurdity

If you are interested in more, please read Ron Numbers’ The Creationists.  My work is partly based on his.


The Origins of Carson’s non-scientific beliefs

As far as I can ascertain, the only groups, who overtly supported a young earth approach after the mid-1860s were the Seventh Day Adventists and some Lutherans. At that time they had minimal importance as they were outside mainstream Evangelicalism. However despite their marginal importance, they became better known through the writings of McCready Price in the Scopes era, whose work is the basis of the modern YEC movement. Throughout the nineteenth century there were a proliferation of
Adventist sects in America and Britain. These had their origin in the Millenarian tradition, which flourished from the late eighteenth century and still thrive among evangelicals today. Many Millenarians were to be found in mainstream churches and in Britain the Anglican Church was well represented with writers like G.S.Faber, F.Nolan, E.Bickersteth and Thomas Birks, who have been discussed earlier. Some Millenarians founded their own groups outside the churches, and extended their Millenarianism to predicting the end of the world. There were eccentrics like the illiterate John Wroe who thought that the Second Coming would take place in Ashton-under-Lyme in Lancashire. Within a year he was hounded out of town, perhaps because he hadtaken ten virgins tocomfort him.
An American counterpart was William Miller (1782–1849), the most famous of all Millenarians. He was converted in 1816 and became drawn to prophecy initially through British Millenarianism. For two decades he did little but from 1843 became active and attracted a following of some 50,000.
Slowly Miller’s followers drifted away from their churches and began to form their own denomination, which by October 22, 1844, was nearly complete. That was the day, which the Millerites had fixed as the Second Advent and after their hopes were not realized the Millerites declined and referred to that date as the Great Disappointment. From the ashes a small apocalyptic sect, the Seventh Day Adventist, smoldered on. Following the Great Disappointment numbers of Millerites took stock and concluded that the Second Coming was imminent, but would be delayed until the world had been warned to observe the Sabbath on Saturday—the seventh day of the week. In the early 1840s the young Ellen Harmon became involved with a small Adventist chapel in Portland, Maine and in August 1846 married an Adventist Preacher John White. Soon after that Ellen White began writing her many books, which were often culled from other sources and rewritten by friends. According to Ronald Numbers the Seventh Day Adventist Church was formally organized by John and Ellen White and Joseph Bates in 1863. Like the Millerites, the Seventh Day Adventists expected the imminent Second Coming and worshipped on Saturday because of the Fourth Commandment, which also refers to Creation in six days. Hence they insisted on a literal interpretation of Genesis. (Today, this is still a
crux of the YEC arguments.) In her Spiritual Gifts: Important Facts of Faith (White, 1864) White wrote that to follow infidel geologists with vast indefinite periods “strikes directly at the foundations of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment” (cited Numbers, The Creationists 1992, p. 74) and repeated these arguments in Patriarchs and Prophets (White, 1890, p. 97). This work gives the biblical story from Creation to King David, written in popular style. She insisted on a literal creation week and in chapter IX The Literal Week voices her concern at geology. She favored the Deluge being the source of strata rather than long ages and regarded geology as “one of Satan’s devices to lead the people to accept the fables of infidelity…” (White, 1890, p. 99). She waxed lyrical on the Flood, “The mountains  once so beautiful in the perfect symmetry, had now become broken and irregular….And upon countries that were not inhabited, and those where there had been the least crime, the curse rested more lightly.”

Her understanding of coal is unusual; “At this time immense forests were buried. These have since been changed to coal,…The coal and oil frequently ignite…Thus rocks are heated…and volcanic eruptions follow” (White, 1890, p. 94). So far, the source of White’s geology is not known, Stilling wisely suggests that it may come from the Lord brothers. However Ellen White had less grasp of geology than any of the British anti-geologists mentioned in my  Evangelicals and Geology  and clearly had not read them. Thus to the Adventists, geology with its long ages had to be rejected or else their raison  d’ˆetre to change the Sabbath would be nullified and so White’s visionary writings passed into the official doctrine of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Here we see how Ellen White had forced the SDA into reject geology – the leading Science of Satanic origin – and thus forcing the church to rationalise this. This happened after her death with George McCready Price as we read below, after problems with Mr “Corn Flakes” Kellogg.

In 1863 Ellen White developed health as a new aspect to her ministry, as one Sabbath day White had a vision of the relationship of physical health to  spirituality and the importance of good diet, fresh air, and exercise. She also had other concerns as she thought that the practice of masturbation would result in “imbecility, dwarfed forms, crippled limbs, misshapen heads, and deformity of every description.” The result was the SDA’s work in medical missions, which are now worldwide. In 1866 the Whites opened a Health Reform Institute at Battle Creek, Michigan, which majored on hydrotherapy, which was the rage in the nineteenth century. The Whites realized they needed a medical director and in 1875 Dr. John Kellogg (1852–1943), a younger member of the church whom the Whites financed through Bellevue Medical College in New York City, was appointed. Kellogg, who we remember mostly at our breakfast tables through his invention of cornflakes in 1897 as well as peanut butter, proved to be an interesting appointee. He changed the focus at Battle Creek to medical and surgical procedures and Numbers reckons that without his influence Adventist medical work would have ceased. Kellogg made a considerable contribution to medicine and to foods. While teaching physics at Battle Creek College, in 1879 Kellogg wrote a small work Harmony of Science and the Bible (Kellogg, 1879), which ran counter to Ellen White’s teaching as Kellogg reckoned that a main factor in causing conflict between science and religion was the “Holding of the Bible as unimpeachable authority on all subjects” and argued for the separation of science and religion. Even though Kellogg still believed in a special creation, his way of thinking was not amenable to Ellen White and other leaders so eventually Kellogg and the Adventists went their separate ways. Kellogg later became an evolutionist and a eugenicist and founded the Race Betterment Center in 1914. However other Adventist writers, notably Uriah Smith and Alonzo Jones, published in the Review and Herald, supporting Ellen White’s visions and refuting the geologists, whom they noted were often in contradiction to each other. These writers were putting in place the distinctively Adventist approach to science and religion, which was developed in the next century by George McCready Price, who attended Battle Creek College from 1891–1893. Whatever the validity of their arguments, it is clear
that they could do no other because of their insistence that the Fourth Commandment on the Sabbath necessitated a six-day creation.

Very few evangelicals accepted such a literalist approach. Their ideas were restricted to sidelines of American society until into the latter half of the Twentieth Century. I venture to suggest that were it not for Ellen White and the Germanic Lutherans YEC would not have come to the fore today. By the end of the 19th century most evangelicals on both sides of the pond were happy to accept geology, but evolution less so. Geology was not Satanic

George McCready Price is one of the few people, who are more important in retrospect than in their lifetimes. Price was ridiculed by scientists, never more than partially accepted by Fundamentalists, and respected only within limited circles. His importance is that Henry Morris drew upon his writings for his Young Earth Geology in The Genesis Flood, the founding document of modern creationism published in 1961. Price was born in New Brunswick in 1870 and after he lost his father at twelve, his mother joined the Seventh Day Adventist church. There Price was introduced to the writings of Ellen White. At seventeen Price married a woman twelve years his senior and then sold White’s works in the Maritime Provinces of Canada. From 1891 he spent two years at the Adventist Battle Creek College in Michigan and did a one-year teacher-training course in New Brunswick where he took elementary courses in science— his only science education.

He went into teaching and devoured evolution books concluding that “all turned on its view of geology, and that if geology were true, the rest would seem to be more or less reasonable.” He almost accepted evolution but could not harmonize it with Genesis as interpreted by White. Finally he accepted White’s revelations in Patriarchs and Prophets and concluded that the deluge had buried the strata and attendant fossils. After reading many geological tomes he claimed to find a flaw in “evolutionary geology.” That fatal flaw in geology was that, Price claimed, geologists dated rocks by their fossils and the fossils by their position in the geological column, and is thus a circular argument. He first argued this in Outlines of Modern Christianity  (Price,1902) and developed the theme over the next half century. Like Wise and Austin a century later, he claimed that water eroded out the Grand Canyon before the sediments had completely hardened, thus allowing its His second book Illogical Geology (Price,1906) gave an alternative explanation for overthrusting, whereby “older” strata are thrust over “younger” strata. He cited Cambrian strata lying on top of Cretaceous strata in Alberta, and soon after publishing his book discovered the Lewis overthrust in Montana, which covered several thousand square miles.

He then pronounced a new geological principle, the Law of Conformable Stratigraphical Sequence “Any kind of fossiliferous rock may occur conformably on any kind of fossiliferous rock, old or young.” The conclusion of the discovery was clear to Price and that is that the deposition of the strata was catastrophic rather than Uniformitarian and so “flood geology” explained “beautifully every major problem in the supposed conflict between modern science and modern Christianity.” In 1923, he published his magnum opus The New Geology (Price, 1923), a massive 736-page volume, which appears like a college geology text from the 20s. It was full of unauthorized geological photographs from respectable sources. It was no wonder that Schuchert described this as a “geological nightmare” as if it were true, then geology would be impossible. His new geology which was so opposed to standard Uniformitarian geology he called the “new catastrophism” to distinguish it from the old catastrophism of Cuvier and Buckland a century earlier (which was probably Satanic!). These books by Price were a new approach to challenging evolution. It was a result of his conviction that geology was 90 percent of evolution, and thus if you could undermine geology, evolution would go. Price was correct as if the geological timescale were wrong then there would be no time for evolution. As a result Price spent little time on biological questions. (This is why I hold that it is vital to convince people of the vast age of the earth and let evolution look after itself.)

In the mid-1920s he was at the height of his powers and Science regarded him as “the principle scientific authority of the Fundamentalists.” He also published in periodicals as diverse as Moody Monthly and the Catholic World. During the 1930s public interest began to wane and in the 1940s former students like Harold Clark devised their own theories of flood geology. Divisions like this hindered the advance of Deluge Geology, which had to wait another twenty years. Even so for a half a century from 1902, Price published innumerable books on the theme of his Deluge Geology and attempted to form various deluge societies. The greatest recognition that Price received was to be included as a prime pseudoscientist in Martin Gardner’s Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (Gardner, 1957), which described him unprophetically as “the last and greatest of the antievolutionists.” Was Gardner wrong!!!!!!!!
In 1950 Lawrence Kulp commented that Price’s ideas had “grown and infiltrated the greater portion of fundamental Christianity in America.” A few years later Bernard Ramm noted the “staggering” influence of Price and said that Flood Geology was “the backbone of much Fundamentalist thought”. His ghost is still with us.

Price’s greatest influence was within Adventist and Missouri Lutheran circles. Bryan had referred to him at the Scopes Trial. Price did not convince many American evangelicals but he made many doubt geological dating. Many fundamentalist writers were adamant that evolution was wrong and led to immorality, even though they incorporated geological ages by adopting either the Gap Theory or the Day Age interpretation. Several theological writers during the interwar years expressed either agreement with or sympathy for Price’s deluge geology. Despite his allegiance to  geological time, Jennings Bryan valued Price’s work and Harry Rimmer tried a pick’n’mix with Price and Scofield. Price’s books were used in some fundamentalist colleges. Evolutionary Geology (Price, 1926), a shorter version of The New Geology, was used as a geology textbook at Wheaton College in the 1920s and this was mentioned at the Scopes trial. However it was discarded in the 30s when Paul Wright began to teach geology. From that time Wheaton College was clearly old earth. However in the 1960s copies of Price’s Evolutionary Geology were re-bound (Prof. Steve. Moshier kindly gave me a copy and explained its history) and used for a different purpose. Rather than to teach students what geology they should believe, they were used as an exercise in critical thinking as the students were encouraged to look for the flaws in Price’s work. That stopped by 1970 and an exercise like that would be dynamite today as many students entering Wheaton are YECs, as I found when I taught geology in the Black Hills for Wheaton in 2001.

Support for McCready Price came from surprising quarters, and from my Anglican perspective none is more surprising than W. H. Griffith Thomas (1861–1924). As I discussed in the previous chapter late nineteenth-century evangelical Anglicans unanimously accepted geology and the majority accepted evolution with minor reservations. During the first half of the twentieth century Liberal Catholics came to dominate Anglicanism, with Modernists coming a close second. As a result most Anglicans not only accepted evolution but held Genesis to be mythological as in the report Doctrine in the Church of England (1937). There was not one evangelical on that commission which was chaired by William Temple(1881–1944). He was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1942 to 1944. (Bowler). Evangelicals declined in numbers and in England split into Liberal and Conservative Evangelicals. The former were closer to Modernists in many ways and the latter deliberately eschewed the “excesses” of American  Fundamentalism. They tended to follow Handley Moule (1841–1920) and to a lesser extent, J.C.Ryle (1816–1900)w in the early decades by Dean Henry Wace of Canterbury, Bishop Edward   Knox (1847–1934) of Manchester and Griffith Thomas.

Griffith Thomas rejected evolution through the influence of McCready Price. Thomas was a significant evangelical theological writer of his time  and recommended for Anglican evangelical clergy until the 1970s. After  being the principal of an Anglican seminary in Oxford, Wycliff Hall, he went to Toronto in 1910. He was a leader in the World Conferences on Christian Fundamentals and moved to join the newly formed Dallas Theological Seminary in 1924, but died suddenly before classes began. In his two widely-read books TheCatholic Faith and The Principles of Theology; An Introduction to the Thirty-Nine articles, Thomas argued for a qualified acceptance of evolution.The Catholic Faith was published before Thomas left England, and then revised in 1920. Thomas wrote, “Evolution as a law of nature is undoubtedly true to an extent, and it may yet prove to be a very great extent,…at present it can only be called a working hypothesis…” The Principles of Theology was not completed before his death and was edited by Dyson Hague(1857–1935)and published posthumously in 1930. Here, when speaking about Creation, Thomas was critical about the association of evolution with “the philosophy of materialism” and then wrote that, “time has shown that the Darwinian theory is not necessarily to be identified with the general doctrine of evolution.” He concluded after giving similar sentiments as quoted from The Catholic Faith that,“If we regard Evolution as modal it is not only not anti-theistic, but in many respects gives a far deeper, richer and fuller conception of the Divine working than the older theories” (Thomas, 1943, pp. 10–11). Thomas had based his arguments on recent writers such as James Orr (see Chapter 4) and  other protestant apologists such as McCosh, Stokes, Salmon and Webb. It is difficult to ascertain when Thomas wrote this, but from his references it possibly pre-dates his leaving England.

Then came the change. In 1917 Griffith Thomas met McCready Price at a meeting for fundamentalist leaders in Colorado Springs and adopted his ideas. The next year he wrote a booklet What About Evolution? and later an article for Bibliotheca Sacra entitled “Evolution and the Supernatural”(Thomas, 1922). In contrast to previous writings Thomas adopted a wavering tone and was skeptical of an evolution of man. At the end he raised several questions about evolution, but his penultimate paragraph makes it clear that he rejected geology. Citing Price (Q.E.D. p. 125f) he rejected the whole geological succession stating, “This is now known to be a mistake.” It was “this mistake” which formed the major theme in Price’s books and in the writings of Theodore Graebner, who maintained that the use of fossils as age markers is based on circular reasoning from the assumption of evolution, fore shadowing later arguments of Henry Morris.

Thomas’s new views made no impact in Britain, and to my knowledge no other British Anglicans showed the slightest sympathy to Price. In February 1924 Price gave a lecture to the Victoria Institute (VI) in London to a frosty welcome. A few anti-evolutionists like Douglas Dewar cited Price favorably, but that was more in passing. Price’s “New Geology” slowly made inroads into American Fundamentalism and by fostering doubt about geological methods and time  created the conditions  for the rapid acceptance of Morris’s YEC in the 1960s. Price’s New Geology found more acceptance with the Dutch Calvinists and when Valentine Hepp, Bavinck’s successor as professor of theology at the Free University, Amsterdam, gave the Stone Lectures at Princeton Seminary in 1930, his lecture on Calvinism and Geology (Hepp, 1930, 183–223) acknowledges his debt to Price. Hepp was far more skeptical of geology than Bavinck, who accepted the geological timescale. It is ironical that the previous year Gresham Machen (1881-1937) had left Princeton in protest of its nascent liberalism to set up the conservative Westminster Theological Seminary and that Machen himself accepted geology (Marsden,1991,182– 201).This vignette highlights the complex nature of American Christianity in the 1920s.
As the older generation of Germanic Lutherans passed on theologians in the twentieth century began to accept Copernicanism but made no concessions to geology or evolution. Wisconsin-born Theodore Graebner (1876– 1950), the professor of philosophy at Concordia Seminary at St. Louis, was more tolerant of heliocentrism than his father,but not of geology nor evolution. While at Luther College, Prof. Tinglestad convinced him that evolutionists were “reasoning in a circle” by dating rocks from their fossil content. This he argued in several works beginning with Evolution; an investigation and a criticism in 1921 and finally in God and the Cosmos in 1932, which was in three parts, Atheism, Materialism and Evolutionism.(I sometimes think I must have a psychological disorder to have read all this stuff!)  Graebner was the first of several Lutherans associated with Price’s new geology. Another was Byron Nelson (1893–1972), grandfather of Paul Nelson, a contemporary YEC exponent of Intelligent Design (ID). Nelson revelled in Price’s New Geology in 1923 and wrote a master’s thesis at Princeton Theological Seminary of the Genesis “kinds,” which was published in 1927 as After its Kind (Nelson,1927),which closely followed Price’s geology. This was followed by The Deluge Story in stone an account of the history of flood geology. From Adventist and Lutheran flood geologists along with an assortment of others especially Dudley Whitney (1883–1964) was born the Religion and Science Association in 1935.This only lasted a few years as it succumbed to dissent over whether Price’s deluge geology was preferable to the orthodox geology, legitimized by the Gap Theory favored by Allan Higley (1871– 1955), who taught chemistry and geology at Wheaton and had a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Chicago. Higley’s disagreements with members of  the Religion and Science Association were nothing compared to those he had at Wheaton, from whence he left in disgrace in 1939. Numbers chronicles several other societies formed in the following years.
It is not easy to assess the influence of Price and Deluge Geology on American Fundamentalism in the early twentieth century. In 1915, its influence had not even begun and almost all evangelicals accommodated geology, helped by the Scofield Bible.But after 1918 Deluge Geology entered into Fundamentalism like a leaven. Many considered it, some adopted it and others like Harry Rimmer seemed to pick’n’mix between the Gap Theory and Deluge Geology and passed on their ambivalence to their hearers. Suffice it to say that in 1915, very few of the nascent fundamentalists
adopted deluge geology (today’s YEC). By 1930 it was possible to claim that the Scopes trial was about a literal Genesis. As was demonstrated above that is only partly true, and could only gain credence in the 30s if enough Fundamentalists were literalists. That there were is evidenced by the activities of “deluge geologists” and Ramm’s claim that Price’s geology provided “the backbone of much of Fundamentalist thought about geology,creation,andtheflood”(Ramm,1955,p.125).Manymid-century Fundamentalists were like Rimmer and held an unstable amalgam of deluge and conventional geology. In 1910 when the Fundamentals were published the vast majority of American evangelicals accepted geological time and accommodated this to Genesis by either the Gap Theory or the Day Age Theory. The small minority who did not, mostly read Genesis without reference to science.Price had unsettled that certainty and through his books created doubt. Though few agreed with Price, many spoke highly of him and respected him as a scientist. Price had not gained many converts but had sown confusion in the evangelical camp and this is nowhere seen better than in Harry Rimmer.

Ellen white

sciences of satanic origin

McCready Price

Henry Morris


5 thoughts on “Did Satan make Darwin do it?

  1. Paul Braterman

    Reblogged this on Primate's Progress and commented:
    Reblogging as Did Satan make Darwin do it? Why does Ben Carson think so?

    With comment: There is an apostolic succession from the Millerites to Ellen White and the Adventists to George McCready Price to his Genesis Flood plagiarisers, Whitcomb and Morris, to Ham and Baumgartner and Carson. But Glasgow has the best statues [Duke of Wellington, with traffic cone]


  2. Lonnie E. Schubert

    Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:

    I have immense respect for Dr. Ben Carson.

    I note the information is a few years old. Still, holding young-earth views is ridiculous and significant. It shows ability to think wrong in big ways.

    The good vicker from Great Britain has written an excellent summary of what must have influenced Dr. Carson. He points out well that YEC views are a new thing. Nothing traditional or orthodox about pretending earth is younger than history.



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