Chambers and The Vestiges of Creation
In analyzing The Vestiges of Creation, Robert Chambers’ uses the logical thinking of Evolution and the familiarity of creationism to explain the origin of the Earth and the progression of the Species. In today’s society the theories of Evolution and Creationism are generally viewed as complete opposites. However, in his works, Chambers is able to mesh the two into one cohesive concept.
Chambers presents several concepts to convey his perception of evolutionary change. He does this first by analyzing the behaviors and tendencies of nature and its ability to alter our landscape. Chamber’s is sure to note the duration of geological change, such that “we see rivers constantly engaged in at the present time… appear to have proceeded on a greater scale in earlier epochs” (L 277). Within his analysis of the change in geography, Chambers puts forth the notion that “organic life has observed some correspondence with the progress of physical conditions on the surface” (L310), the basis of evolution. He further elaborates to say that species are ordered in a hierarchy type system in which certain animals are of higher of evolution. This of course is an expansion of Linnaeus’s genus and species classifications. But as it may seem so obvious where does God come in all of this.
God, as expressed by Creationism, created the earth and all its components in seven days. This belief obviously disregards the notion of the evolutionary process being long term, if not the entire theory of evolution. Chambers put forth the idea that, if the whole World was created in seven days, God would have crudely introduced zoophytes, mollusks, fish, crustaceous fish, and perfect fish all at once, such that the succession in species is obvious but there is no correlation to their beings or origins. He instead presents the idea that God acts as an animator to “where natural laws… are expressions of his will” (L345). Similar to accounts in the Bible and present day to where God is acting through commands and will but never directly acts upon us. He explains to say that to say God is continually acting on particular instance is an insult to his intellect and belittles him to a human stature. While if you say that god has the foresight to create these natural laws so that we as species are continuously growing and adapting.
By presenting his theories in Vestiges of Creation, Chamber’s put forth one of the only theories of evolution that cohesively integrates Christian beliefs with evolutionary theories. Though it was despised by the Scientific community, Chambers volumes were received with much praise by the Public. With it public attention there is no saying what impact The Vestiges of Creation had on our understanding of our origins and development.