Re: Correction on Charles Hodge

Terry M. Gray (
Thu, 30 Jan 1997 11:17:41 -0500

Thanks, James, for the compliment. I will admit that Hodge was much
more cautious than A.A. Hodge or Warfield. However, let's let him
speak for himself and then you can tell me if you think I was twisting
his words.

The quote is taken from *What Is Darwinism?* at the end of the book (p.
155ff. in the recently published edition edited by Mark Noll and David
Livingstone--BTW a fine piece of work with a very nice intro
article--you should all run out and buy it).



</smaller>The conclusion of the whole matter is that the denial of
design in nature is virtually the denial of God. Mr. Darwin's theory
does deny all design in nature; therefore, his theory is virtually
atheistical-his theory, not he himself. He believes in a Creator. But
when that Creator, millions on millions of ages ago, did
something-called matter and a living germ into existence-and then
abandoned the universe to itself to be controlled by chance and
necessity, without any purpose on his part as to the result, or any
intervention or guidance, then He is virtually consigned, so far as we
are concerned, to nonexistence.

It has already been said that the most extreme of Mr. Darwin's
admirers adopt and laud his theory for the special reason that it
banishes God frorn the world, that it enables them to account for
design without referring it to the purpose or agency of God. This is
done expressly by Buchner, Haeckel, Vogt, and Strauss. The opponents of
Darwinism direct their objections principally against this element of
the doctrine. "This, as was stated by Rev. Dr. Peabody, was the main
ground of the earnest opposition of Agassiz to the theory. America's
great botanist, Dr. Asa Gray, avows himself an evolutionist, but he is
not a Darwinian. Of that point we have the clearest possible proof. Mr.
Darwin, after explicitly denying that the variations which have
resulted in "the formation of the most perfectly adapted animals in the
world, man included, were intentionally and specially guided," adds:
"However much we may wish it, we can hardly follow Professor Asa Gray
in his belief "that variation has been led along certain beneficial
lines" lilke a stream "along definite and useful lines of irrigation."
If Mr. Darwin does not agree with Dr. Gray, Dr. Gray does not agree
with Mr. Darwin. It is as to the exclusion of design from the
operations of nature that our American differs from the English
naturalist. This is the vital point. The denial of final causes is the
formative idea of Darwin s theory, and therefore no teleologist can be
a Darwinian.

Dr. Gray quotes from another writer the sentence, "It is a singular
fact, that when we can find how anything is done, our first conclusion
seems to be that God did not do it"; and then adds,

I agree with the writer that this first conclusion is premature and
unworthy; I will add, deplorable. Through what faults of dogmatism on
the one hand, and skepticism on the other, it came to be so thought, we
need not here consider. Let us hope, and I confidently expect, that it
is not to last; that the religious Faith which survived without a shock
the notion of the fixedness of the earth itself, may equally outlast
the notion of the absolute fixedness of the species which inhabit it;
that in the future, even more than in the past, faith in an order,
which is the basis of science, will not-as it cannot reasonably-be
dissevered from faith in an <italic>Ordainer, </italic>which is the
basis of religion.

We thank God for that sentence. It is the concluding sentence of Dr.
Gray's address as ex-President of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, delivered August, 1872.

Dr. Gray goes further. He says, The proposition that the things and
events in nature were not designed to be so, if logically carried out,
is doubtless tantamount to atheism." Again, "To us, a fortuitous Cosmos
is simply inconceivable. The alternative is a designed Cosmos.... If
Mr. Darwin believes that the events which he supposes to have occurred
and the results we behold around us were undirected and undesigned; or
if the physicist believes that the natural forces to which he refers
phenomena are uncaused and undirected, no argument is needed to show
that such belief is atheistic."

We have thus arrived at the answer to our question, What is Darwinism?
It is Atheism. This does not mean, as before said that Mr Darwin
himself and all who adopt his views are atheists; but it means that his
theory is atheistic, that the exclusion of <bold>design from nature
</bold>is, as Dr. Gray says, tantamount to atheism.


More comment from TMG from my workshop "Can An Evolutionist Be A
Christian? -- Can a Christian Be an Evolutionist? given at the Hope
College Veritas Forum earlier this month.

Evangelical critics of evolution are fond of quoting this sentence:
"What is Darwinism? It is Atheism." But typically they stop there with
the quote; they don't admit to the rest of the quote where Hodge
clearly states that it is the exclusion of design that makes Darwinism
so unpalatable. Notice too that Hodge distinguished between the term
"evolution" and the term "Darwinism". The former he found acceptable
at least in the formulation given by the botanist Asa Gray. The latter
he found unacceptable because he (following Darwin himself) exclude
design and direction.



>Usually it is dangerous to disagree with the articulate Terry Gray.

>as someone who comes out of the same Princeton roots as Terry, I

>think we can make Charles Hodge accepting of evolution. I know he

>out with an early book strongly opposed to the theory. I don't think

>the same thing can be said for AA Hodge. Ron Numbers deals with this

>history quite well.


>I know Terry didn't say Hodge liked evolution - but I don't think it

>makes his views more accepting than they were.



>> 1. Hodge objected to Darwinism because he defined Darwinism to be

>> ateleological and thus dismissing design. However, Hodge did not
object to

>> evolution. He was much more tolerant of Asa Gray's views where the

>> variation that natural selection worked on was God-directed, so that

>> process produced exactly what God wanted. While Hodge did not
regard Gray

>> as a Darwinist, Gray regarded himself as a Darwinist. Admittedly,

>> was using Darwin's own understanding of God's involvement in the

>> but here's where I depart with Hodge (and Johnson). Darwin is
importing a

>> particular theological perspective into his theory at this point.
We must

>> recognize that has happened and I would claim show that it is not a

>> necessary importation, i.e. Asa Gray's theological views are just

>> compatible with Darwinism as a biological theory as are Darwin's

>> theological views. Don't let the namesake influence the debate






>James F. Mahaffy e-mail:

>Biology Department phone: 712 722-6279

>Dordt College FAX 712 722-1198

>Sioux Center, Iowa 51250


Terry M. Gray, Ph.D. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Calvin College 3201 Burton SE Grand Rapids, MI 40546

Office: (616) 957-7187 FAX: (616) 957-6501


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