Re: ID and Scientific Utility

Terry M. Gray (
Fri, 26 Sep 1997 15:57:16 -0600

>On Fri, 26 Sep 1997, Terry M. Gray wrote:


>> No doubt there is some truth to Denis' claims here, especially with

>> modern expressions of evangelicalism. But certainly the

>> of C. Hodge, A.A. Hodge, and B.B. Warfield, and even J.G. Machen
could and

>> even did come to terms with evolution.



>Charles Hodge did not come to terms with evolution--he died an

>antievolutionist. However, I speculated in my dissertation that given

>time to deal with the scientific data he probably could have since

>is evidence he had hermeneutical plasticity to do so.



It depends on what you mean by "come to terms with". Will you admit
that he was willing to consider Asa Gray's teleological evolution? No
doubt, Hodge was an anti-Darwinian, as he defined Darwinism. I think
his openness to Gray's views supports your speculation. I'm not so
sure that we have to speculate.

Here is the passage from Hodge's _What Is Darwinism?_ Perhaps you know
of later writings that express his anti-Darwinism more explicitly as


Hodge quote:

<smaller> </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,

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.

End of Hodge.


Now TMG:

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 unpalatible. 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.

Of course, Darwin here is stepping outside of a biological theory and
into a religious claim. How does he know that Asa Gray is not correct
in his claim that the variations which appear to be random are not in
reality directed and guided. Asa Gray's assertion is also a religious
claim. But his assertion does not flow from alleged scientific facts
but from his religious belief that "things and events in nature were
designed to be so."



Terry M. Gray, Computer Support Scientist

Chemistry Department, Colorado State University

Fort Collins, Colorado 80523

phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801