Hodge on design

From: Ted Davis <TDavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Mon Apr 05 2004 - 08:14:35 EDT

What did Charles Hodge mean by "Design"?

You can draw your own conclusions by searching the lengthy excerpts from
his book, "What is Darwinism?", which I have made available on one of my

Here is my own conclusion. Hodge meant simply, that something is
"designed" if a personal God intended for it to be that way. Natural
selection was, in Hodge's view, atheistic b/c it denied this. Here's a
passage making this clear:
Darwin "uses the word natural as antithetical to supernatural. Natural
selection is a selection made by natural laws, working without intention and
design. It is, therefore, opposed not only to artificial selection, which is
made by the wisdom and skill of man to accomplish a given purpose, but also
to supernatural selection, which means either a selection originally
intended by a power higher than nature; or which is carried out by such
power. In using the expression Natural Selection, Mr. Darwin intends to
exclude design, or final causes."

IMO, Hodge correctly interpreted Darwin. That is, he correctly understood
that Darwin did indeed intend to rule out a supervising intelligence to the
process of evolution by natural selection. In his correspondence with Asa
Gray, in fact, D makes this very clear; he views NS and design as competing
principles, not complementary ones.

It's obviously a fair question, whether everyone needs to interpret
"evolution" and "natural selection" in the same way in which Darwin did, at
the metaphysical level. Darwin's move was effectively to make the Roman
goddess "Fortuna" the creator--in other words, there is no creator. Gray
saw it quite differently, that "variation is led along certain beneficial
lines," or something close to that. For a long time, it looked like Gray
was wrong, that variations really are random metaphysically; this is now
less tenable, in my view, since a good case can be made for divine action at
the level of scientifically indeterminate quantum events that might not be
metaphysically indeterminate.

Received on Mon Apr 5 08:15:19 2004

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