On Gray, "Darwinism," and "design"

From: Ted Davis <tdavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Fri Feb 10 2006 - 12:50:54 EST

Let me also gloss briefly Gray's comments about the potentially dangerous
theological implications of evolution. Gray refers to "Darwinism" by that
name. Charles Hodge had already done so in 1874, in "What is Darwinism?"
and this is I am sure relevant background--indeed, Hodge in his book
specifically mentions Gray as an evolutionist who does not draw atheological
conclusions. But for Hodge *as also for Gray*, the denial of design is
atheism. As also for Behe, Johnson, etc. "Darwinism," as Johnson uses the
term, means precisely and exactly what Hodge meant by "Darwinism," the
denial of design or ultimate purpose in nature.

Are design and ultimate purpose identical, or (failing that)
inexectricable? A key question, I would say. For Polkinghorne, the
universe gives "evidence of purpose" as he puts it, and in recent years he's
been reluctant to use the "D" word, "design," I suspect b/c of its use vs
common descent and natural selection (both of which P accepts) by many IDs.
It's a distinction that is probably meaningful, although it's I've had to
point it out more than once to friends in the ID movement who ask me why P
isn't signing up to support ID. A similar distinction applies to more
liberal/even somewhat pantheistic versions of TE, such as Barbour or Haught
or Peacocke. They all believe in "purpose," but not "design."

These are much deeper waters, I suggest, than any casual observer will
notice, and deeper even than many well read observers will also see without
a guide.

Ted
Received on Fri Feb 10 12:54:35 2006

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