Re: On Gray, "Darwinism," and "design"

From: Keith Miller <>
Date: Fri Feb 10 2006 - 15:12:46 EST

On Feb 10, 2006, at 11:50 AM, Ted Davis wrote:

> 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.

The most frustrating aspect of this for me has been the rejection of
TEs (evolutionary creationists, continuous creationists) by most in the
ID community. The ID supporters state that the object of their
critique is materialistic philosophy and the denial of design, purpose,
and meaning. Yet they reject the arguments of those like myself who
have consistently argued against just such a misrepresentation of
evolutionary science. It is the ID proponents who insist on labelling
evolutionary theory as "Darwinism" and on defining it as implying a
purposeless and meaningless process that denies God. They did this
precise redefinition in Kansas against the objections of the standards
revision committee, and virtually every scientific and educational
organization in the state. Ironically it is the ID supporters who are
fighting for an atheistic definition of evolution against the science
and educational community. The only reason for this that I can see
is that it gives them political leverage to include ID in the science
curriculum as the counter to this atheistic science (which they
themselves have inserted into the standards).

> 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."

This is another point of my frustration. A perfectly good theological
and philosophical concept such as "design" (in the sense of a
legitimate topic of discussion) has been highjacked. Much the same as
the term "creationist" has been highjacked.

Received on Fri Feb 10 15:15:09 2006

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