Re: [asa] Was Darwin a Creationist?

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Fri Oct 24 2008 - 02:31:38 EDT

On a similar note to Darwin's creationism, has anyone heard about Dawkins
supposedly stating that a serious case can be made for the deistic position
in his recent debate with John Lennox? I haven't been able to listen to the
debate yet (I prefer reading transcripts whenever possible), but if this was
ceded it seems like it would be one hell of a concession.

On Thu, Oct 23, 2008 at 10:17 PM, Don Nield <> wrote:

> Yes. To me what Cosans says about Darwin makes much better sense than what
> some ID people like Timaeus and Cornelius G. (George) Hunter [Darwin's God,
> Brazos Press, 2001)] have claimed.about Darwin's motivation.
> Don
> Nucacids wrote:
>> Philosopher Chris Cosans asks a question: Was Darwin a Creationist? Let
>> me share a few interesting excerpts from his paper (Cosans C. 2005. Was
>> Darwin a creationist? Perspect Biol Med. 48(3):362-71):
>> "Darwin's assertion in the Origin that all the living things we observe
>> descended from one organism can be traced back to speculations he had made
>> on theology during the 1830s.When considering the transmutation of species
>> in his notebook from 1837 and 1838, Darwin considered the theological
>> meaning of whether or not transmutation follows from a fixed natural law. He
>> remarks at one point in his private notebook that:
>> Astronomers might formely [sic] have said that God ordered each planet to
>> move in its particular destiny.""In same manner God orders each animal
>> created with certain form in certain country, but how much more simple, &
>> sublime power let attraction act according to certain law such are
>> inevitable consequences let animal be created, then by the fixed laws of
>> generation, such will be their successors. (Darwin 1838, p. 185)
>> Just as Newton showed the greatness of God in his Principia by explaining
>> how the one law of gravity governs the motion of all the planets, Darwin is
>> interested in showing that God did not make each species but created one
>> organic being from which different species could be generated by fixed laws.
>> Although his beliefs about God developed over the ensuing 20 years, Darwin
>> framed his biological Principia in a theological context. He opens the
>> Origin with two epigraphs on natural theology. The first, by Whewell, refers
>> to the British theological reconciliation of science and religion by holding
>> that the laws discovered by science are secondary causes, while God, as the
>> Creator of these laws, is the primary cause:"events are brought about not by
>> insulated interpositions of Divine power, exerted in each particular case,
>> but by the establishment of general laws." A second quote, from Bacon,
>> states no man can "be too well studied in the book of God's word, or in the
>> book of God's works," implying the need to study both scripture and science
>> to understand the world in which we live. Almost 500 pages later, Darwin
>> brings the Origin to a conclusion with a reference to Genesis that echoes
>> his 1838 remarks about science and religion:"There is grandeur in this view
>> of life, with!
> its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or
> into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the
> fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most
> beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved" (Darwin
> 1859, p. 490). In a single sentence Darwin interweaves the metaphysical
> breath of Genesis with the physical gravity of Newton's Principia."
>> Cosans also notes:
>> "Popular culture views Darwin's theory as providing scientific evidence
>> against religion. However, this is not supported by a close analysis of the
>> text of the Origin and its implications. A simple way of reading the Origin
>> as supporting theistic thinking is to see the first progenitors and the laws
>> of reproduction, variation, and selection as the results of God's action. In
>> his autobiography, Darwin confesses that this indeed was his conviction when
>> writing the Origin. Many historians of science have discussed the ways
>> Darwin's analysis drew upon the Christian theology of his time (Brown 1986;
>> Gillespie 1979, p. 124; Richards 1999, pp. 130""35). Although later in life
>> Darwin began to entertain an agnostic perspective, this was after he had
>> conceived of his theory." (emphasis added)
>> More wisdom from the article:
>> "Although usually ignored by neo-Darwinists, Darwin's hint about the
>> supernatural origins of life is actually a critical aspect of his framework
>> of analysis. Throughout the Origin, he usually contrasts his account not
>> with that of other evolutionists such as Lamarck or Chambers, but with that
>> of someone we would now call a "special creationist." The position of
>> Darwin's hypothetical creationist is the dialectical opposite of that
>> endorsed in the Origin.The Origin's creationist would seem in fact to be a
>> younger less sophisticated version of Darwin himself. In the introduction to
>> the Origin, Darwin tells us he used to believe that "each species has been
>> independently created" (p. 6). While the Darwin of the Origin believes all
>> life is united by its common ancestor, his creationist rejects the unity of
>> life. Darwin believes "all living and extinct forms can be grouped together
>> in one great system" (p. 433), but his creationist believes each form is
>> special and unique. Darwin!
> accounts for the diversity of life as the result of natural selection
> acting on existing variation; his creationist accounts for it as the result
> of God creating the progenitors of the varieties of organisms.Whereas Darwin
> believes life came into being only once, his creationist believes "that at
> innumerable periods in the earth's history certain elemental atoms have been
> commanded suddenly to flash into living tissues" (p. 483)."
>> And then this:
>> "Owen claims that the special creationist and Darwin both ultimately rely
>> on the action of God. Insofar as Darwin concludes the Origin with the
>> Biblical phrasing, Darwin recognizes:"a direct creative act, something like
>> that supernatural or miraculous one which, in the preceding page, he
>> defines, as "~certain elemental atoms which have been commanded suddenly to
>> flash into living tissues'" (Owen 1860, p. 191). Darwin is no less a
>> creationist than his dialectical rival merely because he limits God to one
>> intervention. Indeed, Owen argues that in Darwin's theory, God's act of
>> creation is even more miraculous. For it requires God, at that one moment,
>> to impart to the progenitor the capacity to vary in such a way as to
>> eventually result in the present organisms' "infinity of complications and
>> their morphological results, which now try to the utmost the naturalist's
>> faculties to comprehend and classify" (Owen 1860, p. 191). Darwin's theism
>> requires God to have an incredible amo!
> unt of foresight."
>> - Mike Gene
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Received on Fri Oct 24 02:32:19 2008

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