Re: [asa] "Theistic Evolution" as a term

From: George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
Date: Fri Dec 26 2008 - 10:46:48 EST

Since my post of 24 Dec in reply to Gregory's question may have been missed
over the holidays I take the liberty of repeating here what I wrote.

"Having eliminated from our discussion the forms of Evolution held by the
divers schools of monists and agnostics, there now remains but the third
form, known as theistic Evolution."
                        John A. Zahm, Evolution and Dogma (Regina Press,
1975 reprint of the 1896 edition), p.279.

I doubt that this is the first use of the term - Zahm seems to imply that
the term was reasonably well known in 1896. He was an RC priest who, inter
alia, was professor of physics at Notre Dame. The church authorities were
not happy about the book, which said that some versions of evolution, if
shown to be true scientifically,
weren't a threat to the faith, but Zahm & others were able to keep it from
being placed publically on the Index. (The reprint intro says that it was
"privately prohibited" but I'm not sure what that means.)

The capitalizing of Evolution in the text seems odd but I suspect that
that's just a stylistic matter.

Shalom
George
http://home.neo.rr.com/scitheologyglm

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ted Davis" <tdavis@messiah.edu>
To: <asa@calvin.edu>; <michael.andrea.r@ukonline.co.uk>;
<gregoryarago@yahoo.ca>
Sent: Friday, December 26, 2008 9:38 AM
Subject: [asa] "Theistic Evolution" as a term

> Gregory,
>
> I am home for the holiday and unable to respond with specifics to your
> various points. Shortly afterwards, I will be out of the country for an
> extended period and probably also unable to reply with specifics (though
> perhaps I will be able to, depending on how much has to be done in a short
> time).
>
> I agree that a history of this term would be very interesting. I've read
> extensively in the primary literature from the late 19th and early 20th
> centuries, and the concept that God creates through evolution--or,
> equivalently, that evolution is divinely guided--goes back at least to Asa
> Gray in the 1860s. It was probably not widely endorsed until a decade or
> two later, but by the 1890s it was commonplace for religious thinkers to
> speak that way. Did they use the actual term, "theistic evolution," to
> label the same concept that we now use that label for? An interesting
> question, and I think I recall seeing examples that early, but my notes
> are
> not here.
>
> There is no retro-diction going on here, however--at least with regard to
> the concept, and probably the specific term as well. What was meant by
> the
> term today, in general terms, is precisely what they meant then. In other
> words, regardless of the specific term(s) employed, there is generally no
> false attribution of a particular view to more persons than is suitable.
> (Yes, one can always find examples of an historical figure whose views are
> being distorted by a modern reader. No argument about that. But I could
> show you numerous examples of 19th century thinkers who fit a modern
> definition of TE.)
>
> Specifically now, I could show you fundamentalist cartoons from the 1920s
> by
> E.J. Pace, in which the term "theistic evoultion" is prominently present.
> Bryan also used the term at that point, famously saying that "theistic
> evolution is the anesthetic that dulls the pain while the faith is
> removed."
> (I quote from memory, but it's pretty close). Its use by Bryan and
> company
> would be consistent with Peters' comment below.
>
> Faculty at church-related liberal arts colleges were using the concept
> (evolution as "God's way of creating" is how it was typically put) for at
> least 30 years before this, and probably longer; specific places where I
> have seen this are Oberlin and The College of Wooster, both in Ohio where
> there was a lot of conversation about this in the late 19th century.
>
> As to MN, the term is probably from the 1980s (Ron Numbers has written
> about
> this at least twice), but the concept clear goes back to at least the
> latter
> part of the seventeenth century. Again, I've read the primary literature
> extensively. Robert Boyle, an outspoken advocate of ID, also clearly
> endorsed MN: in natural philosophy (= science), we ought not appeal to
> God's
> absolute power, he wrote in the early 1660s. We ought not go beyond what
> natural powers in their own sphere can accomplish. I paraphrase,
> obviously,
> but if you want chapter and verse you can read my article on Boyle in the
> Oct 2007 issue of "Science & Christian Belief." Miracles, in other words,
> are outside the domain of science. They are real and demonstrable
> historically, Boyle believed, but not to be brought into science, which
> must
> confine itself to discoursing about the properties and powers given to
> matter by God at the creation.
>
> Ted
>
>>>> Gregory Arago <gregoryarago@yahoo.ca> 12/24/08 10:41 AM >>>
> Hi Ted,
>
> Just a short note to say that I would be grateful if you could indeed find
> out who (supposedly) coined the phrase 'theistic evolution.' Who are you
> linking it to in the 1890s?
>
> I've searched around on-line and the most sensible claim I've found so far
> is by Ted Peters, who said that the term was coined by 'creationists' in
> regard to the naturalistic appeasement by TEs. If it is true (e.g. similar
> to the coining of 'fundamentalism'), then this is precisely the ground for
> starting a thread with this title. Likewise, the claim that "for 300 or so
> years methodological naturalism has been guiding scientifically-minded
> Christians" is another case of retro-diction. It is simply unsupportable.
>
> Great thanks to Antje Jackelen, after searching for who coined 'theistic
> evolution,' for her abstract to "A critical view of theistic evolution"
> (Theology and Science, Volume 5, Number 2, July 2007, pp. 151-165), where
> she says: "anti-evolutionism is about anthropology and morality more than
> about theism." Hope to read the article soon...
>
> The issue of retro-diction is a legitimate one because it shows a
> sociological attempt to gain a following or to attribute one's personal
> views to more people than is suitable. That's the point, Ted.
>
> <I have snipped the rest>
>
>
>
> To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>

To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Fri Dec 26 10:47:22 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Fri Dec 26 2008 - 10:47:22 EST