RE: [asa] Darwinism (was: BioLogos - Bad Theology?)

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Wed May 20 2009 - 14:22:47 EDT

No, Bernie, I don't think you read my statements very carefully.

I was giving an historian's answer to your question about the term,
"Darwinism," as used by the ID movement. Then, in a separate post, I
offered a definition of the term, "theistic evolution." I nowhere equated
"Darwinism" with the proposition that humans evolved from apelike creatures.
 I would call that "evolution," whether or not it is coupled with what ID
proponents call "Darwinism."

If "Darwinism" excludes purpose in the universe (and that is how Hodge and
Johnson defined it), then I'm not a "Darwinist," though I think the evidence
for "evolution" is very strong.

Let me add something here, since it's relevant to this thread. The latest
issue of "Science & Christian Belief" just arrived; it's not available
online. The lead essay is by Edward Larson (author of the Pulitzer-winning
history of the Scopes trial), and it's called "The Reception of Darwinism in
the Nineteenth Century: A Three Part Story." I have only skimmed it very
quickly, but it's clear that he talks about various ways in which that term
(Darwinism) was understood then. It had no single meaning, and many used it
to mean at least two different things (descent with modification vs the
importance of natural selection). This isn't news to people like me, but
it's nice to have now a detailed study to cite. Indeed, the ambiguity in
using terms like "evolution" and "Darwinism" to mean quite different things,
especially when "Darwinism" is equated with "atheism," is a big source of
confusion when talking about origins. I can think of folks who (perhaps
deliberately) use opposition to one of those to create opposition to the
other--and folks who (perhaps deliberately) use support for one of those to
create support for the other.


>>> "Dehler, Bernie" <> 5/19/2009 7:55 PM >>>
Hi Ted-

 So are you saying that anyone who accepts evolution from humans from
apelike creatures is a "Darwinist?"

 Is there any difference between an "evolutionist" and a "Darwinist?"

  If not, why make a God (idol) of Darwin? Why not just call us (evolution
believers) an evolutionist? Is it because they want to degrade evolutionists
by making it appear that evolutionists idolize Darwin? If so- that is a
major strawman. It is if they are saying "we worship God, but you worship
Darwin." Just as scientists are sometimes called the high priests of
scientism (which is sometimes true, by the way they are sometimes treated
and the way they sometimes act).


-----Original Message-----
From: Ted Davis []
Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 4:23 PM
To: Dehler, Bernie;
Subject: RE: [asa] Darwinism (was: BioLogos - Bad Theology?)


The term "Darwinism," when used by ID advocates, means the denial of
by natural selection (which is what Darwin did have in mind from the 1850s
onward). This is the sense in which it was used by Charles Hodge in 1874.

He answered the question posed in the title of his book, "What is
Darwinism?", by saying "it is atheism," b/c it denies design. Phil
wrote an article with exactly the same title as part of the collection,
and creation: perspectives on science and theology," in 1993. And, Phil's
answer there is the same.

I do not believe that "Darwinism" is a big strawman, as you seem to
 It does however IMO involve necessarily the extrapolation of
agnosticism (as it has recently been called here) into something larger
that. One might still IMO accept the general validity of a natural
selection that is blind, insofar as we can't detect an overall direction
the level of the mechanism itself; rather we need to look at the larger


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Received on Wed May 20 14:23:26 2009

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