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

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Wed May 20 2009 - 20:28:31 EDT


I'm sorry to be contradictory, but you've got this wrong. "Darwinism" is
exactly what Darwin believed. Of course, he didn't call his beliefs
"Darwinism", but that's what his beliefs later came to be called. Have you
read *The Origin of Species*? *The Descent of Man*?

I think you are confusing "Darwinism" with "atheism". I never said that
Darwinism required atheism. Darwinism is compatible with Deism as well as
with atheism. What is essential to Darwin's system is not that there is no
God, but that God, if he exists, does not intervene in the natural laws that
he has established. He leaves the evolution of life to chance and natural
selection. Evolution is not only not miraculously guided; it is not
intelligently guided, either (though its results simulate the effects of

Dawkins, on the other hand, is indeed an atheist. He takes the evidence for
Darwinian evolution as a proof of atheism. Darwin was never that foolish,
and if he were to read *The God Delusion*, he probably would have thought
Dawkins an impertinent little twit, lacking any profound understanding of
religious questions. Nonetheless, both Darwin and Dawkins are Darwinists.
In fact, Dawkins, in *The Blind Watchmaker*, is probably the closest thing
to a classic Darwinist as you will find around these days.

I think you may also be confusing "Darwinism" with "evolution". Darwin did
not invent "evolution", nor is his theory the only theory of "evolution".
Bergson, Denton and others have non-Darwinian theories of evolution;
therefore they are not called "Darwinists" or "Darwinians", as Coyne,
Dawkins, Miller, etc. are.

I agree with you that Darwin is admirable in many ways. *The Origin of
Species* is a great book, revealing a disciplined and scrupulously honest
scientific mind. Erroneous, I believe, but still a great book. One can
become educated in many ways by reading it. I wish that more scientists
would actually do so. And I wish that modern Darwinists would write in
Darwin's calm, scholarly way, instead of in the swaggering, triumphalist
style that they typically employ, which serves no purpose except to heat up
the culture wars.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Dehler, Bernie" <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 6:55 PM
Subject: RE: [asa] Darwinism (was: BioLogos - Bad Theology?)

>I guess the thing that bothers me is that I like and appreciate the person
>of Darwin, and I think if he were alive today, he would be upset that
>there's something called "Darwinism" because it is something that he,
>himself, as an agnostic, doesn't believe. Agree?
> Wouldn't we all hate it if we wrote some monumental work, and after we
> died people later referred to a belief system with our name attached to
> it, and it was something we didn't even believe?
> ...Bernie
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ted Davis []
> Sent: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 11:23 AM
> To: Dehler, Bernie;
> Subject: RE: [asa] Darwinism (was: BioLogos - Bad Theology?)
> 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.
> Ted

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Wed May 20 20:29:34 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed May 20 2009 - 20:29:34 EDT