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Many Christians today believe that Darwins theory of evolution is easily reconcilable with their Christian theism. But this is not some grudgingly accepted second choice that they are making; they in fact prefer the picture of Gods sovereignty they get from theistic evolution over the constant miraculous interventions that they understand all forms of creationism to require. They would answer the question posed by the books title What is Darwinism? something like this: the ism in the word Darwinism indicates that it is an illegitimate philosophical extrapolation from the scientific content of Darwins theory, something for which Darwin is not responsible and therefore a straw-man attacked by creationists in their opposition to evolution. This sentiment was also common among Darwins contemporaries who didnt recognize that the philosophical grounds for science had shifted from one of theism to one of positivism and naturalism. In the words of Nancy Pearcey a great many of them simply took the facts that Darwin presented and inserted them into the older philosophy of nature as an open system - not realizing, apparently, that the older philosophy was precisely what was under attack. As a contemporary of Darwin and one of the few who could discern the spirit of the age, Princeton theologian Charles Hodge makes some compelling observations in his short book What is Darwinism? Historian of science Neal Gillespie has remarked that Hodge was, and remains, one of the most astute writers on the theological implications of Darwins work. Writing in 1874 at the height of Darwins prestige, Hodge argued that a correct understanding of the significance of Darwins theory made meaningless any distinction between Darwins theory and Darwinism, and thus between evolution and evolutionism. Hodge saw that Darwinian evolution consisted of three elements. The first, evolution, is the idea that all living things share common ancestry and have evolved from a single ancestral cell. The second is natural selection, the mechanism by which evolution is said to occur. Neither of these two elements is that which gripped the imagination of the scientific community. Others had preceded Darwin in arguing that all species, including man, are descended from other species. For example Jean-Baptiste Lamarck had argued this back in 1811, as had Robert Chambers in his 1844 book Vestiges of Creation, but the idea did not find acceptance in the scientific community. Though others had argued for natural selection in a more limited fashion prior to Darwin, he was the first to apply it in a sweeping way as the primary mechanism of change in biology. Nevertheless, the widespread rejection of natural selection until the 1930s means that this too was not the reason for Darwins immense popularity, his being hailed the sage of Down within his own lifetime. Darwins success, according to Hodge, lay with the third, and by far the most important, and only distinctive element of his theory, that this natural selection is without design, being conducted by unintelligent physical causes. Neither the first nor the second of these elements constitute Darwinism; nor do the two combined. A man, therefore, may be an evolutionist without being a Darwinian. This third element is Darwins philosophy of science, positivism. Thus it is clear that the ism of Darwinism, his rejection of teleology and final causes, is the core of Darwins argument and cannot legitimately be separated from his science. Hodge stressed that Darwin denied any form of guided evolution: ...it is the distinctive doctrine of Mr. Darwin, that species owe their origin, not to the original intention of the divine mind; not to special acts of creation calling new forms into existence at certain epochs; not to the constant and everywhere operative efficiency of God, guiding physical causes in the production of intended effects; but to the gradual accumulation of unintended variations of structure and instinct, securing some advantage to their subjects. His answer to the question What is Darwinism? is It is atheism. This does not mean...that Mr. Darwin himself and all who adopt his views are atheists; but it means that his theory is atheistic; that the exclusion of design from nature is...tantamount to atheism. The theistic evolutionist who wants to take both science and Christianity seriously might find this to be catastrophically bad news, if he believes the only alternative to Darwinian evolution is a creationism that requires a miracle-working God. Science would seem to grind to a halt if at every difficulty we would say that God did it. But this belief that creationism requires the external intervention of miracles into an otherwise rational natural order, is mistaken. The core of pre-Darwinian natural theology was design, that we are able to detect unmistakable marks of intelligent agency without having to tell a story about how that object came into being (eg. by invoking a miracle). Hodge described two kinds of causality which operate in the external world: the one is physical, the other is mental (or intelligent). The physical belongs to matter, and is due to the properties with which it has been endowed; the other is the everywhere present and everywhere acting mind of God. To the latter are to be referred all the manifestations of design in nature, and the ordering of events in Providence. This doctrine does not ignore the efficiency of second causes; it simply asserts that God overrules and controls them. Since physical causes work in tandem with intelligent causes without conflict, the problem of miracles simply does not arise for Hodge. Theistic evolutionists need to realize that evolution cannot be separated from evolutionism. The alternative, a theory that can account for both physical and intelligent causes in biology, is not a science stopper if intelligent causes can be reliably detected. This theory, now called Intelligent Design, in its core actually predates Darwin by over a century. Darwin, rather than liberating biology, actually led it astray by tying it to the faulty epistemology of positivism, which distorted reality by trying to make physical causes do the work of intelligent causes.

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