Science in Christian Perspective



An Extended Book Review Essay

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Based on The Post-Darwinian Controversies: A Study of the Protestant Struggle to Come to Terms with Darwin in Great Britain and America, 1870-1900 by James R. Moore. London, New York and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1979. This is part two of a four-part essay.

From: JASA 34 June 1982): 90-95.

Three Responses to Darwin

1. Christian Anti-Darwinism

In Chapter 9 we have a selection of eight anti-Darwinians all conservative or evangelical, who shrank back from any brand of evolution. This group is composed of a geologist, lawyer, physician, and five clerics, including the most learned in the lot, the theologian Charles Hodge of Princeton University. I fancy that those Christians who still have trouble with Darwin might be inclined to reach for this chapter first, and to give it the closest scrutiny. They may rest assured that the treatment is entirely fair and sympathetic.

These writers did not worry so much about specific ideas of Darwinian evolution, such as natural selection, as they did about the scientific method that Darwinism represented. For instance, the English cleric Thomas R. Birks, a founder of the Evangelical Alliance, in 1846, thought that evolution, by overlooking plain facts in the Bible, violated the scientific laws of induction and deduction (p. 201). They all reaffirmed two well-established ideas that Darwin rejected, that true science provides certainty, and that species were fixed. Burr, in Connecticut, wrote that theism offered the "simplest" and "surest" view of nature (p. 198), and that species were "as far apart today as they were at the dawn of history" (p. 210). Hodge, the persuasive spokesman for conservative theology, was perhaps the most prestigious and influential of the American Christian anti-Darwinians, and he also found a receptive audience in England through the Evangelical Alliance (p. 7). For him, the answer to the question posed by the title of his book in 1847, What is Darwinism?, was, of course, atheism (p. 204). Yet he developed a sound analysis of Darwinian evolution, and what he considered to be its implications for Christian theology; he was no obscurantist. Similarly, Luther T. Townsend, Methodist minister and later professor of biblical languages at Boston Theological Seminary, observed in his major book, Evolution or Creation, that Darwinian evolution was "not supported as a whole or in any of its parts by a single well-established fact in the whole domain of science and philosophy" (p. 199 in Moore).

For Hodge and the others, the chief failure of Darwin was in his scientific method. Arriving at truth in science and theology alike rested, for Hodge, on Baconian principles of inductive reasoning, which led from particular facts to general statements of certainty. This, Darwin had ignored, they all seemed to say. Whether the facts of Scripture or the facts of nature, Hodge insisted, their proper arrangement provides a sure knowledge of God. The Baconian method therefore denied Darwinism and supported Christian theism, and made plain that Darwinism was atheism.

A Note on Francis Bacon

Somehow the shade of the old Lord Chancellor seems to hover over these nineteenth century deliberations on evolution, and in Moore's book Bacon earns fourteen entries in the copious index as a mark of his importance. Born into a Calvinist-Anglican home, Bacon devoted his life to setting the "new philosophy," meaning modern science, on the right track. Elucidating the proper methods of studying God's book of Nature and expanding on the benefits that inevitably would accrue-such was his great project, his great idea, his life-long ambition. He wrote his books, dashed down with anguished zeal in a hectic life, at about the time the Authorised Version of the Bible was being developed. In a sense the two achievements were parallel, and-Bacon's work certainly drew strength from the Bible. His fervent prayer was that God's blessing would be poured out on mankind through the "new philosophy." But the chief obstacle to this blessing, he said, was a tragic reliance on Plato and Aristotle, whom he denounced as -deceivers and purveyers of falsehood. Study Nature herself, he cried, not those ancients! Only then would life be enriched through industry, arts, and crafts-"for the relief of man's estate," was the phrase he used. He wrote his Novum Organum (1620), or new logic, to be a substitute for the old Organon of Aristotle. What did Bacon have to do with evolution? His philosophy symbolized the new streams of thought that led to Darwin.

King James I said that Bacon's philosophy was "like the peace of God, which passes understanding" - borrowing words fresh from his translators. The so-called inductive-deductive method was not the sum of Bacon's lifework, of course, and in the event science did not develop according to his vision. Still, for more than two centuries toiling editors had offered him up to bookish sorts as the prophet of the new science, his thoughts appearing again and again in the writings of those who sought to decipher nature. No one paid any attention therefore when the Christian poet and painter William Blake warned that "Bacon's philosophy has ruin'd England."

The Christian anti-Darwinians, like many other Protestants who studied Darwin, seemed to know their Novum Organum, and perhaps Hodge had access to the fifteen volumes of Bacon that come out from 1857 to 1874. With regard to inductive reasoning, Darwin once tried to pass himself off as a true Baconian (p. 154 in Moore). But in his Origin of Species, after quoting Bacon on the flyleaf, he went well beyond Baconian ideas. He offered up a quite different scientific method-testing hypotheses from which broad principles are deduced. By so doing he strove to account for the adaptations of living organisms to their environment, that is, for the biological variations, which he said were unlimited. True science, said Darwin, can verify hypotheses and theories only to a high degree of probability. But given the prestige of Bacon, the popularity of his books, the forceful elegance of his prose, and the appeal of his Christian zeal, Bacon could easily have inspired any philosophic quest for certainty. We must therefore reckon with Bacon if we are to understand why the Christian Anti-Darwinians rejected evolution and yearned after certainty in both science and theology.

For the Christian anti-Darwinians, certainty in science was possible and necessary because the world possessed a definite number of species, which had remained fixed since the time of their special creation. Moore traces the origin of this idea of species fixity to pre-Christian antiquity, when Plato and Aristotle described the order and stability of nature in terms of unchanging ideas and forms or essences. This pre-Christian theme was codified in seventeenth and eighteenth century natural history as the doctrine of special creation, which remained substantially unchallenged until the time of Darwin. Accordingly, biological species and anatomical homologies were interpreted as representations of a "plan" or "type" that existed from eternity in the mind of the Creator. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, this Platonic-Aristotelian theme in fact was the primary interpretation of biology on the continent, in England, and in later years in America, and indeed until the time of Darwin it was a powerful tool in the development of animal and plant morphology and taxonomy. Thus, when the Christian anti-Darwinians faced the challenge to their faith posed by Darwin, they were able to invoke the scholarship of the day in order to substantiate their exegesis of the creation account in the Bible. Moore points out that the chief authority for the Christian anti-Darwinians was the great Harvard University naturalist (in 1847-73), Louis Agassiz, of Swiss-Protestant extraction, who was the most powerful exponent in science of special creation at that time (p. 207-211).

On Louis Agassiz and Asa Gray

As a zoologist, teacher, geologist, the founder of the theory of glaciers, and public advocate of science, Agassiz became known far and wide in the land of his adoption. He was a charismatic figure and one of the most complex and interesting personalities of nineteenth century America. Everywhere he went in his energetic, nationwide promotion

Richard P. Aulie holds the doctorate in the history of science from Yale University, the B.S. from Wheaton College and the M.S. from the University of Minnesota. Formerly a high school biology teacher, he has published frequently in the professional journals on the history of science, including articles on the nonbiblical and pre-Christian origins of the doctrine of special creation. Continuing his interest in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, he is now writing a book on the scientific results of the voyages of Captain James Cook. He is cited in Who's Who in the Midwest..

of scientific culture and institutions, this versatile ~migr~ had the knack of gathering up admirers, friends among the mighty, and ready cash for his various projects. The founding of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D. C., and of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago are examples of his encouraging hand. As to religion, he seems to have left in Switzerland his heritage of Swiss-Protestant reformers; whenever he was in Boston he took part in a comfortable Unitarian fellowship. Agassiz and Gray, who was the famous botanist, were colleagues at Harvard. While Agassiz was the much sought after public figure, Gray, with no fawning disciples, devoted his energies for the most part to his plants and classes, and attended an orthodox Calvinist church.

Agassiz and Gray had a high regard for each other's scholarship, of course, but on matters Darwinian, a great gulf became fixed between them. They inhabited different worlds in their basic interpretation of nature. They could hardly even use the same language in discussing the subject of species. Agassiz's students were digesting enticing new ideas in biology, and inevitably they found it irksome to classify his frogs and crayfish according to special creation. Agassiz represented the apex of an age, while Gray represented the future. They became a trial to each other, and inevitably public clashes erupted between them. The cup would not pass from either.

The Christian anti-Darwinians could not have settled on an abler and more influential authority than Louis Agassiz, whose published scholarship was massive and much admired, and, on the subject of special creation, unmatched to our day. He believed that nature was created by God, and he echoed Plato in writing that all animals, both living and extinct, exhibited a "plan" that "has been preconceived, has been laid out in the course of time, and executed with the definite object of introducing man upon the earth" (p. 208, from Agassiz). With his well-known erudition as a springboard, he launched his own campaign to enlighten the public. For him this meant arguing the case for special creation, which he did on the lecture platform and in magazine articles. Naturally, many clergymen and laymen were grateful for the assurance from so learned a scientist that Darwin was mistaken. As a popularizer of science according to his own lights, Agassiz went forth from strength to strength.

Moore, documenting Agassiz's influence, reports, for instance, that the British physician Charles R. Bree wrote of the "immortal" Agassiz who had explained structural similarities as "the expression of the thoughts of the Deity" (p. 210); Curtis said Agassiz was "the most exact and logical reasoner" who had described the "ideal plan" that united man with the other vertebrates; and Hodge declared I "Religious men believe with Agassiz that facts are sacred" (p. 210-212).

Here, the arguments adduced to support objections to evolution were basically philosophical, rather than biblical and theological. Just as we must reckon with Bacon to understand the emphasis on certainty among the Christian Anti-Darwinians, so Agassiz is the key to understanding why they preferred special creation and fixity to Darwin's theory of evolution.

Moore's identification of Bacon and Agassiz in the writings of the Christian anti-Darwinians raises an interesting question, one that I think is also reasonably important to keep in mind as we negotiate our way among the turbulent ideas of the nineteenth century. He has pointed out the derivation of Agassiz's conception of species from Platonic thought, and I have pointed out that Bacon strenuously argued for a breach with this tradition. The Christian anti-Darwinians might well have recognized the influence of Plato in Agassiz and, given the prestige of Bacon at the time, one would expect that they would have been chary of taking the views of Plato, if they knew what Bacon said about the ancients. He called Plato a wily detractor, a swelling poet, his philosophy scraps of secondhand information. And he likened poor Aristotle to antiChrist. Why? Because they were an obstacle to progress, nothing of practical value ever came from their philosophies, which were nothing but disputatious head knowledge, anyway. Science, he kept.on insisting, could make headway only by rejecting the ancients and going directly to nature. It seems to me that Hodge especially, good Baconian that he was, might have been wary of Platonism in special creationism. While Bacon's Christian vision of nature would have been attractive to the Christian antiDarwinians, they could easily have noticed his repudiation of Platonism-which they perforce accepted when they embraced the views of Agassiz. This fusion of Bacon with Plato by those who esteemed both logic and fidelity to the Bible is indeed strange.

Neither certainty nor fixity, according to Moore, was derived from the Bible. In fact, "the quest for certainty was a chimerical undertaking" (p. 214) because it carried the erroneous implication that Providence could be predicted. I should think that Hodge would have been troubled by this contradiction, inasmuch as the Bible asserts that God's ways are past finding out. "But this implication had already been codified in the doctrine of the fixity of biological species," a conception of nature that was preChristian in origin. A non-Christian world-view had crept in unawares. Moore writes (p. 215-216):

Ideal types, creative plans, and a progressive plan of creation that culminates in a being whose thoughts on the matter are supposed to be like unto God's-none of this was less presumptuously anthropocentric, none less discordant with doctrines otherwise professed, than the theological implications of a quest for ultimate certainty in inductive inferences. The anti-Darwinian element in Christian Anti-Darwinism may thus in fact have had little to do with Christian doctrines. Perhaps, after all, what conflicted with Darwinism were the philosophic assumptions with which the Christian faith had been allied.

Faith has never been able to seal itself off from philosophy and few believe it should. But if faith's philosophy goes unacknowledged or if faith thinks it has no philosophy whatever, then, insensibly and inevitably, a prevailing world-view seeps in, colouring whatever pretends to be a pure apprehension of Christian truth. Doing philosophy thus by default is a risky business and anti-Darwinians illustrate the result. In the name of Christian and biblical teaching they set the static world of antiquity over against a theory that helped to resolve the enigmas of natural history which the old world had merely enshrined. The fixity and certainty banished from the heavens by Christian philosophers, from Galileo and Newton to contemporary interpreters of the nebular hypothesis, they domesticated on the earth, where Darwin found naught but process and probability. Thus, while Darwin won the best minds of the next generation, the faith that had attached itself to the old philosophy and the old science was quietly abandoned.

Il. Christian Darwinisticism

The lack of agreement in science concerning the merits of Darwinian evolution during the closing decades of the nineteenth century parallels the diversity of opinion among the Protestant writers analyzed in this book. In fact, one can easily get the impression that all these Protestants had nothing better to do than to sit around, wantonly spinning out opinions in a "superfluity of naughtiness" about evolution. But they were dealing with a theory that was just beginning to make its way. Reasons obtained for the efflorescence. Geology had not yet given Darwin the time he needed, and quite likely he never heard of Gregor Mendel, who would propose the laws of heredity, which would explain the appearance of his variations. Scientists had different opinions. So did these churchmen Moore has assembled under the rubric "Christian Darwinisticism": six British writers and eight Americans, composed of pulpiteers, with two geologists, a naturalist, and a philosopher (Chapter 10). These Christian clergymen and laymen all accepted evolution, and they sought to reconcile what they perceived to be Darwinian evolution with their own conception of Christian doctrine. But in doing so they came up with ideas of evolution that were not Darwinian in origin or in content.

While the Christian anti-Darwinians were primarily philosophical in their objections to Darwin, these writers were rather more theological in the resolution of their crisis of faith. They differed from the Christian Anti-Darwinians in two ways: they fully accepted Darwinian probability in science, and so here at least they were in tune with modern science, and they had no qualms about viewing nature as manifesting process, progressive change, and development. In other words, they believed that God brought about His purposes in nature, including the noblest of all creations, man, by the process of evolution. So far so good.

For these writers, the Origin of Species raised challenges to basic doctrines of Christian faith. Undoubtedly Darwin had found much that was true, they were ready to admit, but he talked about ideas that were difficult for any Christian to accept. For one thing, natural selection appeared to be a substitute for design. For another, Darwin seemed to imply that man was not uniquely created in the image of God. Moreover, the problem of evil was involved. Here was Darwin declaring that only the fittest survived in the struggle for existence. He was really casting aspersions on the benevolence of God when he described nature, not in accord with the will of God, Who "saw that it was good," but as an arena of death and suffering among cruel animals locked in mortal combat. These writers were certainly perceptive; they were facing up to difficulties that may still plague the mind of a thoughtful Christian who seeks a rapprochement between personal faith and modern biology. What to do? Perhaps evolution was not precisely Darwinian. In Moore's view, "they adopted theories of evolution, which, by altering and adulterating Darwinism, were congenial to the purposes and character of God" as they understood those divine qualities (p. 220).

These energetic " Darwinists, " meaning in this case those who modified Darwin's ideas, took three liberties with Darwinian evolution in order to save their faith. The following is my exegesis of Moore's point of view.

First, seeking to preserve God's purposes in nature, they reduced the influence of natural selection, and added one sort or another of a "divine agency" that acted like an inner, directing force (p. 220-230). The Anglican cleric Frederick Temple wrote that the Lord had provided matter with "such inherent powers that in the ordinary course of time living creatures such as the present were evolved" (p. 220); for Henslow this force was "directivity" (p. 221); for University of Wisconsin philosopher John Bascom it was a "spiritual agency" (p. 223); and the popular pulpiteer in Brooklyn, Henry Ward Beecher, expanded similarly on a "tendency" impressed on nature (p. 221). Beecher's successor was Lyman Abbott, who abandoned Darwin's struggle for existence to proclaim that "Evolution is not to be identified with Darwinism" (p. 226). The trouble with natural selection, announced Francis H. Johnson at Andover Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, was that it lacked "a supreme constantly working creative intelligence" (p. 227). Likely some of them did not understand natural selection to start with, but then, neither did many scientists during those years.

Second, in order to preserve the doctrine that man reflected God's own image, they introduced variations of special creationism (p. 231-236). For instance, Temple tinkered with the old idea of the "unity of plan" among vertebrates so that environmental changes would bring forth man at the proper moment (p. 232). Henslow called down "some special interference of the Deity" to introduce man's moral and religious qualities, while Bascom allowed that "the rational element is superinduced on the vital element as wholly above and beyond it" (p. 233, 234).

And third, partly to explain the problem of pain, and partly to guarantee the omnipotence of Providence, these writers saw evolution as a progressive process embracing the entire cosmos (p. 236-241). Darwinian evolution, however, was limited only to the biological realm, and certainly did not secure the inevitability of progress. They shared an allegiance to the grandest of all schemes of evolution, Herbert Spencer's; their interpretation carried an undercoating, of Lamarckian ideology and their own view of divine immanence. Beecher basked in a creation that was ,'moving onward and upward" (p. 220-221), and rejoiced that the human race was steadily ascending by the process of evolution. Drummond thought Spencer's altruistic mode of evolution, by the inheritance of acquired characters, was far superior to Darwin's struggle for existence (p. 237). George Matheson, Church of Scotland preacher, found that Spencer's system agreed nicely with the Apostles' Creed, and that even the inconvenience of death resulting from the struggle for existence was banished by evolution (p. 237, 239). Clearly, the world was moving to better things, in which, for Minot J. Savage, possibly the first American preacher to come out publicly for evolution, evil was only a "temporary maladjustment," and for Temple, a medley of "imperfections" (p. 239, 240). These writers celebrated the inevitability of progress and the perfectability of man. The very Kingdom of Heaven was the goal of all evolution. They certainly were capable of an exuberant style as they reconciled evolution with Christian thought. But many of them lacked the rigor of expression found among the Christian anti-Darwinians.

These Christian Darwinists, who had adulterated Darwinian evolution, were far from the theology of the Christian anti-Darwinists, who rejected evolution. Anyone who knows the difference between liberalism and conservatism in Christian thought can easily discern the difference in the above three paragraphs. What Moore finds in Christian Darwinisticism is that its proponents, in the main, were liberal in theology (p. 304-307). He reports, for instance, that Bascom rejec ' ted Calvinism, so did Savage who became a Unitarian, Abbott was "America's leading representative of evangelical liberalism," and Le Conte wrote that he was "first orthodox of the orthodox; later, as thought germinated and grew apace, I adopted a liberal interpretation of orthodoxy; then, gradually I became unorthodox; then, in deep sympathy with the most liberal movement of Christian thought; and finally, to some extent, a leader of that movement," which was Unitarianism (p. 304).


The question that Moore seems to be asking is this: What was it about liberalism that prevented the Christian Darwinists from accepting Darwin's theory of evolution, and prompted them instead to accept a version of evolution derived from the thought of Lamarck and Spencer? He holds that it is insufficient to say that their views simply reflected the scepticism of science at that time for Darwin's theory. His answer is two-fold (p. 340-345, passim), and here again is my analysis of his interpretation.

First, their doctrine of creation was not that of either the early church fathers or of the Renaissance founders of modern science. Perhaps unconsciously, these Christian Darwinists attributed qualities to nature that were categorically rejected by Christian philosophy and by science. According to this rejected view, which was derived from Greek thought, nature was self-dependent, divinelike, and its purposive activity could be accounted for by some sort of inherent, non-material or incorporeal agency. Christian theism and modern science cast aside this view. Thus, the terms "inherent powers," "directivity," and "spiritual agency," used by these Christian Darwinists, reflected a blurring of the distinction made by Christian theism between God and nature, and the attribution to nature of this conscious-like, non-material agency. Moore's view here is ingenious, perceptive, open to amplification, and, I think, correct.

On the Uses of Language

Because this line of reasoning is a bit tricky, perhaps I can amplify with a note on the uses of language that may help to clarify the matter. Biologists since ancient times have sought to explain the apparent purposive behavior of living things. For instance, why does an egg become a chicken? The ancients sought explanations with various non-material agencies residing within nature. Aristotle said that every object, both non-living and living, such as an egg, has an "active potency," which makes that object realize whatever it is supposed to become, such as a chicken. Galen used the Aristotelian pneuma, and here our language at once fails us, for the word is usually translated as "spirit" or "breath of life," but the word does not mean quite either one. The Arabs of the Middle Ages had three kinds of this "spirit," which William Harvey in 1628 used to explain why the blood circulates. Later, other words turn up, such as vis essentialis, nisus formativus, "entelechy" and dan vital, which are also imaginative in their way. To the person who is familiar with the literature, such terms are "code words" that signal the presence of a teleological view of nature that was rejected by Christian theism and by emerging science. According to this view, nature had conscious-like, occult qualities that were divine-like and directive in their actions. (This is the natura naturans of Renaissance philosophy.) Some of these words did survive until the rise of chemistry and genetics, and now we know that various physiological functions are described by the actions of material agents, such as enzymes, genes, hormones, minerals, and vitamins.

In the nineteenth century, these Christian Darwinists, not liking or understanding natural selection, fell back on the old terminology, such as Henslow's "directivity," to explain how evolution works. Somehow their non-material agency was created inside a living thing, or else it was a pantheistic, divine emanation, such as Bascom's "rational element" that was "superinduced" (p. 221, 234). 1 have no doubt that they thought they were giving a reliable explanation. But their terms, however pious and religious the intent, really do not explain observed reality, and for that reason are not scientific; they are only words, only aflatus vocis. The Christian Darwinists would have been on unassailable ground theologically if they had said only that "God did it." Francis Johnson's "creative intelligence" was a "new and totally unknown principle," he claimed, and he was exactly right when he said without apology that his principle was undiscoverable by science (p. 227). The Christian Darwinists, having moved away from the JudaeoChristian doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, had to settle on some sort of explanation, and the only one at hand was derived from Greek thought.

I come now to the second part of Moore's answer to the question of why liberalism could not accept Darwinian evolution. This part involves the tension between the concepts of transcendance and immanence. Some of the Christian Darwinists diluted the doctrine of the Trinity with a form of deism now called " semi-deism. " Moore holds that Christian Darwinisticism derived much from a tradition of non-Darwinian evolution which emphasized the laws or principles that God had introduced into nature at the beginning of the world, to the neglect of His continuing providence. For instance, Lamarck was a deist, and his theory of evolution operated by an innate power that guided life toward perfection.

A Note on Deism

Deism was the view of those who relegated the role of God to the creation of the world according to rational laws and principles. According to this rather stark view, God then virtually withdrew from His creation, allowing the world to operate by those laws that He ordained and that man can discover. The clock, having been made by the divine Clockmaker, runs by itself. The heyday of deism was in the eighteenth century. Some say that Isaac Newton eventually leaned toward deism. The celestial bodies "must be all subject to the dominion of One," he said. "This being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all" (Principia, General Scholium, 1729). He also claimed, however, that the world, having been formed by the "Laws of Nature," would "continue by those Laws for many Ages--a view that certainly savors of deism. And when he could not account for various planetary perturbations, he did seem to think that the Deity might have to intervene now and again to make adjustments, "or a Reformation," in the mechanism-deism again (Optics, 31st query, 1730; Dover, p. 402).

But in 1784-86 the French mathematical astronomer Pierre Laplace found that Newton's perturbations were self-correcting, and that the solar system was in no danger of getting itself out of kilter. Laplace's book in 1799 on celestial mechanics occasioned a storied encounter with Napoleon that has a bearing on deism. Napoleon, trying his best to be aggravating, asked how it was he could write such a huge book on how the universe works without once mentioning the Author of the universe. Laplace snapped, "Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis" (Bell, E.T., 1937, 1965, Men of Mathematics, p. 181), a saucy retort that is sometimes hailed as another example of French snobisme. Of course, Laplace was right, as the French usually are. Deism certainly was the predominant conviction among the American founding fathers, including our first three presidents, notwithstanding the hymns we sing about the faith of our fathers.

"Semi-deism," the term used in recent years by Reijer Hooykaas, historian of science at the University of Utrecht, sprang up among various Christian naturalists in England during the decades before Darwin.Their writings either advanced or implied this view. While still emphasizing God's role at the creation of the world, they held that certain events in the natural history of the Earth, such as geological catastrophes, and the progressive appearance of animal life on an ascending scale of perfection, resulted from repeated divine interventions in nature. They therefore pled God's miraculous exertions in assorted ancient upheavals and in the special, intermittent, and sudden creation of species. The key idea here that distinguishes semi-deism is the  repeated intervention of God. In other words, these Christian naturalists held that God was most active at the beginning of the world, but then He acted again from time to time, as though He were first absent, then present. But in thus opposing uniformitarianism, they examined the problem of Earth history in much the same way as did the deists. To this extent, says Hooykaas (1963, p. 192-206), they were "semi-deists" (p. 328-329 in Moore).

The Christian Darwinists likely would have been offended by any suggestion that their views were tainted by deism or by any of its variations. But Moore's point is that their interpretation of evolution reflected the patterns of thought still current at that time, and this meant the influence of deism. After all, if nature is governed, even in part, by selfoperating laws, it is to that extent not dependent on God's sustaining will. Beecher, for instance, wrote of "the mediation of natural laws" that drove creation "onward and upward" (p. 221). According to this view, which is really a semi-deistic doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, God's presence was focused at the beginning, when He inserted those various laws or principles into nature. Because such laws or principles were, in a manner of speaking, self-directing, they did not require that God should be continually on the spot in a supervisory role for the fulfillment of His purposes, although, to be sure, He did have to intervene on occasion in a special way, such as for the creation of man. If God acts specially at intervals, then it follows that He is less active at other times-and such a view is an echo of deism.

A question at once arises. Are we not really stating a valid Christian view of evolution when we say that nature develops progressively by natural laws that God established at the beginning? If I am not much mistaken, I think Moore's book would have us take another look at such a view, for it neglects the divine immanence in the creation. Deism is not Christian theism. Bacon would say again that Moore has given us more food for thought. At any rate, the Darwinian version of evolution could never be accepted by the liberals, who had moved away from the traditional doctrine of the Trinity. "I am an evolutionist," cried Beecher, I I and that strikes at the root of all medieval and orthodox modern theology," he explained (p. 305).

Moore writes (p. 250-251):

God was of course the key that unlocked the mysteries of evolution for all the Christian Darwinists. But the God in whom one believed had everything to do with the kind of evolution whose mysteries had been unlocked. Those who could only discern God's purposes in nature if they were ascribed primarily to causes other than natural selection seemed bound to interpret evolution as the expression of a universal progressive providence through which the divine character could also be vindicated. Human evolution for them did not constitute an insuperable difficulty if the divine immanence were rightly construed. . We find the majority of Christian Darwinists transforming Darwinism with theories of Lamarckian evolution which embodied doctrines of providence and progress characteristics of post-Kantian liberal theology.

(to be continued)