Darwin, by contrast, understood from his earliest reflections on the origin of species question in 1837–1838 that he would be required by the tenets of his science to make room for a role for “chance” in the evolution of new species. Our question concerns how he handled this issue. “Chance” as Darwin used it was a bogey for most of his audience, friendly and unfriendly alike. Chance, at least in one important sense, means fortuity, and most people in Darwin’s day, and even now, could not accept a world in which fortuity played a guiding role in evolution. Yet Darwin believed fortuity was at the very core of modifications leading to the origin of new species.
The implications of any such view were significant. The earth, its geological features, and its organic inhabitants are here only through lucky accidents? For many people that was a hard pill to swallow. Darwin did accept it, but also knew he would have to get his audience to accept it too if he were to succeed in establishing his theory as the correct account of the origin of species.
Darwin realized he would need to tread carefully. His early public presentations of the theory, especially in the Origin itself, were not careful enough. Under the onslaught of criticism that the Origin received after its first appearance in 1859, Darwin decided that he needed to downplay, or perhaps better disguise the role of, chance if his theory were to be generally accepted. In light of this recognition he adopted a variety of rhetorical strategies that added up to a deliberate campaign to retain chance as a central element while making it appear to most readers that he did not; or, as with the “stone-house” metaphor, making it appear less “dangerous” an idea than many supposed.
Christian Darwinists (cf BioLogos) trip over their feet to tell us all that it only happened purely by chance because God, or something, wanted it to. But then, of course, it wasn’t chance, but on the other hand, Darwin is right so …
Anyway, like we say here: If anyone cares, Biologos (Christians for Darwin) will now actually review Darwin’s Doubt. Instead of pretending to.
Prediction: That’ll be an abandoned rail line soon. There will be Christians and there will be Darwinists and all shades of belief hither and yon, but Christian Darwinism is, conceptually, a big loser—along with all the groups that fronted it. – O’Leary for News
Follow UD News at Twitter!