One of the reasons, no doubt, why certain modern philosophers and men of science have made such onslaughts on teleology is to be found in the too common attribution to teleologists of a crude anthropomorphic conception of the Deity. "The idea of a superintending and designing Mind" conveys, it is asserted, "an unworthy idea of a Supreme Being. It lowers the Creator to the level of an artificer."
"But, whether the idea be unworthy or not, it is fair to remember," as a writer in a recent number of the London Quarterly Review pertinently remarks, "that, if Supreme Mind works in Nature, it can only be through such mental characteristics as are recognizable by men that such a mind could disclose itself. The objection demands a loftiness of method which would serve to conceal its intelligence from the intelligent creatures of its hand. But, further, the divine working is not wholly like the human; it is loftier; it is not the process of a mere artificer. Man produces manufactures; the Divine Mind produces growth and development. It thus works in a fashion more majestic than man's. This conception of the difference between divine and human working does not dissipate the impression that mind works in Nature. There is a distinction in man's workmanship between the mental conception and mechanical execution. This is a real and constant distinction. In Nature this distinction disappears, but the important question here is, Is the conceiving mind lost in the mechanical artificer? This is precisely what does not happen. In the slow, orderly, and well-directed processes of Nature it is the lower—the artificer—action which vanishes; the evidence of the ruling mind remains unimpaired. The objection, therefore, rests on an incomplete analysis. It confounds the high functions of a conceiving mind with the far lower functions of a mere executive mechanic."
Another reason for the prevalent confusion of thought regarding the relation of teleology to evolution arises from erroneous notions entertained by so many respecting the true signification of creation and evolution. They fail to distinguish between absolute creation ex nihilo and derivative creation. Absolute creation embraces only spiritual intelligences and the material elements of which the universe is composed. Derivative creation, on the contrary, means only the formation of something from pre-existing material, and includes all organic and inorganic compounds, all forms of vegetable and animal life, for all these have been produced from those elementary bodies which constitute alike the earth and all the orbs of the firmament. Only absolute creation, therefore, is creation properly so called. Derivative creation, however, is
- July, 1896, p. 218.