I agree that Democritus did not have a concept of theistic evolution, because the Democritean gods could not direct the total process of evolution. (At most, they could perhaps guide a small part of it.) Thus, if the Church Fathers criticized Democritus, the Church Fathers were not criticizing theistic evolution.
Theophrastus, you miss the point. Democritus believed in a deity. That is a fact shared with theistic evolutionists. Democritus also believed that this deity was responsible for evolution – the image of God was placed within the atoms. This idea is also shared with theistic evolutionists. Trying to split hairs or use semantics does not change those facts. Democritus was a theistic evolutionist; and the early church disbarred his interpretation of genesis. Those who follow the doctrine of theistic evolution follow the doctrine of Democritus with a christian spin.
Augustine, in a letter to Dioscorus, in 410 AD, said:http://www.newadvent...ers/1102118.htm
“Democritus, however, is said to differ here also in his doctrine on physics from Epicurus; for he holds that there is in the concourse of atoms a certain vital and breathing power, by which power I believe he affirms that the images themselves (not all images of all things, but images of the gods) are endued with divine attributes, and that the first beginnings of the mind are in those universal elements to which he ascribed divinity, and that the images possess life, inasmuch as they are wont either to benefit or to hurt us. Epicurus, however, does not assume anything in the first beginnings of things but atoms, that is, certain corpuscles, so minute that they cannot be divided or perceived either by sight or by touch; and his doctrine is, that by the fortuitous concourse (clashing) of these atoms, existence is given both to innumerable worlds and to living things, and to the souls which animate them, and to the gods whom, in human form, he has located, not in any world, but outside of the worlds, and in the spaces which separate them; and he will not allow of any object of thought beyond things material. But in order to these becoming an object of thought, he says that from those things which he represents as formed of atoms, images more subtle than those which come to our eyes flow down and enter into the mind. For according to him, the cause of our seeing is to be found in certain images so huge that they embrace the whole outer world. But I suppose that you already understand their opinions regarding these images.”
And by Lactantius, in A Treatise on the Anger of God, it is said:
“Let us, however, concede to them that the things which are earthly are made from atoms: are the things also which are heavenly? They say that the gods are without contamination, eternal, and blessed; and they grant to them alone an exemption, so that they do not appear to be made up of a meeting together of atoms. For if the gods also had been made up of these, they would be liable to be dispersed, the seeds at length being resolved, and returning to their own nature. Therefore, if there is something which the atoms could not produce, why may we not judge in the same way of the others? But I ask why the gods did not build for themselves a dwelling-place before those first elements produced the world? It is manifest that, unless the atoms had come together and made the heaven, the gods would still be suspended through the midst of empty space. By what counsel, then, by what plan, did the atoms from a confused mass collect themselves, so that from some the earth below was formed into a globe, and the heaven stretched out above, adorned with so great a variety of constellations that nothing can be conceived more embellished? Can he, therefore, who sees such and so great objects, imagine that they were made without any design, without any providence, without any divine intelligence, but that such great and wonderful things arose out of fine and minute atoms? Does it not resemble a prodigy, that there should be any human being who might say these things, or that there should be those who might believe them--as Democritus, who was his hearer, or Epicurus, to whom all folly flowed forth from the fountain of Leucippus? But, as others say, the world was made by Nature, which is without perception and figure. But this is much more absurd. If Nature made the world, it must have made it by judgment and intelligence; for it is lie that makes something who has either the inclination to make it, or knowledge. If nature is without perception and figure, how can that be made by it which has both perception and figure, unless by chance anyone thinks that the fabric of animals, which is so delicate, could have been formed and animated by that which is without perception, or that that figure of heaven, which is prepared with such foresight for the uses of living beings, suddenly came into existence by some accident or other, without a builder, without an artificer?”
There are many other references to Democritus in the fathers, but I don’t want to keep arguing this point with you. You are able to believe in theistic evolution – but that will not change the fact that it was condemned by the early church as being a doctrine of Democritus – the divine evolution of colliding atoms. Both evolution and theistic evolution was condemned as a form of atheism. I agree with this assessment, and I also believe those who accept evolution nurture disbelief and denial of their disbelief. That is my opinion. I cannot help you see something when the problem is actually one of faith.