John Landon's essential point below, if I've discerned it from so
many words, looks OK to me - as far as it goes. I agree (neo)Darwinism
does not go far towards explaining evolution.
The tiny point asserted by IDT is not wrong - it's just Paley
1802, as brought up to date by Broom (1998) - but the IDT movement is
very odd in staying stuck on this point, as if they have to wait around
harping on just this one little point until such radically unreasonable
atheists as Dawkins and Steve Jones concede it.
IDT has detectable links to fanatical fundamentalism - thru the
"Discovery Institute" of Seattle, and thru the heated polemicist Philip
Johnson (emeritus law prof, Berkeley).
One under-rated fault of IDT is its refusal to acknowledge the main
writers of the recent past. Wm Temple, Sir Alister Hardy, John Morton, &
Rupert Sheldrake have woven Paley's point into coherent philosophy of
evolution whereas main IDTer Dembski fails to refer to any of these
scholars. His writing would look scholarly to many uninformed observers,
but he departs drastically from normal standards of scholarly building on
what has gone before.
If it is agreed that the way fw from the current log-jam is thru
philosophy, it will not be of much immediate help to flash the names of
philosophers whose original works are notoriously difficult to read. I
have found that those who've earned big badges in philosophy usually desire
their subject to be arcane, genuinely hard to understand, requiring many
years to grasp. Well, my closest friend all thru high-school and much of
university moved from science into philosophy, so I have some glimpses of
what he went into. After 3 decade he moved out of it, saying "I realised I
was surrounded by people who just wanted to be arguing - as long as it
wasn't about anything important". Even if (as I tentatively espy) that
nerdish evasiveness is becoming less current, I fear actual philosophers
are not gearing up very effectively to confront IDT. Us amateurs to the
I contend that the main answer to both fundamentalisms -
Creationism® and Dawkins/Jonesism - is to insist on all 4 Causes as
defined by Aristotle and significantly updated for the age of science by
John Morton which I précis:
> What are the causes of the bottle of claret I'm now decanting?
> The *material* cause includes the grape juice and the yeast,
>materials transformed by the efficient cause into this peculiar substance
The *efficient* cause, as in Aristotle's prototypical example 'the
making of a statue', is the action of the yeast on the grape sugars and
some minor components, a process resulting in aqueous ethanol and some
minor chemicals characteristic of claret.
> But my bottle of claret has also a *final* cause: a person (named
>Babich) willed to organise suitable vessels & conditions for the
>substances which are the material cause, and planned a sequence of
>operations, for the purpose of making claret by maximising the likelihood
>that the efficient cause for claret would operate i.e. the particular
>biochemical action of the yeast on the grape juice leading to claret.
> Aristotle's *formal* cause is in this example the 'claret idea' in
All of those 4 causes are needed to explain the bottle of claret. A bottle
of claret cannot come into existence without all 4. Similarly, to explain
the bacterial flagellum, let alone the evolutionary development of
ecological order, will take more than the two first-mentioned causes which
are all that are alluded to by Dawkins, Jones, S Weinberg, L Wolpert, and
other aggressive atheists claiming - in one of the biggest con-tricks of
all intellectual history - that Darwin obviated final and formal cause.
An additional mode of attack on the current logjam is reading lists for the
seriously interested. Here's mine on philosophy of evolution:-
Broom, N. 1998. How Blind is The Watchmaker? Aldershot: Ashgate ; rev edn
Gilson, E. 1984. From Aristotle to Darwin and Back Again. U. Notre Dame
Press (trans J Lyon from Fr edn 1971).
Hardy, A. 1965. The Living Stream. London: Collins.
Morton, J. 1972. Man, Science and God. Auckland & London: Collins.
Sheldrake, R. 1990. The Rebirth of Nature. London: Century.
Temple, W. 1934 . Nature, Man and God [Gifford Lectures]. Macmillan.
> Doesn't everyone know yet that Darwinism is a flawed theory?
Obviously, John, they don't. Telling them will entail not merely
flashing names like Kant but also expounding, in simple ways not generated
by any of your big-name philosophers, their main ideas relevant to
evolution. Can you not get any inspiration from Morton's accessible
summary? Can you build on that? Sock us a drop o' the old Kant, then.
Give us a simple paraphrase of his main point against the Argument to
Design. (I adopt Flew's name, in preference to the old 'Argument from
Design'; I reject your novel 'Argument by Design'.)
> Science has become a victim of its own propaganda, and the sheer inertia
>of those incorrectly educated has made change very difficult. The
>nemesis of an equal and opposite propaganda force, and the conservative
>thinktank dollars, is the paltry substitute for the reasoned critiques of
>many scientists, all of whom have been silenced by their inability to
>make themselves heard.
> The refusal or inability of trained biologists, scientists, and
>teachers to deal with the real history of their own subject is nothing
>less than a scandal. This has produced a tremendous problem in the
>paradigmatic rigidity of their position. Scientists seem unaware of the
>weakness of their sceintific postures on evolution, and react with
>aggressive indignation to defend error. And their opponents, having read
>all the scientific critiques buried in the stacks of research libraries
>where students never see them, end up better informed than the science
> The result is that Darwinists are trained to defend propaganda talking
>points, which aren't science, and seem bewildered by their critics, at
>least the ID critics who tend to be more sophisticated than the earlier
>waves of Creationists. Informal surveys show this writer than most
>students of science are unaware of, shall we say, the Kantian critiques of
>design arguments. Defending a position against design requires care not
>to provoke metaphysics in reverse, and most students here are simply
>incapable of dealing with the issue. Instead students are fed the false
>notions that Darwin's natural selection forever refuted design. The
>misleading character of that claim is going to prove the tombstone of
>science education if the estabishment here doesn't do some homework.
> Thus the constant suggestion by science figures that all is well in the
>biology realm and that somehow these dastardly creationists are dealing
>in pseudo-science is true enough, but beside the point. They need to set
>their own house in order, and train their students to think critically on
>the subject of evolution, with something better that the watered down
>parodies of philosophy and science methodology now current. The
>alternative is the new pseudo-paradigm of a figure such as Dembski where
>intelligent criticism and religious pleading have hopelessly entangled the
>clarity of discussion in a new brand of sophistry.
>The moment scientists confront the limits of Darwinism the obsessive
>quality of the Darwin defense syndrome might fall away toward a more
>intelligent appraisal of the limits of current theory, and this would
>rapidly take the wind out of the sails of those who wish to exploit the
>failure of science to indulge in self-criticism.