Gasper says
>  we have plenty of compelling evidence against the theory that 
>conscious design played any role in the development of life on earth.

	The immediate point is the striking refusal of atheists like 
Gasper to discuss these matters.  They sloganeer onwards, simply 
ignoring reason.  Refusal to discuss is a cardinal sign of 
fanaticism, and of paradigms in deep trouble as neoDarwinism has been 
for a decade or more.
	The simplest summary is that evolution is compatible with 
mainstream religion.  The use of evolution to club religion is a 
tired, and dishonest, old ritual from which we should move on.
	I hasten to add that IDT is scarcely more reasonable.

For all those who tooned in late, here's what I posted here a year ago.


I doubt we will get to grips with the monstrous hubris of 
gene-tampering until we get across at least this much philosophy to 
those fanatics e.g W Parrott, R Beachy et al  who intone in Nature 
		"The reality is that "unintentional consequences" are 
much more likely to occur in nature than in biotechnology because 
nature relies on the unintentional consequences of blind random 
genetic mutation and rearrangement to produce adaptive phenotypic 
results, whereas GM technology employs precise, specific, and 
rationally designed genetic modification toward a specific 
engineering goal."

	  Clarifying "the" theory of evolution

		L. R. B.  Mann
			Real World  35    Nov  2005

	Which aspects of the theory of evolution are in dispute?  A 
thickening fog of verbiage now makes it more difficult than ever for 
students to discover fact, and to understand theory, regarding 

Fact as distinct from Theory
	What does the term 'evolution' mean? The OED tells us it 
comes from the Latin noun evolutio 'unrolling'   and means:
		1. The process by which different kinds of living 
organisms are believed to have developed from earlier forms, 
especially by natural selection. 
		2. Gradual development.
	Evolution is the appearance over time  of new life-forms  - 
new species, and larger taxa (genus, family, order, class, phylum, 
kingdom).  Science has inferred{1} from a large body of observations 
that life appeared on our planet as blue-green algae 4 x 10^9 year 
BP; later emergences include complex animals 1 x 10^9 y, mammals 2 x 
10^8 y, and man somewhere in the region 10^6 -10^4 y BP.   Most 
species were created much later than the first. Thus, insofar as 
facts can ever be confirmed regarding pre-human processes, evolution 
is a fact  -  in the sense that new life-forms have appeared over 
billions of years.
	However, evidence for change in descent from one to another 
has been difficult to come by and is sparser, at least to date, than 
sometimes assumed.

	To explain evolution, as to explain any process in nature, 
will require theory  -  some model of how organisms could have 
evolved.  (The question of how the first  organism came to be is a 
largely different matter.)  All categories of cause will be required 
for any such theoretical model.  The 4 categories of cause, 
originally defined by Aristotle (trans. Flew{2} ), hold key potential 
for improving evolution theory.  The recent restricting by e.g. 
Dawkins of causality in evolution theory to only two categories of 
cause is a main confusion in evolution theory.  
	The biologist John Morton {3}, noting that at Aristotle's 
period in the development of science he was in no position to 
understand chemical process, offered a more modern version of the 4 
causes which I précis and commend for wide spreading:

	What are the causes of the bottle of claret I'm now decanting?
	The material causes include the grape juice and the yeast, 
materials transformed by the efficient cause into this peculiar 
substance claret.      
	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 causes, 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 Babich's mind.

	Some rationalisation for the label 'final' is offered by Temple{4}:
		This is the essence of "intellection" or science, 
that it asks "why" perpetually; as soon as it is answered, it asks 
"Why?" again   ...   But if from some other department of Mind's 
activity an answer is suggested, the intellect (if not impeded by 
"intellectualist" dogmatism) will gladly accept it.  And Mind does 
accept as final an explanation in terms of Purpose and Will; for this 
(and, so far as our experience goes, this alone) combines efficient 
and final causation.  "Why is this canvas covered with paint?"  
"Because I painted it."  "Why did you do that?"  "Because I hoped to 
create a thing of beauty for the delight of myself and others."

	I believe the Categories of Cause  -  surely among the most 
important ideas in the whole of philosophy  -  constitute the lever 
to break the confused logjam of "creationist"® fundamentalism, 
'intelligent design theory' IDT®, and neoDarwinism.
	IDT, a very restricted phenomenon, is a modern version of 
Paley's 1802 natural theology, insisting that biology bears the marks 
of design.  IDTers refuse to discuss the character, or even the 
number, of the designer(s).
	NeoDarwinism, the current mainstream scientific theory, 
purports to explain change in descent by mutation (usually said to be 
random) followed by natural selection which narrows the variance 
among the mutants by selecting against the less fit. 
	Those two processes, involving only material causes and 
efficient causes, are necessary, but not sufficient, to explain 
	What can be said to explain  -  ascribe all the causes of  - 
an organism and its evolution?
	DNA is a material cause of all (so far as is known) 
organisms, and operates as parts of efficient causes through the 
several types of RNA and the many enzymes essential for biosynthesis 
of proteins & other biochemicals; but DNA is surely not a Final 
cause. As Morton has recently put it, DNA is not the kind of thing 
that can cause other things as if paints could leap from tubes to 
create a Turner, or vibrations & percussions form themselves into a 
work of Mozart. A person implementing a plan  - a final cause  -  is 
a prerequisite for such things to come into existence.  The point 
which IDT® emphasizes is more clearly put: no amount of explanation 
in the categories of material & efficient causes can suffice to 
explain life.  The OED's attempt to privilege natural selection as a 
theoretical approach is questionable. Similarly, megatime is no 
substitute for purpose in the emergence of new species.

  	Technology  -  and more widely, all human acts willed to 
modify the universe  -  cannot be explained without using the concept 
Final Cause.  The only type of final cause  -  person acting with a 
purpose  -  is, in the militant atheist Dawkins' approach, human 
will.  Thus "who designed this watch?" would be an allowed question, 
but "who designed this frog?" disallowed  -  as an assumption  of 
	But ecology, and evolution of ecosystems, are purposeful, and 
Dawkins' descriptions of evolution turn out to be always laden with 
the language of purpose.
	How is a modern biology to deal with Final cause?  A 
conservative answer today could be to continue the methodological 
convention that science will pursue only material and efficient 
causes, but also to advocate that science be taught & practised in a 
context of philosophy acknowledging all the categories of Causes. 
(This can be readily done consistent with the USA constitutional 
amendment so misrepresented by USA courts this last half-century; 
there need be no tendency to establish  any church with legal 
	If science consists in discovering materials (e.g. chemical 
elements & compounds), energies (so far just 4), and forms (e.g. 
species of organism) and elucidating qualitatively & quantitatively 
the processes  -  including energy conversions  -  which result in 
new physical situations, then material and efficient causes are the 
only causes science can study.  But this methodological restriction 
in the scope of scientific theory does not constitute any reason to 
say that no final causes operate in evolution.  How much science can 
hint about these final causes remains to be seen, but will not amount 
to much; natural theology  -  the study of nature, without recourse 
to revelation, with intent to infer who created it  -  is only a 
small part of comprehensive theology.  Philosophy and theology will 
have to revive to give us the metaphysics needed to study final and 
formal causes in evolution.
	The mainstream Christian doctrine is that evolution is God's 
process for creating new types of organism.  Less than a century old, 
eccentric, and mischievous, is the fundamentalist claim that 
evolution is refuted by Genesis 1-3  (the creation stories of Judaism 
& Christianity) & 6-9 (the Noah story).  These very figurative 
sections are among the most myth-laden biblical texts and were 
written long before science emerged as a way of knowing.  Their 
theological wealth is neglected by the novel mischievous pretence 
("creationism") to understand them as literally contradicting science.
	Discussion of final cause in biology may well begin with 
Hume's quip "[t]his world, for aught [any man] knows, is very faulty 
and imperfect compared to a superior standard; and was only the first 
rude essay of some infant deity, who afterwards abandoned it, ashamed 
of his lame performance."  As a Christian, I'm willing to discuss 
starting as far back as that ultra-sceptical position.  But anyhow, 
let's keep moving, shall we, IDTers?  It is not realistic to stand 
pat on your one little point, Paley's Argument to Design, waiting for 
Dawkins, S. Weinberg, Wolpert etc to concede its logic.
	The only theory of evolution anywhere near explaining that 
marvellous process comes to us by the Christian tradition  -  today 
Morton, Broom, and Sheldrake; in the previous generation Sir Alister 
Hardy and Archbishop Wm Temple.
	I would relish a public debate against Dawkins about his 
depauperate 2-causes philosophy. 


1 Margulis, L. & Schwartz, K. V., 1998. Five Kingdoms   New York: Freeman.
2 Flew, A., 1989. Introduction to Western Philosophy p.159  London: 
Thames & Hudson.
3 Morton, J.,  1972.  Man, Science and God    Auckland & London: Collins.
4 Temple, W., 1923 . Mens Creatrix  -  an essay    Macmillan.

      Further Reading

Broom, N., 1998. How Blind is The Watchmaker?  Aldershot: Ashgate ; 
rev edn IVP 2001.  
Temple, W., 1934. Nature, Man and God   Macmillan.

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