Monthly Archives: January 2014
This is a short review of Ravished by Beauty, by Belden C Lane (Oxford 2011), which was recommended to me by Peter Harris. In it the author tries to recover the rich theology of nature in the Reformed tradition, which although largely forgotten (to the point of being, I suspect, incredible to some knee-jerk opponents of Reformed Christianity) actually dates back to Calvin himself.
I’ve spent a number of posts digging around various bits of Aristotelian-Thomist metaphysics, especially with regard to causation. Notable examples here and the most recent, commenting on a piece by Ed Feser, here. Why does it matter?
I mentioned in my recent post, linking to Ed Feser’s piece on “finality”, that he “only makes” one brief attack on ID, linking it to William Paley’s natural theology. Given the nature of the essay as an overview, it seems a good source from which to examine how fundamental the differences between A-T thinking and modern Intelligent Design theory really are, and whether an accommodation could be possible or helpful. I’ve attempted this in a small way before but I’ll try to develop it a bit, and repetition isn’t necessarily harmful anyway.
An interesting snippet caught my ear on the BBC news today. It was about a poetry competition organised by Yale University and London’s UCL for medical and engineering students. The iniator was cardiologist and published poet Prof John Martin, and his motivation for doing so: “Medical students are at risk of becoming ‘intellectually brutalized’…conditioned to focus upon the microscopic at the expense of the holistic.”
For the second day running, rather than write my own article I’ll point to this excellent critique by The OFloinn. I’ll get round to another on Aquinas and ID, I promise. In passing I note that TOF uses the example of locusts and lizards “going Hulk” and majors in his piece on James Shapiro’s “View from the 21st Century.” Since he doesn’t reference my article is this not direct evidence for convergence?
Since Aquinas has been around in a couple of recent posts, may I draw your intention to an Idiot’s Guide to teleology that Ed Feser has written for Jerry Coyne (!) He makes many points well that I’ve often tried to make badly. And he only takes one side-swipe at Intelligent Design – but the recent discussion will maybe help you understand why he does so, even if you think he’s being unfair.
The conversation on the BioLogos thread I mentioned previously has continued, with Catholic Thomist biologist Mary B Moritz taking the part of Neil Ormerod, the original author. From her writing she takes a line that seems to be the commonest amongst Thomists interested in evolution (such as Ed Feser), pointing specifically to the allegedly simplistic shortcomings of Intelligent Design, but having no problems to speak of with the Neodarwinian scientific model. I’m commenting here, rather than on BioLogos, which would be appropriate, simply because of space.
Peter Harris was a friend of Jon’s at Cambridge many years ago. He is President and Founder of A Rocha, an international environmental organization with a Christian ethos. This article is the second of three from a paper prepared for The Lausanne Movement’s Theology Working Party in Beirut, Lebanon in February 2010, under the chairmanship of Dr Christopher J H Wright. It also appeared in the July 2010 Evangelical Review of Theology (Vol 34 No 3), but is posted on The Hump as an introduction to yet another important aspect of the Christian doctrine of Creation. A defence of a disconnected gospel for isolated individuals is even more difficult in … Continue reading
There’s an article on BioLogos, about divine contingency, by Neil Ormerod, based on Thomas Aquinas’ teaching. I’ve commented there, partly supportively but also with some criticisms, particularly on the article’s targeting Intelligent Design (largely inappropriately) and glossing over what would be far more approppriate criticisms of modern theistic evolution. First remove the beam from your own eye… To be honest, compared to the relative straightforwordness of Aquinas’ own writing, I found it a little hard to comprehend what picture of the world the article was painting, and in particular what idea of chance itself, which in the article was most often referred to as “genuine contingency.” So I’ll look at … Continue reading
A piece by Michael Egnor in Evolution News and Views reviews a paper by Benjamin Libet about his work on the neurophysiology of intentional action. Libet’s is the famous work that showed, in an experimental setting, that an unconscious “readiness potential” precedes the conscious act of willing by some 350-400ms, and that in turn precedes action potentials in motor nerves by 200ms.