One to read

I stumbled across this 2011 essay by Aristotelian-Thomist essayist The OFloinn today. A brilliant must-read that integrates so many of the scientific, historical, philosophical, metaphysical and theological issues that the all culture-war websites leave un-examined. Penman, you’ll like the reference to Shapiro in a bigger context.

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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4 Responses to One to read

  1. Avatar photo penman says:

    The link doesn’t work but I’ve found the essay. Will comment in due course.

  2. Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:

    Sorry penman – thanks for letting me know. It’s corrected now!

  3. Avatar photo penman says:

    Right, read it now. Very lucid & stimulating. Do you understand the author to be setting out what could be called “teleologically adaptive mutation” as an important mechanism of biological change? (Sounds promising to me, & Shapiro-esque.) Do you know anything more about those Croatian lizards?

    The author’s penchant for calling Aristotle “the Old Stagerite” sounds vaguely obscene. I must try calling someone an Old Stagerite when they start waxing philosophical, & see what the reaction is. But preferably not in a pub.

  4. Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:

    I only know what the links led me to about those lizards. But I’m interested that following them leads to a suggestion that I mentioned in another recent post (but which was current before Darwin) – that it is creatures’ changes in behaviour, rather than their structural changes, that trigger natural selection and adaptation. Which is just as likely as the other view, but outside the evolutionary mindset.

    TOF’s overarching point, I think, is less about the precise mechanisms of evolution, than that teleology in the Aristotelian sense is absolutely inherent to them already, even to classical Neodarwinism.

    Once the taboo against teleology is breached, then all kinds of other observations make sense, and Neodarwinism’s weaknesses as an explanatory theory are exposed – did you note, for example, the sideswipe at the lack of any empiritcal mathematical basis for natural selection, as compared to Mendel’s work?

    So Shapiro is cited as being more open to the inherent teleology in life. This is natural teleology, not direct divine intervention, but since Aquinas takes teleology as evidence, though not proof, for God, there are metaphysical implications for admitting it – which is why the NDs stick with their creaky theory.

    Again, did you notice his footnote about emergence theories being today’s equivalent of “miracle occurs here”? Unless they are actually elucidated, they’re just a way of bypassing teleology – and if they were demonstrated, they’d still be supporting evidence for God behind the telos.

    The article alludes to just so many of the issues that afflict biology and religion’s current response to it that they are too numerous to mention. It ought to be required reading for everyone!

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