Re: [steiner] Darwinism and ID
Many thanks to George (social artist) for his balanced and thoughtful post on the 'Intelligent Design Movement'. I would urge anyone who missed it to read it.
The problem with the Intelligent Design Movement is twofold. In the first instance there is indeed a degree of truth to the assertion that design can be detected in nature. Materialism (and Darwinism in particular) so obviously fails to address the aesthetic element in nature that this omission has now become painfully obvious.
The second problem is that the concept of design in nature is being used by the established religions as a means to assert their own agenda. My own copy of Behe and Dembski's essays was published by 'Ignatius Press', which is a Jesuit-run publisher. This doesn't necessarily mean the Jesuits are behind the Intelligent Design movement, but it does mean they wholeheartedly approve of it. And no wonder. The approach taken by Intelligent Design is one of dry abstract logic. It has nothing to say about the nature of the Spiritual world (actually it specifically avoids any discussion of it).
I think a discussion about the Intelligent Design Movement in the light of Anthroposophy is probably overdue. If the rest of the discussion can proceed at this level it will be not only informative but also heart-warming.
- "This doesn't necessarily mean the Jesuits are behind the Intelligent Design
movement, but it does mean they wholeheartedly approve of it."
Can you bring us up to speed on the Jesuit factor? Thanks. (Guess I could
just search the lectures in the archive...)
Thanks.> Can you bring us up to speed on the Jesuit factor?
archive...)> (Guess I could just search the lectures in theThe archive isn't a bad place to start. The lecture 'Jesuit and Rosicrucian Training' (link below) provides enough information to begin to form an idea of what is behind Jesuitism. There are other sources. I hope this doesn't sound unfriendly, but I would prefer not to 'freelance' on this issue at present.
Before considering the Intelligent Design Movement from an Anthroposophical perspective, it might be useful to represent what the Intelligent Design Movement is without any form of criticism or personal comment. It might also worth stating, at the outset, that the approach taken by the Intelligent Design Movement is something quite apart from the study of 'design' in nature; it is quite possible to study this aspect of nature independently from the approach taken by 'ID' movement; the consideration of alternative approaches can come later.
Intelligent Design arose through a suggestion by Phillip Johnson that those who disagreed with Darwinism should voice their opposition to it not in religious terms, but in scientific ones. They should use the same language as science, and frame their own approach in the same terms. This was taken up in earnest by, among others, Michael Behe and William Dembski. The concept of an 'Intelligent Designer' is of course not new, but the ID Movement has taken it a great deal further than simply asserting that nature is the product of an outside intelligence.
For the best part of the Twentieth century, science has been dominated by Reductionism, which is the inevitable outcome of Materialism. In physics, biology and chemistry, Reductionism asserted that all nature could be understood in terms of its underlying units. The interrelation of the units was deemed to be no more than a by-product of the activity of atoms, molecules and chemical elements. The emergence of Information Theory (Claude Shannon and others) gave a new impetus to science. Information came to be studied as a phenomenon in itself, and not reducible in terms of its material or kinetic properties. When Information theory was incorporated into physics (through Stuart Kauffman and Murray Gell-Mann), it gave rise to the science of 'complexity', where the activity of the so-called fundamental units could no longer be considered in isolation, but as parts of a coherent and systemic whole. The approach taken by complexity marked a distinct step away from reductionism; this development did not come about by those wishing to challenge materialism, but by those who were trying to develop it.
The Intelligent Design Movement has made good use of this. From this consideration of complex dynamics, they drew out the two key concepts of Intelligent Design. The first is called 'irreducible complexity' (Michael Behe), and the second is called 'specified complexity' (William Dembski).
Irreducible Complexity means that there are phenomena in nature that simply cannot be understood in terms of their underlying units. There are many organisms which cannot be reduced in this manner without destroying them altogether, and because they cannot exist if reduced to their underlying units, neither can they be understood through reference to their underlying units.
The concept of 'specified complexity' refers to the level of development within an organism. While it is possible to explain the more simple forms of organisation in nature by reference to mechanical activity, the more complex forms simply cannot accounted for in the same way. Mechanics can account for the fine particles of sand thrown up on a beach, but it cannot account for the degree of development needed to produce a thoroughbred racehorse. In mathematical terms, it is possible to account for the information string 'abba' by reference to random behaviour in an information system, but the string 'horses eat oats and hay' is too complex to be arrived at randomly. Nature displays too many examples of highly specified and complex organisation to be explained purely in terms of blind mechanics.
What the Intelligent Design Movement has done, and much to the irritation of the Darwinists, is to create an enclave within the scientific establishment whereby the propositions put forward by Intelligent Design can be researched, studied and taught in the same way as any other scientific discipline.
Once again, to prevent any misunderstanding, what has been presented so far has been presented without personal criticism or colouring, and perhaps more importantly, without reference to the perspective provided by Anthroposophy. Nonetheless, this wider perspective is required in order to show up what is not obvious in the above.
It has been said of Richard Dawkins that what he advocates is not 'science' but 'scientism'; in other words, an ideology dressed up in scientific terminology. There has always been much of an ideological flavour to Darwinism. An ideology is by its very nature one-sided and exclusive. Whereas a genuine scientist should be prepared to alter his or her thinking on the basis of observation or insight, an ideological approach will not allow this.
The Intelligent Design Movement was set up to counter the dogma of Darwinism. But in doing so it has adopted exactly the same approach as Darwinism -- it is a counter-ideology rather than a genuine attempt to study the aesthetic or 'design' elements in nature. The effect of this is that the same methods have been adopted, and the same limitations imposed on the thinking of its adherents.
It is interesting to note that the Intelligent Design Movement does not advocate the study of Sacred Geometry. Sacred Geometry has a rich history, from Virtuvius through to Claude Bragdon, and is based on the study of proportion in morphology. According to Sacred Geometry, all natural organisms are arranged according to the laws governing proportion, and these can be studied in the same way as gravity or genetics. The difference is, a study of the laws governing proportion would take science quite beyond its present limited mechanistic framework, and so consequently it is ignored (as is much else) by the mainstream. Perhaps the reason why Intelligent Design ignores this rich vein is that it would put the study of design in the hands of the enthusiastic amateur, and that is not quite what is wanted.
A second omission by the Intelligent Design Movement can be seen in the unwillingness to address the highly interesting question of how it is that we recognise organised patterns in the first place. We recognise 'horses eat oats and hay' as a pattern, or a collection of letters grouped into a meaningful phrase, but why can we do this at all? Answering this question would take the Intelligent Design into the realms of the study of thinking. The study of thinking might lead to genuine intuitions regarding the nature of thinking, and again, this is really not what the movement is intended to achieve.
The Intelligent Design movement is therefore really a counter-ideology to Darwinism rather than a genuine attempt to study 'design' or the influence of the Spiritual in nature and in humanity. If it were the latter, it would be much more interesting, and much more disliked.
When the Emperor Justinian banished the Greek philosophical schools from Roman territory, he did two things: firstly he paved the way for Jundi Sabur (Gondishapaur), and secondly he ensured that Christianity came wholly under the influence of Roman culture. Roman culture was always primarily concerned with the ordering of the outer, social life -- through administration, law, road building, political and military power and so on. Greek culture on the other hand had more to do with the inner life -- cosmology, mythology and philosophy. So when the Greek influence finally re-emerged into European culture through Arab Spain, its first influence was on the inner life, through thinking generally, and through science in particular. Copernicus, for example, acknowledged the influence of Philolaus and Aristarchus in formulating the heliocentric theory.
The Renaissance, or re-emergence of the Greek influence, occurred at the beginning of the age of the Consciousness Soul. At a time when mankind needed to forge a new direction in the inner life, Europe was flooded with a form of thinking that was by then two thousand years old.
Our current high esteem for logic is a consequence of this. It is not that logic is bad -- we would be much the worse without it -- but that it is no longer enough. It should have been supplanted by, amongst other things, developed intuition.
Intuition means 'seeing' with the mind. This does not merely refer to having thoughts. An intuitive thought allows us to 'see' the outer world in a new way too. What was previously hidden from us now becomes manifest through intuition. Intuition is the means by which we gain access to what is currently hidden (or occult), both in nature and in our own inner life.
When we use logic to approach the unknown, the outcome is abstract thinking. The Intelligent Design Movement is based on the use of logic to make assertions about the effect of the unknown (or God) on nature. Such assertions are purely abstract. It is only necessary to employ the two concepts outlined earlier -- irreducible complexity and specified complexity -- to see that they do not lead to the direct observation of nature. In other words, although Intelligent Design is based on a different premise to Materialism, it is born out of exactly the same thinking that gave rise to Materialism.
The danger is that there are many quite thoughtful individuals who instinctively feel there is much missing in Materialism. Motivated by this unconscious feeling, they will rightly begin to challenge some of the dogmas of Darwinism and so on, and knowing of no other alternative align themselves to the Intelligent Design Movement. Rather than rejecting an untruth and finding truth, the danger is that it will lead them into the arms of another untruth. That is why I found myself much in agreement with George (social artist) when he said:
> It seems the individual ego would not be properly developed
> without these dichotomies vying for attention and urging us
> forward to hold our positions within the sway.
Talk about hitting the nail on the head.