Archive for August, 2012

Whose Notion of ‘Design in Nature’ Do You Accept?

“Design is a dirty word.” – Adrian Bejan (2012b)

“Life was designed…planned…intended.” – Stephen C. Meyer (2010)

“The old argument of design in nature, as given by Paley, which formerly
seemed to me to be so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered.” – Charles Darwin (1887)

A row is ready to erupt over two competing notions of ‘design in nature.’ One has been proposed under the auspices of being a natural-physical law. The other continues to clamour for public attention and respectability among natural-physical scientists, engineers and educators, but carries with it obvious religious overtones (Foundation for Thought and Ethics, Wedge Document and Dover trial 2005) and still has not achieved widespread scholarly support after almost 20 years of trying.

The two positions could not be more different, yet they share something in common, a single phrase: ‘design in nature.’ On the one hand is the Seattle, Washington-based Discovery Institute (DI) Centre for Science and Culture’s notion of ‘design in nature,’ which says that an un-embodied, unnamed, transcendent ‘designer/Designer’ (usually assumed to be either aliens or God) is responsible for creating life on Earth and the cosmos generally speaking. They call this position ‘Intelligent Design’ (ID), which is a theory about life’s origins and the origins of biological information and sometimes about human origins.

Continue reading ‘Whose Notion of ‘Design in Nature’ Do You Accept?’

4 Causes and 4 Effects: “Intelligent Design Movement” and “Darwinian Evolution”

               “The combination of the four causes and the four effects is the most comprehensive and capable framework that has been developed so far whereby to evaluate the impacts and implications of new technologies.” – William Sheridan (“The Paradigm Shift of the Information Age,” 1990)

In response to Aristotle’s Four Causes – Material, Efficient, Formal and Final – 20th century culture, media and technology theorist Marshall McLuhan – the so-called “Sage of the Wired Age” – came up with Four Effects: Retrieval, Reversal, Obsolescence and Enhancement (or Amplification). This blog post briefly outlines the Four Effects and then applies them along with Aristotle’s Four Causes to two contemporary topics: the Intelligent Design Movement and Darwinian Evolution.

The Laws of Media: Four Effects

Viewed in the form of a (here sequential, but meant as simultaneous) tetrad, Marshall McLuhan poses the following questions about media:

A. “What recurrence or RETRIEVAL of earlier actions and services is brought into play simultaneously by the new form? What older, previously obsolesced ground is brought back and inheres in the new form?”

B. “When pushed to the limits of its potential, the new form will tend to reverse what had been its original characteristics. What is the REVERSAL potential of the new form?”  

C. “If some aspect of a situation is enlarged or enhanced, simultaneously the old condition or un-enhanced situation is displaced thereby. What is pushed aside or OBSOLESCED by the new ‘organ’?”

D. “What does the artefact ENHANCE or intensify or make possible or accelerate? This can be asked concerning a wastebasket, a painting, a steamroller, or a zipper, as well as about a proposition in Euclid or a law of physics. It can be asked about any word or phrase in any language.” (Laws of Media, 1988)     

Continue reading ‘4 Causes and 4 Effects: “Intelligent Design Movement” and “Darwinian Evolution”’

Big-ID and small-id – Why does it matter?

“I believe in intelligent design, lower case i and lower case d. But I have a problem with Intelligent Design, capital I and capital D. It is being sold increasingly as a political movement, as if somehow it is an alternative to Darwinian evolution.” – Owen Gingerich (God’s Universe. Cambridge: Belnap Press, 2006)

 I’m going to refer to this distinction here as Big-ID and small-id and support Gingerich’s position against the IDM.

A few months ago, over at the Blog ‘Uncommon Descent,’ a key Big-ID forum, one of the most outspoken critics of BioLogos and ‘theistic evolution’ and biggest defenders of ‘intelligent design’ theories, pseudo-named ‘Timaeus’ said this about what he called ‘big ID’ and ‘small id’:

“By ‘small id’ I meant any argument that infers design (not necessarily God, just design, though of course God could be the designer) from the facts of nature, whether it was written 2500 years ago or today. By ‘big ID’ I meant the formal organization of people sympathetic with such arguments into bodies such as the Discovery Institute and Uncommon Descent and more generally with prominent people such as Behe, Dembski, Wells, Meyer, Nelson. All ‘big ID’ people accept ‘small id’ arguments, but not all ‘small id’ sympathizers want anything to do with ‘big ID’ institutional activities.” – Timaeus (http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/biologos-claims-not-to-be-darwinist-after-all-and-its-not-april-1-either/#comment-422126)

Continue reading ‘Big-ID and small-id – Why does it matter?’

Darwinian and Darwinism: Science and Ideology

Philosophy of science writer Thomas Burnett asked a question at BioLogos (http://biologos.org/blog/david-lack-and-darwins-finches): “Is it also problematic that people refer to modern evolutionary theory as ‘Darwinism’?”

I responded saying that I think referring to modern evolutionary theory as ‘Darwinism’ is problematic. My contribution to the ensuing discussion is gathered into one message below.

Dr. Jon Garvey, M.D. gave three definitions of ‘Darwinism’:

“Darwinism (1): Scientific theory developed by Charles Darwin. (2): Meta-scientific theory embracing all the developments of and corrections to Darwin’s original theory. (3): Metaphysical position that evolution is undirected and unguided, often (even by Darwin) associated with (1) or (2) by their advocates. Often pejoratively used by opponents of (1), (2) or (3).”

Continue reading ‘Darwinian and Darwinism: Science and Ideology’


Contact the Author

E-mail: gregorisandstrom@yahoo.com

Latest Tweets

Top Posts and Pages

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


%d bloggers like this: