There’s never been any doubt about the preference for mysticism displayed by the Discovery Institute. It’s been unmistakable from the way they promote their “theory” by conducting revivals at churches and bible colleges. Aside from obvious clues like that, they’ve pretty much admitted it. We’ve discussed this before in Discoveroids: All Theology, All the Time. If you needed further evidence, you’ll see it today.
For the second day in a row (yesterday we wrote The Discoveroids’ Intellectual Torture Chamber), the Discoveroids have a post by Michael Denton. He’s a Discoveroid “senior fellow” and the author of the 1985 creationist classic, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, and more recently Privileged Species (Amazon listing).
Denton’s latest at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog is Aristotle Rediscovered: What Exactly Is the “Mechanism” for Intelligent Design? That’s a good question, because a while back, Michael Behe admitted that intelligent design “theory” has no mechanism — see Behe Admits He Has No Theory. After that, Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist, made the same admission — see The Mechanism of Intelligent Design.
Now Denton is going to address this glaring defect in the Discoveroids’ “theory.” You may find it a bit mind-boggling, but we think it’s funny. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us. He begins with yet another question put to him by the Discoveroids’ founder and Chairman, Bruce Chapman, whom we call “Chappy.” Chappy asked Denton:
Darwinists often ask what they seem to regard as a killer question: If there is intelligent design, what is the mechanism for it? Of course it’s possible to reply that the question is intended as a trap — which it often is — or the result of faulty thinking, a “category error,” and that what ID does is not to identify a mechanism but rather the existence of agency. I’m not sure that suffices, though. What do you suggest?
Chappy asks good questions. Is Denton equal to the task? We shall see. Here’s what he says:
As I see it, at least part of the answer must involve a return to the pre-Darwinian typological view of nature and the conception that the entire tree of life and all its constituents types (or branches) were built into the order of things from the moment of creation and that special “laws of form” or natural agency — Aristotle’s substantial forms — have directed the course of organic evolution over the past four billion years.
Lordy, lordy. Denton thinks the answer lies in a reversion to a pre-scientific age. His reference to Aristotle’s forms confuses us. It was Plato — who was far more mystical than Aristotle — who is known for the Theory of Forms, described by Wikipedia as the notion that: “non-material abstract (but substantial) forms (or ideas), and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality.” Is that going to be Denton’s mechanism for intelligent design? Let’s read on from Denton’s response to Chappy:
On such a view, the “types” (insects, mammals, man), or more specifically the ground plans or deep homologies or patterns shared by all the members of a type, would represent a finite set of changeless natural forms, as with atoms or crystals. The determining laws, the biological laws of form, would be analogous to the laws that determine forms in the inorganic world: laws of crystallography, laws of chemistry, etc. What this amounts to, of course, is a modern restatement of Aristotle’s notion of forms as active agencies in nature, responsible for the generation of the particular set of biological forms or types manifest in life on earth.
No question about it — Denton is saying that everything is a manifestation of immaterial forms. How’s that for a scientific theory? He continues:
What is the evidence that nature herself is the ultimate directive agency, that a designer’s plan was enacted via natural agency? Well, there are firstly two lines of circumstantial or indirect evidence.
Natural agency? This should be good:
There is the failure of Darwinian bottom-up explanations of the origin of the types, particularly those patterns or body plans, etc., that appear to be non adaptive. Then there is the failure to provide a convincing explanation of development in terms of a set of instructions in the genes. … [T]he only available natural causal alternative account of the actualization of life’s forms in phylogeny and ontogeny is to postulate the existence of directive forces in nature, that is, laws of form that have executed a designer’s plan.
[*Groan*] It’s the same old God of the gaps argument. Creationists have been using it for centuries. Well, what did you expect — original thinking? Verifiable evidence? They don’t have any of that, so all they’ll ever talk about is the same old Oogity Boogity.
The rest of Denton’s long and tedious essay is just further elaborations on what you’ve already seen. There’s no need for us to wade through any more of it. So this is where we leave Denton — in the pre-scientific world of Platonic forms, created — of course! — by the intelligent designer. That’s their mechanism. And they’re proud of it.
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