Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Couple More Thoughts on Feser and ID

A couple more thoughts on Feser and ID:

First, it occurred to me that if Professor Feser accepts Scholastic Realism (the view that Platonic Forms exist in the mind of God), then perhaps his objection to ID is unfounded. As he wrote here:

"...In the case of a snake or a strand of DNA, for example, there is for A-T simply no such thing as a natural substance which somehow has all the material and behavioral properties of a snake or a strand of DNA and yet still lacks the “information content” or teleological features typical of snakes or DNA. And so, when God makes a snake or a strand of DNA, He doesn’t first make an otherwise “information-free” or teleology-free material structure and then “impart” some information or final causality to it, as if carrying out the second stage in a two-stage process."

On an Aristotelian view, this would be true. The form of a snake would be contained in the natural substance of which it is composed. No further Form needs to be added to it. And apparently this was the view of Aquinas, also. But it's not at all clear that it needed to be his view. If as Feser wrote in The Last Superstition, Aquinas was a Scholastic Realist, then it seems to me that if he wanted he could have maintained that besides the natural substance that snakes were made out of, the additional form of Life needed to be imparted to before they could become living snakes. Thus Feser's objection to Dembski would only hold for those who thought that the form of Life was contained actually or eminently in natural substances. (Somebody please tell Daniel Smith that I think he can be a Thomist and still think that Life is something that only comes about by direct, special activity of God).

Second, I had replied to Professor Feser that I thought if Dembski read his latest post on ID, that Dembski would either correct or clarify his own position. Well it turns out that Dembski had already done so. As he wrote:

"I don’t think this criticism hits the mark. I have to confess that I’ve always been much more a fan of Plato than of Aristotle, and so I don’t quite see the necessity of forms being realized in nature along strict Aristotelian lines. Even so, nothing about ID need be construed as inconsistent with Aristotle and Thomas."

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