Saturday, March 31, 2012

Trying to understand Edward Feser's objection to ID

Occasionally, I try to understand Prof. Edward Feser's objection to Intelligent Design, usually without success. I suspect it's because I don't fully understand Aristotelian/Thomistic philosophy. I'm trying to read Feser's book, Aquinas; a Beginners Guide, so perhaps one day I will understand it all. Meanwhile, I've come up with a thought experiment, hoping it finds its way to Prof. Feser, who will comment on it in his own blog.

Let's suppose that one day scientists are able to construct a "simple" bacterium completely from "scratch." No preexisting living parts were used. All the basic parts were synthesized from non-living materials. Let' suppose that this bacterium then behaves as if it were alive. As an ID advocate, I would have no problem with this. I would say that the scientists had succeeded in designing and constructing the bacterium, and that once constructed, its materials and organization have resulted in its ability to live.*

 I'm not sure what Prof. Feser would say. Would he say that the bacterium isn't really alive? Or would he say that once it's parts were organized in the proper fashion, God conjoined the form of life to it? Or would he maintain that such a scenario is in fact not possible? Or what?

 * I would also add that it seems highly improbable that (without the intelligent guidance of the scientists) all the materials would come together in exactly the right way so that there would be a bacterium. So improbable that we wouldn't expect it to happen even once in this universe. And that there doesn't appear to be any natural, gradual method from non-living materials to living ones. It appears that someone had to design and organize at least the first bacterium.

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