Friday, January 4, 2013

An Aristotelian Argument for Intelligent Design

Over at Uncommon Descent Vincent Torley has posted a number of very thoughtful, very thorough, and very long posts on the topic of Intelligent Design and Aristotelian-Thomist (A-T) Philosophy, largely in answer to A-T philosopher Edward Feser's frequent criticisms of Intelligent Design. In a couple of comments at his latest post, I worked out what I would call an Aristotelian argument for Intelligent Design. I thought I would just recopy my comments here:

Let’s compare the causes of a wooden tablre with the causes of a human being:
Material cause of table: wood
Material cause of human being: “dust”

Efficient cause of table: carpenter
Efficient cause of human being: ?

Formal cause of table: flat surface supported by four legs
Formal cause of human being: rational animal

Final cause of table: a place to eat meals.
Final cause of human being: to be in communion with God.

It looks to me as if the open question is the efficient cause of human beings.
So let’s say that God is the efficient cause of a human being, just as a carpenter is the efficient cause of a table. It seems that God is either the efficient cause directly, in which case God directly manipulates the dust and forms it into a human being. Or God is the efficient cause indirectly, and empowers someone or something else to form the dust into a human being.
Now it seems to be at least logically possible that God has empowered the dust — given it self-organizing powers — to form a human being. And it seems to me that the only way to know whether God has indeed empowered dust in this manner is to investigate the matter empirically. So far, it appears that dust does not have this kind of self-organizing power. Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that either God has directly organized dust into a human being, or that God has empowered some other agent to do so. Either way, it appears that something that we would call intelligent design is the best explanation of how human beings came into existence.

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