Sunday, April 30, 2006

Intelligent Design and Alfred North Whitehead

ANW believes in evolution. The following comes from his Science and the Modern World, Chapter 6 - The Nineteenth Century .

The general principle is that in a new environment there is an evolution of the old entities into new forms.

and in the next paragraph

The main work, proceeding during this pause at the end of the nineteenth century, was the absorption of this doctrine (ANW's organic conception of evolution) as guiding the methodology of all branches of science. By a blindness which is almost judicial as being a penalty affixed to hasty, superficial thinking, many religious thinkers opposed the new doctrine;

But ANW is an anti-materialist. Continuing the sentence:

although, in truth, a thoroughgoing evolutionary philosophy is inconsistent with materialism. The aboriginal stuff, or material, from which a materialistic philosophy starts is incapable of evolution. This material is in itself the ultimate substance. Evolution, on the materialistic theory, is reduced to the role of being another word for the description of the changes of the external relations between portions of matter. There is nothing to evolve, because one set of external relations is as good as any other set of external relations. There can merely be change, purposeless and unprogressive.

Interesting. What would he say today about Intelligent Design? I think he defies common categories.

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