Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Decoding D’Arcy Thompson – Part 1


When I was a Zoology undergraduate at Oxford my teachers often referred to D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson’s book “On Growth and Form”. They acknowledged it as a work of undoubted erudition, but somehow they evaded any impact it might have on our studies. That was reserved for Darwin, and Darwin alone.

Returning to “on Growth and Form” after several decades it is possible to better comprehend what Thompson was trying to say. In his own words:

The fact that I set little store by certain postulates (often deemed to be fundamental) of our present day biology the reader will have discovered and I have not endeavored to conceal. But it is not for the sake of polemical argument that I have written, and the doctrines which I do not subscribe to I have only spoken of by the way

He was referring to Darwinism. What he was really interested in was how mathematics could explain biological phenomena. Thompson was a polymath, who fully understood the course of Western thought. He was aware that Pythagoras has discovered how the qualities of music could be resolved to geometrical figures, and thus sparked a revolution in Greek thought. Perhaps it was his ambition to do the same with living creatures. The beauty of mathematics and the acceptance that it is conterminous with space and coeval with time led him to say that A greater than Milton had magnified the theme and glorified Him “that sitteth upon the circle of the earth,” saying: He hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure.Indeed, he finishes his work with a tribute to Jean Henri Fabre, of whom he says who being of the same blood and marrow with Plato and Pythagoras, saw in Number le comment et le pourquoi des choses [the how and the why of things], and found in it la clef de voute de l’Univers [the key to the vault of the universe].

The beauty that Thompson comprehended is today replaced by the drab meaninglessness that is regarded as the triumph of resolving the science of life to pure atheism. Thompson would have none of it. For him the living world reflected something vastly greater, something immensely more intelligible than an abyss of random forces. As we shall see he left unmistakable clues in “On Growth and Form” of his view of a mathematics that reflected the intelligence that lies behind the universe .

Thompson's Growth and Form is strangely similar to the 1857 (pre-Darwin) book Typical Forms and Special Ends in Creation by James McCosh and George Dickie. Vladimir Krondan
Thompson's work demonstrates intelligence in biology like Ruelle's and Takens' work demonstrates intelligence in turbulence. That is to say, "not at all". Tajimas D
Indeed DATCG. The Bible would back up your assertion as well. An ancient prophecy in Hosea. Some interesting stuff if you look at the spirit of it and compare it to today's society. Hos 4:1 Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. Hos 4:2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Hos 4:3 Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away. Hos 4:4 Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest. Hos 4:5 Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother. Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. Hos 4:7 As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame. Hos 4:8 They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity. Hos 4:9 And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings. Hos 4:10 For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD. Hos 4:11 Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart. Hos 4:12 My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. Hos 4:13 They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery. Hos 4:14 I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall. IRQ Conflict
This unfortunately is the way of our nation in regards to actual history unfolding in science and in American philosophy of education and politics. The atheist will always quote Jefferson as proof of seperation of church and state. But they'll never tell you the whole truth that it was a simple letter to Baptist concerns that they may exercise freely their beliefs. And they'll never tell you that he supported the purchase of bibles that were distributed to schools so children could learn great morals along with a liberal education. By twisting, omitting and destroying history. By turning it into only the atheist version of one-sided materialist vision. Our nation and others falter for lack of knowledge. DATCG

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