Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Why Thomas Aquinas would like intelligent design research

Carlo Crivelli 007.jpg

Itfits in with an understanding of what differentiates life from non-life:

Living things, St. Thomas observed, differ from inanimate things in that living things act for their own perfection. By perfection, he meant that living things act to become more realized versions of their type. A squirrel seeks food, defends itself, has offspring, heals wounds, etc., all of which are essential to what it means to be a squirrel. A rock doesn’t do anything to make itself a better rock. It merely is what it is. Living things have immanent causation — causation that arises from within and tends to the betterment of the organism. Inanimate things have transeunt causation — causation that arises from without, and that acts on, and not by, the object itself. Transeunt causation does not tend to the betterment of the object.

In intelligent design science, we infer design by looking for evidence that the system under study acts in a way that betters itself or realizes a goal that improves it. This we call “specified complexity” which, I believe, is tantamount to inferring immanent causation. In archeology, we infer design by identifying an object as a part of a building or a tool or a sample of writing, rather than a random stone. Building or tool-making or writing are examples of immanent causation — acts of intelligent agents seeking to realize their nature. Intelligent agents seek shelter and make tools and express thoughts. Inanimate objects don’t. Michael Egnor, “What is intelligent design: A Thomistic perspective” at Evolution News and Science Today

It’s been fashionable for Thomistic philosophers to avoid harassment by claiming to oppose ID but their positions rarely seem to make any sense. And when they do, it so often sounds as if the Thomist would be happier as a naturalist (nature is all there is). It might be workplace issue, who knows?

Follow UD News at Twitter!

See also: How can mere products of nature have free will?

Does brain stimulation research challenge free will?


Is free will a dangerous myth?


Leave a Reply