History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Bennett’s ‘demiurgic powers’ of nature

November 23rd, 2014 · No Comments


The previous post shows the way I approach the ‘design’ argument but never quite commit. Without direct evidence of a designer we can misinterpret the data. But in one way ‘design’ can’t be avoided: the biochemical sequences in living forms are so obviously the result of some kind of design. But the real meaning of that remains unclear. That’s the catch in ‘design’ arguments: clearly the sequences of biochemistry show ‘natural’ design.

We have broached a very different form of the design argument: one that emerged in the writings of J.G.Bennett (ancient theologies, among them Christian,have often attempted to do this but ended in confusion) whose thinking reflects a tradition present is various types of science fiction: the idea is that very advanced civilizations could produce life-forms that follow a futuristic superscience. One of the typical speculations is of ‘beings of light’, or in other tales,’beings of consciousness’. The work of Bennett is of interest because he refers to ‘demiurgic powers’ in nature whose character is in a higher spectrum of ‘consciousness’. Ordinary psychology knows only one state, but buddhism and the tradition it follows speak of four states of consciousness.

I can’t take the argument further: beings in some form of material/’conscious’ combination, with superintelligence, superconsciousness, and, scifi help us out here: bodies of light that can double as electromagnetic fields, computers and … Strange, but the point of the exercise is to consider such beings within the scale of nature, relieving the argument from supernaturalism. This kind of arugment appears in aborted form as ‘angelic’ speculative mythology, which has discredited the whole idea. That’s not what we are talking about.
These issue, please note, arose at the dawn of the computer era, with Hal in 2001, so as scifi the issues are nothing new.
The legacy of demiurgic metaphysics springs from this kind of thinking, which appears in mythical form in many ancient traditions. The point is that our sciences so far are so primitive that we can use this thinking above merely as an exercise to get dislodged from scientism. The status of the argument so far is…?

Bennett was skeptical of darwinian accounts of human evolution, and considered that the ‘design’ argument required such demiurgic powers at the root of homo sapiens in emergence.

I cite this to give an example of the way the term ‘designer’ can refer to a host of different things.

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