Sunday, August 2, 2009

Intelligent Design

I'm feeling limited by the topic I set here. My interest in critiquing Objectivism comes and goes, and for now I've been interested in studying Kant's Critique of teleological reflective judgment. Whether or not that can be made to fit in with the forum topic is another thing, as Rand had no opinion of this work that I'm aware of, and perhaps no knowledge of it.

But then, it's my blog and I can create any topic I want, so I'll just forge ahead. What's interesting to me is the fact that Kant had an answer to the recent, now past, debate over Intelligent Design. This is found in sections 77 and 78 of his Critique of Judgment.

I realize that ID followers like to attack Darwinian evolution which came along after Kant's death. However, ID has been in existence for hundreds of years, and anyway, Darwin was hardly the first to come up with a theory of evolution.

Kant's argument does not address evolution, only ID versus mechanistic materialism.
Evolution could easily be seen as a school of thought founded in the latter.

Part of Kant's answer states that both theories are needed. ID is the product of subjective, reflective judgment. In other words, it is based in the need of reason to find purpose in a design, thus a Grand Designer. And of course mechanism provides the key to many answers to scientific issues. Kant even says that we don't know if maybe the Grand Designer (my term for it, by the way) created mechanism, and of course evolution along with it. It is, at least, a logical possibility given the limitations of our knowledge, for we cannot say one way or the other, but at least the skeptic is confounded to find an answer where a simple "no" merely reveals his dogmatism, that is, the pseudo-religious thrust of his materialism requires a priori absolutes that aren't founded in materialism but upon which materialism is based.

Kant states that one theory should not supplant the other, so attempts by ID theorists to downplay evolution theory are just as wrong as materialistic attempts to reduce religious experiences to the material realm. This sort of Compatibilism between ID and mechanism is not, however, Kant's final solution to the problem. Otherwise we would be left with only a kind of "cold" acceptance or tolerance of each side to the other.

Kant's solution is to ground both theories in a "supersensible substrate" in which materialism is subsumed by Intelligent Design. This grounding, or foundation if you will, does not however provide any kind of theoretical or scientific knowledge, it does nothing to supplant the investigations of materialistic science. What it does say however is that the materialist must, in the long run, acknowledge that there is the imputation of design and purpose to certain elements in the universe and that, indeed, no matter how far science may advance in its study of genetics, the materialist cannot explain the growth of even a single blade of grass without the imputation of a Designer.

On a personal note, some time ago a friend of mine told me that he became convinced of the existence of God while studying, and being completely amazed by, genetics during his college years. So you see, it is not just the growth and development of life that requires a Designer (although not in actuality, but only, as Kant tells us, a heuristic principle), it is the very scientific matrix that encompasses the essence of life itself, which may or may not even be considered life but only a complex of protein molecules, that requires a Designer or, as Kant called it, a "supersensible substrate."

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