May 15, 2024

Powers Ontology: Overcoming the Limits of Reductionist Materialism

In my most recent post in this series on the science of purpose, I introduced the subject of powers ontology, or dispositionalism. I did so because this recently developed metaphysical framework has the potential to overcome the limitations of the reductionist materialism which has dominated science for three centuries. It is only by replacing naturalism or materialism that we can begin to understand the fundamental role of purpose in nature, bringing us to a deeper appreciation of our own purpose in this life. Reductionism is a method for understanding something by minimizing it to a very simple level that can be restricted to abstract language. That was the seminal step required in the […]
April 2, 2024

Is Natural Law Irreducible?

Perhaps the most fundamental distinction between naturalism and intelligent design is where each metaphysical framework draws the line at irreducibility. Leading intelligent design theorists Michael Behe, William Dembski, and Stephen Meyer, for example, have asserted that the specified complexity of living systems cannot be reduced to natural law. Scientific atheists, aka naturalists, deny this, insisting that what is truly irreducible is natural law itself. That is, scientific atheism is based on the belief that all of reality ultimately reduces to matter and energy, and the natural law that governs the interactions between them. Naturalism, aka materialism, aka scientism, rests irrevocably on that […]
January 15, 2024

“All Things Are Ordered to Their End”

In that one simple phrase, St. Thomas Aquinas, the greatest Christian theologian of all time, echoed the fundamental teaching of Aristotle, who preceded Aquinas by 1,600 years. The statement is profound because, while simple, it is simultaneously all-encompassing. And it provides the foundational concept for what I have described here as the science of purpose The truth and application of the statement is so pervasive, in fact, that all living things, not just humans and animals but also plants and microbes, rely on its validity in order to learn and thus to survive. Not for Darwin’s sake, but because they have a purpose, which is life itself. And […]
December 21, 2023

To Understand Nature’s Intentionality, We Must Go Back to the Future

In my two most recent posts (here and here), in a series discussing the science of purpose, I described the foundational subject-object metaphysics (SOM) of modern science, and how that has unfortunately led to the rise of modern scientism. I pointed out why SOM can never go beyond a derivative/secondary explanation of life. Perhaps the greatest illustration of the failure of SOM is that it necessarily leads to irreducible complexity, as so brilliantly explicated by Michael Behe, Jonathan Wells, William Dembski, Stephen Meyer, et al.  But it was also SOM, as originally articulated by Descartes, that led Western civilization to great scientific advancement. Now, we […]
December 4, 2023

How to Overcome Scientism

In this series on the science of purpose, I have been discussing the limits of scientism resulting from the inherent limitations of subject-object metaphysics (SOM), which is fundamental to science itself: That is, the analytical framework introduced by René Descartes in the 17th century remains intact in the modern science of today. Descartes famously created the subject-object dualism by dividing experience into the two realms of res extensa and res cogitans. He declared, simply stated, the ultimate separation of mind from external reality. His metaphysics is embodied in his famous statement, “Cogito ergo sum.”  (I think, therefore I am.) The metaphysics of Aquinas accommodated mind, […]
November 1, 2023

Understanding the Limits of Scientism

As I have argued here earlier, in sketching the science of purpose, the complexity of life is only comprehensible by the human mind in retrospect. Through reverse engineering, modern science has done an elegant job in revealing the mechanisms of life. But that is certainly far less an accomplishment than designing the whole enterprise from scratch. In philosophical terms, we can understand the mechanics of life only a posteriori. But we do not have the ability to grasp the intentionality of the mind of the creator, which would be required in order to understand life a priori. For these reasons, life is ultimately irreducibly […]
September 28, 2023

Life Without Purpose, the Fundamental Flaw

In my most recent post on the science of purpose, I described how the phenomenon of emergence illustrates the irreducible complexity of life. I asked whether the undeniably purposeful behavior of biomolecules was foundational, i.e., intentional, versus accidental, i.e., random. I was building upon previous posts, where I pointed out that scientific atheism is based on the notion that structure randomly generates function, thereby justifying the belief in “life-as-accident.” My conclusion was that function cannot exist without a whole self, so that structure alone can never generate purpose on its own. Tying It Together Now it is time to tie all of these concepts […]
August 30, 2023

Emergence by Design

In my two most recent posts on the science of purpose (here and here), I ended each with a claim. These were, respectively, that “biomolecules must act with purpose,” and that “ententional [in Terrence Deacon’s neologism] properties are foundational. They are the genesis of all purpose in life.” Introducing Emergence Here I would like to expand on these two statements and coalesce them under the broader heading of emergence. To do so, first allow me to introduce emergence itself. That term has been redefined or misinterpreted numerous times since it was first described. The originators of the concept were two 19th-century British philosopher-scientists, John Stuart Mill and George Henry Lewes. Even back then, some […]
July 19, 2023

Something Is Missing from the Materialist Framework

In sketching here what I have called the science of purpose, I have argued that the best way to topple the materialist paradigm is to reverse the fundamental concepts of structure and function. (See, most recently, “Replacing Chemistry with Purpose.”) The framework of materialism is based on randomness, from which, combined with natural selection, any structure theoretically can arise. In this way of thinking, over billions of years, randomly generated structures accidentally began to perform functions, resulting in life on Earth as we know it. That is, all the seemingly designed function in the biosphere is simply a result of randomly generated structures. The appearance of design […]