Jennifer Lake's Blog

February 17, 2011


Filed under: 1 — jenniferlake @ 1:07 pm


A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” –Proverbs 17:22

“Ever since biology became a science at the hands of biochemists it has carefully avoided or renounced the concept of purpose as having any role in the systems observed… Only the observer may have purpose, but nothing observed is to be explained by it. This materialist article of faith has forced any study of process out of science and into the hands of engineers to whom purpose and process are the fundamental concepts in designing and understanding and optimizing machines.
…An automaton, thus, must have two explanations, one in terms of mechanism and accounted by efficient cause, the other in terms of process and accounted by final cause. Thus, to deny purpose to living creatures is foolish, it is tantamount to denying what you don’t choose to explain, a peculiar stance for a scientist. Logical computers can be built by the arrangement of switches. Analogue processors can be built by the arrangement of amplifiers. What is the problem? Every process must have a mechanism to sustain it. And this holds even for thinking about a process. The spirit has no subtle action (such as thinking abstractly) which is not accompanied by the action of devices in the brain which is part of the body.” –Jerome Y. Lettvin

1 Comment »

  1. Lettvin devinely declares: “The spirit has no subtle action(such as thinking abstractly) which is not accompanied by the action of devices in the brain…” And further along he complains that Darwininan devotees at Harvard go to extreme lengths to ignore the role of process and strategy in evolution.

    And while bemoaning the failure of scientists to notice what he calls “process” or “strategy” (which is to say, “purpose”)in biology, he asks: What’s the problem?

    Well the “problem” as Lettvin knows very well, is that any consideration
    of strategy or process inevitably leads to the question of intelligence or meaning which opens the door to the ogre of intelligent design and then even
    (heaven forbid) to what is known as “creationism.”

    In this fit of petulant materialism, Lettvin seems not only to eat his cake but to have it, too.

    If a molecule has “purpose” whose purpose does it have? It’s own? Perhaps, but if it has its own then certainly it cannot be a part of the “strategy” or “purpose” of development in the organ to which it belongs–or even worse–has been assigned.

    Sorry, Mr. Lettvin, but if you have “purpose” you have design. That’s the problem.

    For more on this google my debate with some engineering students at: Truman Green Irreducible Complexity.

    While you, Mr. Lettvin, may “declare” that nothing happens in biological processes without the involvement of a chunk of corresponding matter, you can’t just do science by declaration. That’s called religion, not science.

    Comment by Truman Green — March 7, 2011 @ 2:34 am | Reply

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