Sunday, January 11, 2004

Really great quote I found from Holmes Rolston, whose Gifford lectures can be found published as "Genes, Genesis and God", a critique of certain materialist perspectives on the natural world, human society and ethics (mostly critiques of sociobiology). Really takes to heart the metaphors of "information" in evolution. He's a tremendous thinker, the "dean of environmental ethics", or something like that; his "Religion and Science" is tremendous, dense vitamin-packed critique of the "traditional" dialogues between science and religion (he himself is an ordained Presbyterian minister), including the social sciences, erring on the side of theistic evolution. SO here's a great quote from him, carrying alot of the criticisms I have of Jewish apologetics in the sciences. He is utterly oblivious to alot of the insights fractaled by Gerald Schroeder, etc, from Chazzal and torah in general (Ramban on life-forming capabilities of the natural world, the Tiferes Yisroel on ages of Creation, R. Isaac of Acco on the Shemitot and the age of the universe, etc). emphasis is mine:

"The word 'design' nowhere occurs in Genesis, though the concept of creativity pervades the opening chapters. THERE IS DIVINE FIAT, DIVINE DOING, BUT THE MODE IS AN EMPOWERING PERIMISSION THAT PLACES PRODUCTIVE AUTONOMY IN THE CREATION. [this is where he gets good] IT'S NOT THAT THERE IS NO 'WATCHMAKER'; THERE IS NO 'WATCH'. LOOKING FOR ONE FRAMES THE PROBLEM THE WRONG WAY. There are species well-adapted for problem-solving, ever more informed in their self-actualising. THE WATCHMAKER METAPHOR SEEMS BLIND [(;-)] TO THE PROBLEM THAT HERE NEEDS TO BE SOLVED; THAT INFORMATIONLESS MATTTER-ENERGY IS A SPLENDIND INFORMATION MAKER. Biologists cannot deny this creativity; indeed, better than anyone else biologists know that Earth has brought forth the natural kinds, prolifically, exuberantly over the millennia, and that enormous amounts of information are required to do this.... [T]he grace of life [is] renewed in the midst of its perpetual perishing, generating diversity and complexity, repeatedly struggling through to something higher, a response to the brooding winds of the Spirit moving over the face of these Earthen waters."

Here are other places where he can be read:


- ("what I say is all based on information", he says; what he SAYS, even is based on information, the matrix of perception and interpretation, etc., almost like maybe the "math in the brain" meeting with the facts on/in the ground).





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