Teleology: Purpose in Nature – Yes or No?

Jon Perry of Stated Clearly and I do a discussion and debate about purpose in nature which philosophers call teleology. This is the real issue that people are arguing about: Is the hand at the end of your arm an accumulation of random accidents? Or is it purposeful? That is the question. Jon has a popular YouTube channel called “Stated Clearly” and when my Evolution 2.0 book came out he had major criticisms of it. However, we were able to set aside our differences and have a very productive conversation in this video.

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6 Responses

  1. Eric Holloway says:

    I cannot figure out another way to send you a comment regarding your last ev2.0 email that claims the DI equates evolution and atheism, so I figured I might as well comment here.

    Can you reference a Discovery Institute article that equates evolution
    and atheism? A quick google with “ atheism”
    gives me this podcast by John West (one of the main DI contributors)
    which claims there is no apparent connection between Darwin and
    atheism, but many biologists call themselves atheists or agnostics.

    This would seem to contradict your claim that the Discovery Institute
    equates evolution and atheism.

    I’ve been following the DI and ID movement for a long time, and my
    perception is they are very careful to not make the equivocation you
    accuse them of making.

    • I wrote what you refer to 5-10 years ago, I would not be able to easily dredge up the specific DI article I’d recently read that implied that evolution was the province of atheism. And such comments are likely less common now than a decade ago. But I do vividly remember listening to a DI fundraising guy who regularly in his presentation talked about evolution as though it’s the property of atheists and the enemy of theism.

      Evolution is the most amazing engineering anyone has ever seen. The capacity to evolve is the best available evidence for a divinely ordered universe.

  2. Eric Holloway says:

    Well, you might want to update your email marketing campaign, then. John West does say there is a strong correlation between holding to Darwinian evolution and being an atheist, but the two ideologies are not inherently linked.

    Your latest email also seems somewhat questionable. ID would be consistent with what you post. For example, Dembski explicitly states in his book No Free Lunch that ID is ambivalent whether teleology is intrinsic or extrinsic in evolution.

    I understand how setting up conflict leads to better marketing results, but I don’t think it’s helpful to strawman the ID position. There is enough of that already.

    • Up to a certain point my views are quite compatible with ID. I make this pretty clear in Evolution 2.0. I would say, though, that my views are not compatible with the way most people generally perceive the positions of the Discovery Institute.

  3. John Bonnett says:

    Interesting, some evolutionary biologists seem to be coming around to the idea that teleology is a constituent of evolution and that evolution itself might be a conscious process. See David Sloan Wilson, Mel Andrews, Maximus Thaler “Can Evolution be Conscious?”, and follow up essays, at:

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