Friday, May 1, 2009

Plato and Intelligent Design

Alice C. Linsley

Plato observed pattern in the world and built a system of thought on what he observed. His observations of nature and of human society suggested to him that there is a fixed order to Reality. That is to say, nothing really changes.

When we consider examples of change people usually point to technological advances. What a wireless laptop computer can do today required a room full of computers in the 1960's. However, such examples of change or "progress" do not prove that things change. They only prove that scientists have learned to work with the laws of nature. Science and technology advance because those who work in these fields work with fixed laws. The universe works like a clock. The binary language of computers is math and math is unchanging.

St. Paul recognized the usefulness of platonism in explaining eternal truths known to the Jews to Gentiles. In his writings, Paul often employs platonism in comparing and contrasting temporal figures with eternal Forms. He speaks, for example, of Adam as a type of Jesus Christ. By the first came sin and death, and by the Second Adam came forgiveness and life.

Plato saw patterns in the created order and believed that these patterns pointed to a Creator. He was the first to articulate Intelligent Design and he remains the most influential philosopher of history, recognized as the father of Philosophy in both East and West. Some astute observer said that all of Western Philosophy is footnotes on Plato. Aristotle, one of Plato's students, developed his thought in response to Plato, as have many other great thinkers through the ages, most recently Jacques Derrida.

Macro-evolutionists hold a deep dislike of Plato because he says that nothing really changes. The evidence of human fossils and artifacts appears to support Plato's view more than the view that humans evolved from some sub-human species such as the great apes. Some scientists resent the implication that they are not creating or inventing something new. It is very humbling to consider that one can't create something new, but can only use what has always been there.

How would you verify this? To which disciplines would you look to test Plato's "Reality"? What key points would need to be investigated and verified?


L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

Interesting thought - fixed order to reality. That is almost like suggesting that we are a computer program set up by God. The program is executing as we all go about doing the things we do.

Alice C. Linsley said...

In the West, most people think that change over time is progress. That's an illusion. Plato is right... nothing really changes. This existence is one unchanging Reality.

From the beginning, prayer has been a spiritual nod to this single Reality. This is the only explanation for the religious universals among diverse peoples throughout all time. This is why the next great debate in science will be between courageous cultural anthropologists and macro-evolutionists.

Plato was a great mathematician who saw the world in terms of integers and geometry. He saw order and pattern everywhere and he noted that mankind was not able to change anything in the created order. It is very humbling, is it not?