I thought I would start a different topic since everyone is probably tired of my libertarianism over on the healthcare thread.
I just downloaded Denis Alexander’s new book on purpose in biology. @jongarvey, if you haven’t checked it out, I think you’ll love it. @Eddie, you as well. I was very surprised to see Alexander bring Michael Denton’s hero Richard Owen into his conversation. He points out that recently, Owen’s “types” seem to be catching on. Alexander, like Denton, points to the pentadactyl lamb as a perfect example of a structure that has remained in place through many millions of years of evolution. He, like Denton, points to evo-devo as confirming some of Owen’s thought. Here are closing words on this issue:
“The bauplan is there alright, but not as a result of some inward driving force” on the part of living organisms, more as the fruit of millions of years of selective advantage, channeled by the contraints of living in this kind of planet with its gravity and other physical demands that determine what forms if life work best."
Denton has been clear in his new book on evolution and in nature’s destiny that he feels that the order in evolution is SCIENTIFICALLY the result of the laws of physics and emergent properties, but that from this, we can infer some sort of quasi-Platonic order within the universe.
I’m not sure if Denton and Alexander really differ here. I think Denton might take a stronger natural theology stand while Alexander would say that these features of evolution are VERY compatible with theism.
I’m posting this partly because I was excited to find Alexander talking about Owen (who believed in common descent), but also because I am interested to hear what everyone here has to say about structuralsm? @swamidass, what does the prevalence of the pentadactyl limb mean to you as an evolutionist? What does it mean to you as a Christian theist? That the number of petals on flowers often corresponds to a fibbonacci number? The structure of leaves? The insect body plan? @Patrick? @T_aquaticus @PdotdQ?
Must we look for adaptive purposes for all these trends?
There seems to be an order here (sure, based in the laws of physics, etc) that points to something beyond mere happenstance, no? Perhaps a Divine Mind or Platonic Forms?