Scott Turner's Purpose and Desire

A recent book was published by biologist Scott Turner named Purpose and Desire. Turner argues that life is fundamentally different than inorganic matter in that it demonstrates a “consciousness” or a striving to maintain homeostasis. He has described himself as thinking along the lines of Aristotle in that life has inherent properties which differ from ordinary matter. I had several questions for those who might be familiar with the book:

  1. Do Turners’s views offer a half-way point between ID and EC, or would his perspective fit clearly within one camp?
  2. Does he offer a way for EC advocates to, in a sense, have their fully gifted creation and eat it too, or is EC more wedded to a more traditional materialist philosophy? Or, would a spectrum exist within EC with some accepting Turner and others rejecting him?
  3. Do any models exist which focus on the collective behavior of animals, such as termites, seeming to act with conscious intent?
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This whole proposition seems to be inspired by the idea that some intrinsic nature of Life can be a replacement for the role of God… or is an aid or assistance to a God-Lite out there in the Great Beyond.

Frankly, Scott Turner seems quite ripe for getting his own Grant Money and starting up an organization very different from BioLogos.

I don’t see anything in it that would help BioLogos, and nothing in it that would attract YECs.


Thank you for bringing this book by Turner to my attention. His thinking is similar to mine in one important way. Darwin & Co. seek to reduce biology to physics, which is not possible. Why? Because the physical cannot think, but the organic can and does.

No other organic beings can think like humans can, but even plants have the ability to react to their environment and seek out light, water, and nutrients. They are not passive, but active as all organisms are.

  1. Please let’s go beyond labeling people by ideology. I would put Turner beyond both, where I stand which means that it could be a view for reconciliation if people are willing to seek the truth and not buttress their ideologies.

  2. BioLogos seems to be wedded to a materialist Darwinian outlook. ID is basically an Idealist, philosophical perspective. We need a view that recognizes that Reality has physical, rational, and spiritual aspects. Without reading Turner I cannot say where he stands, but this is where I stand.

  3. Ecology, which works much differently from Darwinism, has done much good work on organic behavior, and it appears to agree with me and probably Turner and not with Darwinists like Dawkins, who is anti-ecology.

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