Denyse O’Leary has provided a penetrating review of Purpose and Desire on MercatorNet, here. It’s an excellent review. I’m not saying her review is excellent because she liked the book (she did, but that’s beside my point). Rather (unlike some who have had lots of commentary to offer), she clearly read the book, engaged the argument, and had important and critical things to say in response. A reviewer can do no greater service to a writer.
There is one comment in particular to which I want to respond. I will be addressing others, but this one stands out:
“And in this book, which he describes as an outline of how he came to change his mind about fully Darwinian naturalism, he says ‘I hope that spirit [of freedom of inquiry unconstrained by boundaries-JST] came through as you read it.’
In a world dominated by scientifically unproductive naturalism, we need that spirit now. All Turner seems to feel he can do is point us in a direction he dare not follow himself.”
Is it really that I don’t dare? I think it’s a little unfair.
There is a lot of pressure in science these days to “choose a side.” That was the metaphor of the Hobson’s choice I described in the book. To become a scientist, you must exclude life’s unique attributes from your thinking. Or admit them, at the price of not being a scientist anymore.
What I tried to do in Purpose and Desire was to navigate through that Hobson’s choice. I will freely admit that I don’t have answers. What I have done, I think, was to navigate through the logic of life and evolution to a point where I think the correct questions can finally be asked (questions that have long been left unasked).
The comment thread so far has also been fun to read. Have a look!