Bennett’s demiurgic powers

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:01 pm


Here’s a last scanned passage from Bennett. I am going to discontinue this sequence, perhaps picking up some of the later material.
We have made our point: that Bennett’s exotic version of evolution
is neither Darwinian/scientific nor quite creationist.
It is truly a unique thesis based on the idea of ‘demiurgic powers’, an idea that is too outlandish to believe, and too cogently constructed by Bennett to reject out of hand.

Science has lost the point that Alfred Wallace considered, which is not that of belief in god, but the space-time nature of the human frame and that which transcends it. Once we enter that terrain, ‘all conceptual hell breaks loose’, as the ghostly entities that might exist there undermine our reductionist certainties.
In any case, we need to pursue this to some degree so that we can be wary of those who wish to claim to be spokesman for the unseen.

I hope to pick these issues in a more efficient form later. Scanning Bennett is too cumbersome.

In any case, the idea of beings in ‘bodies of consciousness’ is an intelligent science fiction in Bennett, one that makes sense of many mysteries, all we need is proof!

Meanwhile the actual construction of the evolution of life is, I think, a false picture. Bennett has constructed so much apparatus for explaing evolution that to introduce a designer is preposterous. That is the muddled hybrid that his fascinating constructions create, even as they collapse.


We have been concerned, hitherto, to demonstrate the need to postu-
late an organizing pattern to account for the arising of the immensely
complex structures that have the property of auto-synthesis or self-
renewal. We have still to consider what kind of structures were required
for life to have developed as it has done. Two main needs must be
satisfied. First, there must be bodies to enable the functions of life to
operate; and, second, there must be supplies of energy to make the
bodies work. The first has been met mainly through nitrogen com-
pounds, particularly proteins; the second by means of carbon com-
pounds, mainly carbohydrates and fats.

It is impossible to doubt that the two problems were found independ-
en solutions, yet solved in combination. It would have been useless to
produce a self-renewing organism dependent upon food and not also
ensure that food supplies were available.

The solution of the problem of self-renewal was found in amino-acid
structures of such complexity that we had to invoke the organizing
pattern to account for them. The problem of energy was solved by a very
simple reaction-the separation of the hydrogen and oxygen of which
water is made and the use of the hydrogen in conjunction with carbon-
dioxide to make carbohydrates-that is sugars and starches. The diffi-
culty in this case comes from the fact that a high concentration of energy
in the right place and in the right form is needed to bring it about. The
only source of energy readily available in sufficient quantity was solar
radiation. Now water can be split into hydrogen and oxygen by very
high temperatures, but then the hydrogen will not make a stable com-
pound with carbonic acid gas. A strange, almost unbelievable, way
round the difficulty was discovered. An extremely complex and most
improbable compound of magnesium with nitrogen and the other
elements of life-the chlorophyll that gives leaves their green colour-
brings about an intricate dance of the elements in the sunlight and the
dance ends with carbohydrates and free oxygen gas. This astonishing
process is the support of almost all life on the earth. * Without it, life
would disappear within a generation, for the dead bodies of plants and
animals would soon be used up and there would be nothing to replace
If chlorophyll has always been necessary to support life-and all
evidence goes to confirm this-where did the first chlorophyll come
from? Chlorophyll is synthesized in the leaves of plants by special proteins
and it has to be combined with a protein to give what is known as
chloroplastin, without which it is destroyed by light and so is useless
for its purpose. It was, therefore, not enough that the chlorophyll-
making protein should come accidentally into existence; it also had to
be fortunate enough to meet the right kind of protein to preserve it:
and the two proteins are completely different. If anyone imagines that
the production of chlorophyll was a lucky accident, he cannot have
studied its structure. We have tried, in this exposition, to avoid difficult
technicalities that might confuse the non-specialist reader, but the
structure of chlorophyll is such an important factor in understanding
the origins of life, that we shall show it in the conventional shorthand
of the organic chemist.
This remarkable structure, so reminiscent of the tetrad with its four
nitrogen atoms each linked with entirely different kinds of groups, can
perform operations that surpass all the resources of modern science to
emulate. It converts, with high efficiency, the energy of sunlight into
chemical energy and constructs the building materials of which all
living bodies are made. At the same time it sets free the oxygen so tightly
bound up in water and maintains the composition of the atmosphere in
exactly the right proportions to sustain life. It works on so prodigious
a scale that three hundred thousand million tons of carbon compounds
are produced every year. The turnover of carbon dioxide and water is so
CH2=CH-C–C\ ! /C=~-CH3
/ i \
CH3-C–C ; C=C
H~_c~N””,-c=L.” /)=0
H ~-0-CH3
CH3-C C-H 0
o C20H39

great that the oxygen of the atmosphere is renewed by green vegetation
about once every century.
No chemist, whatever his genius and his persistence, could have
guessed that the structure depicted in Fig. 44.3. could perform such
marvels. Even knowing how it is put together, chemists have not yet
found out how to make it.
When we remember that chlorophyll alone is helpless to perform its
operations-it needs to be combined with a protective protein and
supported on a suitable body-the hypothesis of fortuitous arising seems
more untenable than ever. We can confidently assert that some organiz-
ing influence was at work.
Hitherto we have assumed that an organizing pattern in eternity
could be invoked to account for the improbable events that initiated the
life story of the earth. But now we seem to stand before a special kind
of intelligence. So far from finding any evidences of a supernatural act
that sets aside the laws of physics and chemistry, we find an uncanny
insight into the almost limitless possibilities they offer for brilliant
manipulation of the material forces.
It seems that we must look for something more than a static pattern
merely existing forever in the eternal present of the earth’s mind-
a more versatile agent is required. We can picture an intelligence of a
high order, able to see both what is required, and also the resources
inherent in the situation, producing the required pattern of potentiali-
ties at the time and place that it is needed,” We have already, in Volume
II, postulated such intelligences in the Demiurgic Essences:’] We put
forward the view that ‘the Demiurges are the sources of the essence-
patterns of the Biosphere.’ t
What we postulated in Vol. II on a priori grounds (the need for a
seventh pentad between man and the Cosmic Individuality) now be-
comes a necessary principle of explanation of the very practical question,
how the two life processes were initiated: protein auto-synthesis and
carbohydrate photo-synthesis. We shall put the explanatory principle
into explicit form:
Demiurgic Powers associated with the earth were responsible for produc-
ing the potential patterns upon which life was constructed.
Here we can recall the conscious direction postulated at the beginning
of this chapter. Such direction requires a deep insight into the proper-
ties of earth existence combined with a freedom from its limitations.”
It will be remembered in connection with human experience, that
we have postulated a Higher Wisdom.§ We may economise in concepts
by uniting the notions of Higher Wisdom, the consciousness of the earth,
the Demiurgic Intelligences and the production of organizing patterns
into a single hypothesis which is that of the participation of Demiurgic
Powers in the initiation of the processes of life.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URL

Leave a Comment