Swiss anthropologist Jeremy Narby counts himself among the relatively thin ranks of scientists willing to publicly announce their conviction that nature is "minded," that an intelligence lies behind the development of life. Such a position is heresy to the prevailing scientific view of naturalism, which holds that nature is self-sufficient and the result of undirected processes. These two differing viewpoints usually are framed in the context of a debate between theology and science--creationism vs. Darwinism--but lately, Narby and others are claiming that the argument can be staged on secular grounds. They say scientific methods can be developed to empirically test the theory that there is intelligence directing nature.

Illustrations: Stefan Gutermuth, from The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1998)
Narby works for Nouvelle Planete, a nonprofit Swiss aid organization that promotes community development in Third World countries. In 1984, he began two years of...

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