This reprinting of sections of Wallace's 1910 publication The World of Life documents the fact that Charles Darwin's theory was not so much an attempt to understand nature as it was an attempt to replace theism with a materialistic, atheistic worldview as documented in The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin by Benjamin Wiker (available on Amazon). In other words, Darwin's purpose was not science but theological. Russel recognized that Darwin's theory explained much, but did not, and could not, explain everything in the natural world. As anyone who has read Darwin's Origin of Species can plainly see, Darwin was not interested in understanding reality but in proving a worldview, a worldview that served both as a lens and blinders in his work. In his excellent introduction to the book, the editor, Professor Flannery, documents the conclusion that Wallace today would be most comfortable in the Intelligent Design camp. Darwin knew of Wallace's heresy, and it upset Darwin greatly. I am thankful that this now rare book is again back in print because it allows us to better understand, not only Darwin's motive in defending his theory but also the major problems the co-founder of evolution had with Darwin's conclusions. Indeed, the book The World of Life effectively challenged Darwinism, a challenge still very much alive today.
There are two types of theory of evolution, the first is that Life is spelt with a capital `L' and is not by chance but by design, and it is purposeful and meaningful. The second is that life with a small `l' is by chance and not by design, and it has no purpose and no meaning, it is really just an existence. I begin here as these are philosophical positions, not scientific theories, as is so often pretended. This excellent book, which I recommend without reserve, is about Wallace's theory of evolution, which is about Life capitalised, versus Darwin's, which is a life less than ordinary.
Professor Flannery takes a historical approach with a fifty-five page analytical introductory essay, packed with good insights and references of all sources, and not too hard to read. It is followed by an acutely edited 150-page Reader's Digest version of Wallace's summary of his work and thought, his book `The World of Life', which originally ran to 400 pages. Although Wallace is now generally cited as the co-originator of the theory of evolution, Flannery demonstrates beyond question that Wallace was in his day a formidable proponent of scientific Intelligent Design and the Anthropic Principle, though not a young earth creationist. In contrast, Charles Darwin's theory is shown to be of the other type, that life is by chance and ultimately meaningless, we came up from the mud and go back to the dust.Read more ›
I will not directly comment on this attempt to make Wallace into an intelligent design advocate, except to reproduce his own words on the matter (from another of his books, Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection, 2d ed.):
-----"Some of my critics seem quite to have misunderstood my meaning in this part of the argument. They have accused me of unnecessarily and unphilosophically appealing to "first causes" in order to get over a difficulty--of believing that "our brains are made by God and our lungs by natural selection;" and that, in point of fact, "man is God's domestic animal." An eminent French critic, M. Claparède, makes me continually call in the aid of--"une Force supérieure," the capital F, meaning I imagine that this "higher Force" is the Deity. I can only explain this misconception by the incapacity of the modern cultivated mind to realise the existence of any higher intelligence between itself and Deity. Angels and archangels, spirits and demons, have been so long banished from our belief as to have become actually unthinkable as actual existences, and nothing in modern philosophy takes their place. Yet the grand law of "continuity," the last outcome of modern science, which seems absolute throughout the realms of matter, force, and mind, so far as we can explore them, cannot surely fail to be true beyond the narrow sphere of our vision, and leave an infinite chasm between man and the Great Mind of the universe. Such a supposition seems to me in the highest degree improbable.Read more ›
Flannery did a masterful job with this philosophical analysis of Wallace's work on evolutionary theory. Much of Wallace's book is reprinted within this volume and fully supports the integrity of Flannery's thesis.
For philosophy of science grad students (such as myself), this is a must-read. Well done, Mr. Flannery.