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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Darwinism and popular culture: Catholics who get the picture

In "Co-Discoverer of Natural Selection Believed in "Overruling Intelligence" Guiding Evolution"(True Catholic, July 1, 2009), Hilary White comments, referring to Michael Flannery’s new book on Wallace,
Flannery said that his book is an effort to "recast" the current dispute between materialist Darwinians and Intelligent Design proponents by examining the history of evolutionary theory. He holds that the "science" versus "creationism" conflict are "popular caricatures" that are "unhistorical and inaccurate."

He points to Wallace, a naturalist, anthropologist and biologist, who had independently developed a theory of natural selection when Darwin published his book. The two parted company in a dispute over the role of natural selection in the development of human intelligence. After years of research into this question, Wallace came to the conclusion that the processes of natural selection were guided by a higher intelligence, whereas Darwin held to the concept of "randomness" in evolution. The difference, Flannery says, is one of metaphysics, which, for Darwin, was already a settled question.

Writing in Forbes magazine, Flannery explained, "Darwin's own theory could hardly be called objectively scientific. Early influences on Darwin's youth established his predisposition to materialism and a dogmatic methodological naturalism long before his voyage on the Beagle."
It is nice to see Catholics address this head on. Too often, Catholic profs and high school teachers have been among the worst offenders in misrepresenting the purpose of Darwin's theory. (You know, the "no conflict between faith and science" crowd. ) Darwin's theory is not compatible with traditional metaphysics and was never intended to be. As Flannery points out, Darwin said as much in his notebooks, long before he published The Origin of Species or had any theory about it. Much recommended book.

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