ID Foundations, 7: suppressed history — Alfred Russel Wallace’s Intelligent Evolution as a precursor to modern design theory
|July 24, 2011||Posted by kairosfocus under ID Foundations, Intelligent Design|
One of the saddest facets of the modern, unfortunately poisonously polarised debates over origins science, is the evident suppression of relevant history, such as Alfred Russel Wallace’s Intelligent Evolution. (HT: Flannery.)
[Yes, suppressed: at top level, people are responsible to give a true, fair, balanced view of an important matter based on the due diligence of thorough and balanced research . . . ]
Wallace was co-founder of the theory of evolution, and his Ternate letter forced Darwin to present a joint paper to the Royal Society in 1858, then to publish his Origin to further expand and explain his theory in 1859. But Wallace was no Toff, and ended up publishing his fuller thoughts only in 1910 ff, in his “forgotten book,” The World of Life (cf. here, here, here and here at Amazon — republished, of course, by Forgotten Books).
In that book, he presented his thesis of intelligent evolution, which was introduced in the subtitle: a manifestation of Creative Power, Directive Mind and Ultimate Purpose, that is the whole title, in a modern presentation, is:
The World of Life: a manifestation of Creative Power, Directive Mind and Ultimate Purpose
Wallace then elaborated this thesis in his preface [pp. vi – vii 1914 UK edn., I introduce my own simplifying paragraphing — Victorians loved Looooong paras!] as follows:
>> But besides the discussion of these and several other allied subjects, the most prominent feature of my book is that I enter into a popular yet critical examination of those underlying fundamental problems which Darwin purposely excluded from his works as being beyond the scope of his enquiry.
Such are, the nature and causes of Life itself ; and more especially of its most fundamental and mysterious powers growth and reproduction. I first endeavour to show (in Chapter XIV.) by a care-ful consideration of the structure of the bird’s feather; of the marvellous transformations of the higher insects ; and, more especially of the highly elaborated wing-scales of the Lepidoptera (as easily accessible examples of what is going on in every part of the structure of every living thing), the absolute necessity for an organising and directive Life-Principle in order to account for the very possibility of these complex outgrowths.
I argue, that they necessarily imply first, a Creative Power, which so constituted matter as to render these marvels possible ; next, a directive Mind which is demanded at every step of what we term growth, and often look upon as so simple and natural a process as to require no explanation ; and, lastly, an ultimate Purpose, in the very existence of the whole vast life-world in all its long course of evolution throughout the eons of geological time.
This Purpose, which alone throws light on many of the mysteries of its mode of evolution, I hold to be the development of Man, the one crowning product of the whole cosmic process of life-development ; the only being which can to some extent comprehend nature; which can perceive and trace out her modes of action ; which can appreciate the hidden forces and motions everywhere at work, and can deduce from them a supreme and over-ruling Mind as their necessary cause.
For those who accept some such view as I have indicated, I show (in Chapters XV. and XVI.) how strongly it is sup-ported and enforced by a long series of facts and co-relations which we can hardly look upon as all purely accidental coincidences. Such are the infinitely varied products of living things which serve man’s purposes and man’s alone not only by supplying his material wants, and by gratifying his higher tastes and emotions, but as rendering possible many of those advances in the arts and in science which we claim to be the highest proofs of his superiority to the brutes, as well as of his advancing civilisation.
From a consideration of these better-known facts I proceed (in Chapter XVII.) to an exposition of the mystery of cell-growth ; to a consideration of the elements in their special relation to the earth itself and to the life-world ; while in the last chapter I endeavour to show the purpose of that law of diversity which seems to pervade the whole material Universe. >>
A few remarks, to prompt thoughtful discussion:
1 –> Remember, this is the co-founder and independent proposer of the theory of evolution speaking.
2 –> He plainly held that The World of Life [is] a manifestation of Creative Power, Directive Mind and Ultimate Purpose.
3 –> That is, he inferred from the observed world of life, on empirically credible and tested signs, to design as best explanation of observed features, including the results of the evolutionary processes he proposed.
4 –> A chief example, in Ch XIV, is the origin of birds (which he plainly loved), with a particular focus on the wings and on feathers:
. . . the bird’s wing seems to me to be, of all the mere mechanical organs of any living thing, that which most clearly implies the working out of a pre-conceived design in a new and apparently most complex | and difficult manner, yet so as to produce a marvellously successful result. The idea worked out was to reduce the jointed bony framework of the wings to a compact minimum of size and maximum of strength in proportion to the muscular power employed; to enlarge the breastbone so as to give room for greatly increased power of pectoral muscles ;and to construct that part of the wing used in flight in such a manner as to combine great strength with extreme lightness and the most perfect flexibility.
In order to produce this more perfect instrumentfor flight the plan of a continuous membrane, as in the flying reptiles (whose origin was probably contemporaneous with that of the earliest birds) and flying mammals, to be developed at a much later period, was rejected, and its place was taken by a series of broadoverlapping oars or vanes, formed by a central rib of extreme strength, elasticity, and lightness, with a web on each side made up of myriads of parts or outgrowths so wonderfully attached and interlocked as to form a self-supporting, highly elastic structure of almost inconceivable delicacy, very easily pierced or ruptured by the impact of solid substances, yet able to sustain almost any amount of air-pressure without injury. [[287 – 88] . . . .
A great deal has been written on the mechanics of a bird’s flight, as dependent on the form and curvature of the feathers and of the entire wing, the powerful muscular arrangements, and especially the perfection of the adjustment by which during the rapid down-stroke the combined feathers constitute a perfectly air-tight, exceedingly strong, yet highly elastic instrument for flight ; while the moment the upward motion begins the feathers all turn upon their axes so that the air passes between them with hardly any resistance, and when they again begin the down-stroke close up automatic-ally as air-tight as before.
Thus the effective down-strokes follow each other so rapidly that, together with the support given by the hinder portion of the wings and tail, the onward motion is kept up, and the strongest flying birds exhibit hardly any undulation in the course they are pursuing. But very little is said about the minute structure of the feathers themselves, which are what renders perfect flight in almost every change of conditions a possibility and an actually achieved result.
But there is a further difference between this instrument of flight and all others in nature. It is not, except during actual growth, a part of the living organism, but a mechanical | instrument which the organism has built up, and which then ceases to form an integral portion of it is, in fact, dead matter. [[290 – 1]
5 –> This is of course very close in thought to Behe’s irreducible complexity and to Dembski’s complex, specified information.
6 –> A true and fair view of modern design thought and of wider origins science issues would bring that sort of connexion to such antecedents to light; as a matter of duties of care to the truth, to fairness and to balance.
7 –> In short, there is a lot more to the real story and history than meets the eye at the hands of today’s evolutionary materialist magisterium now so commonly seen imposing its agendas as a reigning orthodoxy. Lewontin, of course is a chief example of this:
. . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [[i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .
8 –> Philip Johnson’s retort in First Things, November that year, is well merited:
It is plainly time to think outside the materialist box — or should I say, cave — that some would push us into. END