Wallace and Intelligent Design

Since ID supporters such as Flannery & Dembski seem to be pushing the idea that Wallace would “nowadays be regarded as a proponent of intelligent design”, it is worth considering the views of Charles H. Smith, a researcher who knows more about Wallace than most of us could ever forget:

Question: Did Wallace believe in intelligent design?

Answer: No, no, and no. Assuming that i.d. essentially amounts to nothing more than a new name for Creationism, that is. Don’t fall for the facile understanding being promoted by some agenda-driven observers who argue that, just because Wallace was a spiritualist and believed that “higher intelligences” were influencing events here on earth, that he also believed in miraculous, non-law-based kinds of Godly intervention. Read his own words on this matter here. Wallace did increasingly lean toward a model of natural processes invoking final causes, but this is quite another matter: even the relatively conservative thinker August Weismann was willing to entertain views of final causation (see S352), as long as these did not rely on vitalist or creationist assumptions. Are those who explore gaian models and the various versions of the anthropic principle being accused of i.d. tendencies? Well, what Wallace was thinking about in some ways closely approaches these lines of thought–only he added to the mix the notion that “higher intelligences” might also represent an integral element in the way the large-scale program of evolution plays out.

Smith is the curator of the wonderful “Alfred Russel Wallace Page” – the place to go for writings by and about Wallace.


3 thoughts on “Wallace and Intelligent Design

  1. Pingback: Episode 13: What Are the Metaphysical Implications of Quantum Physics? | The Partially Examined Life | A Philosophy Podcast

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