Earlier this month, science historian Michael Flannery and political scientist John West discussed the legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) on the occasion of his birthday, January 8. The video is up now and is worth watching. Flannery and West note the irony that Darwin’s younger colleague, co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection, broke with Darwin over Wallace’s later advocacy of intelligent design. An exaggeration? Not in the least. He came to recognize an intelligent “control” operating everywhere in life:
I find this control in the lowest cell; the wonderful activity of cells convinces me that it is guided by intelligence and consciousness. I cannot comprehend how any just and unprejudiced mind, fully aware of this amazing activity, can persuade itself to believe that the whole thing is a blind and unintelligent accident. It may not be possible for us to say how the guidance is exercised, and by exactly what powers; but for those who have eyes to see and minds accustomed to reflect, in the minutest cells, in the blood, in the whole earth, and throughout the stellar universe — our own little universe, as one may call it — there is intelligent and conscious direction; in, a word, there is Mind.
If you told me that comment had come from, say, biologist Michael Denton, whose latest book is The Miracle of the Cell, it wouldn’t surprise me. No modern-day proponent of design theory would differ with a word of it. In fact, it would be a fun game to play with your Darwinist friends: Read the quote to them and ask who said it. Some “anti-science” ID scoundrel or, worse, creationist? Wallace’s birthday this year may have passed, but the time for learning about this “Victorian Indiana Jones,” as Professor Flannery calls him, is well spent in any year or month: