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Another Problem with the “Anti-Evolution” Label

Alfred Russel Wallace
Image: Alfred Russel Wallace, via Wikimedia Commons.

Casey Luskin, writing here yesterday, is quite right about the term “anti-evolution.” In fact, I must admit that the so-called “anti-evolution” charge against intelligent design is what sparked my initial interest in Alfred Russel Wallace some years ago. I quickly realized that Wallace, co-founder of the theory of evolution by natural selection, advocated a strongly teleological biology, a sort of proto-ID, that could hardly be considered in any sense “anti-evolution.” So the term itself is not only inaccurately applied to ID, it is also grossly unhistorical. 

I might suggest revising another term, “theistic evolution.” This phrase is bandied about as a way to make the world safe for Darwinism. Biologist Kenneth Miller has based his career on it. But actually I’d refer to the Ken Millers, the Karl Gibersons, etc., etc., as what they really are: Darwinian theists. I won’t now launch into the many problems with Darwinian theism, but the phrase is far more accurate and descriptive than simply “theistic evolution.” Wallace in this sense was a “theistic evolutionist,” but certainly NOT of the Ken Miller variety. So my point is that a lot of terms have become commonplace in discussions of evolution, many of them poorly descriptive, even deceptive, and wholly inaccurate.

Michael Flannery

Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Michael A. Flannery is professor emeritus of UAB Libraries, University of Alabama at Birmingham. He holds degrees in library science from the University of Kentucky and history from California State University, Dominguez Hills. He has written and taught extensively on the history of medicine and science. His most recent research interest has been on the co-discoverer of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913). He has edited Alfred Russel Wallace’s Theory of Intelligent Evolution: How Wallace’s World of Life Challenged Darwinism (Erasmus Press, 2008) and authored Alfred Russel Wallace: A Rediscovered Life (Discovery Institute Press, 2011). His research and work on Wallace continues.



Alfred Russel Wallaceanti-evolutionbiologistsDarwinian theistsDarwinismevolutionintelligent designKarl GibersonKenneth Millertheistic evolution