Who Is James Le Fanu? Part III: An Intruder in the Church of Darwin

Baron Georges Cuvier (1769-1832), who served as director of Paris’s Musee d’Histoire Naturelle, held that there was an unknown biological “formative impulse,” an organizational principle of some kind, that directed the formation of diverse kinds of life. It is such an idea that James Le Fanu seeks to revive in his excellent new book, Why Us?: How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves (Pantheon). It does appear that something is guiding life’s evolution toward intelligible ends. Dr. Le Fanu, in appreciation of whom I am writing this series, urges us to be comfortable with saying science does and perhaps cannot know the nature or source of that impulse. Darwin, of course, sought to identify the principle or law behind evolution Read More ›

Who Is James Le Fanu? Part II: The Book to Buy for Your Darwin-Devoted Friends

When the novelist, biographer and literary critic A.N. Wilson came out recently as a Darwin skeptic, in comments to the New Statesman the book he mentioned as substantiating his skepticism is James Le Fanu’s new and outstandingly readable and informative book Why Us?: How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves (Pantheon). For the moment, this is probably the one book you should buy for your Darwin-devoted friends — if you are going to buy just one. In this little series, continued from last week, I am just trying to give a flavor of the book. Le Fanu is a distinguished British physician and author of peer-reviewed medical journal essays. He exemplifies the Talmud’s note of advice that a person should Read More ›

Who Is James Le Fanu?
Part I: Darwin Doubter Signals Paradigm Shift in Evolution Debate

Though he’s fairly prominent character, I admit James Le Fanu was not till recently on my radar screen or that of anyone else around here that I know of. A British medical doctor who publishes in peer-reviewed medical journals like the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine and the British Medical Journal, a columnist for the London Telegraph, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award for his book The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine (2001), Dr. Le Fanu turns out to be a flaming Darwin doubter, too. He comes out with a vengeance in his new book, Why Us?: How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves,” which hammers scientific materialism to bits. It really is a book Read More ›

The Edge of Obfuscation: Darwinists Behind Closed Doors

Why is it that Darwinian rhetorical strategies often remind me of a Monty Python sketch? In this case, the one about the philosophy department at the University of Wollamaloo, where every faculty member is called Bruce and the departmental rules include “Rule two: No member of the faculty is to maltreat the Abbos [aboriginal Australians] in any way a’all — if there’s anyone watching.” So Michael Behe amusingly notes in his Amazon blog how public Darwinian responses to the main argument of his book The Edge of Evolution differ from responses in more technical forums. Or as Bruce might put it, Rule one: No member of the Darwin Lobby may admit that evolution poses seemingly unsolvable enigmas — if there’s Read More ›

My Son the Expert! Part III: A Challenge to Texas Darwinists

Nobody but a pedant enjoys being pedantic. But putting Darwinist experts in their place, particularly those who testified before the Texas State Board of Education, requires pointing out in detail their misleading simplifications of the fields in which they are supposed to be expertly qualified. Discovery staff have carefully combed the testimony of Professors David Hillis and Ronald Wetherington, finding numerous significant instances of egregious falsehood. Making this clear puts one in danger of seeming pedantic. But it’s important, in part because we hereby challenge Hillis and Wetherington to defend their statements, in light of the detailed and devastating analyses that are now available online here and here. Of course, they won’t respond, nor, I guess, will anyone in the Read More ›