Thursday, December 2, 2010

DI's next cruel trick -- re-baptizing Alfred Russel Wallace

The Discovery Institute (DI) is starting to remind me of the Mormon Church, at least in one of their gutter tactics. I recall reading how the Mormons have this nasty little habit of baptizing already dead folks into the church, such as Anne Frank and Adolf Hitler, all on behalf of surviving relatives. If you are interested in knowing more about this disgusting practice, you can check out "Baptism for the Dead" over on Wikipedia.

So what does this have to do with the Discovery Institute. Well they are trying to not steal a soul, but they are trying to steal a man's lifework. Michael Flannery, a compatriot of little casey luskin and the rest of those less-than-honest folks at the DI, wrote a disgusting little post called "The Centennial of Alfred Russel Wallace's The World of Life: The Co-Discoverer of Natural Selection Proposes Intelligent Evolution!". In it he claims:

"Forgotten in the glare of Darwin's preeminence is that Wallace went on to craft his own theory, a theory imbued with intelligent design. First announced in April of 1869, Wallace would go on to develop a theory of directed, detectably designed, and purposeful common descent best described as intelligent evolution."
In my opinion Wallace might have been overlooked at one time, but not currently. There have been numerous books and articles on his contributions to Evolution and Natural Selection. Did you know Wallace was the most cited Naturalist in Darwin's "Descent of Man". While they were often in disagreement over the details, Wallace remained a supporter of Darwin and Natural Selection for the rest of his life. He published "Darwinism" as a response to critics of Natural Selection. Here are a couple of quotes I ran across:
"But whether there be a God and whatever be His nature; whether we have an immortal soul or not, or whatever may be our state after death, I can have no fear of having to suffer for the study of nature and the search for truth, or believe that those will be better off in a future state who have lived in the belief of doctrines inculcated from childhood, and which are to them rather a matter of blind faith than intelligent conviction". 1861 Letter from Wallace to Thomas Sims
"I thus learnt my first great lesson in the inquiry into these obscure fields of knowledge, never to accept the disbelief of great men or their accusations of imposture or of imbecility, as of any weight when opposed to the repeated observation of facts by other men, admittedly sane and honest. The whole history of science shows us that whenever the educated and scientific men of any age have denied the facts of other investigators on a priori grounds of absurdity or impossibility, the deniers have always been wrong." Notes on the Growth of Opinion as to Obscure Psychical Phenomena During the Last Fifty Years
Does this sound like someone who would support the modern Creationism-in-hiding Intelligent Design? Wallace could be categorized as a Creationist, but not a Creationist in the same sense as the bunch over at the DI. He had a side that supported various forms of spirituality, some might have even embarrass a modern scientist and theologian -- but he is more like many current Christians where evolution is not an issue. In my opinion, based on the evidence of his work, Wallace is much more likely to have signed the counter-petition "A Scientific Support for Darwinism" than he would the DI's extremely misleading "Dissent from Darwinism". Wallace supported evolution and Natural Selection right up until he died at age 90.

But with Wallace safely dead, just like those poor souls that the Mormon Church is trying to appropriate, the DI is releasing posts that make it sound as if he would support their misinformation campaign. Luckily his work survives and anyone can do only a few minutes to research Alfred Russel Wallace will realize this. The Alfred Russel Wallace page at Western Kentucky University was an interesting place to spend some quality time. Just a couple of years back Olivia Judson, the Dr. J of Biology, wrote an interesting opinion piece on Wallace's place in history, You might like it as well: "Wallace Should Hang" These two sites are infinitely more interesting than the DI's poorly named 'evolution news' site.

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