Theory of Evolution – Was Alfred Russel Wallace Unnaturally Unselected?

FYI: this post has been moved here.


  1. Ah! Another day, another character assassination! Maybe you should change the blog from "Atheism is Dead" to "Christian Hate is Alive."

    Two things: Wallace isn't forgotten, the Wallace Line is still known, taught and respected. Its just that he didn't contribute much to the discussion on evolution.

    Second: Why is everything always about politics to you people? Its as if you can't grasp that substance matters in anything and that every principle or theory must always be judged by how well you like or dislike the advocate and not what is advocated.

    The fact is, if you removed Darwin from the discussion entirely, the theory of evolution would be exactly what it already is. None of the data would disappear and none of the conclusions would change if Darwin had never been born.

    That movie was a great movie though. I can agree with you on that at least.

  2. Where do you get this mistaken idea that Wallace has been forgotten? Anybody that reads anything about evolution will read about how Wallace co-discovered the idea that Natural Selection (although he did not use that term) was the driving force behind evolution. Darwin cites Wallace in his introduction to _The Origin of the Species_ and relies heavily (and gives credit) to his work in _The Descent of Man_.

    The primary reason that Darwin deserves the greater level of fame and credit is that Darwin did more work and thought more deeply on the theory. Wallace developed evolution as an antrocentric and as a teleological idea. While a pretty common perspective in the 19th century, they turned out to be just plain wrong and not productive. Science rewards and remembers those who are correct. It also remembers what was correct and relegates what was wrong to just the endnotes. (A classic case is Newton: he is remembered for his work in optics and physics where he was correct and his work in chemistry - alchemy really - is all but forgotten.)

  3. Wallace is largely ignored compared to Darwin because, for however similar his ideas were, his metaphysics just weren't what was desired. Contra jdhuey, teleology never turned out to be "just plain wrong" or even unproductive - no more so than declaring the processes to be non-teleological were (That's metaphysical assumption, not the stuff of scientific demonstration.)

    After all, if it's made clear that evolution and science doesn't demonstrate God's non-existence or His being superfluous, a whole lot of the draw of science goes out the window for some people. Wallace's dangerous idea about evolution as a purposeful process can't be scientifically proven (just as it can't be proven to be a non-purposeful process), but the mere suggestion is enough to unnerve folks. Best to brush him off to the side.

  4. Metaphysics has nothing to do with it. Wallace never developed his initial intuition. Compare Darwin's writings with Wallace, the contrast in quantity and breadth is stark.

    Wallace may have been the first to think along the lines he, but he wasn't the last. None who did made an impact because they had no evidence to support their speculations.

    I realize that a sense of being persecuted is an important part of christian belief and politics, but in this case it carries no weight.

  5. "However, man’s intellectual powers and moral sense, among other things, he said, “could not have been developed by variation and natural selection alone, and… , therefore, some other influence, law, or agency is required to account for them.”"

    Hilarious. Wait, this dead white guy died a very long time ago. I thought such people were to be ignored? At any rate, his opinion remains just one more speculation about something that has absolutely no evidence to support it. Just another man of his times.

  6. apropos: