Klinghoffer Gushes Again About Alfred Wallace

Everyone knows about the Discovery Institute’s obsession with Alfred Wallace, whom Darwin recognized as the co-discoverer of evolution by natural selection. Why are the Discoveroids so enchanted by Wallace? As we’ve written before — see Discoveroids Adopt Alfred Wallace as Godfather — it’s because of some writings by Wallace late in his life that they claim him as their spiritual guru.

In his dotage, Wallace’s confused writings made it clear that he was a socialist, a mystic, and was devoted to spiritualism. He was also a devotee of phrenology and an opponent of smallpox vaccination. His mind became increasingly unhinged late in life, to the point where the Discoveroids find it compatible with theirs.

Today at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog we find Alfred Russel Wallace — Intelligent Design’s Lost Ancestor, Now Found. It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. We’ll give you a few excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis.

A few years ago, our historian colleague Michael Flannery had the opportunity to participate in the Second International Conference on Alfred Russel Wallace held in Kuching (Sarawak), Malaysia. The paper he delivered, “Alfred Russel Wallace, Nature’s Prophet: From Natural Selection to Natural Theology,” is now published in a collection of presentations by scholars from the conference, Naturalists, Explorers and Field Scientists in South-East Asia and Australasia (Springer).

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh — a published paper! [*End Drool Mode*] That must have been an impressive conference. We’ve written before about Flannery’s work — see Shock! Discoveroid Quote-Mining, and also Discovery Institute & Alfred Wallace, Again. Then Klinghoffer says:

Flannery casts Wallace as a “prophet,” in the Greek sense, one who reads and interprets the “text” of nature. His article is deeply informed and perceptive, which comes as no surprise if you know Flannery’s work. Above all, I was struck (not for the first time) by the degree to which Wallace — co-discoverer with Darwin of the theory of evolution by natural selection — foreshadowed many of the main themes of the theory of intelligent design as we know it today.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The Discoveroids regard Wallace as a prophet! Let’s read on:

Professor Flannery masterfully tells the story of Wallace’s dramatic “evolution” as a scientist. He points out that his break with Darwin was not sudden, but rather the product of tremors in Wallace’s articulation of evolutionary theory and Darwin’s own going back to the start. …

Simply put, natural selection as Wallace and Darwin understood it is a strictly utilitarian doctrine. That unguided natural process can select only traits that are useful to propagating a species. Anything else, including pretty much everything that makes humans exceptional, must come from … somewhere else. [Ellipsis in Klinghoffer’s post.]

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh — somewhere else! [*End Drool Mode*] Klinghoffer continues:

Learning about Wallace is like making the acquaintance of a lost ancestor, whose photo bears an uncanny resemblance to your own image. Writes Flannery, “the ghost of Wallace still haunts the certainties of the most ardent Darwinian materialists because life, and especially personhood and qualia, … remains their ‘unsolved problem.'” [Ellipsis in Klinghoffer’s post.]

Yes, we’re haunted by the ghost of Wallace. But not nearly as much as the Discoveroids are haunted by the ghost of Darwin. And now we come to the end:

Lost ancestor, the ghost that haunts Darwinism, honorary founder of the intelligent design movement — this is Alfred Russel Wallace, of whose ideas Michael Flannery is our leading interpreter.

Poor old Wallace. He did some good work when he was young, but alas, now he’s praised by the Discoveroids for the intellectual wreck he became in his final years. He deserves better, but sometimes life is unfair.

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23 responses to “Klinghoffer Gushes Again About Alfred Wallace

  1. Whenever I hear of an “unsolved problem” in evolutionary biology, I immediately wonder whether the person posing that problem has a solution.

    Of course, in the case of Intelligent Design or any other variety of evolution denial, the answer is “no”. They have no account attempting to explain any feature of the natural world: they they have no connection between what actually happens (rather than some other possibility) and the way that they think that things work. The “best” that they can do is: “anything is possible, so why not this?”

    If they think that it is a fatal flaw not to explain such-and-such, then their “alternative” has the same fatal flaw – multiplied.

  2. Charles Deetz ;)

    That unguided natural process can select only traits that are useful to propagating a species. Anything else, including pretty much everything that makes humans exceptional, must come from … somewhere else.

    Wow, I guess I learned something about ID right there. ID is responsible for stuff that doesn’t seem useful to Klingy’s intuition. The designer is why I like to listen to music, then?

  3. michaelfugate

    Where’s KevinC complaining about strawmen now? Flannery’s understanding of evolution and natural selection is as a scarecrow is to a human. Not to mention the argument from anecdote – one guy goes all spiritual and the DI hacks think it’s statistically significant.

  4. docbill1351

    Klangletangle refers to Flannery as an “historian.” Right, like I could refer to my cat as an historian with as much veracity. Flannery is a librarian. History buff, maybe, but selective histories only.

    More like the David Barton of Birmingham.

    Are in the dregs of the Disco Tute, or what? They’ve admitted they’re nothing but a bunch of creationists and now crackpot pseudo-historians. Next they’ll be floating the notion that the Attack Gerbil was abducted by aliens!

  5. michaelfugate

    I am wondering if the DI, Flannery and Klinghoffer agree with Wallace regarding capitalism?

  6. When will the DI add an important living biologist to their list? Why do biologists of any note have to die in order to be judged as a supporter of ID?

    Is it because, maybe, there aren’t any?

  7. Somebody must have remapped my keyboard.

  8. michaelfugate

    The dead can’t complain or disavow…

  9. Wallace was never a creationist and he shed the vestiges of his belief in Christianity when he was a young man. The notion that the spirit world guides evolution (which Wallace developed when he was in his late 70’s) is scientifically untestable and therefore falls outside the realm of Science. It is curious that believers in Christian Intelligent Design have adopted Wallace as their ‘guru’, even though Wallace was a ‘table rapping’ Spiritualist, not a Christian!

    Note that Wallace believed that man had evolved from earlier non-human ancestors and, perhaps curiously, that the spirit world was part of the natural world and could therefore be investigated scientifically. He never believed in the ‘supernatural’ in the way that many religions do.

    For more see my Website and in particular this page: http://wallacefund.info/faqs-myths-misconceptions

  10. I would like to add that evolutionists in the USA might make better progress in educating the ‘creationist’ public if they firmly separated religion from science fact. Evolution is fact, and religion is a matter of belief, and the two should not be interlinked in the way they are in the States. After all the Church of England and the Roman Catholics have managed to separate the two and accept that evolution is a reality… Accepting the latter is a good step towards ‘scientific enlightenment’!

  11. @ Dr George Beccaloni: Many thanks for the link to the website on Wallace, which I have been reading with great interest and instruction!

  12. “Where’s KevinC” asks michaelfugate, the self-appointed judge of creativity. Well mf, I’m right here patiently waiting for our host, the Beloved Curmudgeon, to report on something worth reading. This amusing obsession everyone has here with the Discovery Institute only seems to extend to the superficial and uninteresting.

    I’m curious why Harambe, the DI’s tax returns and its views on Wallace are deemed worthy of commentary but the recent PNAS paper reported 3 days ago on the ENV website [the first in a series] that vindicates Behe’s 1996 book, Darwin’s Black Box, doesn’t get a mention. Instead, we’re treated to Creative Challenge #29.

    Actually it doesn’t surprise me at all. No doubt, it’s the careful spoon feeding of this audience with all things “scandalous” at DI and among YECs that keeps the readership coming back for more.

    Oook, Oook!

  13. Richard Bond

    Kevin C: all that the PNAS paper says is that a sequential biological process is “not well understood”. In other words, the only support that this provides for Behe is a recapitulation of his “ID of the gaps” argument. Of course, you might have been misled by the peculiar but typical ENV slant on the paper.

  14. Could someone give the citation to the PNAS paper?
    And maybe tell us how ID deals with the problem?

  15. Richard Bond

    Tom S: I found it by going to the ENV web site. There is a reference to it at 02/06/16. I would rather not risk my gag reflex by going there again, but ENV actually summarises the key point fairly accurately: it is only their interpretation that is the usual [edited out].

  16. I was hoping that the original poster might direct us to the PNAS article and maybe even give us a hint how ID addresses the problem. I share your aversion.

  17. michaelfugate

    Vindicates Behe? Kevin – pray tell. Inquiring minds want to know how that paper has any relationship to ID? I didn’t see God’s hand anywhere in the paper – did you?


  18. michaelfugate

    Here’s a little heads up for KevC – if a paper says “molecular machine” it is a metaphor. You are not supposed to believe that a god built it in a workshop outside the universe and transported to earth. Please read Dennett on “intentional stance” or better yet, instead of reading the stupidity of ENV, read Dennett’s book “Intuition Pumps”. You might learn how to think for yourself – try it.

  19. In the introductory remarks to the paper is the phrase “mousetrap-like mechanism”.


  20. michaelfugate

    We all know how the DI does “research” – type in keywords like “molecular + machine” or “design”, see what pops up, scan the papers for something to twist to fit DI intuitions, write something up, and press publish on their pseudo-blog. Much cheaper than doing lab work.

    So KevC, why are you able to comment here, but I can’t comment at ENV?

  21. michaelfugate

    If any one is interested in the full paper, let me know. It is just protein chemistry. Proteins can fold in numerous ways – some more stable than others. If energy is available, proteins can fold in unstable states and then do work when undergoing conformational changes to more stable states. No magic involved. Ho hum.

  22. No surprise, you 3 amigos completely missed the point of my comment. I’m not arguing for or against the conclusions of the PNAS paper (which is what I expected everyone here to wrongly infer).

    Let me dumb it down for you guys.
    -Stephen Meyer’s salary of $200,000 is trumpeted from the mountaintops.
    -DI claiming that a PNAS paper supports Behe’s work? [crickets]
    That’s it. A simple observation of selective blogging.

  23. michaelfugate

    Ya got nothing Kev – don’t let the door hit your hind parts on the way out.