The Eclipse of Wallace by Darwin

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen 

This article takes a somewhat different approach, as we will be considering a short series of articles by Neil Thomas on an Intelligent Design site. We previously saw some interesting material by him in "Epicurus, Darwin, and the Spirit of his Age."

Mr. Thomas is a professing agnostic, and that is very unfortunate for him spiritually as well as influencing the three short articles that are being featured here. He is extremely intelligent and puts serious effort into his work. When looking up evolution by natural selection, it is common for some sites to say that Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles R. Darwin were its co-discoverers. How did Alfie get eclipsed?

A different kind of article built on the history of how Darwin eclipsed Wallace, co-founder of evolution. There are also lessons for Christians here.
Alfred Russel Wallace being eclipsed by Charles R. Darwin
It did not help Wallace that he backed off on evolutionary views rather quickly, instead promoting something kinder and gentler. It could be considered an early form of today's Intelligent Design movement. I suspect that Alfred's non-atheistic approach is also a reason that he was becoming obscured. Meanwhile, Darwin was moving forward.

Something that is arguably difficult to grasp by modern American readers (and possibly by people in England today) is the class system. It was dominated by economics, but also had a culture of its own; people were considered "better" than others because of their social status. There was a loyalty of not only friendship, but also to the class.

Although people disagreed with Charlie's views, they were his loyal friends and helped to promote him anyway. Neil Thomas thinks that Darwin must have been a much nicer guy than those photographs and paintings project.

For this child, Christians could take some basic lessons from this. We are sharing the gospel of Christ and equipping other Christians (some of us have a ministry in biblical creation science). As members of the Christian class (that is, brothers and sisters by the blood of Christ), we need to support, encourage, and uphold one another. (Rebukes in love when necessary as well.)

Neil is coming from his worldview, and I am doing the same. I perceive that when he discusses advocates of Darwin's acceptance in these formerly United States, there is a spiritual component that an agnostic cannot perceive. Louis Agassiz was established and respected in America but was critical of evolution. Asa Gray defended Darwin to Agassiz, even saying that perhaps God used evolution. What I suggest is that the effort to replace God was a spiritual impetus to make Darwinism acceptable in America.

Instead of believing Scripture as so many had done (and a few were still using Scripture with science), Christians were ceding science to materialists. If scientists believe that the world is old, yee haw boy howdy, it must be so! Must be time to say that the Bible has myths and allegories, innit? Deep time is indispensable for evolution, so feckless Christians of yore inadvertently gave evolution a boost by accepting it despite lack of evidence.

Thomas said that the English class system and advocates for evolution in America were reasons Charlie not only succeeded, but why Wallace was being lost from view. A third reason is that Darwin's loyal friends, despite their own beliefs, loyally provided propaganda. Again, Christians should take notice of loyalty to brothers and sisters, and especially to the cross of Christ.

Now I suggest that you read the three articles without my interruptions:

  1. Why Darwin Eclipsed Wallace: Darwin and the English Class System
  2. Why Darwin Eclipsed Wallace: Darwin Comes to America
  3. Why Darwin Eclipsed Wallace: The Role of Propaganda
As I did in the other post, I am asking people to pray for Neil Thomas that he will humble himself and submit his life to Jesus Christ.