(Note: These are the key books, not science or media news. The Top Ten Darwin and Design Science News Stories for 2009 are here, the Top Ten Darwin and Design Media News Stories for 2009 are here, and my comments on the latter are here. Also, to get the links, you must go here.)
My comments follow.
7. Alfred Russel Wallace's Theory of Intelligent Evolution by Michael A. Flannery. Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), co-discoverer of natural selection, was second only to Charles Darwin as the 19th century's most noted English naturalist. Yet his belief in spiritualism caused him to be ridiculed and dismissed by many, leaving him a comparatively obscure and misunderstood figure. In this volume Wallace is finally allowed to speak in his own defense through his grand evolutionary synthesis The World of Life published nearly a century ago in 1910. More than just a reprinting of a near-forgotten work, Michael A. Flannery places Wallace in historical context. Flannery exposes Charles Darwin's now-famous theory of evolution as little more than a naturalistic cover for an extreme philosophical materialism borrowed as a youth from Edinburgh radicals. This is juxtaposed by his sympathetic account of what he calls Wallace's intelligent evolution, a thoroughly teleological alternative to Darwin's stochastic processes. Though based upon very different formulations of natural selection, the Wallace/Darwin dispute as presented by Flannery shows a metaphysical clash of worldviews coextensive with modern evolutionary theory itself – design and purpose versus randomness and chance. This book will be of value to scholars and students alike seeking to understand the historical and philosophical roots of a controversy that still rages today.
[From Denyse: I strongly recommend World of Life, as I don’t think one can understand Darwinism without understanding that Darwin became a materialist atheist long before he wrote Origin, and he fudged this matter for the public. In reality, he was looking for a theory that supported that view. Also, the book explains why co-theorist Wallace was rejected by Darwin’s materialist atheist circle. Put simply, Wallace was not a materialist atheist, also not Brit upper crust. That sank him, as far as the tax burden science establishment was, and is, concerned – though he was likely a far better biologist than Darwin.]
Pick #8 is here.
Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.