Darwin’s Heretic: Alfred Russell Wallace


Article #298

by Bill Nugent


Secularism, also called secular humanism, is the dominant philosophical force of our age. Darwinian evolution is the taproot of secularism.  Darwinism is the origins myth of the secular worldview. Without Darwinism, the whole secular edifice crumbles. Charles Darwin can be called the messiah of secularism. Richard Dawkins, today’s most prominent evolutionist, is the secular pope. The late Carl Sagan, Stephen J. Gould and Christopher Hitchens of recent fond memory, can be called secular saints. Alfred Russel Wallace (1823 – 1913) is the secular heretic, or more properly: Darwin’s heretic.


Wallace was born, the seventh of nine children, to an English family in Wales. His family was middle class and Wallace didn’t have the family fortune backing that Charles Darwin and Charles Lyell enjoyed during their careers. Nevertheless, Wallace received a decent education. He enjoyed varied work experience that involved travel and he was of robust health.


Wallace did extensive field work in distant jungles under conditions that would have killed men of lesser constitutional strength. His work on the Malay peninsula from 1854 to 1858 was of particular significance. It was during this time that Wallace independently discovered and wrote about natural selection. On his return to England he wrote to Darwin describing the essentials of natural selection. Darwin, who had also discovered natural selection, suggested they publish their papers together. Their collaboration is believed by historians to have prompted Darwin to write and publish his book, On the Origin of Species in 1859. (Wikipedia)


It was ten years after this that Wallace began to diverge from Darwinism. In April of 1869 Wallace published an article in the Quarterly Review, a prominent London periodical. In this article Wallace set forth the claim that the human mind and certain other human organ systems including the vocal organs and the hands were beyond the capability of formation by random, accumulated changes. Wallace claimed that some kind of intelligent being must have designed the complexity of the human mind and other organs.


Wallace was not a Christian at this point and it’s doubtful he ever became one even to the end of his days. He was a spiritualist in faith and a socialist in political leaning and activism. Darwin and other scientists in the budding field of evolution objected strenuously to Wallace’s position on intelligent causality of life. Nevertheless, Wallace was able to remain on cordial terms with Darwin and they continued to correspond.


More than two decades after Darwin’s 1882 death, Wallace solidified his views and became far more radical in his promotion of Intelligent Design as a necessity for life origins. In the first decade of the twentieth century, Wallace wrote two books that explained his anti-Darwinian position. The books were Man’s Place in the Universe andThe World of Life. It is especially the latter book, The World of Life, that is radical and groundbreaking. It was published in 1910, when Wallace was 87 years old. Over four hundred pages long, it was his magnum opus.


In his later years, Wallace claimed that not just the human mind but virtually every living thing required intelligent design, even the cell. Consider that at this time, many scientists thought of the cell as a mere sack of protoplasm. Wallace, familiar with the work of scientists in the budding field of microbiology, wrote of the cell’s myriad complexity. This was even before DNA and the epigenome were discovered!


One of the fatal flaws of Darwinism is that it is not pure science but it’s an hypothesis encumbered by a philosophical presupposition called methodological materialism. This is the claim that only natural, material, forces can account for everything in the universe. Materialism is philosophy, not science. In his famous book, The World of Life, Wallace contradicted methodological materialism and wrote“Materialism is a most gigantic foolishness.”


The lesson that can be gleaned from the life of Alfred Wallace is that even in the early days of the science of biology, scientists could see the evidence for the necessity of an intelligent designer of life. Wallace was an eminent scientist who is recognized even to this day as a pioneer in the field of biology. He stood boldly for Intelligent Design. One can hope that before his death in 1913, Wallace turned from his occultic spiritualism and came to a knowledge of the God who loved him. God, through Christ, offers forgiveness of sins to all who turn to Him in repentance.


The Bible is the only holy book of any faith that is confirmed by more than a thousand predictive prophecies contained in its pages and the fulfillments of those prophecies down through history. God’s holy prophets predicted that the Messiah (Christ) would come. Jesus Christ came in fulfillment of over 300 prophecies written in the Old Testament hundreds of years before His birth. The prophecies foretold that Christ would suffer and die, taking the penalty of our sins upon Himself so that we may obtain forgiveness. Christ was raised from the dead to offer forgiveness of sins to all who repent and call upon Him. Turn to Christ today to receive forgiveness of sins!


Much of the information in this article is derived from the film: Darwin’s Heretic: Alfred Russel Wallace & Intelligent Design and the book Alfred Russel Wallace: A Rediscovered Life by Michael Flannery, Discovery Institute Press, 2011.


Steps to salvation:

Jesus said “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).

  • 1) Believe that God created you and loves you and sent the Messiah (Messiah is Hebrew for Christ) to redeem you.
  • 2) Believe that Jesus Christ came in fulfillment of over 300 Bible prophecies to die for you, to take upon Himself the penalty of your sins (Isaiah 53:5-6, John 6:29, Romans 4:5, First Peter 3:18).
  • 3) Turn from sin and call on the name of Jesus to receive forgiveness of sins (Romans 10:13).
  • 4) Receive Jesus as Savior and experience the new birth (John 1:12, Acts 2:38).
  • 5) Follow Jesus Christ as Lord (John 14:21).

Prayer to receive salvation:

“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for us at the terrible cost of His suffering and death on our behalf I invite you to pray this simple prayer:

“Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

If you prayed this prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!

(C) 2016 William P. Nugent, permission granted to email or republish for Christian outreach.

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