Here’s the latest installment of Flannery in Shermer vs. Flannery: Resolved: If He Were Alive Today, Alfred Russel Wallace Would Be an Intelligent Design Advocate:
In an interview with the Daily Chronicle Wallace declared unequivocally, “Materialism is as dead as priestcraft for all intelligent minds. There are laws of nature, but they are purposeful. Everywhere we look we are confronted by power and intelligence.” Shermer, however, throws up a red herring by pointing out Wallace’s rejection of a first cause in nature. The real issue for Wallace (as indeed for modern ID) was (and is) not a discernible first cause but discernible intelligence.
Wallace surely meets the minimal criteria of ID and then some. His World of Life was written largely to demonstrate that evolution is not blind but intelligent — that it is directed, detectably designed, and purposeful common descent — and he spend some 400 pages doing so!
I agree with Shermer that spiritualism was not Wallace’s worldview, but neither was it scientism. Wallace understood the limits of science. “The beauty of birds and insects,” he insisted, “has no explanation in the evolutionary theory. Even Huxley was puzzled by the beauty of his environment. While evolution is a sound hypothesis and every new discovery tends to confirm it, it is not all; it by no means explains everything. It does not explain beauty, for beauty is a spiritual mystery.” These are hardly the words of a “hyper-evolutionist,” a man lost in the cul-de-sac of scientism.
Comment on the exchange here.
See also: Philosopher: How Shermer is pulling a fast one in his debate with Flannery on Wallace