Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

New Yorker on the late Jerry Fodor, a careful thinker who took on the “natural selection” cult

J. Fodor
Jerry Fodor, 1935-2017

From Stephen Metcalf at the New Yorker:

Jerry Fodor’s Enduring Critique of Neo-Darwinism

… But nothing inspired his skepticism more than the current vogue for Charles Darwin—specifically, the fusion of evolutionary biology, Mendelian genetics, and cognitive neuroscience known as neo-Darwinism.

“Neo-Darwinism is taken as axiomatic,” he wrote in “What Darwin Got Wrong,” co-written with Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, a cognitive scientist, and published in 2010. “It goes literally unquestioned. A view that looks to contradict it, either directly or by implication, is ipso facto rejected, however plausible it may otherwise seem.” Fodor thought that the neo-Darwinists had confused the loyalty oath of modernity—nature is without conscious design, species evolve over time, the emergence of Homo sapiens was without meaning or telos—with blind adherence to the fallacy known as “natural selection.” That species are a product of evolutionary descent was uncontroversial to Fodor, an avowed atheist; that the mechanism guiding the process was adaptation via a competition for survival—this, Fodor believed, had to be wrong.


Jerry Fodor, whose controversial book was What Darwin Got Wrong (2010), was, as Metcalfe notes, “treated as a crank and a pariah,” even though he was naturalist atheist. That’s what it is to diss Darwin among his faithful, though many people still treat careful thinking with respect.

See also: Philosopher Jerry Fodor (1935-2017)


How naturalism morphed into a state religion


Leave a Reply