Monday, 3 January 2011

Natural selection

A couple of times in this blog I have commented on the theory of evolution and promised to come back to it. Though I did not address it directly in my book, it is one of the big influences on modern education (along with Freud, who deserves separate treatment). But the influence is not so much from the science of evolution as from the "idea", often exaggerated into an ideology that purports to explain everything. One of the most informative and enjoyable presentations of the current state of knowledge and speculation is Nick Lane's Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution. The "inventions" in question are life itself, DNA, photosynthesis, the complex cell, sex, movement, sight, hot blood, consciousness and death. In each case, science is trying to show how these breakthroughs were achieved without intelligent design, by physiochemical processes over long stretches of time. Though many of the answers remain elusive, the search for them has thrown up a huge amount of fascinating information. In this sense the book is a treasure trove. Lane concludes that the "convergence of evidence" from many fields makes it impossible seriously to doubt that life did evolve. Whether this is compatible with faith in God is a question he sensibly leaves open. That is something I debated with Clive Copus in the Catholic Herald last year. Readers interested in this question would do well to look at writings by Simon Conway Morris and Conor Cunningham. You will also find a number of relevant articles on the main Second Spring site, if you look in the online Articles section under Caldecott, Case, Dulles, Fedoryka, Hanby ("Saving the Appearances"), Olsen and Schonborn.


  1. Fight the Status Quo and its Natural Selection exclusivity! See why here: