I like your style

Darwin’s spiritual evolution

When you talk to Creationists and advocates of Intelligent Design, the honest ones will admit their core fear: That the teaching of evolution will erode Christianity. For those who espouse the doctrine of biblical “inerrancy” — the idea that every word in the Bible is literally true — then science is indeed an enormous danger, because it is so trivially easy to scientifically prove that scripture is not factually accurate.

Indeed, devotees of inerrancy fight so hard precisely because they feel they’re on such thin ice. If they allow even one piece of science to refute one part of the Bible, their entire doctrine collapses like a shattered pane of glass. For them, the algorithm is simple: Exposure to science leads to the death of Christian belief.

But the biologist Edward O. Wilson argues that the situation is precisely the opposite: You have to ditch your belief in Biblical inerrancy before you can participate in science. In the current issue of Harvard Magazine, Wilson writes a terrific essay on the spiritual evolution of Charles Darwin. He makes the point:

The great naturalist did not abandon Abrahamic and other religious dogmas because of his discovery of evolution by natural selection, as one might reasonably suppose. The reverse occurred. The shedding of blind faith gave him the intellectual fearlessness to explore human evolution wherever logic and evidence took him. And so he set forth boldly, in The Descent of Man to track the origin of humanity, and in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals to address the evolution of instinct. Thus was born scientific humanism, the only worldview compatible with science’s growing knowledge of the real world and the laws of nature.

It’s a great read.

(Thanks to Arts and Letters Daily for this one!)

blog comments powered by Disqus

Search This Site


I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

More of Me


Recent Comments

Collision Detection: A Blog by Clive Thompson