Evolutionary battleground (1 of 2)

March 29, 2012

Steve Fuller objects to being called an anti-evolutionist and then goes on to name Pierre Teilhard de Chardin as one of the heroes of his book, Humanity 2.0 ("The Darwin delusion", Letters, 8 March).

Teilhard de Chardin believed not in evolution but in the inbuilt tendency of life, the Universe and everything to strive for some mystical teleology: the unexplained "Omega Point" where we are all, like, one, man (that man being Teilhard himself). This is the opposite not just of Darwinism but also of evolution as it is now understood: its fundamental feature is that nature does not strive towards some predetermined end but instead...er...evolves. Can Fuller name a single reputable academic evolutionist who believes that evolution has an inbuilt purpose?

I had wondered how a historian of science such as Fuller could end up in bed with the US design lobby and the Teilhardian mystics. Now it all makes perfect sense: none of them is an evolutionist in any modern scientific sense. Nor was Auguste Comte, self-appointed pope of the "religion of humanity", in whose chair Fuller now sits.

Robert Poole, Reader in history, University of Cumbria

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