A Rediscovered Life

For years Alfred Russel Wallace was little more than an obscure adjunct to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Remembered only for prompting Darwin to write On the Origin of Species in 1859 by sending Darwin his own letter proposing a theory of natural selection, Wallace was rightly dubbed by one biographer “the forgotten naturalist.”

While the complaint still has a ring of truth, a decade of recent interest in Wallace has done much to bring him back from history’s crypt of forgotten figures. This shouldn’t suggest unanimity of opinion, however. Some regard him as a heretic, others as merely a misguided scientist-turned-spiritualist, still others as a prescient figure anticipating the modern Gaia hypothesis. Perhaps Martin Fichman’s phrase hits closest and most persistently to the truth — “the elusive Victorian.”

Can the real Wallace be found? If so, what might we learn in that rediscovery? Explore the answers to these questions and more in Alfred Russel Wallace: A Rediscovered Life, the acclaimed new biography of Wallace by Professor Michael A. Flannery of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.The provocative thesis of Prof. Flannery is that Wallace, in developing his unique brand of evolution, presaged modern intelligent design theory. Wallace’s devotion to discovering the truths of nature brought him through a lifetime of research to see genuine design in the natural world. This was Wallace’s ultimate heresy, a heresy that exposed the metaphysical underpinnings of the emerging Darwinian paradigm.

Read selected individual chapters of Alfred Russel Wallace: A Rediscovered Life for free by clicking on the links below, or purchase a copy of the book.

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