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ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE: On the Tendency of Humans Toward Spiritual Being, Foreword

Alfred Russel Wallace (1913) near the end of his life

 

FOREWORD

The series of notes collected here under the generic title “On the Tendency of Humans Toward the Spiritual” attempts to expand and develop, in a preliminary manner, the theory of Alfred Russel Wallace on the spiritual origin and nature of the human species. In his own time, the statements Wallace made as a scientist on Man’s spiritual nature, especially as the codiscoverer, with Charles Darwin, of the theory of natural selection, drew popular attention. His statements also attracted the attention of the antithetical and antispiritual proponents of Darwin’s version of Man’s nature, a series of men who, from that time to the present, have attributed to themselves the character of mean-spirited dogs—from the agnostic “bulldog” Thomas Huxley in Wallace’s time to the atheistic “rottweiler” Richard Dawkins in our time—in the interest of keeping modern science purely materialistic.

My purpose in these brief notes is to take the topic of the evolution of Man out of academic kennels and intellectual fighting pits and into more spiritually elevated pockets of general human consciousness. To accomplish this task, it seems to me best to arrange these little pieces of theory and mulled-over thoughts (each of which, I hope, is nourishing in itself and assimilable in a single bite) simply in the order in which they occurred to me. The first note expands upon Wallace’s first general statement of his theory on natural selection and applies this statement to the spiritual nature of man. The next two summarize Wallace’s thought on the spiritual origin and destiny of Man. The fourth note applies Wallace’s general statement on natural selection to the nature of Man as a physical being; the fifth, to the present varieties of the species Homo sapiens sapiens. The sixth posits a spiritual variety of the species and suggests what is needed to encourage the progressive development of this special and endangered variety.

Future notes will attempt to extend Wallace’s thesis into new dimensions, primarily as expansions of the notion of “angels and archangels, spirits and demons so long abolished from our belief as to have become actually unthinkable as actual existences” that are mentioned by Wallace in a footnote in one of his essays and that have nothing yet in modern philosophy to take their place.

December 24, 2012

 

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