Bacon on Creationism

12 07 2007

Last night I started reading From the Greeks to Darwin: An Outline of the Development of the Evolution Idea (1905) by Henry Fairfield Osborn and stumbled across this rather prescient quote from Francis Bacon;

Against [“the corruption of Philosophy by the mixing up with it of superstition and theology” – H.F. Osborn] we must use the greatest caution… Yet some of the moderns have indulged this folly with such consummate inconsiderateness that they have endeavoured to build a system of Natural Philosophy on the First Chapter of Genesis, the Book of Job, and other parts of Scripture; seeking thus the dead amongst the living” (in interests of the soul). “And this folly is the more to be prevented and restrained, because not only fantastical philosophy but heretical religion spring from the absurd mixture of matters Divine and human. It is therefore most wise soberly to render unto faith the things that belong to faith.”

It is also of interest to us that Osborn uses the phrase “Intelligent Design” to discuss the views of Aristotle and others who believed in a guided or assisted development of life, even though we’re more familiar with ID as conceived by Phillip E. Johnson as a “Wedge” not so long ago. Anyone interested in the philosophy of science regarding nature (and especially evolution) is urged to pick up this book if at all possible; it definitely reveals a much richer history of evolutionary thought than many care to acknowledge.


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