by Denyse O'Leary
Le Fanu writes beautifully - almost poetically, at times - but never loses sight of his underlying message. Beginning with an evocative account of the discovery of the artwork of Cro-Magnon man in a French cave, he marvels at the sudden and inexplicable emergence of mankind, with our unique powers of imagination, reasoning and abstract thought. The contrast with our primate 'cousins' should be self-evident, but the distorting lens of the Darwinian paradigm has served only to emphasise and exaggerate our similarities. Consequently, huge areas of potential research into what makes humans 'special' have been largely ignored, with disastrous consequences for the scientific enterprise.
[ ... ]
... both stunning and liberating: stunning because it is the very opposite of what scientists â€“ working, of course, within the constraints of the Darwinian paradigm - expected to find; and liberating because it frees us from the rigid determinism of the selfish gene, with all that that implies for free will and objective moral values.
[ ... ]
... it provides the context for the author's main thesis - that cutting-edge science is providing us with an opportunity to break free of the shackles of materialist reductionism, and re-embrace the concept of the soul. In two areas in particular - genetics and neuroscience - research over the last 20 years has shown that we are much more than the sum of our brain's electrical impulses and our DNA's instructions. This is both stunning and liberating: stunning because it is the very opposite of what scientists - working, of course, within the constraints of the Darwinian paradigm - expected to find; and liberating because it frees us from the rigid determinism of the selfish gene, with all that that implies for free will and objective moral values.
Here's a bit more on Le Fanu from his site:
James Le Fanu was born in 1950 and spent his childhood in Scotland, East Africa, Yugoslavia and Cyprus. He studied the Humanities at Ampleforth College before switching to medicine, graduating from Cambridge University and the Royal London Hospital in 1974. He subsequently worked in the Renal Transplant Unit and Cardiology Departments of the Royal Free and St Mary's Hospital in London. For the past twenty years he has combined working as a doctor in general practice with contributing a weekly column to the Sunday and Daily Telegraph. He has contributed articles and reviews to The New Statesman, Spectator, GQ, The British Medical Journal and Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. He has written several books including 'The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine' that won the Los Angeles Prize Book Award in 2001 and 'Why Us?: How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves' that was published in Britain and the United States in February 2009.
Reviewer Copus seems to think that another good book exposing Darwinism's weaknesses will help weaken it as a social theory. Not so. We might no more expect that than we might expect astrology to be weakened as a social theory by exposure of nonsense. The Toronto Star, for example - street capo for all things Darwin - has an astrologer as well, Jacqueline Biggar, .
Second, and related, thousands upon thousands of academics and others make a living - often at tax expense - fronting Darwinian nonsense and foolishness. And what makes either Copus or Le Fanu think that these people actually want to be free?
(Note:When Darwin's chihuahua, Britmag New Scientist, went after Le Fanu, he appears to have threatened the mag with Britain's libel laws. The whole affair was a bit murky at first, and I got dragged into it because I was the only other person mentioned in the article - and, as it happens, am a free speech journalist, with little use for Britain's libel laws or libel tourism generally.
Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul (Harper 2007).
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