Steven Fuller: Is liberal humanism compatible with Darwinian naturalism?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m interested in this debate as a strictly philosophical observer, not as a theologist, humanist, scientist, or neo-Darwinist. And I genuinely entertain that the outcome of this dilemma may be, pessimistically, that we have to abandon an unjustifiable confidence in the human intellect for neo-Darwinism, or perhaps something else.

The secular philosopher-sociologist Steven Fuller performs here the role of philosophical midwife to what I believe is arguably the next major conceptual revolution in modern intellectual culture: liberal humanists, who use neo-Darwinian theory in their fights with religion, having to abandon the massive, underlying contradiction between neo-Darwinian theory and the secularized theology or metaphysics of their belief in humanism. The Western metaphysics of liberal humanism — belief that the human intellect is special — has been taken on loan from theology for roughly 400 years. But now the contemporary debate between neo-Darwinism and Intelligent Design theory is critically uncovering the reasons why the time seems to be nearing for liberal humanists to stop living in denial of this loan and their debt.

Like a family intervention taken to stop an addict’s spiral into oblivion, Fuller articulates the sobering confrontation: either you can believe neo-Darwinian theory, or you can believe that the human intellect has the intrinsic motivation and capability to solve any problem humanity faces through reason and science, but you cannot rationally or coherently believe both of these propositions:


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