Le Fanu: mais um eminente cientista cético do fato, Fato, FATO da evolução

terça-feira, fevereiro 23, 2010

Why Us? How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves
by James Le Fanu 

Hardback, 303 pages, 2010

James Le Fanu, is a British medical doctor who publishes in peer-reviewed medical journals like the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine and the British Medical Journal, a columnist for the London Telegraph, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award for his book The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine (2001).

In Why Us? we discover Dr. Le Fanu is also a Darwin doubter. Le Fanu's main point is that the more science reveals about the most important question a human can ask--What is man and how did he come to be?--the more we have to admit that we don't know. Le Fanu demonstrates this by masterfully recounting the epic demise of expectations that prevailed until recently for the prospects of three scientific enterprises. Darwinian evolution, genetics, and brain research were supposed to combine to give a compelling, coherent and united naturalistic account of man's origin and nature. They did no such thing and the prospect of their doing so in the future appears hopeless. This is a great book to give your Darwin-devoted friends. Intelligent design is never mentioned, but the foundation for the materialist, reductionist worldview is systematically dismantled by a well-known authority on science and medicine.

Table of Contents
Science Triumphant, Almost
The Ascent of Man: Riddle in Two Parts
The Limits of Science 1: The Quixotic Universe
The (Evolutionary) ‘Reason for Everything': Certainty
The (Evolutionary) ‘Reason for Everything': Doubt
The Limits of Science 2: The Impenetrable Helix
The Fall of Man: A Tragedy in Two Acts
The Limits of Science 3: The Unfathomable Brain
The Silence
Restoring Man to His Pedestal


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. 

He has made original contributions to current controversies over the value of experiments in human embryos, environmentalism, dietary causes of disease and the misdiagnosis of Non Accidental Injury in children. He is married to the publisher Juliet Annan, has two children Frederick and Allegra, and lives in south London.


“Simple and compelling; a bold attempt to reunite science with a sense of wonder.”
--The Sunday Times (London)

“An extraordinary work of science. . . . Quite wonderfully refreshing.”
--A. N. Wilson, Reader's Digest (UK)

“[Le Fanu reminds us] that life is finally inexplicable, and the universe full of mysteries that are inaccessible to scientific probing. The fact that these rarely stated realities are so superbly brought to life here makes this a brave, brilliant and fascinating book.”
--The Sunday Telegraph (London)

“Excellent. . . . An important, luminously written book. . . . Carefully-documented, scrupulously fair-minded. . . . It deserves a very wide readership. . . . A careful reader, analyst, and conveyor of this body of research, and an admirer of its revelations and the ingenuity of those who have made them, LeFanu is also possessed of something even rarer than a gift for luminous explication of scientific complexity: he has what the great, polymathic thinker Blaise Pascal called 'l'esprit de finesse,' or a philosophical mind.”
--Modern Age

“James Le Fanu's lively literary imagination makes this book such a stimulating and challenging read.”
--Literary Review (UK)

“Erudite and beautifully written. . . . Le Fanu lucidly analyses the limitations of that narrow intellectual prison in which science has languished too long.”
--The Spectator (UK)

“Le Fanu sets his stall out with admirable clarity, and not a little brio. . . . [He is] a lucid and compelling writer.”
--Evening Standard (UK)

“This challenge is so knowledgeable, so meticulously constructed that mere prejudice will not be enough to undermine this major work.”
--Catholic Herald

“A bold synthesising polemic.”
--Standpoint Magazine

“Le Fanu eviscerates salvation by science. The Double Helix is impenetrable, the brain unfathomable, the genome over-rated, the self a mystery.”
--World Magazine

“An outstandingly readable and informative book. . . . Le Fanu knows a lot but wears his erudition lightly.”
--David Klinghoffer, The Discovery Institute


Both the Human Genome Project and the Decade of the Brain have indeed transformed, beyond measure, our understanding of ourselves—but in a way quite contrary to that anticipated. Nearly ten years have elapsed since those heady days when the ‘Holy Grail’ of the scientific enterprise, the secrets of life and the human mind, seemed almost within reach. Every month the pages of the science journals are still filled with the latest discoveries generated by the techniques of the New Genetics, and yet more colorful scans of the workings of the brain—but there is no longer the expectation that the accumulation of yet more facts will ever provide an adequate scientific explanation of the human experience. (page 14)

What then to make of Charles Darwin, who has cast so long a shadow over the past 150 years? He was, like so many of his contemporaries in that Golden Age of Natural History, a brilliant naturalist in extraordinary times. He had the audacity to seek a grand unifying explanation, in the tradition of his fellow countryman Isaac Newton, for the processes of life and its history. But those processes, so many billion-fold times more complex than the laws of gravity, defy such simplification. His legacy then is rather different from that commonly perceived. Together with Marx and Freud, he is one of that triumvirate whose assertion of the priority of the scientific view ‘would occupy the center stage of Western thought for so long.’….Darwin’s contributing ‘plank’ to that ‘platform of materialist science’ alone endures—but for how much longer? It certainly seems surprising in retrospect that Marx’s and Freud’s self-evidently erroneous theories should have proved so persuasive to so many and for so long. Now it is the turn of Darwin, whose reputation can scarcely survive the devastating verdict of the finding of the recent past. Before long he must fill that vacant chair in heaven alongside Marx and Freud, at which point the triumvirate will be complete. (page 261).


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