Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking are both at home in viewing with some reverence the majesty and coherence of the universe. By contrast, other modern scientists such as Richard dawkins may have little such reverence .
Our picture of nature as “ red in tooth and claw” misrepresents the peaceable progress of almost all of plant and animal development ; new knowledge, eg of DNA, discloses the prodigious forward movement of organic growth over billions of years.
After Darwin and Wallace various schools of thought arose to finish what Darwin himself called his incomplete explanation of natural development, and the notion arose that living organisms will themselves into more complex forms .
Wallace and others saw a spiritual element in this progress, taking “consciousness” out of the realm of natural selection .
These ideas are examined historically, culminating in discussion of the “ anthropomorphic principle “, , and in an assertion of Schweitzer’s “reverence for life”, with its more optimistic view of evolution and the world’s future .