The following paragraph is from the science fiction novel A Canticle for Leibowitz:
A fourth century bishop and philosopher. He [Saint Augustine] suggested that in the beginning God created all things in their germinal causes, including the physiology of man, and that the germinal causes inseminate, as it were, the formless matter—which then gradually evolved into the more complex shapes, and eventually Man. Has this hypothesis been considered?
A Canticle for Leibowitz is set centuries after a nuclear holocaust. The war was immediately followed by the “Simplification.” Survivors rejected all advanced technology and hunted down everyone who was even literate. At this point in the book, a sort of Renaissance is taking place. The question above is addressed to a scientist who is explaining some of the (re)discoveries taking place. The scientist’s response was
“I’m afraid it has not, but I shall look it up,” he said, in a tone that indicated he would not.
Was the reference to Augustine simply made up for the novel, or is there something in Augustine’s writings that the author is alluding to? If so, does anyone know what in particular he may be referring to? Is such a proto-Darwinian reading of Augustine fair?