by Denyse O'Leary
(Australian philosopher David Stove (1927-1994), not a religious man and no defender of any type of creationism, wrote a book Darwinian Fairytales (Avebury Press, 1995), which is part of the Avebury Series in Philosophy, that shows clearly why the principal neo-Darwinian concepts of kin selection and inclusive fitness simply do not conform to the available evidence - certainly not for humans, and probably not for many other life forms. This series of blogs briefly introduces the topics covered in the 11 chapters of the book, with some other links, as available. This is a brief comment on Chapter 5 of 11, "A Horse in the Bathroom or the Struggle for Life.")
Stove begins Chapter 5 by clarifying his position on evolution:
I have no difficulty in accepting the fact of evolution. The proposition, for example, that existing species have all evolved from others, is not at odds with any rational belief that I know of. But I do not believe the Darwinian theory or explanation of evolution. There are several reasons. One of them is, that if that theory were true, then a struggle for life would always be going on among the members of every species; whereas in our species at any rate, no such struggle is observable.
That, of course, is true. In typical human societies, there are struggles over love, power, status, religion, money, popularity, trade goods, channel changers, nice shoes, and the like, but ... a struggle for life? The whole point of civilization is to avoid such a struggle, and we have become pretty good at it.
Darwin (and his co-discoverer Wallace) replied that most people are simply unwilling to admit that there is a constant struggle for life, perhaps out of sheer sentimentality. (p. 55) Stove notes that Darwin and Wallace may be right when addressing animals and plants but they never succeed in making their case for such a struggle in human life. The odd thing, as he also points out, is that they ever even tried. After all,
It is not even a biologically possible story, since 'a continual free fight'' [Darwin's "bulldog" Huxley's term] between an adult and an infant, or a man and a woman, could not be of long duration or uncertain outcome. (p. 56)
No, it couldn't. But remember that Darwin and his successors need to include humans in their scheme, in order to make it universal. If they could simply exempt humans, they would have a much easier time demonstrating a struggle for life or a continual free fight, at least in some species. But they can't, so Stove can't let them off, nor can I.
The usual dodge has been to insist that way back in early human history, the Cave Man behaved that way. But who knows? Darwinists also point to business life as an example of a Darwinian jungle. (p. 57)
Now here I have the advantage of Stove who professes no talent for business. For years I taught business skills to people in the communications industries.
I'm no mogul, but neither were they. I had better luck paying my bills than some. Rather than be freaked out by responding to individual peers' crises, I devoted many hundreds of hours to forestalling the pain.
One thing I knew and taught is that it is nonsense to describe the world of business as a Darwinian jungle. In fact, in most industries, a consensus quickly develops between members of the same industry group to act in a way that protects the interests of the group. Yes, individual freelance writers or editors or graphic artists compete with each other for individual contracts, but that is only one part of the game. All have an interest in maintaining a healthy status for the industry itself. And practitioners tend to know that, or else they quickly learn it, sometimes under pressure from peers to smarten up.
In order to save their theory, Darwin (and Wallace) greatly overestimated the amount of child mortality under normal conditions (p. 62). It is interesting that Darwin set such store by Malthus, when it had become clear even by his own day that Malthus was simply wrong where human population was concerned. Stove urges,
The real reason why Darwin and Wallace enormously overestimated the rate of child mortality in humans is quite obvious, and lies right under our noses. They did so under the compulsion of a theory.
In Chapter 6 "Tax and the Selfish Girl or Does Altruism Need Inverted Commas?", Stove argues that altruism is simply a fact of human life and not a problem - unless you are a Darwinian, of course.
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 forthcoming The Spiritual Brain (Harper 2007).
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