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 4 of 11, "Population, Privilege, and Malthus' Retreat".)
As I pointed out in By Design or by Chance?, Darwin owed an enormous intellectual debt to Thomas Malthus. Malthus, writing against early forms of socialism and communism, famously argued that population increases geometrically, whereas food increases only arithmetically. For Darwin, this supplied the idea that there is a constant struggle for life. In this struggle, the better off creature will prosper. Thus we should expect to see that rich families have lots of children and that poor people seldom reproduce.
Of course we know that's not true, as Stove notes in earlier chapters. Generally, one of the commonest problems of technologically successful human societies, a problem that very much afflicts the Western world today, is that people who are well off do not produce many children. Often, they do not even produce enough children to look after them in their old age.
This has been true throughout recorded history, and I do not know of a good reason to doubt that it was true in human prehistory as well. I am fully aware that no one knows much about what early humans actually did. All we know for sure is this: Given the scant fossil record, we may infer that early populations grew very slowly, which argues against the "bred their guts out" theory. But, after all, we don't really know.
Now, remember that the Darwinist insists on treating humans as the 98% chimpanzee, so if humans wiggle out of Darwin's theory, the theory is not the "universal acid" that Darwinist Daniel Dennett claims it to be. I did not make this rule. The Darwinists did. I am simply applying it, just as Stove did.
Darwin himself, simply refused to acknowledge that the actual pattern of human population growth and decline refuted his and Malthus's ideas. Stove notes,
"He was temperamentally allergic to controversy, and would always, if he could, either ignore or else candidly expound a criticism of his theory, as a substitute for answering it." (p. 46)
In this case, he had good reason because, whereas his theory should have explained human population patterns, it was consistently falsified by them.
Various fixes were attempted, such as the notion that advanced human societies promote social losers, but that really doesn't help much as an explanation because it merely identifies another instance of a problem for the theory, at least as applied to humans. If society is a Darwinian jungle, why should it promote losers?
Malthus himself eventually gave up the idea that humans were just like other animals and admitted that his biology had been wrong. Darwin and Wallace never did. (p. 50).
Chapter 5: "A Horse in the Bathroom or the Struggle for Life.", Stove addresses the question of whether human and/or animal existence is really a "struggle for life."
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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