Darwinians can’t have it both ways

Of all the forms of flagrant doublethink in which Darwinians indulge, and without which the Darwinian enterprise would founder, this may be the chief:

Desmond Hatchett,
poster boy of Darwinism

On one hand, supporters of Darwinism, or evolution, or evolutionary science, or evolutionary psychology, or sociobiology, or HBD, or whatever they may call their belief system, insist that the concept of the “survival of the fittest” on which evolution is based contains absolutely no notion of “better”—that “fitness” means nothing but greater reproduction, without any reference to improvement, advance, progress. On the other hand, Darwinian writers constantly speak of Darwinian evolution as though it virtually automatically leads to improved, more complex, more capable, more intelligent organisms and species. Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True has numerous passages in which he speaks of evolution in such terms. Just put a species in the right circumstances, says Coyne, and, boom, it will evolve into something different and more advanced. While Coyne would doubtless reject my bald characterization of his statements, the assertion that natural selection, a.k.a. survival of the fittest, is operating continuously to produce new and improved species is the central idea of Coyne’s book and of the entire Darwinian orthodoxy. Indeed, if evolution did not lead from the ameoba to the blue whale, from algae to the mighty oak, from the African savannah to the Empire State Building (I’m not meaning to put down the African savannah), if evolution did not lead to better things, what would be the point of it? Why would evolutionists care about it and sing its praises?

The contradiction came out in a discussion at VFR last spring. Concerning a black man in Britain, Desmond Hatchett, who has had 21 children by 11 women, I asked, “[I]f Darwinian evolution and sociobiology were true, then how could a society evolve that enables its least intelligent and least competent individuals to produce the most children?” Several commenters told me I didn’t know what the heck I was talking about and obviously didn’t understand evolution, since evolutionary fitness means nothing but reproductive advantage, and therefore in evolutionary terms Desmond Hatchett is the most fit. I replied that I did know what I was talking about and that they didn’t see the contradiction in evolutionary science to which I was pointing, namely that, even as Darwinians deny any direction in evolution toward the better, and reject the very concept of better, they constantly laud and celebrate evolution for leading to all the wonders and grandeurs of the biological universe. If evolution were truly about the survival of that which most reproduces itself, and nothing else, then the only life form on earth would be that ultimate Desmond Hatchett of the biotic realm, bacteria, since, as Stephen Jay Gould once remarked, bacteria are vastly better at reproducing than the “higher” species.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 05, 2009 11:49 AM | Send

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