History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Darwinian Fairytales

March 12th, 2006 · No Comments

Darwinian Fairytales : Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity and Other Fables of Evolution has been republished and is well worth reading. It contains one of the most devastating critiques of Darwinism ever written, and should have been better known. But the original edition lingered in the stacks of research libraries generally unknown. This new edition hopefully will have some effect, and I will comment on the book further.
Readers of World History and the Eonic Effect will recall the citation from Stove, here.
I have a review from December 2000 at Amazon.
This is from WH&EE:

The confusion of foundational science as legitimation, ideology, and the basis of ethics neutralized in economic environments, was prefigured in the figure of Malthus, one source of the confused thinking of both Darwin and Wallace. The Malthus debate was an early cousin of the Darwin debate, in the ‘better they starve’ version. A recent philosophic critique of Darwinism by the philosopher David Stove, in Darwinian Fairytales , skewers the mechanization of ethics. The author targets the confusion generated by Darwinism in the sociobiol ogical attempt to derive altruism from adaptationist scenarios. Stove points out the most obvious fact:

If Darwin’s theory of evolution were true, there would be in every species a constant and ruthless competition to survive: a competition in which on a few in any generation can be winners. But it is perfectly obvious that human life is not like that, however it may be with other species.

Nothing in archaeology, the search for fossils, or DNA, is required to see this, or able to contradict this. We have no scientific proof that massive population catastrophes lead to evolutionary advance in the crucial questions under consideration. History shows any number of semi-Malthusian episodes, but its advances spring from a different source.

From Publishers Weekly
Like a clever agnostic in Sunday school, Stove (Scientific Irrationalism) relentlessly frustrates Darwinism in this posthumous collection of 11 linked essays. To the chagrin of creationists, however, he also takes pains to note he is of no religion and believes it’s “overwhelmingly probable that humans evolved from some other animal.” His more modest objective is to show that Darwinism, while largely valid, fails to explain known humanity. Unfortunately, this effort is confused: if Darwin’s theory of evolution were true, “there would be in every species a constant and ruthless competition to survive,” when “it is perfectly obvious that human life is not like that.” To illustrate, Stove cites altruism, alcohol, anal intercourse, abortion and other behaviors that shorten lives or lessen the number of children people have. He goes so far as to condemn Darwinism as a “ridiculous slander on human beings,” whom he views as mammals, but not animals in the evolutionary sense. The great unexamined problem in all of this is how did humans jump off the evolutionary track? This is not to say that Stove, who made a name for himself as a conservative philosopher (most recently at the University of South Wales), is necessarily wrong. Rather, he exists in a skeptical abyss, borrowing from two distinct and potentially correct perspectives. This makes his work provocative, but flawed.

Tags: Booknotes · Evolution · Philosophy

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