Malthus Misled Darwin Who Misled the World
There’s no evidence for a key presumption of Darwinian theory – the very presumption that gave birth to Social Darwinism.
It’s rare to see a science article say “Darwin was wrong,” but Live Science reluctantly admitted that a key idea Darwin proposed in The Origin in 1859 is the opposite of the way nature actually works.
One of Charles Darwin’s hypotheses posits that closely related species will compete for food and other resources more strongly with one another than with distant relatives, because they occupy similar ecological niches. Most biologists long have accepted this to be true.
Results on algae at the University of Michigan were “unsetting” and “completely unexpected,” the article says. The researchers got self-inflicted headaches over their findings:
“It was completely unexpected,” says Bradley Cardinale, associate professor in the University of Michigan’s school of natural resources & environment. “When we saw the results, we said ‘this can’t be.”‘ We sat there banging our heads against the wall. Darwin’s hypothesis has been with us for so long, how can it not be right?”
The researchers did not set out to disprove Darwin, but were “completely baffled” to find that closely related algae did not compete more strongly. “The hypothesis is so intuitive that it was hard for us to give it up, but we are becoming more and more convinced that he wasn’t right about the organisms we’ve been studying.”
Darwin’s flawed notion has had far-reaching effects on politics, the article points out. Decisions about what endangered species to save have been made on the basis that closely-related species are less valuable then distant ones.
But if scientists ultimately prove Darwin wrong on a larger scale, “then we need to stop using his hypothesis as a basis for conservation decisions,” Cardinale says. “We risk conserving things that are the least important, and losing things that are the most important.”
Regarding Darwin’s hypothesis that distant species complete less, the team “didn’t see any evidence of that at all” in “field experiments, lab experiments and surveys in 1,200 lakes in North America.” In hindsight, they believe Darwin misled himself by his own preferred view of nature. They could only offer “maybe” stories in the wake of the damage.
Darwin “was obsessed with competition,” Cardinale says. “He assumed the whole world was composed of species competing with each other, but we found that one-third of the species of algae we studied actually like each other. They don’t grow as well unless you put them with another species. It may be that nature has a heck of a lot more mutualisms than we ever expected.
“Maybe species are co-evolving,” he adds. “Maybe they are evolving together so they are more productive as a team than they are individually. We found that more than one-third of the time, that they like to be together. Maybe Darwin’s presumption that the world may be dominated by competition is wrong.”
This statement suggests that it’s not just a subtopic within Darwinian theory that is wrong, but the most important underlying presumption. It also implies that Thomas Malthus’s ideas on competition were wrong.* Competition for limited resources, he said, led to death of the unfit. Evolutionary theorists like Herbert Spencer, therefore, misled whole nations who launched “social Darwinist” economic policies based on this idea that profoundly affected the lives of millions of people. Historians can only imagine what would have happened if they had promoted the newer view that nature becomes productive by cooperation, not competition.
Think of the worst mistake a person has ever made that had terrible effects on other people, and multiply it by a thousand—or by tens of millions. That’s the awful impact Darwin’s wrong idea has had on the world (see “Mao tse-tung Killed 77 Million for Darwin,” 11/30/2005). It’s a little late for saying “Whoops.” It’s long past due to take the reins of power out of the hands of the Charlietans, never again trusting anything they say. Get them out of government, education, and the law. Consign them to hard labor cleaning up the mess they made. Let Bible-believing creationists, who respect the Ten Commandments, gain the ascendency once again, building a world on the truth of creation, preaching the gospel of peace and righteousness. Let “Love thy neighbor as thyself” be taught in schools. Let science pursue understanding of nature as the work of intelligent design, generating knowledge for the benefit of mankind and stewardship of creation.
Why not? Even if you hate creationists, you would have to admit that nothing could ever be worse than what Darwin wrought. Even Richard Dawkins would prefer living in a Christian nation than one in which a ruthless competition that Darwin imagined was the law of nature. Atheists: you would be happier in a Christian world than you could ever be with one that assumed there are no consequences for evil. That’s not just theory; we have a century of evidence (“Darwin’s century”) to prove it.
*The “competition” Darwin and Malthus imagined is not the same as the friendly competition in free market economics. Darwinian competition is competition to the death. In free-market economics (as opposed to the cutthroat capitalism of some social Darwinists who loved Herbert Spencer), competition works for the benefit of the many. Competitors in a free market have to please the most customers. They have to improve their products by intelligent design and wise choices, not by some “natural law” of the jungle. Free markets harness the self-preservation instinct God built into all His creatures and puts it to work: i.e., if I want to eat, I have to work hard to please the most people. The free market system solves the problem of the “tragedy of the commons,” wherein the environment is ravished by unconstrained self-interest. This is the polar opposite of Darwinian competition. The virtue of work has its roots in the book of Genesis, when God assigned the first human pair to tend the garden and keep it. In the Biblical world view, work is good. Conservation is good. Stewardship is good. Thankfulness and appreciation are good. Pleasing others is good. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are good. Build a government on these self-evident truths, and there’s no limit to the prosperity – including productive science – that can result.