Thursday, September 08, 2005

Katrina Ruins Darwinism

I found this paragraph from today's Chuck Colson's Breakpoint particularly insightful:

"So, in watching this [mercy by others to the displaced of Katrina], we saw altruism at its best. Altruism is the one characteristic of human behavior that destroys a key element of Darwin's theory of evolution: that is, natural selection. According to natural selection, we would allow a disaster to weed out the unfit, the weak, and the poor—anyone who could not contribute to society. But Americans, because of our Christian heritage—a heritage that remains strong no matter how secular the nation becomes—do not behave this way. We carry our wounded off the field of battle. We risk our lives to rescue strangers. We offer food and shelter to the stranger's child—even to prisoners. And when we do, Darwin is disproved."


  1. Hmmm.
    Kerux, maybe I'm "missing the link" here, but whether you'd call it natural selection or not the unfit, the weak, and the poor do seem to have made up a large percentage of those who we know perished in Katrina and its aftermath. Doesn't natural selection deal not with who we allow the disaster to weed out, but who is able (through intellect or physical ability) to avoid being weeded out?

    Don't get me wrong - Hooray for those who risked their lives, and for those who send aid! I'm just not sure I'd apply that to evolution.

    Also, if it's because of our Christian Heritage that we do these things, then I'd expect Christians to be the vast majority of those risking their lives and sending aid. But non-Christians and even anti-Christians are also involved in large numbers, so I wonder if it's a little shakey to be making the argument Colson is making.

    Beyond that, if we accept that our Christian Heritage is what disproves Darwin, would it follow that non-Christians evolved? If I were a non-Christian I think I'd be a little ticked about the implication.

    I mean, unless I believed in evolution :)

    Fine blog! Blessings.

  2. I too think that altruism in the face of Katrina is not a strong proof against Darwinism. (I think there are other strong proofs against Darwinism, but they are based on the superior knowledge gained through divine revelation than the inferior conclusions derived through science.)

    But I don't think most evolutionists would have a problem with individuals showing altruism to other individuals. They would argue that such behaviour increases the likelihood of survival of that species, and so whatever random mutation brought about this behaviour would tend to be preserved throughout the generations as the altruistic group outperformed the non-altruistic one.

    Take honeybees, for instance. When a bee stings, it dies. But the hive stands a better chance of survival. So if you accept a large dose of genetic determinism in the behaviour of human beings (I don't, but the evolutionists may), then genetically-driven altruistic populations, just like "altruistic" bee hives, stand a better chance of survival.

    However, who needs Darwinism? Give me the inerrant, infallible Word of God instead!

  3. I agree with tomgee, this is a poor argument against Darwinism, because it assumes that altruism ought not be selected for by natural selection, but natural selection is random. Natural selection has no goal in mind, it just may have a slight trend towwards selecting genes that are most fit. In addition, there may be a distinct difference between altruism, and association of organisims of the same species. Altruism implies motives, which are not required for a similar behavior to take place. Like the honey bees tomgee mentioned.

  4. derifter, tomgee and nathan:
    I think you are right. Pressed to its logical ends, the argument that altruism undoes Darwinism falls short. It makes a nice soundbite though! I love blogging - thanks for the corrective posts and the refining thoughts!!!

  5. Augustine argued that Christianity made better people. I wish, as a Christian, I could say this was true today.

    America--frankly--doesn't take care of its most vulnerable. Who, after all, did Katrina do the most damage to?