There is one philosophy that you almost certainly hold dear, though you may be totally unaware of it. It really does not matter which religion you adhere to, what political philosophy you espouse, or which country claims your patriotic support. Almost everyone in the western world has bought into this concealed system of thought. We accept its claims almost without question. Its creed forms the very structure of modern civilization; from the way we do business to the education system our own children are immersed in.
That philosophy is called….. Darwinism! You may also know it as “Survival of the Fittest” or “Natural Selection”. If you believe it applies only to the evolution of life, you would be mistaken. The success of this system in explaining the origin of natural species has caused it to be quietly adapted to almost every area of modern human existence. It is how corporations compete with one another. It is the way that our children are educated in school. This is also how we reward success in sports tournaments, where there can only ever be one winner. Indeed, it is also the way nations conduct international relations, whether at war or peace.
In fact, it is almost impossible to find an area where competitive practice, deriving from this survival of the fittest approach, does not apply. Like the very principles it promotes, Darwinism seems to have won out against alternative possible ways of conducting ourselves. This is so much so that it actually seems absurd to even propose an alternative to it in virtually any arena where it functions.
For instance, could it make sense to have a political system in which the rival parties do not have to fight it out with each other for victory, and endlessly undermine each other’s views throughout the parliamentary process? Is it even conceivable to hold a sports tournament where everyone wins? Could we ever find a way in which corporations, rather than producing innovation through product competition in the marketplace, could create similar excellence through other means? The list is endless.
If your instinctive answer to the above questions is “probably not”, then you can begin to see just how insidiously pervasive Darwinian thinking has become. We think this way without even realizing it. Yet, the philosophy of Darwinism is itself highly suspect in the original arena for which it was designed, i.e. to explain the processes of life, and the multitudes of different species.
To date, no compelling mechanism has been discovered for how exactly evolution or natural selection are supposed to be carried out. On the contrary, there are actually many compelling arguments against them. In his book, “Darwin’s Black Box”, Michael J. Behe provides a persuasive discussion about why evolution is impossible at the biochemical level, i.e. the microscopic level at which the vital processes of life take place in all living species. Indeed, he points out that no definitive scientific mechanism for explaining evolution has ever existed.
Even when Darwin formulated the theory, he did so in the hope that the exact mechanism would be discovered one day in the future. It never has been. Behe demonstrates that even relatively familiar processes, such as the clotting of our blood when we are cut, are extremely complex. They involve so many intricate feedback loops and parallel processes, that they could not possibly have arisen by “natural selection”. These processes are critically dependent on all their components being present simultaneously. If any one element was missing, the entire process would collapse completely. It would not work partially, and then gradually “improve” through natural selection. This system either works (provided all components are in place) or it fails totally.
Hence, it cannot “evolve”. It would be analogous to trying to explain the creation of a modern car through purely random processes. If a car is missing an engine, a steering wheel, petrol, oil, or any of several dozen other vital components, it would not function AT ALL. It is not a process of “improvement” through evolution. It is all or nothing.
Indeed, Behe’s remarkable conclusion, derived from the extensive biochemical evidence, is that these processes did not arise by chance. Rather, they show clear evidence of deliberate intelligent Design! To the metaphysically inclined, for whom the universe is an infinite ocean of creative intelligence, this makes perfect sense. There are other arguments against evolution. For instance, if it is pointed out that a leaf-insect looks like a leaf because it increases its chances of survival to do so, then several intriguing questions arise….
First, how exactly does the entire species “know” what a leaf looks like, and purposefully works towards this goal over a period of millions of years, presumably restructuring its own DNA?!
Second, what was going on in the millions of years when these creatures “were not quite there yet”, i.e looked “a bit like leaves, but not quite”? Surely, a half-attempt is no better than no attempt at all, and provides no survival advantage.
Third, if this process is totally random “natural selection”, why do we not see failed attempts to look like other things, e.g fossils of insects that became extinct because they tried to look like little dogs or even space shuttles?
If survival of the fittest is true, it is unclear why certain species have survived at all up to the present day. For instance, sheep cannot run very fast, and have almost no natural defenses against predators. It is hard to understand why they survived at all.
Conversely, other species that are supposed to have been selected for extinction, have a strange habit of turning up every now and again. The Coelacanth is an ancient prehistoric fish that predates the dinosaurs by many millions of years. It was previously only known from the fossil record, until one day it turned up alive and kicking in a fisherman’s net, to the utter amazement of the scientific community. Since then, several other specimens have been caught.
It was not “survival of the fittest” or “natural selection” that ended the reign of the dinosaurs. The latest theory suggests that it was a gigantic meteorite that literally came out of the blue! If not for this seemingly random event on one single day, some of the fittest and best adapted creatures, who ruled the earth for over 100 million years, would probably still be here right now instead of us. Indeed, there is clear evidence that throughout the earth’s history, mass extinctions have taken place. On several occasions, over 90% of the animal life alive at the time died out within just a few millennia.
This has nothing to do with evolution or survival of the fittest. It is more likely related to massive global changes of a magnitude too frightening to conceive. As an interesting note, we are currently in the midst of one such mass extinction. However, this is one for which the cause is readily apparent. Us!
Natural selection, survival of the fittest, and even evolution itself, are not good explanations of the origin of species. The evidence simply is not there. Nevertheless, it is this philosophy that has come to dominate the thinking of our modern world. Of course, competition existed in human society long before Darwin. However, the teachings of Darwinism reinforce our innate over-reliance on such competitive processes by giving them an intellectual philosophical justification.
Survival of the fittest is a poor explanation for success in the human arena too. Products often do NOT survive and thrive because
they are simply the best, but for other more complex reasons. An example that many people remember was the competition between the two rival video formats, VHS and Betamax. Interestingly, Betamax was actually the superior format, but it was VHS that won the battle and became the industry standard to this very day. In the arena of computers, many people would argue that the Windows operating system was not the best choice available when it first appeared on the scene. Yet, through a process of superior marketing, it triumphed over its rivals, whose names nobody can even remember today.
In your own career, you may know perfectly well how rarely “the best” ever get to the top. Capitalism, is a form of practical Darwinism with an economic slant. We see survival of the fittest operating between companies as they fight it out for survival. It is also at work within organizations, as people act from a scarcity mentality and seek to grope their way to the top at the expense of their colleagues. They seek to accumulate material assets and thereby prove themselves the fittest survivors.If you have ever worked in an investment bank (as I have) or similar environment, then you know for a fact that the best do not always make it to the top.
Hollywood is another example. It may have come to dominate the planet’s film industry, but is it really the fittest and best solution of all? Might the public be treated to a much richer diversity of entertainment, if films from all countries and budgets were given similar promotional power to those coming out of California USA? Might we not also enjoy and promote a far wider range of acting talent if Darwinism did not lead to a few “big names” hogging 10-20 million dollars PER FILM? If every blockbuster was not virtually make or break for the studio, might they not be more willing to take interesting artistic risks?
Plenty more examples abound. The main lesson in all of this is to train yourself to be aware of the silent encroachment of Darwinism into your thinking. People engage in competitive practice because they believe it has an intellectual and scientific justification. However, what if there is no practical proof that it does? Examine where you have allowed such unproven notions to infect your own attitudes to your career, your family, your relationships, and the world in general. It is a topic worth pondering and meditating upon.
Important Postscript: When this article was originally released, a number of individuals sent in some very negative feedback. The entire basis of it centered around the whole Creationism/Evolution debate that is still so very topical in the USA. These people thought that the article, in talking about evidence in support of Design, whilst also being critical of Evolution was basically supporting the traditional Evangelical Christian standpoint of the Genesis account of Creation, the falsity of Evolution because it contradicts the Bible, and so on.
Please permit me to clarify that this is not what this article is supporting or advocating in the slightest. In the article itself, we find the following, “To the metaphysically inclined, for whom the universe is an infinite ocean of creative intelligence, this makes perfect sense.” In other words, I am not proposing a specific model for this Design, and hence am certainly NOT supporting the Christian or Biblical hypothesis.
Rather, we are saying that Evolution as a theory has still not got sufficient proof of mechanism to be anything more than just that – a theory. The evidence for Design is everywhere, but this is not to say that we have any specific theory of who this Designer is, or how things came about.