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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Agnostic philosopher David Stove: Ten false Darwinian propositions

The late Australian philosopher David Stove, for whose book of essays, Darwinian Fairytales, I have provided an introduction on line, also wrote a paper in which he identified ten false propositions of modern Darwinism (sometimes called neo-Darwinism), as applied to humans.

He begins,

Most educated people nowadays, I believe, think of themselves as Darwinians. If they do, however, it can only be from ignorance: from not knowing enough about what Darwinism says. For Darwinism says many things, especially about our species, which are too obviously false to be believed by any educated person; or at least by an educated person who retains any capacity at all for critical thought on the subject of Darwinism.

but notes

I give below ten propositions which are all Darwinian beliefs in the sense just specified. Each of them is obviously false: either a direct falsity about our species or, where the proposition is a general one, obviously false in the case of our species, at least.

Now, keep in mind that Stove is an agnostic and no friend to religion, let alone creationism or intelligent design. He is simply explaining why Darwinism (and therefore evolutionary psychology) does a poor job of accounting for human behaviour.

His ten propositions start from the present day and work backward. You can go to the site to read most of his comments on them. I will provide only a brief summary in parentheses.

1. Dawkins’ selfish gene thesis: "The truth is, 'the total prostitution of all animal life, including Man and all his airs and graces, to the blind purposiveness of these minute virus-like substances’, genes. (Despite his denials, Dawkins' thesis in fact requires that genes be smarter than creatures equipped with actual brains, consciousness, and self-interest, a situation that certainly requires some explanation, and cannot simply be shuffled under the heading of "natural selection.")

2. "'…it is, after all, to [a mother’s] advantage that her child should be adopted' by another woman. This quotation is from Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, p. 110." (That is because she is free to spread her selfish genes further, but, of course, few mothers have ever thought that way, which makes Dawkins' thesis suspicious at best.)

Read the other eight, other eight, which he develops in more detail because some of them are not obviously ridiculous, though they are errors.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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