Altruism Is Anti-Darwinian Behavior

Let’s see what you think of this one, dear reader. We found it at the creationist website of the Discovery Institute. Unless we’re missing something, there’s a weird typo in their title: To Say the Lease [sic], Altruism Is Not an Easy Fit with Darwinism. It has no author’s by-line. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

On a new episode of ID the Future [Ooooooooooooh! A Discoveroid podcast!], host Andrew McDiarmid presents an Evolution News essay, “How to Destroy Love with Darwinism.” Download the podcast or listen to it here. [Link omitted!]

Their podcast has a most provocative title, so let’s see how Darwinism destroys love. They say:

Altruism as defined by evolutionists means “behavior by an animal that may be to its disadvantage but that benefits others of its kind.”

Okay, let’s go with their definition. What can they do with it? Here it comes:

It’s not an easy fit with Darwinism [Really?], since Darwinian evolution is all about passing your favored genes onto your offspring. How can a creature do that if she gives her life for another, particularly when it’s not even her own children, and before she has produced any offspring? Such individuals fail to pass on their own genes — a seeming conundrum for Darwinism.

Well, not every act of altruism involves giving one’s life. It often means only exerting some effort, or experiencing some inconvenience, in order to benefit someone else. Life-saving, self-sacrificial acts for anyone — family or otherwise — are rare, but they do happen — especially in the military. We’ve all heard tales of a solider who gives his life to save his comrades, and indirectly, his nation. The Discoveroids wouldn’t agree, but we think such acts are far from being foolish, Darwin-disproving behavior. Anyway, the Discoveroids continue:

Evolutionists have made some progress (they think) explaining such things with theories of group selection or kin selection. [That makes sense!] But those explanations face some fresh challenges and don’t even begin to explain self-sacrificial acts done for non-kin, a behavior we see among humans.

It’s true that people sometimes do amazing, self-sacrificial acts, with no expectation of personal or kin benefit. Does that disprove Darwin’s theory? The Discoveroids claim it does. Here’s their explanation:

From a design perspective [Hee hee!], though, such behaviors are not baffling, for they are not genetically determined acts, as if humans are only wet robots governed by genes.

Ah, that explains it. The intelligent designer — blessed be he! — designed you to sacrifice yourself, and he doesn’t care about genetics — even though he personally dictated the contents of your DNA. Darwinists, however, never think of anything but genetics. And now we come to the end:

They are acts of true self-sacrificial love, done freely and made possible because reality is more than matter and energy, and humans are more than just DNA survival machines.

Brilliant! This means that the next time you pause to hold the door open for someone carrying packages, you are glorifying the intelligent designer and disproving Darwin’s evil theory. Wowie — it’s another Discoveroid victory!

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

20 responses to “Altruism Is Anti-Darwinian Behavior

  1. Just because something is designed, that does not mean that it works according to the design.

  2. “…theories of group selection or kin selection…don’t even begin to explain self-sacrificial acts done for non-kin…”
    “…as if humans are only wet robots governed by genes.”

    Nice own goal there, Discoverators. We’re not wet robots governed only by genes. It may have escaped the attention of the devout, but some of us have evolved the ability to think in the abstract. That sort of thinking has enabled us to cognitively expand our genetically derived social-animal instincts to include broader definitions of family.

    This sort of thing seems absurdly easy to figure out. I suspect that it must be the special training in mental opacity offered by the churches that prevents the Biblically inclined from understanding something so rudimentary. Is the DI even pretending to offer anything other than church basement apologetics anymore?

  3. It’s amazing how st00pid chrisANALs can be when we have told them many many times that they must go to school and study evilution as they have NO idea what it is….but then it is more likely that they know full well what it is but would rather stay with their usual activity of just bald faced lying.

  4. chris schilling

    “From a design perspective, though, such behaviors are not baffling…”

    By the Discoveroids reasoning, xenophobia must also be “designed”, since it’s a human behavioural trait, and must have a genetic basis.

    Presumably, though, Darwin is responsible for xenophobia, along with other dismal historical trends like Nazism, communism, and pineapple on pizza.

  5. Altruism is actually a form of cooperation, and cooperation among humans is arguably the reason that we now number somewhere over seven billion on this one planet. For example, consider how successful cooperating hunters are compared to a lone hunter.

    Anti-Darwinian? Ha!!

    Another way of looking at this. A person who performs an altruistic act is greatly respected by those who witness. Assuming the altruist survives, he/she will gain the cooperation of others in the future — certainly a big help to survival in tough times. People are always more willing to help others that they know would be there when they themselves need help.

    So, Discodudes, “discover” a more rational way of viewing the world — just open your eyes to reality and don’t let your religious dogma cloud your vision.

  6. Dave Luckett

    It’s the usual problem with creationism and creationists: absolutism, which is a manifestation of the authoritarian mind. That is, the inability to see reality in other than black-and-white terms. A creationist will ask, “What use is half a wing?” as if that were an argument against the evolution of flight, completely neglecting the obvious response – “It can break a fall”.

    Thus, altruism. It, too, can break a fall.

    (Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”, which goes against His own ideas, in fact. He should have said, “for his enemies“. But that’s an aside.)

    We are a social species. Our individual chance of survival depends on mutually reciprocal action. Therefore, we are selected for the ability to act reciprocally, even in an understood case. This is a tendency, not an absolute. It is a statistical trend, not a biological imperative. It is emphatically not the case that we are “wet robots governed by genes”. That might be the position of a creationist, because creationists are usually authoritarians incapable of perceiving graduation, but it is not the reality.

    There are people who have no tendency to act reciprocally, who simply do not recognise mutuality, as if other human beings were not human beings at all. Such people are called “psychopaths”, and there is an incidence of psychopathy in humans. But that does not disable the proposition: human beings tend to do best if they mutually assist one another. Therefore, they are selected for that behaviour. The human being who gives their life for another is behaving like that because their ancestors were selected for it.

    It really is very simple, but the DI puzzles over it as if it were an eternal conundrum that can only be explained by the supernatural. I suppose one’s reaction to that depends on your personality. Me, I find it sad, and have no urge to laugh at it. But your mileage may vary.

  7. “How can a creature do that if she gives her life for another”
    So the author never has heard of ants. They to this all the time.

    “From a design perspective, such behaviors are not baffling.”
    What’s baffling from a design perspective is that self sacrifice doesn’t happen much more often. Or perhaps the Grand Old Designer (blessed be MOFO!) is incompetent.
    Fun fact: the 20th Century soldiers who excelled at self sacrifice were the soldiers of the Waffen SS at the Eastern Front. The high commanders of the German army weren’t too happy, because dead soldiers usually don’t put up a good fight anymore. But they had the spirit. So perhaps the Grand Old Designer was at the side of the Waffen SS.

    “true self-sacrificial love, done freely and made possible because reality is more than matter and energy”
    Exactly what I wrote. Those SS-ers gave their lives freely out of true self-sacrificial love for Führer, Volk und Vaterland. They also believed that reality is more than matter and energy.
    Me likes Andrew McD.

  8. @KenP: “This sort of thing seems absurdly easy to figure out.”
    We could say that IDiots freely gave up their cognitive skills out of true self-sacrificial love for the Grand Old Designer.

    @DaveL: “We are a social species.”
    Free Market Superstition implicitly denies this. Reread some blogposts by our dear SC if you don’t want to accept this from me (the ones that incorrectly maintain that only Free Market is compatible with evolution theory).
    It’s a bit more complicated. Homo Sapiens is both a social and an individualistic species. It was this combination that was a necessary condition for the success in evolutionary terms.

  9. Dave Luckett

    What FrankB calls the “free market suoperstition” does not deny that H sapiens is a social species. Rather, it asserts that H sapiens is exactly as FrankB describes it, “both a social and an individualistic species”.

    Free markets often – usually in fact – work to benefit all parties to the web of transactions that comprise them, for the simple and obvious reason that transactions that benefit all or most parties not only benefit them individually, but also increase the overall capacity of the economy to deliver benefit to all, even those who are not parties – and they in turn then have increased capacity to participate, which is also to the benefit of the transactors.

    It is true that some actors act entirely selfishly, but even they often deliver benefits to others, for the market itself prevents selfishness from going very far. Who would transact a bargain that benefits only the other party, after all? Bad or selfish actors are found in all economies and all markets, anyway. Anyone who thinks that they can be eliminated by some form of coercive control, enforced altruism, or moral suasion is kidding themselves.

  10. @ chris schilling: Not quite.

    We have it on the unimpeachable authority of Lady Hope that Darwin, on his deathbed, recanted on one score:

    It was one of those glorious autumn afternoons, that we sometimes enjoy in England, when I was asked to go in and sit with the well known professor, Charles Darwin. He was almost bedridden for some months before he died.

    He was sitting up in bed, eating lunch while wearing a soft embroidered dressing gown, of rather a rich purple shade. Propped up by pillows, he was gazing out on a far-stretching scene of woods and cornfields, which glowed in the light of one of those marvelous sunsets which are the beauty of Kent and Surrey. His noble forehead and fine features seem to be lit up with pleasure as I entered the room.

    “What are you eating?” I asked as I seated myself beside his bedside.

    “An Hawaiian pizza!” he answered – “‘T’was the joy of my youth.” And his visage darkened as he then pronounced, “But now! Now, the scales drop from my eyes and I see it for what it is: an odious monstrosity!”

    Tears formed in his eyes as he began picking out pieces of charred pineapple from the dish. And he fairly sobbed as he proclaimed, “How deluded was the palate of my youth! How readily beguiled I was by the treacherous Ananas comosus. O, false and un-Neopolitan fruit that seduced me!”

    And now deep anger seized his weakened frame. Hurling the bits of pineapple against the wall in disgust, he implored me, “Lady Hope! We must denounce to all the world the dangers of this abomination!”

  11. chris schilling

    According to QAnon sources — also unimpeachable — satanic pineapple rings are secretly operating out of pizza joints.

    The mind reels at the depravity of such evil.

  12. [PA Announcement] Will a HTML-Cleaning Elf please report to Aisle 4. Bloody Megalongyx has done it yet again…

    [Voice from above:] Your blunders have once again been flushed away.

  13. Dave Luckett notes:

    It’s the usual problem with creationism and creationists: absolutism, which is a manifestation of the authoritarian mind. That is, the inability to see reality in other than black-and-white terms.

    Indeed, and well said.

    But I think it goes further than simply seeing reality in monochrome: it’s the steadfast refusal to examine reality at all if it conflicts with ones a priori assumptions. If one starts from, say, Hambo’s unevidenced belief that the Bible is an unquestionable and factual account of the world, no amount of empirical evidence to the contrary can be admitted into consideration. Which is why there is no point in debating Creationists—and not because one cannot ‘win’, but because the questions of the origins of life can only be answered by data from empirical investigation, not by words in debates.

    Illustrations of the above amply provided on previous FFZ thread, where—to spare other readers—I intend to respond more fully when time permits.

  14. Doesn’t design produce machinery?

  15. @Megalonyx
    But I don’t see a search for answers in the Bible, but rather a search for validation in the Bible for answers which were arrived at. They know the answers, and it is then just a matter of creative quote mining and extrapolation.

  16. Well guys. Here we are reading the Curmudgeon’s blog and commenting, in a snipers hide picking away at the flanks of right wing religious kookology, brought top us in a most satisfying manner by SC. Defending the values of The Enlightenment on which America is founded.
    SC, we’ve been outflanked. Right wing religious kookology has overtaken the leadership of ta certain well right of center political party and we just saw what it can do…It turns out that Josh Hawley (and so is Ted Cruz) is a through the stratosphere religious wack doodle dedicated to overturning a secular, liberal worldview starting with our style of governance. NY Times (Stewart). We’re laughing at their science denial while they’re taking our democracy. In some countries, they come for those who disagree.

  17. DI:

    “[Altruism is] not an easy fit with Darwinism, since Darwinian evolution is all about passing your favored genes onto your offspring. How can a creature do that if she gives her life for another, particularly when it’s not even her own children, and before she has produced any offspring? Such individuals fail to pass on their own genes — a seeming conundrum for Darwinism.”

    No conundrum at all.

    The removal from the gene pool of the suicidally altruistic serves to place a cap on the general altruism of the species, preventing widespread suicidal tendencies which might very well lead to extinction.

  18. Darwin himself brought up the problem of evolution of a trait in a worker bee, given that worker bees are sterile, so there is no difference in fitness of trait.

  19. Dave Luckett

    Darwin did so in order to refute it. Worker bees are all the offspring of queen bees, who are selected for the ability of their offspring to bring in food – pollen and nectar. The offspring are therefore selected for that ability.

  20. @Dave Luckett
    I should have made that clear. Thanks.