Friday, August 31, 2012

Struggle For Survival, The

The fundamental assumption of the theory of natural selection is that every living thing thinks only of itself in the struggle to the death. In proposing this idea, Darwin was influenced by the theories of Thomas Robert Malthus, a British economist. Malthus said that food resources increased arithmetically, while the human population increased geometrically-for which reason it was inevitable that humans should wage a constant fight for survival. Darwin applied this concept to nature and claimed that the result of this struggle wasnatural selection.
Subsequent research, however, showed that there was no such struggle for survival of the kind that Darwin had postulated. Lengthy studies on animal populations in the 1960s and '70s by the British zoologist Wynne-Edwards showed that animal communities balanced their populations in very interesting ways, to prevent competition for food.
Animal communities generally regulate their populations in accordance with the available food supplies. Population is controlled not by such "eliminators of the unfit" as starvation and epidemic diseases, but by control mechanisms instinctively present in animals. In other words, animals stabilized their populations not by the life-or-death competition to the death postulated by Darwin, but by restricting their own reproduction.234
Even plants exhibited signs of self-regulation, rather than competition through natural selection as proposed by Darwin. Observations by the botanist A.D. Bradshaw proved that as plants multiplied, they behaved according to their density in the area they grew in-and that as plant numbers increased, reproduced declined.235
In addition, the examples of altruism encountered in such communities as ants and bees represent a model that is the exact opposite of Darwin's concept of a struggle for survival. (See Altruism.)
Some recent research has revealed that altruistic behavior can be found even in bacteria. These organisms have no brain or nervous system, and thus lack any ability to think. Yet when invaded by viruses, they commit suicide in order to protect other bacteria. 236
These examples invalidate the concept of the struggle for survival, which is the fundamental hypothesis of natural selection. (See Malthus, Thomas and Social Darwinism.)
234. Wynne-Edwards, V. C., "Self Regulating Systems in Populations of Animals," Science, Vol. 147, 1965, pp. 1543-1548.
235. Lee Spetner, Not By Chance!: Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution, New York: The Judaica Press, Inc., 1997, pp. 16-17.
236. Andy Coghlan, "Suicide Squad," New Scientist, July 10, 1999.

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