Thursday, September 23, 2010

Problematic Darwin

Few of the statements made by Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species, could be viewed as more problematic than his assertion that the strongest organisms must inevitably survive while the weakest die. If this statement is applied to the human species, it could be misinterpreted as a callous assertion against perceived "inferiorities" in the human race, or the sense of entitlement that one group feels they have over another. However, knowing that Darwin also believes that Natural Selection operates upon all living organisms and chooses those most fit for survival, implies that human effort or desire for survival has little influence on whether that survival will actually be attained. Throughout human history, natural disaster and disease have threatened individuals from all walks of life. Doubtless, good health and strength have given many individuals an advantage, yet these physical attributes do not always guarantee success. In short, Natural Selection works autonomously, without regard for the social structures of humanity. Rather, it is a mixture of circumstance and chance that often determines who the surviving individuals will be. The mistake that human beings make when they hear that the strongest will be favoured over the weak, is to impose their own assumptions of what this means on the mechanics of Nature. The strongest that survive do so not because of human effort or influence, but due to the overhanging presence of Darwin's Natural Selection.

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