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Familiar Sociobiological Myths in The New York Times

The 15 July, 2008, edition of The New York Times carried a report written by Nicholas Wade. His article, titled “Taking a Cue from Ants on Evolution,” discussed the latest research by the Harvard University entomologist Edward O. Wilson. In addition to the Encyclopaedia of Life, about biological diversity, and the book Superorganism, co-authored with Bert Holldobler, about termites, ants, wild bees and honey bees, his 1975 book Sociobiology also discussed the theory he proposed. Wilson said that it was difficult to account for the emergence of the altruistic behaviour observed in living things in terms of natural selection, and that in his view this could be explained by selection at the group level. However, the concept of selection at the group level consists solely of an attempt to cover up facts that totally refute natural selection, which lies at the heart of the theory of evolution, by way of self-contradictory sophistry based entirely on speculation.

We can set out the insoluble dilemma facing evolutionists on this subject as follows:

Some people exhibit highly altruistic behaviour by adopting orphan children and raising them alongside their natural offspring. These altruistic individuals give up some of the advantageous means and opportunities that enable them to survive, in other words some of their fittedness, and thus increase the fittedness of others. Altruistic individuals thus reduce the odds in favour of their own survival. The theory of evolution, however, emphasises individuals” selfishness in the struggle for survival. It teaches that only individuals with the appropriate characteristics can survive and that human beings must strive to secure an advantage over others by making their own characteristics more fitted for survival. According to evolutionist thinking, therefore, altruism should disappear rather than being handed on. However, it is a well-known fact that altruistic people exist. This difficulty confronting evolutionists was expressed as follows in an article in the Turkish magazine Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technology):

The problem is why living things help one another. According to Darwin”s theory, every living thing fights for survival and to reproduce. Since helping others reduces a living thing”s chances of survival, evolution should have eliminated that form of behaviour over the long term. The fact is, however, that it has been observed that living things can engage in self-sacrifice. 1

As Bilim ve Teknik makes perfectly clear, it is impossible to explain such behaviour in terms of natural selection. One eminent evolutionist, John Maynard Smith, asks the following question regarding the problem:

Here one of the key questions has to do with altruism: How is it that natural selection can favor patterns of behavior that apparently do not favor the survival of the individual? 2

The False Nature of Wilson’s Sociobiological Claim

The first comprehensive attempt to interpret human and animal behaviour from an evolutionary perspective came from the Harvard University entomologist Edward O. Wilson. In his book Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, published in 1975, Wilson claimed that all animal behaviour was biological in origin. Basing this error on biological evolution, Wilson thought there were particular genes that controlled human and animal behaviour. His real area of expertise was insects, to which he devoted the first 26 chapters of his book. In chapter 27, he attempted to apply this claim to human beings. In his 1978 book Human Nature he devoted considerable space to speculation whether there were genes responsible for such human behaviour as hatred, aggression, dislike of strangers, compatibility and characteristic differences between men and women. But there was no scientific basis to Wilson”s claims. His claims were merely the result of evolutionist prejudice. Some evolutionists even objected to Wilson”s conjecture. One of these was Stephen Jay Gould.:

But Wilson [‘s work] makes much stronger claims … . It is, primarily, an extended speculation on the existence of genes for specific and variable traits in human behavior — including spite, aggression, xenophobia, conformity, homosexuality, and the characteristic behavioral differences between men and women in Western society. 3

Chapter 27 of his book is wide-ranging speculation about whether there are genes responsible for typical and variable characteristics in human behaviour, such as hatred, aggression, dislike of foreigners, compatibility, homosexuality and typical characteristics of relations between men and women in Western society.

The concept of selection at the group level actually explains nothing.

As Wade admits in his article, the natural selection of self-sacrificing behaviour has to be explained in terms of favouring behaviour permitting the individual to survive and have more offspring. For that reason, Wilson is obliged to say that instead of individuals being eliminated by natural selection, evolution progressed by way of group selection, a slightly less ridiculous claim. As Wade states in his article, in Dr. Wilson’s opinion, evolution produces genes that bestows several benefits on the group at the cost of the individual, thanks to a selection that favours the survival of the group over that of another group. At heart, this is a typical Darwinist tactic. When an evolutionist belief is scientifically refuted, they immediately resort to inventing another illogical claim better suited to the relevant finding. Wade has maintained that tradition, and in the absence of any evidence for so-called individual selection, he has come up with the idea of group selection instead.

However, the idea that one group will evolve by way of natural selection thanks to a superiority in terms of altruistic behaviour is completely unfounded and fictitious. There is no scientific foundation for any such selection. It is a scientific fact that natural selection cannot give rise to evolution.

In addition, since individuals within an altruistic group that do not behave selfishly but make sacrifices in terms of the number of offspring they have, will produce few young, then the genes, that evolutionists hypothesise as controlling that behaviour, will gradually stop spreading, and their prevalence within the population will decline. Furthermore, since the group is altruistic, individuals that take advantage of this for their own interests will come to predominate. That will neutralise the benefits from altruism for that species and eventually eliminate them. 4

As we have seen, the idea of group selection is a pitiful one proposed as a way out of the predicament posed by the fact that individual altruistic behaviour cannot emerge through natural selection. Leaving aside all the scientific and technical impossibilities inherent in it, there is another point that Darwinists ignore, the fact that groups are made up of individuals. And it is impossible to ignore the influence of individuals on the group and maintain with any consistency that group selection can give rise to any evolutionary progress.


Wilson”s claims in The New York Times, one of the world”s leading dailies, are nonsense suggesting that “blind chance has taught us to be altruistic”.

The fact is that altruism is a moral virtue inspired in human beings by God. There can be no evolutionary explanation for why human beings consider altruism morally “good” and selfishness “bad”.

Human altruism is obviously inspired in the human soul by Almighty God, our Creator. It is revealed in the verses from The Holy Qur”an:

“…the self and what proportioned it and inspired it with depravity or taqwa.” (Surah Ash-Shams, 7-8)

We would remind the editors of The New York Times that carrying unscientific tales merely damages the respect in which the paper is held. We hope that they will see the reality of the faith and belief in God that is increasingly spreading across the world.

Bilim ve Teknik, vol 190, p.4
2  John Maynard Smith, The Evolution of Behavior, Scientific American, December 1978, Vol. 239, no. 3, p. 176
3 Stephen Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin, New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1977
4 Major, Trevor (1999), “Ethics and Darwinism [Part II],” [On-line], URL:

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