Evolution in the News - January 2001
by Do-While Jones

The Adoption Paradox

This month’s Discover magazine makes some interesting observations about adoption and evolution. In recent years, inter-racial, international adoption has become more popular. This is hard for evolutionists to explain because it makes no sense from an evolutionary point of view.

From a Darwinian standpoint, going childless by choice is hard enough to explain, but adoption, as the arch-Darwinist Richard Dawkins notes, is a double whammy. Not only do you reduce, or at least fail to increase, your own reproductive success, but you improve someone else’s. Since the birth parent is your rival in the great genetic steeplechase, a gene that encourages adoption should be knocked out of the running in fairly short order. 1

Not only do people adopt orphans, animals commonly adopt orphans, too.

Among mammals, adoption has been reported in mice and rats, otters and skunks, llamas, deer and caribou, kangaroos and wallabies, seals and sea lions, as well as domestic animals such as dogs, pigs, goats, and sheep. 2

And extending the survey to the rest of the animal kingdom finds adoption, or something like it, practiced in an astonishing array of creatures, from orangutans to hermaphroditic worms. 3

This is “astonishing” to evolutionists because it doesn’t make sense from a selfish point of view.

If the adoptee is added to an existing litter, the adopter’s own offspring may get less to eat. 4

So, evolutionists try to figure out how seemingly unselfish actions can really be selfish deep down inside, and actually benefit the apparently “generous” parent.

Evolutionary biologists view animal behavior in terms of brutal genetic selfishness: “Do anything--anything!--that helps propagate your genes to the next generation.” Yet under certain circumstances, this credo can lead to cooperation rather than selfishness. 5 [emphasis in original]

An extra pup can be an extra watch against lions. In more cynical terms, the chance that it will get picked off by a lion improves the odds for everyone else in the pack. 6

When all else fails, Darwinians can chalk up adoption to reproductive error--the failure of parents to distinguish their own offspring from someone else’s. … Of course, the idea of reproductive error doesn’t help much with cases of adoption by a nonbreeding female. If you have no infant of your own, you can hardly be accused of confusing it with someone else’s. 7

The idea that unselfishness really is somehow selfish, doesn’t stand up very well, and evolutionists know it. That’s why adoption remains a paradox for them. They can’t understand it, no matter how hard they try.

Rape Makes More Sense

In A Natural History of Rape, Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer argue that rape is an adaptation--that it has evolved to increase the reproductive success of men who would otherwise have little sexual access to women. Their analysis of rape then forms the basis of a protracted sales pitch for evolutionary psychology, the latest incarnation of sociobiology; not only do the authors believe that this should be the explanatory model of choice in the human behavioral sciences, but they also want to see its insights incorporated into social policy. 8

There are some people who honestly believe that rape is a natural result of evolution, and therefore excusable to some degree. You have to admit, their reasoning makes sense if the theory of evolution is true.

The theory of evolution has also been used as justification for racism and the Nazi extermination of Jews. Incorrect conclusions were reached because they were built on an incorrect “scientific” foundation.

Rape and racism make sense from an evolutionary viewpoint, but love doesn’t.

This [the fact that Eisenberg loves his adopted daughter] is not a fact that Darwinism, in any of its forms, would have predicted. Trying to make sense of it requires a twofold motion: outward to the plains of data on other peoples and other species; inward to the tangled bank of memory. 9

You may be anticipating our line of reasoning. You probably think we are going to cite this as yet another instance of where scientific observations aren’t consistent with the theory of evolution. Of course, that’s true; but that isn’t the point we are going to make. We want to make a more important point instead.

The Evolutionary Handicap

Here is an example of a scientist trying to understand a commonly observed phenomenon. He observes that people and animals often adopt orphans. The scientist finds this paradoxical because he is trying to understand this from an evolutionary point of view. He is trying to make the facts jive with an erroneous theory, and is unable to do it. In this case, the theory of evolution is actually hindering the increase in scientific knowledge because evolutionary prejudice prevents the scientist from coming to the correct conclusion. The scientist is attempting to find an explanation that is compatible with the notion that all behavior is the result of survival of the fittest, where selfishness is the prime motivation. Since the theory of evolution is false, the correct conclusion is likely to conflict with the theory of evolution.

A scientist who is not handicapped with this evolutionary bias has no trouble understanding adoption at all. If life was created as the result of love, it is perfectly natural that people and animals might exhibit loving behavior to some degree. Adoption is not paradoxical at all to one who isn’t prejudiced by the notion that only the selfish survive.

It is our opinion that scientific progress is greatly hampered by attempts to fit geological processes into a model that demands gradual processes over long periods of time. Scientific progress is greatly hampered by attempts to understand biological processes in terms of descent with modification. Progress in behavioral sciences is greatly hampered by attempts to understand behavior in terms of selfishness.

We need to reject the theory of evolution to stimulate scientific progress.

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1 Eisenberg, Discover, January 2001, “The Adoption Paradox”, page 80, https://www.discovermagazine.com/magazine/2001 (Ev)
2 ibid Page 82
3 ibid Page 80
4 ibid. Page 82
5 Austad, Natural History, March 1999, “Natural Altruism”, page 14 (Ev)
6 Eisenberg, Discover, January 2001, “The Adoption Paradox”, page 83, https://www.discovermagazine.com/magazine/2001 (Ev)
7 ibid Page 83
8 Coyne and Berry, Nature, Vol. 404, 9 March 2000, “Rape as an Adaptation”, page 121, https://www.nature.com/articles/35004636 (Ev) (Ev)
9 Eisenberg, Discover, January 2001, “The Adoption Paradox”, page 82,https://www.discovermagazine.com/magazine/2001 (Ev)