Evolutionists claim that the following features promote fitness, and therefore, they evolved:
- Infanticide 1
- Altruism toward kin or group (“inclusive fitness”) 2 3
- Suicide for the good of the colony 4
Evolutionists claim that each of the above is “good” for the fitness of the animal, which is why they evolved. However, these directly contradict each other. On the one hand, infanticide is “good” according to evolution because it means more resources for the parent, but on the other hand, altruism is good because it is best for the group.
Not only do these explanations contradict each other, but they also make evolution a confusing idea rather than a clean theory, because these two could explain any combination of animal behavior. In other words, if all that existed in the world was selfishness, evolutionists would have an explanation: selfishness promotes individual fitness. If all that existed in the world was altruism, evolutionists would have an explanation: altruism promotes group fitness. If there is a mixture of selfishness and altruism (which is what we find), then evolutionists would have an explanation: sometimes animals evolve selfishness, and other times they evolve altruism (or perhaps both simultaneously).
Evolutionist: Altruism directly benefits the altruist. For instance, vampire bats demonstrate reciprocal food sharing. 5
Response: In some cases, this is true, but in others, the altruism certainly does not benefit the individual. For instance, see the examples provided on the alarm calling or extreme altruism.
Cotner, S., & Moore, R. (2011). Arguing for Evolution: An Encyclopedia for Understanding Science. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood.
- Cotner and Moore, 2011, p. 140: “Likewise, killing infants of the same species, or conspecific infanticide, is documented throughout Animalia, from water bugs to damselfish to wattled jacanas and many species of primates. Explanations for infanticide include the benefits of obtaining nutrients by consuming the kill (as is practiced in some species), reducing competition for immediate resources, reducing competition for future resources … the infanticidal adult is rewarded with fitness, and killing young of the same species can be seen as adaptive.” ↩
- Cotner and Moore, 2011, p. 147: “Alarm calling has been studied in 20 of the 53 rodent families, including ground squirrels, prarie dogs, and marmots. While alarm calling is an often-cited example of altruism in nature, its suggested costs–energetic expense, opportunity loss, and increased risk of predation–have not been well established. Almost equally elusive is evidence for fitness gains (direct or indirect) from calling behavior. There have been several studies, however, that have documented the tendency for calling to increase when kin are present, or for calling to increase when an individual’s offspring are particularly young and vulnerable.” ↩
- Cotner and Moore, 2011, p. 148: “In many social insects (as well as the naked mole rat), large numbers of individuals forego reproduction entirely by assignation to a worker caste. Not only do they fail to achieve direct fitness, but they constantly toil and self-sacrifice, and thus the term extreme altruism is apt.” ↩
- Cotner and Moore, 2011, p. 147: “Although not exclusive to the social insects, defensive suicide (whereby an individual sacrifices its life to protect other individuals in the population against predators or pathogens) has been well studied in termites, ants, bees, and pea aphids. … The ant Temnothorax unifasciatus also exhibits a type of social withdrawal (leaving the nest) when death is imminent. This pre-death withdrawal occurs whether or not the ant has been parasitized, refuting the idea that the behavior is mediated by pathogens and suggesting that it is done to protect the colony (and the individual’s inclusive fitness).” ↩
- Cotner and Moore, 2011, p. 149“Altruistic acts are also observed when the donor is likely to be the recipient in future generous acts. Altruism by reciprocal exchange requires the participants (giver and receiver) to be likely to encounter each other again, and to recognize each other when they do. Vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) engage in reciprocal food-sharing with their colony-mates. Bats will share regurgitated blood with non-relatives that they encounter frequently, as well as with close kin. Thse patterns suggest that for vampire bats, reciprocity potential and inclusive fitness motivate generosity.” ↩