More than Monkeys

The Problem with Evolutionary Dear Abby

Chuck  Colson

I’m not a big fan of advice columns. But one from Britain at least caught my attention.




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There are those who think that we Christians exaggerate the dangerous influence of Darwinist thinking on our society. The truth is, we probably need to do a better job of warning people!

If you don’t believe me, take a look at Carole Jahme’s new column in Britain’s Guardian newspaper. Jahme, a scientist, filmmaker, and author, is billed by the paper as an “Evolutionary Agony Aunt”—a columnist who gives personal advice based on Darwin’s theory of evolution. (Over here in the U.S., we might call her an “Evolutionary Dear Abby.”) Jahme’s job, according to the paper, is to shine “the cold light of evolutionary psychology on readers’ problems.”

What does Darwinist advice look like in practical terms? Well, let’s just say it’s very thin gruel—that is, when it isn’t downright scary. As Catholic writer Denyse O’Leary writes, Jahme’s advice ranges from the blatantly obvious to the terrible. “In virtually every case,” O’Leary says, “Carole’s advice would be more relevant and concise if she just left out all the ritual padding about chimps and bonobos, etc.”

But the really disturbing part of Jahme’s column is that in her view, evolution justifies all kinds of selfish and immoral behavior. In one column, here’s what Jahme wrote to a woman having trouble choosing between two boyfriends: “Some Darwinists might say your optimal strategy would be to pair-bond with the older male but surreptitiously allow the younger, sexy male to fertilise you.” I guess that’s a pseudo-scientific way of saying, “Well, stick with the old guy because he can provide for you, but let the younger, stronger guy father your children.”

However, as Denyse O’Leary points out, Jahme is less patient with a husband on the prowl for “younger, healthier women” to help “ensure the continuation of [his] genetic lineage.” All of a sudden, Jahme claims that it’s in the man’s best interest to be faithful. Such advice might look good in a feminist glossy magazine; it doesn’t seem very Darwinian.

The fact is, if Jahme were trying to be truly consistent and truly Darwinist, she probably wouldn’t be so condemning of the man who wants to cheat on the wife who was able to bear him only one child. After all, according to Darwinism, he should be more concerned about the future of his genetic line than something so unimportant and abstract as fidelity, or his wife’s feelings.

One man wrote in that he tries to impress potential mates with his “evolutionary advantages (height, intelligence, employment status, alpha-male potential, physical fitness and social skills) and has proved to be successful at attracting attention from females of breeding age.” I’m not making that up.

There is no room for love, faithfulness, and self-sacrifice...

Well, perhaps the upside to Evolutionary Dear Abby is that it shows that applying the so-called “cold light of evolutionary psychology” to human behavior is absurd, because in that light, there is no room for love, faithfulness, and self-sacrifice—the very things that make healthy human relationships possible.

And what this clearly shows is how unlivable and irrational the worldview Darwinism leads to really is. The fact of the matter is that husbands and wives are more than mere breeding pairs. We humans are more than monkeys, and it is demeaning, beneath the dignity of men and women made in the image of God, to tell them to behave like animals.

Further Reading and Information

Wisdom from Your Local Zoo
Denyse O’Leary | MercatorNet | March 1, 2010

Ask Carole
Carole Jahme | Guardian (UK)

Darwin Strikes Back
Thomas Woodward and William Dembski

Darwin on Trial
Phillip Johnson