Yes indeed, this is Part II of my revisit to the late, great Charles Darwin. He really was a great man of enormous insight, all the more so when you consider the lack of 20th century scientific knowledge with which he suffered. His theory that all living things were simply variations on a theme was a huge intellectual leap but, and this is very much to his credit, for years he was wracked with doubts concerning his theory because he lacked an explanation for the means by which these incredible changes were wrought. But then his 'saviour' appeared in the unlikely form of a country parson called Robert Malthus. Technically he might have been 'a country parson' but in fact he was a Cambridge-educated swot fascinated by the somewhat arcane subject of population statistics. As all you clever readers of this blog well know, it was Malthus who dreamed up the theory that the populations of all living things grow exponentially until they reach the limit of food supplies - then they go that bit further so that food supplies fail to match the needs and the population is trimmed back.
I don't suppose Darwin shouted "BINGO!" and offered high fives all round but I'm sure he did the 19th century equivalent because instantly he recognised that Malthus's theory gave him the mechanism by which his theory of 'survival of the fittest' would work. Unfortunately, of course, it was all 'blx' but it sounded good and it was just what Darwin needed. At this point let me introduce my Aussie mate, David Stove by name, who was - alas, he is no longer amongst us - the author of a - what shall I call it? - scintillating book called Darwinian Fairytales.
His approach to Darwin is somewhat unusual and is well illustrated in his opening paragraph with an interjection by me added in brackets:
This is an anti-Darwinism book. It is written both against the Darwinism of Darwin and his 19th century disciples, and the Darwinism of such influential 20th century Darwinians as G. C. Williams and W. D. Hamilton and their disciples. [eg. and especially R. Dawkins!!!] My object is to show that Darwinism is not true: not true, at any rate, of our species. If it is true of sponges, snakes, flies, or whatever, I do not mind that. What I do mind is, its being supposed to be true of man.
I think you can sense his essential 'Aussieness' in that opening which makes the book a terrific read. However, he goes on in the next paragraph to assure us that he is definitely not a creationist or even a Christian. Indeed, he is happy to admit that it is probably true that man evolved from other animal forms and that natural selection may well be the cause. However, he does go on to say:
I do deny that natural selection is going on within our species now, and that it ever went on in our species, at any time of which anything is known.
I will not attempt to summarise his entire book, please read it for yourselves, it really is enjoyable. What I will do is give you a clue by asking a question that irritates and baffles Darwinists - if Darwin's theory is based on constant and utterly ruthless competition for increasingly rare food supplies, then where does human altruism come from?
Bloody Aussies, why do they have to ask such awkward questions?