Conflict Thesis and the Scopes Monkey Trial

T_aquaticus and glipsnort, thank you for your responses.

T. thank you for your excerpt. from the Origin. (I will overlook the snide remark.) However, the full excerpt supports my view better than yours.

In the very first sentence Darwin refers to the “struggle for existence” as the basic issue, that is conflict or fighting for existence, not adapting to others and the environment to benefit all as ecology claims. At the end of the book Darwin calls the struggle for existence the “war of nature.” Is nature at war with itself?.

.“No country can be named in which all the native inhabitants are now so perfectly adapted to each other and to the physical conditions under which they live, that none of them could anyhow be improved; for in all countries, the natives have been so far conquered by naturalised productions, that they have allowed foreigners to take firm possession of the land. And as foreigners have thus everywhere beaten some of the natives, we may safely conclude that the natives might have been modified with advantage, so as to have better resisted such intruders.” Last sentences of third paragraph.

Darwin uses Survival of the Fittest as justification for British imperialism, which is exactly what one would expect of a man in his time and place, which of course does not make it right. Is that what you think?

Darwin (and Dawkins) do not accept ecology as we know it today. Until we reconcile evolution and ecology, we are in trouble, because they are both very important.


It is the struggle for existence that results in adaptation. Individual organisms do not adapt. The species (i.e. population) adapts. The struggle for existence occurs at the individual level, and those who have characteristics that better fit the environment will tend to have more children and grandchildren. These are the fit individuals as defined by their ability to have more offspring.

Yes, absolutely. Biology is one big field of war. This is why we have immune systems. It is why both predators and prey have camouflage. It is why trees grow so tall. It is why both predators and prey have lethal toxins. Competition for existence is everywhere in nature.


You seem to make stuff up about people, especially if their last name starts with D.

Yet another example of you making stuff up.

Evolution is reconciled with ecology. It has been from the start.


Evolution-science-nature-existence does not imply theism.

Reality implies theism, fully dependent upon one’s presuppositions and admission and recognition of evidence.

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Not my part of ‘we’! That says there will be no time of any kind in heaven, and no kind of remembrance of anything thing that happens there.

Recommended is A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken’s autobiography, in which he imagines an occurrence in heaven where he meets C.S. Lewis who was his mentor and friend here.

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That is not what I said. I said that in heaven all the old suffering, anger, war, and pain will be gone. We will have to make do with joy, love, and sharing.

I am looking forward to meeting old friends and family there, but not people like Hitler.

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That is what you said that I was responding to.

BS. Everything we do is an adaptation of one kind or another. Where you get this nonsense?

The purpose of life is to exist and success in life is to pass this suffering on to others.

Biology is about much more than survival. Biology is about life, not death. A police force keeping order is not an army. doing battle.

If your purpose of life is avoiding death, then I feel sorry for you. My purpose for life is sharing that life with others, which is also what ecology is about.

Sorry, not true.

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I was addressing a specific error you made about the traditional concept of fitness. That is all.

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It sounds like you are using a broadly accepted common usage of the word ‘adapt’ (as in: “The teacher quickly adapted his teaching strategy to accommodate the new behavior challenges encountered in the new class.”) Whereas T is obviously referring to the robust biological usage of adapation (evolutionary adaptation) which is genetic, happens to populations over long time periods, and most certainly does not happen to an individual, as the mistaken Lamarkians once thought.

Don’t be so quick to censure somebody who knows a lot more than you about this - when you could be learning from them instead.


That’s not what we are talking about. You are born with the only genome you will ever have. Your genome doesn’t change through your life in order to adapt to different conditions.

Non sequitur.

Biology is about more than one species.

You are simply wrong. There is a reason that Darwin is called the Father of Ecology.

Mervin and T.
The conflict we are having seems to be based on the ways we see evolution taking place. You and no doubt others see evolutionary struggle and adaption as being two separate things. I do not.

T. says the struggle for existence results in genetic adaption. He also says that the struggle for existence takes place on an individual level, but there appears to no connection between the struggle for existence on the individual level and evolution. This cannot be!

It is my observation that the “struggle for existence” is best understood as the need to adapt to the environment, and the way we “struggle” is to try to adapt to the environment. This means that the struggle is not really a struggle, but a process.

Our hands became hands because humans adapted them to new use3s as well as genetic changes which facilitates these changes.

Our genome gives us and other creatures a brain, which enables creatures to adapt. If we don’t, or can’t, we become extinct.

True, but biology must provide an accurate view of our species, or it is false…

Was Darwin an ecologist?

Darwin was a great scientist, but he made a big mistake when he based evolution on conflict instead of harmony. We need to correct that mistake now, and bring evolution into harmony with evolution…

Your typical ant (ants having a proportionally huge biomass compared to other species) is not likely to be in harmony with intruders, but there is this:

He based it upon observed reality.


I agree with your sentiment, I think nature can be pretty brutal. There are some species (like wolves) that appear to completely wipe out competing groups that don’t seem to pose an immediate threat, along with plenty of animals fighting tooth and nail for survival and food.

As a result, I think it would be a mistake to try and get prescriptive claims about how we “should” act out of nature/natural selection alone. This led to social Darwinism, eugenics, etc.

That’s not to say I don’t think nature is beautiful or wonderful.

The conflict is using the same word to mean two different things.

"Symbiosis is increasingly recognized as an important selective force behind evolution;[4][54] many species have a long history of interdependent co-evolution.[55]

ntsAlthough symbiosis was once discounted as an anecdotal evolutionary phenomenon, evidence is now overwhelming that obligate or facultative associations among microorganisms and between microorganisms and multicellular hosts had crucial consequences in many landmark events in evoluon and in the generation of phenotypic diversity and complex phenotypes able to colonise new environments.[56]"

"The biologist Lynn Margulis, famous for her work on endosymbiosis, contended that symbiosis is a major driving force behind evolution. She considered Darwin’s notion of evolution, driven by competition, to be incomplete and claimed that evolution is strongly based on co-operation, interaction, and mutual dependence among organisms. According to Margulis and her son Dorion Sagan, “Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking.”[64]

Darwin misread his observations so they reinforced the imperialist, capitalist culture of England of his time. The predator-prey relationship is not one of conflict because they are not competing for the same resources. Besides it covers only a relative few species.

We study science so we can know how nature works and use this knowledge to improve the environment and our lives. When this knowledge is wrong, our use of it damages the environment and us as have the false sciences of social Darwinism, eugenics, and anti-ecology ideologies.

If nature is based on conflict, war, how can it be beautiful or wonderful, instead of ugly and evil?

I think nature involves conflict but it also involves cooperation so it’s hard to attribute just one adjective to it. In any case, the ability for organisms to adapt to their environment, with those best fitted surviving and those not fitted dying off, is very elegant and mathematically beautiful.

Evolution as a mechanism, with DNA storage and transmission, is a better and more robust system than any human programmer has ever designed or dreamt up. DNA is the longest lasting storage medium around. It is hard (for me at least) not to be amazed by the diversity of life and the ability for organisms to adapt.

Perhaps rather than “good” or “evil” I would say I’m consistently “in awe” of nature.


Off topic, but this stirs my little librarian’s heart! The history of the storage of human knowledge is riddled with obsolete storage media. The diversity of such has simply exploded in the last 50 years. The race to keep up with the constant errosion of access to stored human knowledge is unwinable and crushing for people like me. We fight censorship but end up committing it by chosing short-lived storage media!

And DNA just keeps thoughtlessly doing its thing.


No, I don’t see them as separate things. You can’t even accurately describe my own position.

I see the struggle for existence as causing adaptation. They aren’t separate. One is the cause of the other.

No, I don’t. I said just the opposite. Rather, the struggle for existence causes populations to adapt by favoring the genetic adaptations that appear in the population.

Yes, there is a connection, the one I already described for you:

“Individual organisms do not adapt. The species (i.e. population) adapts. The struggle for existence occurs at the individual level, and those who have characteristics that better fit the environment will tend to have more children and grandchildren. These are the fit individuals as defined by their ability to have more offspring.”

Really? If we need to fly, do we grow wings? If we need to swim, do we grow gills? If we need a different type of hemoglobin to fight off malaria, do we suddenly get the mutations that are needed? If we need to be taller, do we grow?

And it does provide an accurate view.

You are making a big mistake by ignoring competition between and within species.