One widespread claim that the opponents of evolution have advanced is the notion that evolution is “just a theory”—that is, that evolution is just a speculative hypothesis...The first thing to say about this claim is that it is not true; evolution is not “just a theory,” that is, a theory with no evidentiary support. Even worse than the falsehood of the just-a-theory claim is the fact that it represents a grave injustice. To declare that evolution is “just a theory” is to imply that Charles Darwin was “just a theorist”—that he was some sort of armchair scientist, spinning out scientific guesses in a vacuum instead of drawing his ideas from careful observations of nature...Darwin was not ‘just a theorist’ and evolution is not ‘just a theory.’”
"After all, the theory of evolution is only a hypothesis."
I'd be rather surprised if Rand didn't support the theory of evolution wholeheartedly. Are you sure you are not accidentally taking her out of context, like some creationists do when they want to make it look like there's widespread disagreement with evolution in the scientific community?
It may surprise you to know that Rand found evolution difficult to accept. Click on the link for more background. While this may seem odd, it begins to make some sense when you consider Rand's profoundly idealised view of man as the driving force behind her thinking (incidentally, this is the main thesis of ARCHN). In reality, humans are closer to animals than she wanted to believe - beneath the clothes of her architects and inventors lurked the ape. Of course she would find creationism an anathema too, which left her in the distinctly uncomfortable position of sitting "on the fence". It is ironic that the ARI's intended attack on creationism mows down Rand's own position too.
I am kind of surprised, and yes it is kind of ironic that in this the Ayn Rand Institute is contradicting the founding of objectivism.
By the why, here are some good, skeptical anti-creationism, pro-evolutionary science links, for anyone who is interested while we're on the subject.
My little article generated a fair amount of discussion on the web:
For some reason none of my critics got around to explaining what Rand mean in the missing link essay and her notes in the journals.
While this may seem odd, it begins to make some sense when you consider Rand's profoundly idealised view of man as the driving force behind her thinking (incidentally, this is the main thesis of ARCHN). In reality, humans are closer to animals than she wanted to believe - beneath the clothes of her architects and inventors lurked the ape.
In other words, Rand suspected that Darwin was a "humanity diminisher."
Speaking of evolution and Objectivism...
Forget About Survival of the 'Fittest':
Evolution usually makes do with 'good enough.' (link)
Choice bit: "If humans were truly the fittest possible creatures one could imagine, the rational-man model would make sense. But the 'fittest' that survived are not necessarily the fittest possible. We are flesh and blood creatures, filled with cognitive quirks that are the detritus of evolution."
I think it was a science program on I think maybe the discovery channel that pointed out that the term "survival of the fittest" is really a misnomer and that in Darwinian evolution its really "survival of the most well adapted."
Another flaw highlighted by evolution is how there is no one true rational way (the A=A mentality). There are many diverse species, with many different adaptations and behaviors, and ALL of them accord with "the facts of reality," as per natural selection. Objectivism would have you believe that it's elephants or bust.
Dr. Keith Lockitch provides yet more evidence that Rand understood the logical implications of her ideas better than her followers do. As both Daniel and Neil have pointed out, Rand didn't like evolution because it threatened her vision of man. Despite the fact that Rand devised her theories at least two decades before Dawkins and E.O. Wilson came along and helped spawn evolutionary pscyhology, Rand seems to have understood the very serious threat that Darwinism posed to her scheme of things. And it's not just man "the hero" that Darwinism threatens: it's nearly everything Objectivism stands for, from Rand's view of free will and "reason," to her "philosophy of history" and her ethics. If Darwin is right and human beings are the product of evolution via natural selection, then Rand's blank slate view of human nature is no longer warrented and human beings are in fact inflicted with innate predispositions—which is to say, human psychology is not the product of "ideas," philosophical or otherwise. Hence Rand's entire project of reforming the world through philosophical argumentation falls to the ground, a smoking ruin of intellectual conceit and groundless pretension. Dr. Lockitch to appreciate any of this suggests a kind of cluelessness that probably would have exasperated Rand.
Ironically Rand shows female sexual selection at work in her novels, but without the reproductive consequences. Dominique Francon in The Fountainhead becomes sexually attracted to Howard Roark after seeing him manifest his reproductive fitness through his architecture. And Dagny Taggart does the same to the novel's three heroes after witnessing their respective displays of reproductive fitness through their inventive or entrepreneurial abilities.
Rand died before evolutionary psychology became well known, but she seems to have understood it on an unconscious level. If she had lived long enough to learn about evolutionary psychology, she might have appreciated that sexual selection provides a natural mechanism to account for men's tendency to attract mates by showing off, otherwise known as "creativity."
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