What are the greatest evolutionary weaknesses of man?

Weaknesses in an evolutionary view of man

Bucherstädter Lukas takes a very close look at an evolutionary view of man.

The theory of evolution is one of the most important scientific theories of all. It explains the origin and development of species and thus gives a scientific answer to questions about the origin of species - a field that was previously only covered by religions. For example, the Catholic Church taught that the species as they exist in their complex form today could only be explained by a Creator. This doctrine is called creationism and is still held today.

One of the main arguments of the creationists is the consideration that, for example, the human eye is and must be so complex in order to be able to see that it cannot simply be the product of chance, but that a creator must stand behind it. While creationism was the common explanation for the origin of species in Darwin's time, such arguments today turn against the widespread theory of evolution, which portrays the origin of species as seemingly coincidental. According to Darwin, the species emerged in a slow process and are still adapting to their environment today.

For a creationist, this development seems like a coincidental one, but it is nothing more than a scientific explanation of a process of adaptation and selection. According to Darwin, organisms change through random mutations, changes in the gene pool. Mutations that lead to a better adaptation (suitability) of the respective individuals are more likely and more frequently passed on. Thus, over the generations, those features that did not lead to such an adaptation are sorted out. The process described by this theory is the process of evolution. So, according to Darwin, species were not simply created, but arose during a long process.

The evolutionary view of man based on "evolutionary principles"

So far so good. However, the theory of evolution has become an unreflective common good in our society today. So it is hardly surprising that we can also justify our image of man through evolutionary thoughts: Man is a biological organism like all other animals, so the “principles of evolution” should also apply to him. After all, it is about which genes are most likely to be passed on and that these genes should also be your own. This idea goes back to the struggle of everyone against everyone, which arises from the fact that every individual has an interest in passing on his genes - this only goes hand in hand with the highest fitness.

So the transmission of genes still seems to determine humans. Such laws, which can be derived from observations about evolution, can be called "evolutionary principles". The fact that one's own genes should be passed on also applies to humans, since they have an instinct for self-preservation and reproduction. After all, we can assume that we too will try to bring our genes through with the necessary egoism - that is, a high priority.

From an evolutionary point of view, it doesn't matter which means we choose, it's all about efficiency. Such an evolutionary conception of man would explain every act of man by the benefit that man derives from it. Man would be a selfish animal that has to survive in competition. It is precisely this tendency to competition that is perfectly reflected in capitalism: a social system based on egoism corresponds - following this line of thought - to the inner drives of people. Thus the "evolutionary principles" are applied to humans and a system based on egoism is justified.

Problems of “evolutionary principles” as the basis of the motivation to act

But these “evolutionary principles” cannot simply be presented as the basis of a person's motivation. Just because we can determine that the passing on of characteristics is still regulated according to the extent to which these characteristics bring an advantage to the wearer, that does not mean that these principles of evolution have a direct effect on people, their thoughts and actions.

The theory of evolution simply describes evolution and if the criteria for suitable characteristics change, from an evolutionary point of view this is information with a certain explanatory power, but completely irrelevant for the individual individuals and their motivation. One cannot infer humans from the validity of the rules of evolution. This is because the theory of evolution speaks only about the development of species and the description of the transmission of characteristics does not suggest general "evolutionary principles". There is a difference to explain why there can be certain behavioral dispositions (evolutionary explanation) and why a person acts in a certain way at a certain point in time. In this respect, "evolutionary principles" are not the basis of the motivation to act, but only a product of the theory of evolution, which can explain to us how behavioral dispositions can prevail over generations.


A conclusion from “evolutionary principles” to the individual's motivation to act is inadmissible, since “evolutionary principles” only explain the course of evolution. In this process, however, the individual with all his reasons and motives appears only in a tiny place and is not itself part of this principle.

It is, after all, what the theory of evolution explains - the evolution of species. It does not explain human images and it does not psychologize either, presumably because it is incapable of both. From an explanation of how a characteristic can prove itself over the generations, inferring a certain image of man and its motivations, seems absurd against this background. Reasons for actions are diverse and independent of their evolutionary "benefit". This benefit is only important for the transfer. The evolutionary view of man does not provide a credible explanation for man. The reinterpretation of the principles of evolution to the action motives of individuals has failed.

In this respect, it seems to me to be wrong to regard the competitive society as a form of society that corresponds to the human being. Man corresponds to society. Because this is the real statement of the theory of evolution: Man adapts in the course of evolution and that is what he now does in a civilized society. So man is not automatically a selfish being. Fortunately, it is changeable because we are all subject to an evolution that meanwhile cannot avoid moral values ​​and that is fortunate, because otherwise we would really all be caught - in a fight everyone against everyone.

Literature on the subject:
Bayertz, Kurt: Size and Limits of a Philosophical Research Program. In: Kurt Bayertz (Ed.): Evolution and Ethics, Stuttgart 1993, Reclam.

Illustration: Set keeper Pia