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Part I: A Critique of River Out of Eden: The Survival Advantage of Death

Robert W. Campbell


The Darwinist view that evolution lacks all meaning or purpose apart from survival of DNA sequences is not consistent with the evidence. Dawkins justifies this view by reverse engineering that he calls God’s utility function, equating this to the maximization of something. We are asked to imagine that organic life was made by a Divine Engineer, then we are to work out, by “reverse engineering,” what was maximized, which he claims is DNA survival. But DNA is a useless inert chemical without the equipment and resources of cells and organs of the host creature which are hierarchically organized. So too are the evolutionary levels from plants through invertebrates to vertebrates and humans. Sentient awareness is maximized in the human capacity to suffer and become aware of death. Suffering allows us to learn and evolve as individuals. Awareness of death is a grim joke totally lacking utility function if there is no transcending purpose or meaning to our short life on Earth. We are asked to believe that the blind agency of accidental mutations perversely evolved awareness of death solely for the survival of DNA sequences.

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