The Guardian has a reputation in the United Kingdom for left-wing political dissent. As a newspaper, it rose from the radical atmosphere in the northern city of Manchester, England, which was exacerbated by the notorious Peterloo Massacre of 1819, a time when cavalry troops charged an unarmed meeting of workers at St Peter’s Field, resulting in the death of 11 demonstrators and the injury of 500 others.1 The Jacobin sympathies of what was eventually to be called the Manchester Guardian newspaper have always been evident: the Jacobins were atheist and radical supporters of the French Revolution. The name of the world’s oldest industrial city was dropped in 1959, and the paper’s production was moved south to London in the 1990s and the newspaper became simply The Guardian.

If any newspaper was to take a lead in propagating the godless morality of naturalistic evolution, in all its fullness, it would have to be The Guardian. Perhaps it should be of no surprise, therefore, that Britain’s best known left-wing newspaper should be the first to publish a regular “agony aunt” column, where the advice meted is unmistakably and intentionally evolutionary in its content. The “Ask Carole” column was inaugurated on December 4th 2009, and it is intended to run every Friday.

In her first column, atheist comedienne and journalist, Carole Jahme, was posed with this dilemma:

There are two men in my life. There's a lovely older guy, aged 53. He's sophisticated and engaging and very kind and I love his company. But recently I met a 28-year-old guy. He's sexy and full of energy and I feel really attracted to him. He's newly arrived in Britain from Poland and is unemployed. I don't know who to choose.2

Carole’s reply assesses the respective evolutionary outcomes of liaisons with both men. In neither case is marriage suggested. Her “advice” concludes with the following.

Some Darwinists might say your optimal strategy would be to pair-bond with the older male but surreptitiously allow the younger, sexy male to fertilise you.3

Shocked? Wait till you read Jahme’s advice to the next questioner. Suzie, a 47-year old, has been married for 20 years and has two daughters. However, she is concerned about her husband’s behaviour in not being able to hold down a steady job. While the gentleman in question clearly has issues that need addressing, his behaviour would not warrant any Christian to recommend divorce. But Jahme’s morality has a different basis.

We have not evolved to stay with one mate for the whole of our adult lives. Some of us do so and enjoy it, but others don't.4

After the reader has recovered from the initial shock of Jahme’s warped morality, we begin to see that at least her morality is consistent, and is based on a philosophical foundation. It is a foundation entirely of Darwinian and evolutionary presuppositions. For example, on December 11th, she took to task a correspondent who wished to leave his wife for evolutionary reasons. Michael’s question is, to me, as shocking as Jahme’s answers.

I am a successful businessman in my early 40s. I am in good health and I am physically attractive. My wife, though, whom I selected for her good genes, has only produced one son for me and has now become infertile. There are a number of younger, healthier women available for me to choose from who could probably bear me more children and ensure the continuation of my genetic lineage.
However I am tied up with notions of "love", "duty", "responsibility", "morality" and "guilt", but I am aware that these are just irrelevant Christian social hangovers. What should I do?5

No doubt many of you, particularly the ladies, are now considering what your advice to Michael would be (and which hand it would be administered with!). It might surprise you to know that Jahme takes issue with Michael’s dismissal of feelings of ‘love’ and ‘guilt’.

The sentiments of love and guilt are not Christian hangovers, they are evolved, higher cognitive emotions.6

Yet this simply does not cut the mustard. Though Jahme rightly advises Michael to stay with his family, this is an example of saying the right thing for the wrong reason. Her reason does not stand up. Surely, it would be possible for Michael to maintain that his own desires might represent a further evolution beyond Jahme’s concept of “higher cognitive emotions.” Moreover, the idea that such emotions are “higher” is a value judgment. What is the evolutionary basis for such a value judgment, which is at odds with the advice given to Suzie the previous week?

Finally, notice how Jahme advises another correspondent to take a break. Even the reasons for taking a holiday are given as evolutionary.

Jane Goodall, among others, has observed the complex emotions of chimps and has noted that in times of stress, or when in need of quiet contemplation, individual chimpanzees take themselves away from the group to a beautiful spot, to rest and watch waterfalls, for example. These trips to areas of natural beauty are not for feeding, breeding or socialising purposes; rather they are occasions when chimps feel the need to take a break from the pressures of primate life.7

One is tempted to stand open-mouthed at the sheer banality of that comment. This is a new form of evolutionary fundamentalism, where even the most innocuous of activities requires justification from the sacred texts of Darwinianism. Don’t get me wrong; I like a holiday as much as the next man and staring at waterfalls does strike me as a pleasant activity. I can recommend the beautiful Dyserth Falls in Denbighshire, Wales. But do I really have to wait until I watch a chimpanzee switch on its iPod before I can justify listening to the music of Bach?

It is, at least, instructive to watch evolutionists take their beliefs to logical conclusions. Yet such a morality would be disastrous, were it to be applied more wholesale. It is to be hoped that even The Guardian might shy away from pushing this envelope any further. And the appeal to supposed, and sometimes nonsensical, evolutionary antecedents, in order to justify morality, is hardly a solid basis, even for an atheistic morality. Jahme’s advice rests on disputed evolutionary episodes, which could be interpreted differently by other evolutionists—witness Michael’s evolutionary basis for his “problem” above. It is worth noting that even famed atheist Professor Richard Dawkins is not able to base his morality entirely on his supposed science.

I am not advocating a morality based on evolution. I am saying how things have evolved. I am not saying how we humans morally ought to behave.… My own feeling is that a human society based simply on the gene’s law of universal ruthless selfishness would be a very nasty society in which to live.8

It had occurred to me to wonder, in view of one of Jahme’s other activities, whether her column was a pre-Christmas joke. Her column did not appear in the December 18th issue of The Guardian – and there will not be an edition for the next two Fridays, as they coincide with Bank Holidays – one of which Jahme’s co-religionists do not want us to name. But serious opinion or not, the column illustrates the bankruptcy of Darwinian morality and underlines the concern we should feel that such morality is replacing the historic Christian basis of traditional British values.

Nevertheless, I hope that all Guardian readers had a Happy Christmas.

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Footnotes

  1. "Peterloo Massacre." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 18 Dec. 2009, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/453884/Peterloo-Massacre Back
  2. ‘Ask Carole’, December 4th 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/dec/02/choosing-mate-evolutionary-agony-aunt Back
  3. Subsequent quotes from reference 2 will just give the date. This is December 4th 2009. Back
  4. December 4th 2009 Back
  5. December 11th 2009 Back
  6. December 11th 2009 Back
  7. December 11th 2009 Back
  8. Dawkins, R. (1989), The Selfish Gene (Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks), pp. 2–3. Back