The Laws of Biology that Charles Darwin discovered are listed and discussed by him, briefly, in the last paragraph of his 1859 book “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or, The Preservation of the Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”,
The Laws of Biology are discussed at length in the larger book. Whole chapters are dedicated to each Law of Biology.
Here is that last paragraph of Darwin’s book, as it appears in the first edition:
“It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”
We all know that there are Laws of Physics, such as the speed of light and the force of gravity.
But we never hear the phrase “Laws of Biology” in our high school and college science classes. Why is that, I wonder?
My working theory is that it out of deference to the generally left-learning political philosophy of science educators.
Science educators are very eager for every American to know, understand, and accept that human beings came into being by a completely natural process, without any need for supernatural intervention by an intelligent being such as God. So, science educators are very eager for students to learn about Natural Selection acting on Random Mutations. They want students to doubt Biblical Creationism, and it works.
But science educators are very reluctant for students to know and think about what, in the passage above, Darwin referred to as “Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life.” That is a Law of Biology.
Remember that the second title that Darwin gave to his 1859 book is: "The Preservation of the Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” ,
Darwin is telling us that the life-or-death struggle/competition between biological beings is an essential, permanent part of the life of all biological beings, including human beings.
This part of Darwin’s theory means that there can never be an enduring civlization of peace and justice, since humans will always reproduce at a rate that leads to life-or-death shortages of resources necessary to survive. Thus, what in the above passage Darwin called the “war of nature” must always play out again and again in human history, until such time as “extinction” (also mentioned by Darwin in the above passage) comes to the human species.
Remember that Hitler and his fellow National Socialists justified their warmaking by stating that they needed “lebensraum” (living space). Leaders and other citizens of the USA used the same justification to justify the USA’s war against Mexico in order to obtain the Mexican state of California. Putin uses the same justification (at least to himself and his inner circle) to justify his current conquest of Ukraine.
All this is unpleasant and politically incorrect, especially for liberals, leftists, socialists, and progressives, who always promote the idea that with reason, science, and rationality, we can create a lasting civilization of peace and social justice.
And so, contrary to what many say, human beings are not really the masters of the planet earth. Rather, like all the other plants, animals, and microbes on the planet Earth, we are completely slaves–slaves to the Laws of Biology. Everything important is outside our control. War can never end. Economic and political domination and exploitation can never end.
It is our vanity (our natural, evolved tendency to conceive of ourselves as being above nature) that makes both Secular Humanists and Religious Conservatives think of humans as powerful and creative beings with immense free will to create whatever society we can imagine.
Albert Einstein grasped all this, leading him to write this in his “My Credo” of 1932:
“I do not believe in freedom of the will. Schopenhauer’s words: “Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills” accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of freedom of will preserves me from taking too seriously myself and my fellow men as acting and deciding individuals and from losing my temper.”
I personally was shocked and appalled to learn all of this.
But it is right there in Darwin’s book, and in the writings of a number of serious thinkers since then.
This information is the basis of what some people call “the tragic sense of life.”
All this is massively politically incorrect. But it is scientifically correct.
Still, I wonder: Is it better to keep silent about this “bad news” delivered to the world by Charles Darwin? Maybe it is.
Maybe those of us who know should just suffer in silence and let those who don’t know have peace in not knowing. I’m not sure.
Some people might remember the Rust Cohle character in “True Detective” season 1. He kept explaining this “tragic sense of life” to his police detective partner, Marty, thereby annoying greatly that partner.
In Adam McKay’s movie on Netflix, “Don’t Look Up,” he depicted a scenario in which many Americans didn’t want to know the scientific truth about a certain important matter. Is that applicable to this Darwinian scientific knowledge? I guess it depends on whether or not there is anything to be done to make things better.
The eminent philosopher Miguel de Unamuno, in his famous novel "Saint Manuel Bueno, Martyr,” depicts a Catholic priest who knows that there is no afterlife, but who nevertheless devotes his life to affirming the reality of the Heavenly afterlife to the simple people of the small Spanish village where he works and lives, and he does this out of a sense of pity for the tragic, existential predicament in which everyone exists, and which uneducated peasant farmers and tradespeople are ill equipped to otherwise deal with. I wonder if that story has some application to the question as to whether anyone should speak about the Darwinian scientific reality of the inextinguishable “struggle for life” and “war of nature”?
Oh my! How tiresome all this is! Am I right?
"I have of late, (but wherefore I know not) lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition; that this goodly frame the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy the air, look you, this brave o’er hanging firmament, this majestical roof, fretted with golden fire: why, it appeareth no other thing to me, than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is man, How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, In form and moving how express and admirable, In action how like an Angel, In apprehension how like a god, The beauty of the world, The paragon of animals. And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?"