COVID-19 Pandemic: Darwinism vs Coexistence of Species

Posted On: April 30, 2020

Charles Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ was published in 1859. It was not until 40 years after Darwin’s discovery, that the existence of viruses was first recognized.

Since ancient times, many social, philosophical, and scientific theories have left a lasting impact on human society. But, when Charles Darwin came up with his theory of natural selection in the 19th century, the human perception of life completely changed. Darwin, in his work ‘On the Origin of Species’ explicated that there is ‘struggle for existence’ in nature and species compete with each other for survival.

Influenced by Darwin’s ideas, social scientists like Herbert Spencer propounded the idea of Social Darwinism. Social darwinism aims to apply the concept of natural selection to human societies and economic systems. The weak get diminished and their cultures delimited while the strong prevail. Following this, the human world at large began following the idea of “survival of the fittest,” a phrase coined by Herbert Spencer. As a result, human life became a struggle and human beings became sinners.

Fast forward to today, Darwinism is religiously followed and it dominates the collective human psyche, especially in the industrialized modern world. 

We should be grateful to Darwin for having given this theory to help us better understand life and existence. However, the very premise of the ‘survival of the fittest’ algorithm needs a reconsideration. This theory has driven mankind to innovate but compete, assuming to be living in a world of danger and scarcity.

Darwinian theory of evolution is the root cause of the growth of COVID-19 Pathogen. The smart Pathogen is ensuring well being of its fertile breeding ground and so, the fatality rate is minuscule.

Survival of the fittest vs Interconnectedness of species

This study by National Research Tomsk State University confirms that competition and struggle for survival are not the main drivers of evolution. The research shows that avoidance of competition, biological history, endogenosymbiosis, and three-dimensionality are the factors that shape ecosystems and allow the evolution of biological diversity. The study found some species of plants displayed a willingness to share a nutrient-rich fruit with an animal and drop its seed in a beneficial location.

If all organisms were competing for resources, there would never be evolved mutualisms. It is time that we created an improved and a more holistic perspective.

Darwin’s viewpoint

Darwin was smart enough to look at the killing of the deer by the tiger, from the angle of the herd of deer. Looking from the perspective of the leader of the herd, one would certainly come to the conclusion that the fittest ones in the herd will survive. But this is just one perspective. A human being is an independent observer and this theory can be looked at from multiple angles.

Looking at the incident from the tiger’s side, the deer is food for the tiger and the deer can easily outrun the tiger. So the tiger needs to work hard to keep itself in good shape and be ready to seize any opportunity that comes its way. The tiger has to identify the older, weaker, and slower deer. It needs only one deer to satiate the hunger and there is a whole herd before it. Nature had made provision for deer to procreate and grow more in numbers than tigers possibly can. 

From the tiger’s perspective, the theory changes from ‘Survival of the fittest’ to “Work hard to get your meal”. If Darwin had this viewpoint, we would be seeing a different world.

But wait…that is not the complete story yet! We cannot have a one sided view either from the tiger’s side or from the deer’s side. We need a big picture. 

animal art

Let us look at it holistically

In this perspective, I am just an observer who has the power to imagine and understand. As a human being, I have the required neurological hardware and the imagination software to make sense out of the whole.

The forest is a prerequisite for the deer to prosper. The forest needs proper rain and sunshine to thrive. The soil needs to be good enough for the forest to grow. The smallest piece of soil is as important as the deer is for the tiger to satiate its hunger and coexist in the forest. The tiger is a natural deterrent to the unbridled growth of deer, which can destroy the vegetation. The tiger keeps their population in check. The hoofs of the running deer help aerate the topsoil to make it fit for many microorganisms to grow and I can go on to describe the coexistence of all matter, flora, and fauna.

The conclusive theory here is: “Existence is coexistence”.

How does COVID-19 pathogen connect to the whole ecosystem of human existence?

The pathogens are all natural which thrive and coexist in animals. A human being needs to keep a safe distance from these animals. This is a simple natural rule that was the basis of the manifestations of all these various species of flora and fauna on this planet.

The earth is rich enough for the sentient beings to manifest and inhabit it. Every planet in this universe is on this path of progression. The earth is fully developed and therefore, human beings have evolved on this planet. 

Homosapiens as a species need to be in order and harmony with everything else. If the recycling process of every element on the earth is maintained, we can continue to coexist with pathogens.

Let us look at the long list of harmful pathogens that created havoc and killed more human beings than any other medium:

  • Smallpox
  • Influenza
  • Rabies
  • Dengue
  • Marburg virus
  • Ebola
  • SARS
  • Swine flu
  • MERS
  • COVID-19

It is a natural system for pathogens to sustain through animals and coexist with them. COVID-19 and all these pathogens are coexisting and have their own good role to play. Human beings breaking the laws of coexistence and showing their dominance on animal species is where the problem starts. Trading the animals, hunting them down to extinction, eating them, and disturbing their natural habitats is clearly the violation of natural order. Pandemics such as the one we are seeing right now are all the result of humans trying to dominate nature instead of being a part of it.

Bill Gates made a great speech predicting this respiratory pandemic in 2015.


Coronavirus originated in a wet market in Wuhan, China. China’s notorious and inhumane eating practices have been a matter of concern around the world. Global awareness of the fact that animal consumption has caused this pandemic has made people rethink their food consumption. Human beings around the world need to be more aware about the type of food they are eating, where it is obtained from, how and where it is prepared, and how it was stored.

One of the ways of keeping a distance from animals and their pathogens is cutting down the meat consumption. I would like to give some suggestions which I follow:

  • Home-cooked meals: We don’t want too many people to touch our food plus we want to be 100% assured of hygiene. This is only possible when we eat home-cooked meals.
  • Avoid exotic, zesty food: The simpler the food, the better it is for our health. Our food need not be the brain, liver, bile, craw, or egg of some animal found in a distant foreign country.
  • Reduce meat consumption: Nature produces enough for us to fulfill our nutrition needs. It is no secret that a plant-based vegetarian diet can provide for all our health and longevity needs. No point in killing sentient animals for the entertainment of our taste buds, or as a part of a trend.

We will not be required to remain distant from our family, friends, and a happy life, if we ensure that the whole human race keeps away from the animals that are the home to infectious pathogens.

Anand Damani Author at Medium

Serial Entrepreneur, Business Advisor, and Philosopher of Humanism

Writes about Human Behaviour, Universal Morality, Philosophy, Psychology, and Societal Issues.

Anand aims to help complete and spread the knowledge about Universal Human Values and facilitate their practice across sex, age, culture, religion, ethnicity, etc.

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