The September 2003 edition of Natural History carried an article titled “Love and Death,” which dealt with a study by the evolutionary biologists Matthias W. Foellmer and Daphne J. Fairbaim. (“Spontaneous Male Death During Copulation in an Orb-veawing Spider”, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B (Suppl.) DOI 10. 108/rsbl.2003.0042, 2003)
The researchers had observed that the males of the Argiope aurantia species of spider live for an average of 15 minutes after mating, and that their hearts suddenly stop, though not as a result of any action by the females.
Natural History interpreted this from an evolutionist perspective, and wondered what sort of evolutionary advantage might accrue from death immediately after mating. The researchers gave a speculative reply to this question, claiming that the death of the male, in such a way as to prevent other males from entering the equation, functioned like a sort of organic system.
However, this speculation in Natural History provides absolutely no support for the theory of evolution. Speculating about the behavior of any living thing by assuming an evolutionary benefit of some kind offers no explanation of how that behavior in question came about. Indeed, Foellmer and Fairbaim indicate a benefit which might be regarded as an advantage from this behavior but are unable to offer an explanation of how this behaviour first came about.
Doing this is like describing a feature of one brand of computer which other computers do not possess and then making do with setting out that advantage. It is evident that someone who describes the useful feature of the computer and then claims that this came about through natural causes can never explain how this came about. Similarly, accepting the death of the spider as an evolutionary advantage and setting out an advantage of this does not explain how this behavior arose in the first place.
Moreover, no such spontaneous death is observed in other species of spider. That in turn reveals the inconsistency of an explanation which seeks an evolutionary “advantage” in the death of the A. aurantia species. One of the fundamental requirements of an explanation is for the cause and effect relationship brought to bear on phenomena to be able to function in as wide a measure as possible.
The fact is that of all the thousands of species of spider, only the males of this species die spontaneously. There is no difference between this species and others in terms of habitat and lifestyle. So if this death is an evolutionary advantage, then why have other species not selected this advantage?
As we have seen, Natural History actually seeks no consistency in its account and merely resorts to fantasies which might adapt certain facts at its disposal to evolution, which it has adopted as a dogma. In short, this tale is of no other value than revealing Natural History’s evolutionist prejudices.
Our advice to Natural History magazine is that it abandon its evolutionist prejudices and accept that intelligent design is the consistent explanation of the phenomena in nature and that God has created all living things.