Suddenly, "Darwinian" design and interpretative techniques are not only permissible but also—in some privileged venues—fashionable. We see Darwinian applications in computer science, engineering, molecular biology, cosmology, psychology, psychiatry, political science, and economics. In his new book, Darwinian Politics, Emory University's Paul H. Rubin, Professor of Economics and Law, applies a Darwinian analysis to current political processes. The subtitle, The Evolutionary Origin of Freedom, is provocative but, in my view, justified.

Life on Earth is 3,500 million years old: an incomprehensibly long interval. We can assess it by analogy, but we cannot feel it as we can an hour, a year, or a human lifetime. Hominins—human-like apes—have been here for at least four and a half million years. Hominins of the genus Homo, which includes humanity and its cousins, are known from about two...