Defying Nature? Or Not…

Darwin’s theory of evolution is widely excepted today; we learn about it in our biology class, and we discuss how animals have lived through it. We even talk about the human evolution, but we haven’t seen much change in recent years. Some may argue that humans are finally defying nature and no longer living according to the theory of evolution and natural selection. Many feel we are no longer part of that natural struggle, but we continue to watch the world around us follow that path. In a recent article by National Geographic, this idea is questioned. The article looks at four different possibilities.

First, there is no longer such thing as human evolution. We have reached our capacity and beaten down mother nature, so we define where are own species is going and on what terms. As said by anthropologist Ian Tattersall of New York’s American Museum of Natural History, “the fixation of any meaningful evolutionary novelties in the human population is highly improbable. Human beings are just going to have to learn to live with themselves as they are.” Supporters of this argument sense that natural selection occurs from a genetic mutation, but humans are no longer living in isolated populations, which means very few genetic mutations. Others support this by arguing that because of medical advancements, the weakest individuals of society are still able to pass on their genes, essentially beating “survival of the fittest.”

The second possibility presented is that humans will continue to evolve, regardless of survival rates in today’s society. A group of scientists support this theory by studying which physical traits tend to be passed on more. Supporter’s of this argument also suggest that evolution may be speeding up in humans, as Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico, shares that “You still have powerful mate choice shaping mental traits particularly … traits that are needed to succeed economically and in raising kids.” Miller also suggests that we will see more epidemics because of the spread of airborne viruses and bacteria, which will lead to stronger immune systems.

The third idea is that humans will achieve the highest control by development of technology. This theory, called Transhumanism, sees humans taking control of their evolution and limitations by technology. Essentially, this group of people believes that human society is gearing towards artificial intelligence, and that soon the human race will be fully dependent on this life style.

The last possibility presented in that humans are about to embark on a new wave of evolution. Supporters of this theory see humans isolating themselves in the near future, by traveling and inhabiting planets other than just Earth. This allows small groups of people to experience speciation. “If we had spacefaring people who went on one-way voyages to distant stars, that might be enough to trigger speciation,” says John Hawks, an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After reading the four possibilities presented, I felt that one possibility was still left out. None of these theories see the advancements of humans today as part of evolution, but either insignificant to evolution or the reason we have beaten evolution. Perhaps, technological advancements that lead to longer life and increased populations are actually still evolutionary traits working, but in a different way than we’ve previously seen. The theory of evolution does not always mean that species have to die out, it simply states that species will adapt and advance themselves by natural selection in order to pass on our genes. Maybe humans have found a way to pass on more genes, and even though we don’t recognize it, all of our innovations and goals are quietly driven inherently by evolution.

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