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Are we still evolving?

  1. Sep 19, 2005 #1
    Are homo-sapiens as a species still evolving? If so, in what manner? What is the method of selection? Has the development of civilization slowed down the rate of evolution by providing medicine for the sick and food and shelter for the less “able?”

    Assuming that our species can survive, what will our ancestors be like a thousand years from now? A million years from now? A billion years from now? What is the ultimate “goal” of evolution? Obviously the immediate goal is to become more efficient at survival, but is there something more than that? Is there some ultimate “target” that we are evolving towards?

    My opinion:
    I do believe we are still evolving. I think it would be pretty arrogant of us to claim that we (in our current forms) are the pinnacle of the evolution of life. However, I also believe that evolution has slowed down as civilizations have progressed. Civilized countries all over the world provide food, shelter, medicine, and protection for all of their citizens no matter how “weak” they may be. In effect, it has become easier to survive and pass on your genes whether they are good or bad. This, combined with a population that is growing exponentially almost makes me think that evolution has been completely neutralized. However, given the enormous timescales that evolution works over, I think even small “advantages” will continue to spread through the population albeit at a much smaller rate than they have in the past. Most of the changes I could foresee occurring in our ancestors are brain related (intelligence mainly) because physical strength is no longer a priority for survival in the current world. As far as the last questions I pose about the “goal” of evolution, I have no idea but I am anxious to hear others’ thoughts on this.

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 19, 2005 #2
    I think Darwinian evolution of humans stopped when human intellegence took over from survival of the (physical) fitest. We are now evolving under a completely different set of rules.

    Yes we care for our lame, sickly, retarded, insane brothers and sisters but, that does not mean they degrade the gene pool. Consider the physical condition of S. Hawking and his contribution to the world since debilitation. Consider the line between genius and insanity is exceedingly thin.

    Genes from a very mentally challenged person can combine with an ordinary person's to produce a genius; and v.v., two geniuses can produce a real dummy.

    An athlete of highest performance can be a genius or a dunce.

    Main point, is that there are new rules guiding evolution of humans and we are in dire need of a modern Darwin to light the way.

    The Goal? To live forever and be contented.
  4. Sep 22, 2005 #3
    Yes, the human race is still evolving, but not physicly, mentally, people are becoming more lazy, but thinking up new ways to allow the human race to still use our minds, anything from computers to tv, all that infomation going into out heads
  5. Sep 22, 2005 #4


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    We are evolving physically too. Whereever there is a physical difference where one type leaves more children than the other, that's variation and selection, and if it continues for many generations there will be more than one human species.
  6. Sep 22, 2005 #5
    sorry i didnt mean "not physicly evolving at all" i ment we are become more lazy, just like to dodo, life was easy for the bird, they evolved to become fat and lazy, the a stronger animal wiped them out sadly, i see the human race heading to the bird, the one sad thing is i think the human race would destroy themselfs!
  7. Oct 6, 2005 #6
    So what?.... Live long and prosper. lol JK
  8. Oct 6, 2005 #7
    Having a greater ability to manipulate our environment does not mean we do not have genes which are subject to environmental pressures and, consequently, natural selection. There is a theory on what it takes for evolution not to occur:

    Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium describes the null model evolution. For a population to be in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, five conditions must be met:

    1. No Genetic Drift (Infinite Population Size)

    2. No Migration (No Gene Flow)

    3. No Mutation

    4. No Selection (No Differential Selection)

    5. Random Mating (No Differential Reproduction)

    If all five of these conditions are met, the allelic and genotypic frequencies will remain the same from generation to generation. Under these conditions, the relationships among allelic and genotypic frequencies hold true

    Reference I
    Reference II
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2005
  9. Oct 6, 2005 #8
    The dodo didn't evolve to fear humans because they were not a part of their environment at first. They never got a chance to evolve that behavior so they were slaughtered to extinction. Same with lemurs, but I think since they live in trees they were harder to get at. I assume the lemurs today (on Madagascar) have evolved to fear humans.

    dodo genocide :surprised :cry:

    Those http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/0b/Fatmouse.jpg [Broken] are getting pretty fat too
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  10. Dec 2, 2005 #9
    We, as with any species must continue to evolve. We are doing it as we speak. Due to all the vaccines and medicines we have our natural immune systems do not have to work as much. Thus, they decay and we rely on even more drugs.

    I have never taken a flu shot and much to my chagrin, I have still never had the flu. If I get a paper cut, I do not run to the medicine cabinet for a band-aid and anti-bacterial creams. I let it bleed and crust over. It is what we are designed to do. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of great things that medicine has to offer, I just think we have taken to a weird extreme.

    The evolution we all face now is more of a mental one. Our bodies are fairly stable. However, we have primal responses that society tries to weed out and one day might succeed. Out natural tendency to fight through a problem, rather than reason it out or come up with a compromise. Our natural tendency to overeat in preparation for winter. We have food in abundance most of the time in the U.S. so we do not need to store up fat like a squirrel anymore.

    These are just a few examples. I think that the next evolution will be a mental one, where we drop all these silly notions as mentioned above. We might discover what the other 50-90% of our brains are for and start to use more of them.
  11. Dec 2, 2005 #10


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    To get one thing out of the way first, the idea that we don't use some big percentage of our brains is an urban myth. Our brain is highly structured and all areas of it get used. There is supportive structure (glial cells) just as a skyscraper has a skeleton. It is being used even though it isn't tasked for thinking.

    And then, if we are to evolve mentally, then people with the mental variations should leave more surviving offspring than people without them. Do you see any mental traits with this property?
  12. Dec 3, 2005 #11
    what about the human race's next step is an integrated consciousness? like Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said. just as molecules merged to create cells and begin life, and as cells merged to create larger organisms and consciousness (this is assumming only larger multicelled organisms have consciousness) the conscious individuals should merge to create the next level of life. how cool is that.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2005
  13. Dec 3, 2005 #12


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    This is not evolutionary thinking but teleological speculation. i.e. rather than looking at where evolution may be taking us, based on the way it works, you are setting up conceivable goals, without specifying any mechanism for getting to them.

    On where evolution of humanity may be going, consider this: differential reproduction in the advanced countries now depends more on social forces than on physical or biological ones. Do we think this situation will last long enough to cause measurable evolution?
  14. Dec 3, 2005 #13
    serene chaos,

    good point, for sure. i just wanted to ask one question.

    he says that, "molecules merged to create cells and begin life, and as cells merged to create larger organisms and consciousness (this is assumming only larger multicelled organisms have consciousness) the conscious individuals should merge to create the next level of life."

    did the cells create consciousness? (main question)

    (tangent questions)
    -from what did the cells create consciousness?
    -in order for the cells to merge, doesn't that imply an act of "consciousness" on some level? (i mean: the cells, in some way, must have been "conscious" or maybe we can say, "aware" of the other cells, in their vicinity, in order to merge with them. can we say that the cells are "aware" of each other? no matter how crudely "conscious" or "aware" that they are?)
    **not mentioned to de-value your post, because i think that you post is incredibly relevant**
    I mention it because I am seeing a more fundamental process occurring within it. such that like-conscious entities are continually evolving by merging with other like-conscious entities, (ad infinitum?) where consciousness has evolved so far that it is aware of itself (self-aware).
    the next step, it seems, is that such, "like-conscious entities" (namely, those that are 'self-aware') would merge with one another, to actualize an even higher form of consciousness.... perhaps, to actualize consciousness in a complete, united "loop", from highest to lowest, actualized, plainly, as Consciousness.

    such a model, says that all evolution is the evolution of consciousness, to the actualization that "Consciousness is, and not another".

    zen buddhists have said, in similar words, "when humans become enlightened, all of the animals and plants, and all that is, will simulataneously, be enlightened, as to the Nature", at which point, (to use Christian language) "the Lion will sleep with the Lamb".

    such an evolutionary model, would highlight the pinnacle of evolution, it appears.
    an evolution, to where all such entities of consciousness, are then evolving, not by individual need and "chance", but through the commmunal fulfillment of Consciousness, itself; all merging into the highest form of consciousness possible... One, That is infinite(?) and self-same.

    well, im just talking. surely, though evolution is not over. such conceitedness and anthropomorhism, is surely not humble or possessed of any humility, in the face of overwhelming needs for adaptation and creativity. how else will humans ever grow up?

    no. humans, generally speaking, are mostly children, infants even... perhaps it fetus'. "playground" rules are still being applied by "the grown ups". all the same psychological complexes are there in adults as they were in childhood. got the cheater, the liar, the bully, the baby, etc.. they have never grown out of that psychological immaturity. they have merely actualized and expressed it more clearly and powerfully.

    evolution in humans, might equivocate to "growing up" for Real.

    like the idea of Kundalini. gotta Grow Up, out of base fooleries.

    ok, thank you.
  15. Dec 4, 2005 #14


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    I think this thread has had enough shelf life. Evolution is really more of a topic for biology and perhaps social sciences as well, if you want to include changes on the level of culture and ideas (memes) and so on. The rest (at least as presented thus far in this thread) is, as selfAdjoint put it, teleological speculation.
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