evolution · science

Humans Are Not Stagnating

I read a post, which you should probably read first, from fellow blogger Way of The Squirrel, and I had to write my opinion on it. It was too good of a conversation to pass up, so here it is:

“In fact, we no longer even need to think about many things often.”

I think it’s a good thing that we don’t have to worry about memorizing telephone numbers or directions (though if we go somewhere enough times, most people will map out the directions, even if it’s not on purpose) It’s not a matter of stopping our memorization, but rather a change in what we memorize. By eliminating the need to memorize menial things, it allows us to explore, understand, and memorize more important, interesting and success creating things. We have a limited amount of cognitive ability and memory available to us in the amazing and nearly mystical mass in our skulls, so it’s important to be able to free it up where possible to further our understanding and education.

“…we may have effectively stopped needing to evolve…”

Well… There’s a yes/no answer to this that doesn’t involve technology or science in any way, shape or form. It comes down to biology. See, a group of animals evolves most dramatically when said group is small. The larger the group gets, the less likely it is to evolve any dramatic changes. Also, if the physical form is good enough to get along in the enviornment it’s in, it’s unlikely to mutate further. Finally evolution happens so slowly, that with large beings, such as ourselves, we are not going to see it happen, even over multiple generations. I mean, homo sapien has been around over 200,000 years and really… There haven’t been a whole lot of changes. This is why studying evolution happens in A) studying the past or B) studying small or even micro organisms that have an extremely fast rate of reproduction.

“…we have lost the ability to evolve.” “We will never grow wings as we have used our technology to conquer the skies.” “Giraffes have long necks so that they can eat the leaves that other creatures cannot eat. Stick insects blend into their backgrounds to protect themselves from predators. Humans developed opposable thumbs and larger brains in order to allow them to create tools and to conquer their environment and prey.”

All these statements are based off a flawed concept of evolution. Nothing evolves so that they can do something, but rather they can do something because of a certain set of evolutionary traits that happened.
-Humans, based off of all the information in evolution that we have, will likely never end up with wings. No mammal, even more specifically no primates, has ever had even so much as proto-feathers, nor does any primate have hollow bones. They only showed up in birds and their progenitors (certain sub groups of dinosaurs. Oh yes, that delicious chicken you are eating? Totally a dinosaur. O.o)
-Giraffe’s are able to eat leaves that other animals can’t reach, because those with the longest necks had a easier time surviving than their fellow giraffees with shorter necks. So generations over, they go from short necked animals, to incredibly long necked animals.
-Humans are able to create tools and are exceptional at conquering our environment because of our evolved traits like a larger brain, upright stance, and opposable thumbs.

“We will never grow wings as we have used our technology to conquer the skies.”

Yes, I’m using this one again. Outside forces, like using helicopters or airplanes, that inherently have nothing to do with making it easier or harder to live in our environment, don’t cause or deny evolution. They have zero influence as selective pressures.
About evolution as a whole, I think Bill Nye put it much better than Darwin. Darwin stated survival of the fittest, which, without his subsequent explination, is highly misleading. Bill Nye said survival of the good enough, and I think for a sucint statement, that paints a better picture.

Evolution is *essentially* nothing more than a matter of who fits best within a given situation based on the biological traits they have. You have to be just good enough to eek out a better chance at reproduction than your peers.

“Yes we can use rudimentary technology to replace a limb or to cure a disease but nature is far better at this than we are…”

Well, we never evolved the capacity to regrow limbs, so, in those terms, prosthetics are better than the natural course. Vaccines and penicillin are just two examples of how much better we have become at staving off and curing disease than nature is.

Although the idea of “natural vs man made” is fallacious. Everything we use is natural. It is inherent that what we do can not be unnatural, as we are part of nature. That would be like saying ant hills or beaver dams are unnatural. We just happen to be better at manipulating our environment in… “odd” ways, so to speak.

Science and technology are nothing more than tools, there is no inherent morality to them. Where misuse and destruction from them come in is if they are being used by people with bad intentions, or if they are being used by people ignorant of their capabilities. So then we have a really big giant humongous insert-other-euphemism-here problem, of which Carl Sagan put well:

“We’ve arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster.”

“If we turn our back on nature so completely we can but hope that it does not turn its’ back on us.”

I’ve not seen anyone that is truly science savvy, or especially is a scientist, that has turned their back on nature, rather, these people tend to be very reverent of it.

At the end of the day, nature won’t turn it’s back on us as we personify it, but rather, we could very well create an environment in which we are unable to survive.

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One thought on “Humans Are Not Stagnating

  1. As with many of my blogs I am merely raising issues so that they can be discussed so I’m happy to see that bloggers like Mind to Unbind and Ivy Willlow picking up the batton.
    I don’t believe that scientists have turned their backs on nature nor do I think that we will grow wings. these are merely examples to make a point and to raise discussion. So, again, I’m grateful for the opinions 🙂
    What are blogs if not dialogues? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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