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Are Humans Still Evolving? (1 Viewer)

Graff

Senior Member
Are Humans Still Evolving?

By: Graff


If you’ve ever wondered, “Are we still evolving?”, this article is for you. Before assigning an answer to that question, we must look at the history of evolution, and of course, Charles Darwin.
Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection, suggests that “as random genetic mutations occur within an organism's genetic code, the beneficial mutations are preserved because they aid survival. These beneficial mutations are passed on to the next generation.” A simple and perfect explanation for evolution. Traits inherited that improve chances of survival are passed on to the generation for this reason.
Now that we understand the main reason for evolution in all species, we can take a look at humans, and answer our first question.
Human kind has become obsessed with safety. It is a natural trait, the instinct to survive. But have we gone too far? If you look closely, you will see that this obsession has practically destroyed our chances of evolving further. No human dies when they inherit a non-beneficial trait anymore. When we were living in caves, and ones athleticism could save his life, then we were evolving. The ones that survived, passed on the beneficial traits. But now, it doesn’t matter if your born with a bad knee, you won’t be hunted down by predators and killed. You will continue to breed and pass on those bad traits. Aren’t these reasons enough to stop human evolution dead in it’s tracks? The answer is “yes”. How can we possibly evolve any further with this happening? The strange thing is, we are still evolving. Small anomalies such as “wisdom teeth” are slowly being filtered out from generation to generation. How in the world is this happening? Do these occurrences disprove Darwin’s theory?
These are some things to think about while you’re having your wisdom teeth surgically removed.

-----

Quotes taken from "http://www.darwins-theory-of-evolution.com"
 
J

Jude Knox

I've been thinking an awful lot about this particular faction in our society. It's something we as mammalian primates are too scared to face.

Your bit reminded me of this exceptionally long quote from this movie "Naked":

Johnny: Do you think the amoeba ever dreamed that it would evolve into the frog? Of course it didn't. And when that first frog shimmied out of the water and employed its vocal chords in order to attract a mate or to retard a predator, do you think that that frog ever imagined that that incipient croak would evolve into all the languages of the world, into all the literature of the world? Of course it fuckin' didn't. And just as that froggy could never have possibly conceived of Shakespeare, so we can never possibly imagine our destiny.
Brian: I know what my destiny is.
Johnny: Yeah but what you're experiencing, as far as I can gather, with all these manifestations of regression and precognition and transmigratory astral fuckin' chatterings is just the equivalent of that first primeval grunt. Because evolution isn't over. Man isn't the be-all and end all. Look, if you take the whole of time represented by one year, we're only in the first few moments of the first of January. There's a long way to go. Only now we're not going to sprout extra limbs and wings and fins because evolution itself is evolving. And whereas you, through some process of extrasensory recall, might imagine that you were some, I don't know, some 17th-century little Dutch girl living in a windmill in old Amsterdam, one day you'll realize that you've had not just one or two past or future existences, but that you were and are everybody and everything that has ever been or will ever be.
Brian: Hang on a minute, you've just contradicted yourself.
Johnny: Oh, how'd you make that out?
Brian: Downstairs you were predicting the end of the world, now you're talking about the future. How do you explain that, eh?
Johnny: Easy. When it comes, the apocalypse itself will be part of the process of that leap of evolution.
Brian: Well. Whatever happens, mankind will not cease to exist.
Johnny: He must. By the very definition of apocalypse, mankind must cease to exist, at least in a material form.
Brian: What do you mean in a material form?
Johnny: Well he'll evolve.
Brian: What into?
Johnny: Into something that transcends matter. Into a species of pure thought. Are you with me?
Brian: Yeah...like a ghost!
Johnny: No, not like a [exp. deleted] ghost you big girl's blouse, into something that's like well beyond our comprehension. Into a universal consciousness. Into God, who is by the same principle that time is.
 

Graff

Senior Member
Now I have to see that movie. :D

It's something we as mammalian primates are too scared to face.

This statement is very similar to my thoughts on the subject. It also reminds me of my thoughts on religion, but I won't get into that. I don't want to offend anyone :D .

But then again, what I said at the end of the article is also true. We are still evolving somehow. It may be a different, less significant kind of evolution, but at least it's something.

Don't mistake me for one of those conceited people who cling to the hope that we have some higher purpose, I'm merely stating a fact.

I'd love to hear all the opinions I can get on this matter, so keep replying people! :D
 

freebird

Member
Graff said:
Are Humans Still Evolving? If you’ve ever wondered, “Are we still evolving?”, this article is for you.

Graff, ain't seen too many monkeys coming out of the jungle with cell phones lately. :lol:
 

Graff

Senior Member
Graff, ain't seen too many monkeys coming out of the jungle with cell phones lately.

To be honest, I don't understand what you mean by this. I'm talking about humans evolving further than we already have, not monkeys evolving to become humans. I probably just don't understand your statement, so if I'm mistaken, please tell me lol.
 

journyman161

Senior Member
Logic says if we protect those with defective genes & allow them to breed, we are interfering with the natural cleansing mechnism of the genome.

Unsuccessful mutations are not supposed to live or pss their defects on to the general population, that way the pool purges itself of unneeded or dangerous genes.

But evolution doesn't deal with harmless choices; only if the change is inimical in some way will it be selected against otherwise it can hang around the genome.

It is however a bit of a puzzle as to why some things fade. The appendix, for example. Sure, our diet changed & we didn't rely on it anymore, but why would it shrink from what it was.

It's almost like there's a monitor somewhere that watches the body for signs of bludging & sets a program in motion to remove permanent bludgers from the system. (a bludger is someone that consumes resources without contributing anything back to the pool)

In a case like the male peacock, it is easier to understand the issue; the peacock has so much invested in the tail as a means of drawing a breeding mate that he rides right on the edge of sustainability, so he has to be very efficient at survival to outdo his competitors.
The peahens do the selecting, so if there is a trait appears the peahens can reject it & that peacock don't get no lovin'
But if the new trait actually detracts from resources used to make & keep his tail in fine condition, the peahens will reject him anyway & he may even die before getting to breeding age.

Also, evolution these days is seen by most as 'puctuated equilibrium', where things kind of drift along for a while, then climate change or some other basic factor alters & all that don't have a particular trait die off & only those with the trait (& associated side issues) get to breed the next generation.

With medicine & surgery, we have almost 'frozen' the genome in one place. Any defects are preserved & passed on, & never mind the fact that human greed to have progeny also condemns those progeny to a desperate miserable life. I'd really like an explanation of the 'right' to have children when your very genome is saying no to the idea.

For the sake of the race, steps should have been taken to ensure congenital disease was left out of the genome. It's all nice & fuzzy when we're talking about how some poor person should be allowed to have a child, but harsh decisions are coming & the longer we leave them the more people will be affected.

Note: I am not doing the hitler things here. I make no suggestions as to what we should be aiming for, just that we know what we don't want.

However, the good news is, provided we can keep the hysteria levels down, we are not far off being able to repair damaged genomes so children bron with known defects can be 'cleansed' before entering the breeding pool.

Again, not suggesting at all that we try to 'direct' the genome, not even for favoured attributes, just that we take over the slow job evolution was doing. After all, we no longer live at the pace evolution can cope with; we've increased the genomic dangers by hundreds of times & at the same time, bred indiscriminately so our eco-niche is under almost constant threat.

These are the conditions under which there have been sudden jumps in the genome in the past, so we can probably expect an increase in genetic diseases and/or failures as the human genome struggles to adapt to the new world.
 
J

Jude Knox

journeyman, so what you're really trying to say is....? lol

I got the gist of it. Pretty much.

And Graff (mind if I call you "Sergeant Graff" sometimes? That would be Camp-Happy-Times for this Ender's Game luvr), that film I quoted from is remarkably depressing yet highly thought-provoking. It's EXTREMELY hard to find anywhere. In fact, I was VERY VERY VERY lucky to have caught it on HBO a couple of months ago. This is because A: it's indie and B: it's foreign. Also, C: it was written/directed by Mike Leigh. So, this is basically one helluva trifecta. But if you can find it, I encourage you to see it. It is gritty. It has the ability to rip your heart out with ice cold hands and it can also give you awesome one-liners.

Take this one for example:

Louise: Why are you such a bastard, Johnny?
Johnny: Monkey see, monkey do.
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
mark... there's no mystery to why organs shrink when going unused for many generations... just as a paraplegic's limbs will, when not used, things that no longer have any function to fulfill will atrophy...

and, if that lack of function continues for generation after generation, it makes sense that its code in the helix will fade away, as well... the old 'use it or lose it' rule...

imo, the average civilized human's brain has to be shrinking, as it seems to be not much used, either!
 

Graff

Senior Member
imo, the average civilized human's brain has to be shrinking, as it seems to be not much used, either!

I laughed out loud at that one :D

mind if I call you "Sergeant Graff" sometimes? That would be Camp-Happy-Times for this Ender's Game luvr

Of course :D . But I think it's Colonel Graff :wink: .

Journeyman: You seem very well learned on this subject, and what you wrote was very interesting :) .

mamma: I definiety agree with your point that it has something to do with a kind of atrophy, good thinkin :wink: .
 

journyman161

Senior Member
Limbs & organs may atrophy, but genes don't. To understand we need to look at it at the genome level. There is a sequence (or several) that codes for development & intestines etc.

To alter the size of appendix, the gene sequence must be modified. Chemical bases don't just fade with lack of use & any alteration would more likely result in the absence of the appendix than a shrinking of it.

It may seem a logical thing, but at the genetic level it isn't; it becomes a very complex question.

There are others as well, including those where it is exceedingly difficult to work out a 'survival' rationale for them coming about in the first place. eg, human female breasts. Wide hips have a survival reason; you can have larger brained progeny, but why would the genome work to create large stores of fat to create an appearance oF pregnancy? Pregnant women can't breed, large breasts are not anything to do with milk production or better flow of milk, yet men have them as a sexual trigger & womens bodies develop them.

No other female mammal has such breasts; even those with udders. Why would a genome invent such a thing? It's easy to look at things now & say to increase the sexual attraction, but how the hell does a genome understand the sexual attraction between one conglomerate of cells & another?
 

Graff

Senior Member
Hmm... very thought provoking.

There is a quote that could explain this. It goes: "Trying to get a human to understand the universe he lives in, could be just as difficult teaching a cat the Theory of Relativity."

lol
 

journyman161

Senior Member
Another example of a human trait that hasn't vanished even though it has no possible use, is male nipples. We have them because the genome is, at basics, a female genome & men are altered females. But they've been present in males since the dawn of mammals & there's nothing keeping them in place.

There's also at least 3 layers of complexity in the genome, of which the chromosomes are merely the first one explored. Something controls the expression of the genes, as well as which get 'chosen' for recombination. Then there's the wraparound layer of chemical complexes that covers the genome like a skin; it must be there for some reason. Perhaps to make choices based on the current organism's environment?

While we are affecting evolution by treating the symptoms so previously non-viable specimens not only survive & breed, it doesn't necessarily stop evolution, as there is still cellular & environmental mutating processes as well as whatever may affect the chemical layer around the chromosomes.

So, rather than stop the river of evolution, we're really allowing it to get dirtier, by blocking the natural cleaning that should occur.

The non-fatal changes would still be occuring throughout the population.
 

Graff

Senior Member
I had no idea that the cleansing process could occur at the cellular level. Very cool stuff. But now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense.

Do you by any chance know who said that quote? The one about the cat. I remember reading it, but I don't quite remember who said it.
 

journyman161

Senior Member
Recombination is the cleaning process as well as a cell's main defence against the mutability of cellular predators. (viruses etc)

Don't know who said the cat quote, but it sounds like perhaps einstein?
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
A little knowledge is a hilarious thing...
who here stands in the nobel laureates' ring?

When posters present their walls of degrees,
I'll believe their claims 'to know,' with ease.

Till then, along with my own surmises,
all postulations I'll count mere aggrandizes!

;-)
 
B

brglid

Evolution of Humans

Nature always has it's way of weeding out the weak, no matter how civilized we become.
Darwinism applies to almost all aspects of life. For example, different social classes have different breeding habits then others. For example, a catholic man will most likely have more children than a gay man. Is this evolutionarily beneficial?? It depends on who you ask.
Countires that are more poorly developed, have lower life expectancies and have less time to breed, but there is also limited birth control in these countries.
I think modern human evolution applies mostly to one ethnic groups ability to war against another. War showcases a civilization's technological superiority/ inferiority, athleticism, hospitals, etc. A very similar situtation to who would live and die in a cave.
It seems to me that the wars that have occured throughout time are the most significant advances in human evolution. As dismal as it may seem, I believe that without war, the human race would indeed stagnate. Many of the great technological advances of humans have been a result of a wartime neccesity. Lets also not forget the space race.
Why would a civilization exert any effort unless they where threatened? In response to the question "Have humans stopped evolving?" My response is no. Our evolution occurs through technology and war for the most part. Technology is the result of a culture's mental capacity. I also believe mutations still play a part in evolution, for example cancer is a major player in today's evolutionary ballfeild.
These are just some thoughts I have, I am a Molecular Biology student so I think about it. If anyone agrees/ disagrees with me, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
 

LensmanZ313

Senior Member
Some good points. Many technological advances have been driven by war. And, war and chaos spurring on human evolution . . . that was what the Shadows did, guiding humankind by pushing them into conflicts, as shown in the SF series, Babylon-5.
 

journyman161

Senior Member
A problem or two with the social evolution thing. 1st is a biggie - how would or could a genome, which is individual to a person & limited to the cellular environment, 'know' anything about society? Social pressures mean nothing for a cell excepting where they infringe on the ability to breed.

the problems with war are manyfold. As many things or more have been destroyed by war than were ever created. We have lost most of our history, lost the light of civilisation numerous times, & seen the flower of brilliance quenched by the darkness of barbarism too often because of war.

And I'd actually like to see a listing of the things we're supposed to have gained from war that aren't weapons or fight-related
Sometimes, the things learned during the spur of war are later shown to have beneficial aspects as well, but those beneficial things are learned during peace time. Conquerors, dictators & kings alike do not wait patiently for their weapons while the thinker works out the new plough.

War also provides negative evolution for the race. We do not send our weak or crippled to war, we take the fittest & best & place them in an arena where it is NOT their own skills & talents that choose who survives. it's not like the days of knights & champions where the truely best were the ones who survived & passed on their genes.
Meanwhile, the less able & deficient stay home to breed.
 
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