Friday, 28 March 2008

Our Evolution Halt

With savages, the weak in body and mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of everyone to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands who, from a weak constitution, would formerly have succumbed to smallpox. Thus the weak members of civilised society propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but, excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed. The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered in the manner previously indicated more tender and more widely diffused. Nor can we check our sympathy, even without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature ... We must, therefore, bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind.

- Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, Second edition, pp. 133-134, 1887.

I've always had the profound belief that humans will never be able to evolve. The above as stated by Charles Darwin is one agency by which humans are eradicating the means to undergo some raw basis of natural selection.

Another thought takes root from the fact that we owe our lives to technology. Compared to any other living beings, humans alter the environment so much more such that our need to evolve on the grounds of adaptation to natural conditions is compromised. While other animals evolve to suit the harsh changes of their surroundings, humans have the intellect to manipulate habitats.

Our propensity to mess nature up has reverberated in so many ways and are coming back to haunt us, most noticeably in the form of global warming - it's as if Nature herself is recoiling from the accumulated cheap shots to deliver a sucker punch. Through our minds, we bear the brainchild of technology that is so conflicting with nature that we are distancing ourselves as sentient members of a beautiful ecosystem. In cushioning the weak and, in turn, allowing the weak to propagate as mentioned elegantly by Darwin, we are further contributing to our intrinsic deterioration as creatures of nature. It's no surprise then if we are dealt with an inherent blow in the form of us permanently afflicting our very own natural means of survival as a species when we lose the ability to adapt, evolve and survive.

No matter how I look at it, when we are placed side by side with the cockroaches, cheetahs, marlins and ferns of the world, we are lagging far behind. Simply thinking of the many varieties of cat species sends a shiver of excitement down my spine because it is just like running through a catalogue of prototypes designed to maximise killer abilities for the sake of survival - lions for their strength, cheetahs for their speed. Their bone structures are detail-perfect and their senses are sharpened. And the lowly cockroach is an evolutionary genius. A cockroach can survive decapitation for a very long period (up to weeks) until it dies of hunger. Cockroaches are among the hardiest insects on the planet, some species capable of remaining active for a month without food, or being able to survive on limited resources like glue from the back of postage stamps. Some can go without air for 45 minutes or slow down their heart rate. It has been popularly suggested that cockroaches will 'inherit the earth' if humanity destroys itself in a nuclear war, and cockroaches do indeed have a much higher radiation resistance than vertebrates, with the lethal dose perhaps 6 to 15 times that for humans. Cockroaches have practically been conceived, formatted and devised purely to rough it out and survive no matter what. Stripped of the safety net of technology, we are in a relegation zone battle to avoid joining the ranks of the dodos.

If one day nature throws a trump card that our technology can't catch up with, then I suppose our extinction is quite imminent.

The Religious Right aren't, and Scientific Creationism isn't.

Audio Candy:
Firehouse - Love Of A Lifetime

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