hopefully_a_fact #1. Humans are ‘better’ than apes.
hopefully_a_fact #2. Humans are still evolving.
BIG_Asuumption #1. We’re not gonna nuke ourselves out.
if succesive ‘species’ keep getting ‘better’ and ‘better’ , what are we evolving towards, ultimately? … perfection?
no, this is NOT about what the “next” species would look like or anything. this doesnt really matter… neither do the next 50 or 500 species. The question at hand is - what is at the end of the road? What are we evolving towards ultimately ?
extending “betterness” to the nth degree does sound like that damn “perfection”
We are evolving towards whatever reproduces most sucessfully in our current environment. Wether that will make us better or not is entierly subjective. Perfection doesn’t enter into it. Evolution isn’t directional, and doesn’t have a long-term goal.
This reflects a complete misunderstanding of what evolution means. Evolution is not directional; it merely reflects whatever the selective forces of the moment happen to be. We are not better that apes in any adaptive or evolutionary sense, only different.
And even if you define “better” as “smarter,” some would allege that selection for increased intelligence in humans ceased some time ago, and has perhaps even reversed.
I think you’re misunderstanding evolution a little. Evolution has no ‘perfect’ goal it is working towards… just natural selection of variations to fit whatever survives best in its environment.
modern humanity has been able to move into many environments that our apelike ancestors would not have been able to survive in. Considering how many billions of us there are on the earth now, and how few are killed by ‘competitor’ species, I’d say that we’re showing a very high rate of evolutionary success. (Not that that’s necessarily a good thing in aesthetic or moral terms.)
Talking about future evolution is probably dependent on what changes are going to come into the human environment, or what other environments we might try moving into, (possibly with the help of technology, such as outer space or underwater. But evolution might help self-select people that can survive better in such environments with less reliance on technology, whatever that means.)
Evolving us into a species that doesn’t ruin its own environments, (poison wastes, threat of nuclear war, etcetera,) would probably be a good thing as well, though I’m not sure if it’s something the forces of natural selection are up to.
Evolution doesn’t work towards anything, and any modern species should probably be considered just as evolved as any other. In other words chimps and gorillas are just as evolved as humans, since we share a common ancestor.
However doesn’t Star Trek teach us that the most advanced species grow past the need for physical bodies and exist as pure thought/energy?
We have massively changed our selective environment, so it’s difficult to tell. For that matter, it’s difficult to predicct what out selective environment will be 100 years from now.
However, I don’t think there is any evidence that more intelligent people are at present having more children, especially in the developed world. In fact, there is probably more evidence for the reverse. So there is no reason whatsoever to suppose that humans at present are evolving in the direction of being more intelligent.
Aaahhh… that is so easy for people to say… looking backward. I understand the OP’s question. I agree to some extent, "If we can prove that WE won’t evolve, NO MATTER the enviroment, couldn’t that damper evolutions’ plausiblity. (I am not a creationist, I also have a very big bug up my butt when it comes to numbers in the evolution “theory”.) (I don’t consider evo’ fact!, sue me…)
Step outside “evolutionary box” Forget the insane amount time it took for us to evolve, forget that the last 3000 or so years are the only human “Documented” existance. Forget the Creation theory. Step outside these walls.
NOW… Put yourself 3000 years back…
Would you have possibly thought that in just 3000 years we can send a man to the moon, Or in LESS than ONE HUNDRED years from the FIRST Flight of mankind.
With my basket of rice over my shoulders, looking at the glittering holes in the sky, and This HUGE ball that disappears once month even in the 18th century, just TWO HUNDRED years ago would I have thought that we could be traveling 3500 feet above ground to go from New York to Los Angeles, iin less than a day.
Just think of the absolute speed of progress that mankind evolved in just THREE THOUSAND YEARS.
Except that what you’re describing has very little to do with biological evolution and much much more to do with the growth of industry, education, manufacturing etc - social changes, not biolocial evolutionary ones. If you had a time machine and you went back and kidnapped a newborn baby from 3000 years ago, you would have no trouble raising it as a fully-functioning member of today’s society (well, no more or less problems than you’d have raising a child of contemporary birth).
Recalling what I read from Richard Dawkin’s “The Blind Watchmaker”, it is possible that life which should concern us in this particular topic can be summarized as: things that duplicate themselves and change as they do.
It has been hypothesized that DNA is not the original “system” by which life began to replicate. Instead it was the culmination of eons of evilution during which other systems were used and improved upon.
Perhaps DNA will be replaced by some other system in the future… perhaps replaced by some other method of storing information, multiplying and changing. I wouldn’t be suprised if a million years from now it isn’t biological machines but mechanical machines of silicone and metal that will thrive.
This is GQ, not IMO, but all I have to add is an IMO.
I actually think we’re headed backwards. The current process of reproduction is so fuddled with science, allowing people who could not normally reproduce ( *1 one of the fundamentals of evolution) to do so. Modern medicine keeps folks alive to reproductive ages who would not have survived to that age previously (see *1). Those that are best able to care for themselves (this part is certainly arguable) are often the ones reproducing the least, due to societal/financial pressures.
While I’m sure that there are lots of environmental issues at hand, I would point you towards those with lifethreatening allergies. These folks would not have survived to pass along any genetic predisposition to such allergens.
Hopefully science will keep us moving forward as a society, in spite of the genetic component.
Keep in mind, I’m certainly not for removal of modern medicine, nor restricting rights of reproduction (not that I’ll admit or debate here anyway).
if we step back from the ape-to-human evolution, and start from (?non-life to) single cells to multi-cells to…humans, evolution DEFINETLY seems to be evolving “towards” more and more complex-er stuff.
lemme repeat part of an earlier post - evolution doesnt have a set-direction - but it still will has its products. Altho the products are continually updated, we might not have an end-product !! - sounds strange, but true i guess…
Evolution is simply the process whereby those that are best equipted to survive in the given environment do so. At this point in our history, humans are more likely to change the enviroment to suit our survival than the other way around. Also, we are more able to sustain the life of and propagate those that probably would not have survived at any other previous time. So, IMHO the theory of evolution no longer applies to humans. We will become what ever we want to become, natural selection be damned.
There is a general observed trend toward complexity; inevitable because you have to start simple, but also driven by the fact that complexity very often means greater individual adaptibility, which is a good survival trait.
There are examples where evolution results in reduced complexity though.
We were evolving away from having an appendix but since medicine has fixed it so that an infected appendix will no longer kill you before you can reproduce (or reproduce many times) we have nipped that one in the bud. We seem to have been evolving away from having a set of third molars (wisdom teeth) but now if your jaw is too small for them you no longer die in agony as an infection eats through your skull and into your brain. Nope, a oral surgeon, whether in an air-conditioned suburban office or under a tree in Calcutta, yanks the offending tooth and gives you an antibiotic.
What are we evolving toward? My guess is creatures with enormous heads covered with throbbing veins to be followed by beings of pure energy, but I might watch too many bad movies.