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Is man still evolving?

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posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 10:21 AM
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Let's put aside the argument of creation vs. evolution. This thread is for the people who know a thing or two about the theory of evolution.

This is a question I have been pondering about for years (and couldn't put to bed even after a discussion with my biology teacher):

Is man still experiencing natural selection?




When you think about it, we are able to change the environment to suit ourselves so the environment will not kill us off (or otherwise reduce our reproduction rate) based on our adaptation to our environment. The other thing is that with modern medicine and ethics, the sick are not killed off (euthanasia). For instance a malformed baby won't simply be killed when it is born any more (ethics) and people who suffer from a genetic disorder won't die because they are unhealthy (medicine).

It's not the most adapted who have a higher chance to reproduce any more, so the most useful/functional genes don't dominate the gene pool.

However, there is one principal that can't be alienated- mutation. We will of course still experience new genes emerging with mutation so human biodiversity will continue to, uh- diversify. With that, though, the less useful, indeed harmful genes will not disappear.

That begs another question, what will happen when there is no limit on diversification any more?

What do you students of science think?



Edit:

Although I s'pose that it won't be limitless diversification, some mutations will produce some non-viable babies.

There is a third question. Are there more harmful mutations than helpful mutations?

Note: I understand that 90% of human DNA is junk DNA so any mutations in the junk DNA are going to be completely neutral. But what about the mutations in the other 10%?

[edit on 9/15/2008 by Good Wolf]




posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 10:35 AM
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Yes. Humans will evolve untill they are extinct.

What we might evolve into depends on the environment we find ourselves in.

If a future environment involves limitless free, clean energy and nano technology level engineering, I would imagine that eventually, we would be able to 'download' our consciousness into some vast database and live forever.

Evolving into a sort of being that exists just by thinking.

A bit like a God I suppose?



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 10:39 AM
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Yea, I see what you mean. I didn't much think about the cyborg, 'transhumanist' aspect.

[edit on 9/15/2008 by Good Wolf]



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 10:44 AM
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Originally posted by Good Wolf
Although I s'pose that it won't be limitless diversification, some mutations will produce some non-viable babies.

There is a third question. Are there more harmful mutations than helpful mutations?

Note: I understand that 90% of human DNA is junk DNA so any mutations in the junk DNA are going to be completely neutral. But what about the mutations in the other 10%?


It doesn't make any difference.

We mutate according to our environment. Not the other way around.



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 10:44 AM
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Yes, man is still evolving. Eye, hair, and skin color are all evolutionary mechanisms. Also look at charts that show the average height/weight of the average person now compared to 100 years ago. Also, there is the "evolution toe" (if the toe next to your big toe is longer, then you have a more evolved foot)...I learned that in my evolutionary biology class.



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 10:51 AM
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I think man is still evolving. However, the longer we live, the longer mutations will take to manifest. I think the body will mutate to being shorter with less muscle. The brain will evolve with a greater ability for multitasking, etc.

Eventually, mother nature will win over modern medicine and some germ, disease, or bacteria will wipe out a good portion of the population and the course of evolution will be altered again.



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 10:52 AM
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Originally posted by moonrat
We mutate according to our environment. Not the other way around.


I don't see that as true. Mutations happen by themselves. The ones that work stay and the one's that don't disappear (according to the environment).

But that's the point. The rules just don't apply like they used to, we have overcome our environment.



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 10:54 AM
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I am more concerned that we are devolving. Have you seen television lately?



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 10:57 AM
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Originally posted by Good Wolf

Originally posted by moonrat
We mutate according to our environment. Not the other way around.


I don't see that as true. Mutations happen by themselves. The ones that work stay and the one's that don't disappear (according to the environment).

But that's the point. The rules just don't apply like they used to, we have overcome our environment.


Go and live in the park for a few days then.



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 11:08 AM
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I think man is still evolving, but not necessarily in a positve way. As others have mentioned babies and people that would have died even 50-100 years ago are surviving and are not nec. good gene material.

Most people look for good "mates" and with that evolution will occur. Most of the change is so slow my guess is it will not be noticed by our generation or possibly the next few.

As we learn about gene mutation for curing disease, this too will enter into our evolutionary code.

Good luck to the future.



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 11:14 AM
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The problem I see as detrimental is that we have basically wiped out natural selection. The only way I can explain is that when there is something wrong with a chicken the rest will peck it to death or a predator will come along and kill it. Humans on the other hand allow and encourage idiots to breed, therefore not allowing the stronger and superior to advance. Sounds harsh, but in the long run, humans now seem to perpetuate our weaknesses.



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 11:15 AM
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Originally posted by Humphrey
Good luck to the future.


I'll drink to that.

............Pssshk-




Originally posted by Grafilthy
The problem I see as detrimental is that we have basically wiped out natural selection. The only way I can explain is that when there is something wrong with a chicken the rest will peck it to death or a predator will come along and kill it. Humans on the other hand allow and encourage idiots to breed [lol, nice one], therefore not allowing the stronger and superior to advance. Sounds harsh, but in the long run, humans now seem to perpetuate our weaknesses.


That's exactly my point.

The only thing that seems to matter in the passing on of genes these days is personality and to a lesser degree, physiology. What relation does personality have to DNA, I wonder?

[edit on 9/15/2008 by Good Wolf]



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 11:18 AM
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Originally posted by Grafilthy
The problem I see as detrimental is that we have basically wiped out natural selection. The only way I can explain is that when there is something wrong with a chicken the rest will peck it to death or a predator will come along and kill it. Humans on the other hand allow and encourage idiots to breed, therefore not allowing the stronger and superior to advance. Sounds harsh, but in the long run, humans now seem to perpetuate our weaknesses.


BUT......in this scenario, perhaps evolution will show itself in the form of those that are better adapted to vigorously survive in an increasingly polluted world.



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 11:21 AM
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Originally posted by no name needed

Originally posted by Grafilthy
The problem I see as detrimental is that we have basically wiped out natural selection. The only way I can explain is that when there is something wrong with a chicken the rest will peck it to death or a predator will come along and kill it. Humans on the other hand allow and encourage idiots to breed, therefore not allowing the stronger and superior to advance. Sounds harsh, but in the long run, humans now seem to perpetuate our weaknesses.


BUT......in this scenario, perhaps evolution will show itself in the form of those that are better adapted to vigorously survive in an increasingly polluted world.


Or a bunch of facist gangsters.



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 11:26 AM
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reply to post by moonrat
 


That sounds more like annihilation than evolution. BUT...it would/could have a dramatic affect on the diversity of the human genome....so long as this "fascist gang" all contain a narrow array of genetic traits. Otherwise, it's just a microcosm of what exists today.



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 11:39 AM
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Man is still evolving, absolutely.

That we are interfering (in a sense) by preserving to reproductive age those who without our technology would NOT survive and contribute genes, or by using technology to allow the naturally "infertile" to reproduce is not problematic, however.

There is more to evolution than the simple presence of a gene in the pool, in whatever "percentage." There also is the "and then x happens" factor, the actual act of selection by nature.

For instance, the moth example, where prior to the industrial revolution there were very few dark colored moths, and many many light colored ones as the light colored ones blended better with the light colored bark of the trees and so were less visible to predators. The industrial revolution comes along pumps out massive amounts of soot, which darken the trunks of trees, and now the previously very adaptive light colored moths are at a disadvantage. Over the course of time, the darker moths come to predominate as their trait is more adaptive to the current environment.

Event x = a change in the environment.

We are indeed meddling with the gene pool in the way you describe, and this compassion is currently allowing an increase in some genes that we now consider less desirable in many ways. However, we have not had a significant unfavorable "event x" in the last several thousands of years.

I realize that many moderns feel our technology has made us immune to selective pressure from the environment. Some embrace the "Faith of Star Trek" where either an Alien race, or our own technology will save us from the damage we have done/are doing to the environment that is conducive to our own survival by allowing us to escape. Some embrace the Christian belief that Jesus, rather than Aliens, will come to save us from our own poor management. I personally think that the same thing that science has shown to have happened time and time again through the history of life will occur again. Our environment, either by our own doing or by the hand of fate, will apply selective pressure to our species, and the ones who just so happen to be adaptive at that point in time will survive. Or, if the event is extreme enough, none of us will and the experiment in evolution will continue on without us.



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 12:13 PM
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I posed these same questions to my biology professor a few years ago when I was in college. He confirmed that we're pretty much stagnant. I contend that we are probably de-evolving, idiots tend to reproduce in much larger numbers than anyone else. Check out the movie Idiocracy by Mike Judge to see where civilization could be headed.

An event of some kind will eventually occur, however, that allows only the most fit of us to survive. Could be a plague, or natural disaster, or maybe we will start to take control of our own evolution through genetic manipulation.

As for your question about genetic mutation.....not only is mutation super rare, 99.9% of all mutations are NOT beneficial to species.



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 12:22 PM
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I posted this in another thread about evolution, but it seems appropriate to post here as well...

"For evolution to occur, form must follow function. The function would to be the necessity to exploit a new niche in order to survive. If the current niche is able to comfortably sustain life for a given species, then it stands to reason that the "form" is not in need of change; thus, evolution stands still until needed."



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 12:47 PM
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Originally posted by liquidsmoke206
I posed these same questions to my biology professor a few years ago when I was in college. He confirmed that we're pretty much stagnant. I contend that we are probably de-evolving, idiots tend to reproduce in much larger numbers than anyone else. Check out the movie Idiocracy by Mike Judge to see where civilization could be headed.


I just had a brain wave. I think the educated and the uneducated will be the new knife edge. I think the two groups will experience divergent evolution and eventually two breeds will emerge. I think educated man will remain relatively the same as we are now, and the uneducated will change.


As for your question about genetic mutation.....not only is mutation super rare, 99.9% of all mutations are NOT beneficial to species.


That's not what I've heard...


But the fact is that the vast majority of mutations are completely neutral. They’d have to be because, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, there is an overall average of 128 mutations per human zygote! So apparently, in creationist terms, “very rare” means “more than a hundred per person right from the point of conception”. Because those are just the mutations we start out with. Our cells will mutate again 30 more times over the course of our lives, and some of these subsequent mutations can be passed on to our children too –usually with no more effect than those we recognize as family traits.

Its hard to find one rigid set of numbers from any laboratory for a constant rate of how many mutations are beneficial versus those that are detrimental, because these are determined by variable environmental conditions. But there is a general consensus that they’re nearly equal with deleterious mutations being slightly more common. They’re also more profound too. But there are plenty of cases where a definite advantage has been identified and positively linked to a specific mutation.

[8th Fundamental Falsehood of Creationism/Youtube version]

Creationists commonly, falsely claim that mutations don't contribute to genetic "information" - (which I assume means genes) and that any mutations only result in 'deformities and mental retardation'.

If 99.9% of mutations were bad then evolution would be a far, far, far slower process than it appears to be.





[edit on 9/15/2008 by Good Wolf]



posted on Sep, 15 2008 @ 06:40 PM
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Originally posted by Good Wolf

I just had a brain wave. I think the educated and the uneducated will be the new knife edge. I think the two groups will experience divergent evolution and eventually two breeds will emerge. I think educated man will remain relatively the same as we are now, and the uneducated will change.


I am hoping the big "divergence" will actually fall on the "cooperative" or "altruistic" and "selfish" and "uncooperative" line and apply selective pressure to increase the adaptiveness of cooperation and altruism.

I do not think educated/uneducated is a viable line for natural selection to actually impact. After all, not all educated people are highly intelligent, nor are all highly intelligent people educated. Education says more about ones socio-economic status than ones intelligence.

Although a higher socio-economic status can very well give one a survival edge today, in an event that applied enough selective pressure to cause a branching of the species, I think that intelligence would matter more than money. An event of that magnitude would probably cripple our social structures, and money would not help much in the chaos that followed. Intelligence is almost always a boon, regardless what your prior status had been.




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