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The Future Of Human Evolution - Why We Have Stopped Evolving

By Edited Sep 5, 2016 9 20

The evolution of man has come a long way, and we've evolved to the point where we're at the top of every conceivable food chain. But has humanity reached its peak? Have we evolved to a point where evolution has ceised to affect us? For all of you out there who were hoping that one day, humanity would evolve into flying superheroes with laser eyes, the answer is quite disappointing.

Nowadays, in our advanced society, the forces of evolution are being suppressed. We now live in a world where human evolution has come to a halt, unable to proceed due to a series of reasons brought on by our new ways of life. Following is a scientific explanation why humanity has stopped evolving.

The end of human evolution

Requirements of Evolution

Evolution doesn't just happen - certain conditions have to be met for any species to evolve through the process of natural selection. According to Darwin's theory of evolution, there are four requirements that must be met in order for natural evolution to occur:

Variation - First of all, there must be a certain level of variation within a species for any kind of  evolution to even have a chance of occuring.

Inheritance - The variations must then be spread on to the next generations through inheritance. Otherwise, there would have been no point to the change in the long run.

Fight for survival - A cornerstone of evolution demands that there is an overpopulation of the species as compared to what the environment permits - thus ensuring that only part of the original population lives on to spread their genes. This directly leads to the fourth point:

Survival of the fittest -The last requirement of natural selection is the principle that only the best adapted individuals survive, while the lesser specimens die out. This is usually the case when a species reaches overpopulation; those who are best suited for the environment will survive and spread their genes, while the others eventually die out.

These four conditions are all necessary factors for natural selection - if just one of these fails to be met, no evolution can occur.

Which is why it is so disturbing when we look at the human situation of today and discover that we only meet half of these requirements.

Why Human Evolution Has Stopped

In today's world, the human species only meets two of the necessary factors required for evolution; variation and inheritance. But we currently fail to live up to the third and fourth conditions, without which we cannot continue to evolve.

We are all different, and there is no shortage in variation throughout the world - for good and for worse. And a lot of these differences are hereditary, so the variations are passed on through the generations, just as it's supposed to in the process of evolution.

But when it comes to the third point, the fight for survival, we see that humanity comes up short in meeting all the conditions. For the time being, our population is allowed to grow exponentially, unhindered by the previous limitations of nature. There are currently enough resources to go around for everyone,  which allows every last one of us to survive. And while this may be a great thing from a humanitarian perspective - with everyone surviving and all - it's a bit more alarming from a long term evolutionary perspective.

When every individual of a species survives and reproduces, the fight for survival is removed. There is no longer any competition - no reason for the fittest to stand out. And if there is no fight for survival in the species, the fourth requirement - survival of the fittest - also fails to be met.

This means that although superior variations may still occur in certain individuals (such as a better immune system, or naturally improved cognitive skills), these individuals have the same chances of survival and replication as the rest of the species. And if the superior traits are not favored, they will not stand out and continue to evolve, as would be the case in natural evolution.

What's even more disturbing is the fact that our society allows for the survival of the "bad" traits as well.  Today, no one is left behind - those who can't care for themselves receive help from the rest of society, making sure that even the individuals who are the least suited for survival get to live on and spread their genes.

Never before has a species been so eager to degenerate its own gene pool.

 

Now, I'm not saying that the way our society is built is necessarily a bad thing, but from an evolutionary perspective - and considering the long term evolutionary process - it's probably the worst thing to ever happen to our species. But, of course, this is only one way of looking at things, and who needs evolution these days anyway?

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Comments

Jun 17, 2012 3:39pm
Etcetera
Thanks for introducing a topic which I think about often. I also think that the uncontrolled population growth and scarcity of resources, will bring about some of those dynamics. But the reality is, that the evolutionary way is not a path to a humane and ethical society. A very complex issue.
Jul 14, 2012 4:42am
ObservingVessel
Thanks for the article, good job! Personally I feel evolution can still take place, it is just not as much as a physical evolution, but an evolution of the mind. Great article to make us think! Keep it up!
Jul 14, 2012 1:13pm
Marlando
Hi--first, 5 stars for an excellent article--I'll sure be back to read more! As far as comments--while I disagree with Darwin's theories in terms of the "fittest" moving forwerd, I love your conclusion. Keep up the good work!!!!!!
Jul 14, 2012 9:39pm
jromero1
WOW! Great article keep up the great work! i will look for more
Jul 14, 2012 10:05pm
Ascentive
Very impressive article!
It really makes you think about the evolutionary path our species we are heading to

Thumbs Up!
~Anja~
Jul 15, 2012 7:52pm
ecraftsman
This article assumes that evolution has or was occurring. If evolution has stopped for the reasons stated then conditions have never been right for any evolution to have happened in the human race. Evolution is a theory, unproven and contrary to the laws of physics.
Sep 5, 2012 10:23pm
Brettl
Gravity is also a "theory". A scientific theory has a different meaning to how the term is used in ordinary speech. Evolution is supported by evidence across a range of scientific areas of study, from geology to biology. The human brain proves evolution, read about it.
Jul 16, 2012 11:33am
sobyvaby
I feel that the situation is not really 'alarming' since in the future humans might be able to make the changes to their genes themselves without relying on nature. Good article though on a very interesting topic!
Jul 16, 2012 11:39pm
Diya
I agree with how less 'able' members of society are helped by the richer and healthier ones, or are just not bothered. A few decades back, in some countries they wouldn't allow people with illnesses and disorders to procreate. My parents lived in those times, and they said they had never seen this huge amount of 'abnormal' people when they were young.
I do think this is a bad thing. Now, probably everyone has some sort of problem due to society letting weaker people have kids.
Jul 18, 2012 10:22am
UltimateBaconLover
But for all we know we are evolving, but just too slowly for us to know (after all, modern humans have existed for only about 50,000 years, and that's actually a very short time.) Maybe we're evolving to be a weaker species overall.
Jul 18, 2012 9:40pm
ar2coolwriter
Well I been thinking that the laws allowing gays and lesbians to marry are part of the newest form of evolution by helping the slow the worlds population. We really are crowding this earth within the most livable realms...so how are we suppose to spread out if there is no where to go? How are we suppose to provide for our own kind if all the resources are running low..like WATER..and how we are affecting our own human race by heating up the earth with our greedy ways. I think this all plays a part in how we are evolving..its just how you look at it. So yea we may be allowing the weakest to live within our world, but it just may be the answer to how we control our evolution..Who knows what Mother Nature has in store..and as long as our brains get stronger and wiser...we may find ways around evolution
Jul 19, 2012 4:23am
bloggernotjogger
This is a good article. Many evolutionary biologists have been considering this idea for a long time. The process of evolution is a very slow one, and our current trend of keeping the weaker genes in the collective human gene pool has only been in practice for 100 years or so - maybe a little more. This is nothing more than a blip. Lulls in evolution are common. However, consider the bigger picture. How will the Earth be in a thousand years? Can our planet support a human population of 20 billion or more? There will most certainly be, at some point in the future, a population crash. Also, consider space travel. If humans eventually leave Earth for other planets, there will most likely be evolutionary changes. This is particularly true if contact between the planets is slow or difficult. For example, colony 1 inhabits planet X and colony 2 inhabits planet Y. Time passes and in each environment the colonies develop differently and at different rates. More time passes and the inhabitants from Planet Y can no longer breed with those of Planet X or Earth. You then have a new species.
Evolution takes a very long time, but it is happening even if we are currently at a standstill.
Jul 19, 2012 5:12am
lambodarsahu
very good and informative article. thanks for sharing!
Jul 19, 2012 7:51am
Victoreme
As Ultimatebaconlover pointed evolution is a very slow process for species as ours that have long generation times. However, we are nowadays not subjected to natural selection, at least not in the rich countries. Let's consider what sort of selections we are subjected to: First, economic success is certainly what we all strive for; however, once we obtain it we curtail our reproduction. Indeed the rich and educated usually have small families while the uneducated (usually poor too) have many children. Genius, super-intelligent persons (which are often not economically successful) are very often not very attractive to the opposite sex (nerds are still not sexy even now in the nerd era) and often their children are not as brilliant as the parent. Artistic brilliance may be inheritable, music for example goes in families, but some kinds are associated with mental problems (Vincent van Gogh comes to mind).
Conclusion: We are evolving through a human selection, not a natural selection, but toward what? Nobody knows!
Jul 20, 2012 12:43am
bloggernotjogger
Sep 5, 2012 9:50pm
claudslewis
Excellent article. There is another theory out there that women are reaching puberty much earlier than before, which also means we're lowering our natural fertility ages. Since modern women are choosing to postpone having children, it is one of nature's ways of keeping the earth's population down.
Nov 2, 2012 6:56am
Lithium77
Great informative article. I enjoyed reading it.
Feb 27, 2013 7:13pm
jonathankowatch
Hey I was looking for evidence that supports evolution. So far all I heard or seen is dumb radio-carbon dating stats (and radio-carbondating is only accurate up to about 5 thousand years beyond that it is unreliable) so if anyone can provide evidence i would greatly appreciate it so I can show you that evolution is false
May 11, 2013 12:18pm
CreateLearnTravel
Maybe we will evolve into a bird, and have the power of flight...it'll be a step up from monkeys.
Jan 25, 2014 2:31pm
Yngwie
We now live in a world where 'un'natual deletion is supported, it's interesting how that has changed evolution.
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