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.
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?