Evolution Evolution Redux

April 4, 2007, 11:34 pm; posted by
Filed under Articles, Tom  | No Comments

First, a quick recap. In case you missed our previous installment here, we decided that the relative ease with which anyone can pass on his or her genes has effectively eliminated conventional microevolution of our species. The hopes and dreams of dozens of science fiction fans eagerly awaiting uber-humans have been dashed. In light of this supreme manifestation of man’s dominance over nature, how can mankind rise to meet new challenges?

The answer, regrettably, is not genetic engineering. As much as it makes my scientific nose twitch eagerly to scent its sweet aroma on the winds of societal acceptance, Western society (for better or worse, the dominant school of thought worldwide) values individuality too much to surrender it to the whims of a white-coated pipette monkey. Instead, humanity will have to change together.

People are more than the sums of the interactions of their genes. We can’t help but also be the sum of our interactions with each other. Every time two people interact, they change each other. Sometimes that change leads to good, to the betterment of mankind. An interesting parallel can be drawn between a societal evolutionary model and the Catholic priesthood. Despite the fact they’ve willingly surrendered from the “gene” race completely, a vast number of people have been improved by their interactions with priests. A vast number of people even acknowledge this change, and take steps to share it with others. Then again, a vast number of people have been hurt by priests, and not only in Springeresque ways.

Every time we interact, each of us is improving or worsening. Our task is, through our daily lives, to make the positive outweigh the negative. In the same way “natural” evolution is based on individual genes interacting and changing, societal evolution is based on the collective effect we have on each other. Evolution has become synonymous with improvement, but the sad fact is that change in either direction is part of evolution.

So visit that shut-in! Tutor that wayward youth. Tell the smarmy clerk at the record store that emo is “so yesterday.” Take it upon yourself to be a beneficial mutation — change our societal DNA.


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