Here is the moral dilemma. Should we, as a race of people, aid those who cannot survive in the modern day world? I am speaking of welfare, free medical care, foreign aid and etc. As far as moral conduct is concerned, we are helping people in the short term. However, in the eyes of evolution, we are not allowing natural selection to take place and are therefore hurting ourselves as a species. If our morals were evolutionarily minded, shouldn’t we allow children with hereditary diseases to simply die instead of doing everything possible to let them live and reproduce inadvertently spreading the genetic disease through out the genetic pool.
I am not advocating anything and I know this question sounds like it is straight out of Nazi Germany, but from a pure logical standpoint, morals aside, it makes sense to me.
So should we as a society start thinking out our future as a race of people and stop denying natural selection to work? Or, should we continue down our path of doing everything we can to save everyone and possibly drive ourselves to extinction?
We don't stop evolution. That would be impossible. The thing about natural selection is that it adapts itself to any particular environment that organisms live in. Helping out the needy and the sick would not stop natural selection... only change the way it affects us. Besides... it's the right thing to do.
The evidence that evolution is still affecting humans is not hard to find if you look for it. For example:
1. Modern medicine cannot save all people and those who are too sick or deformed to survive despite all medicine can offer will die anyway and their genes will vanish from the gene pool.
2. Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria and new pathogens... especially Superbugs like MRSA. Medical science is still in a constant war against disease which keeps appearing in new formats... so like the constant hackers vs. anti-virus softward war... medicine has to constantly update itself. Also... as we eliminate some threats (like smallpox) other new pathogens arize from nowhere to take their place: think HIV, SARS, Bird Flu, Mad Cow Disease, Ecoli 0157H7, Antibiotic resistant Tuberculosis, West Nile Virus, etc. etc. etc.
3. Our own body structures are changing overtime. Evidence from history and archaeology has found that humans are getting taller (for example).
4. Sexual Selection is still alive and well. Human beings select mates that they find "fit" and reject ones that they find "unfit" and the gene pool changes accordingly.
No one can stop evolution. Just because we have technology and less of us are dying than in the past doesn't mean evolution has stopped its work on the human race. Evolution is a slow, nearly invisible process that works in the background.
I think we should try to make the world like the movie Gattaca. over time begin genetically altering humans, starting with getting rid of genetic disease and builiding up to greater intelligence and life span. Cause in the world we have, a lot of the reason for our survival isnt about our biological make up but more to do with luck, learned social skills and where you were born.
I find it a bit odd question. Humans are still part of nature and subject to evolution, we can't stop it in the first place. Seeing as we have become a/the top predator natural evolution will slow down, in the same way sharks and alligators haven't evolved much. However, we are still subject to sexual selection and there was recently a study out of Finland which concluded with:
The detected opportunity for selection [in humans] is in line with measurements for other species but higher than most previous reports for human samples. This disparity results from biological, demographic, economic, and social differences across populations as well as from failures by most previous studies to account for variation in fitness introduced by nonreproductive individuals.
The question of whether to help and aid those in need is a multifaceted issue. In my opinion, the reduction of fear is tantamount to achieve a harmonious society, and the knowledge that you have places to turn to in case of need is paramount. One needs protection, aid, support, and so forth to be able to prosper, otherwise too much of our time and energy resources will go into essentially covering our own asses from every eventuality.
"No one can stop evolution. Just because we have technology and less of us are dying than in the past doesn't mean evolution has stopped its work on the human race. Evolution is a slow, nearly invisible process that works in the background."
Less of us may be dying but recent statistics show that the newest generation of Americans may be the first whose life expectancy will be less than their parents. One in three Americans are now obese. And that figure is expected to continue to rise until we figure out how to make eating healthy and being physically active a desirable goal and not a perceived burden.
Water will be the number one issue in the not too distant future. Limited fresh water resources and not enough to go around will cause countries and societies to clash.
I'll talk here about Christians primarily, but what I say might go for any theistic religion, and even some nontheistic ones as well.
The theist is right, assuming that all you need is a simple answer to what to do. Is disrespecting my parents by swearing at them wrong? According to The Ten Commandments I can't do it. Is opening my friend's wallet when he isn't looking and taking $20 wrong? Yes it is. Most of the time, though, in terms of uncomplicated decisions, a conscientious theist and an atheist will reach similar conclusions.
Not always, though. Sometimes following The Ten Commandments, The Golden Rule, or modeling one's behavior after some Biblical characters will lead to harmful choices.
If you ask a theist why they are moral (and by moral, I mean following by rote some standard of behavior like the Ten Commandments, The Golden Rule, or what some Biblical character did), their answer will be "Because The Bible told me so." If you ask them what makes that so right, all they can really offer is that it is what they believe, and because they are faithful to their religion, that is about as far as they can go.
It's right because it's right.
Ethics by contrast to morality implies searching for the right answer. And the answer isn't as pat as following a principle by rote. Often it comes down to the answer that feels right based on the anticipated result.
Anyway, the ethical person has to think about his actions and their consequences. The moral person just has to model his actions according to his religion's scriptures and/or theology, damn the consequences.
The appeal of morality is that it's simple and allows one to feel free of guilt even if what one does has disastrous results.
Evolution is just a process driven by natural selection. Its results are not necessarily good for the species. For example, it can adapt a species to a certain specific environment. When the environment changes, all of a sudden the species is ill-adapted. Mankind, at least at this time, has a highly-developed ability to adapt. This ability has served rats well, and so over time it might serve us well, too.
You bring up an interesting point and it relates to another concern I have. You talked about how a species adapts to its current environment and when the environment changes the species becomes il-adapted to the new environment. Currently we are adapting to technology. It is slow, which is why obesity is so rampant because we are not evolved for such a lazy lifestyle that technology allows. All of our technology could go away with one solar flare. Granted we could rebuild, if we are not busy trying to eat and find water all the time. In my mind we will more than likely not have the time to work on building computers again. Very few people can survive without our technology. Even the experts at it (backpackers and etc) have to bring a ton of gear to last a few days in the wild. Should we be preparing our youth to survive in a non technology world if they need to? I realize this is more of a social evolutionary concern as opposed to a genetic one, but should we prepare for this concern?
I've often thought about that Jaret - my grandparents could cure meat, tan hides, make butter, clothes from patterns, soap, a multitude of things. I can hunt, if there was any game left worth hunting, but as for knowing how to actually live off the land, I'd starve within a month.
I'm not sure what we'd do if we suddenly had to go back to square one. Humanity has followed the pattern of a multi-celled organism, with each cell specializing. We've become so specialized, I can't imagine any of us surviving alone.
It could also be the fact that we have unlimited access to protein and food in general that has led to the obesity crisis.
Theists who get their morality from biblical law see everything from a black or white perspective. If it pleases their god it is good, if not, it is evil. Their actions are all based on a reward or punishment footing.
Atheists or at least those of us that view life with an atheistic perspective do not consider this reward or punishment scenario. Biblical morality is not a mature enough system. It is because we do not rely on gods to tell us but rather that we strive to think for ourselves that we learn to understand the world about us. It is because we think about Ethics and make the effort to advance (evolve) ourselves that our sense of Empathy grows. So instead of saying if something is good or evil we say it is right or wrong. This is what distinguishes morals from ethics. We don’t need carrots or sticks in order to do the right thing.
I have had friends that are not exactly top notch, any more than I am perfect at IQ 137. I have known folks with high functioning autism, that could think most of us into the ground, but can't really tie their shoes. I take alot of my 'skills' for granted, but have a checked history of employment. I have know folks that make money about as well as they breath, but it can be unclear if they are ready for sainthood. What ever your personal absession, I expect you could define the 'best and the brightest' that could be selected for it.
The Nazi's could have had a good thing going, FOR THEMSELVES, if they just had not tried taking on all of western civilization and pissed off all the supposed/asserted sub-geniuses in that neck of the woods.
I have worked with dear folks, with big hearts, that can't read, that are very good at fixing things, that might be selected out by other folks that believe in their own privilage and superior virtue.
Sadly there is almost always one more person that will evaluate you, find you wanting, and lead you quietly to the social predator's Darwin Award.
Be careful what you wish for...