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Rated: 13+ · Essay · Philosophy · #1315052
Deriving the meaning of life in this essay, I debunk the myth of the de-evolving human.
I think everyone of us (other than real religious fundamentalists) would have heard of, and maybe agreed even, on the idea that we humans, after undergoing millions of years of evolution, have finally stopped evolving. Indeed, Man’s technological advances have overtaken Nature’s evolutionary advances to render evolution obselete. As such, Nature seems to be the unforgiving, wiser of the two.

Nature is de-evolving us. We are going backwards. All this as a result of our increasing reliance on computers and technology.

Yet in midst of this argument, loudly I shall declare, ‘Quit complaining that we are “de-evolving’! That is such a corruption of the concept!”

Yes, I believe that whoever subscribes to the “de-evolution” argument has quite the warped understanding of science. An urban legend, if I could call it by any sense, it would be. Okay, maybe we are all couch potatoes and have problems climbing trees and have issues with corporal punishment. We are weaker, de-evolving, you say?

Evolution is a nasty thing to explain. Some parts of it are still unclear, just as much of science is fuzzy. In his 2005 book “Think for Yourself”, Steve Hinder remembers a medical school dean announcing to the class, “Half of everything we are going to teach you is wrong. We just don’t know which half.” Myself never having a certified understanding of biology, (holding only O-Level qualifications in Chemistry and Physics, while currently continuing A-Level Physics). I will not claim to be presenting the facts as it is, but I advise you to take everything as opinion. I shall attempt to explain scientific concepts factually to the best of my knowledge, of course, but if any factual error be pointed out to me, I shall stand corrected. Evolution is a difficult concept to explain sufficiently.

Bear in mind that in this essay, Nature is just that. Whenever I may refer to Nature, it is from my limited human viewpoint. Indeed, this is where the debate starts from really. Is Nature, or evolution, to be viewed from the eyes of Man?

One thing to first make clear, is that evolution is not about advancement towards a more advanced entityhood. Evolution, rather, is just about purely random mutations. It is a furtherment of the concept - natural selection, that determines who gets to survive. Even so, natural selection is never about “being better”. I would guess this misconception came from the cliche “survival of the fittest”. Natural selection is actually about this thing known as adaption. Whoever is better-adapted to the surroundings is the winner, simple?

What use does tree-climbing have in this era where we keep tigers and lions locked up in cages? Maybe the zookeeper working in an under-funded zoo might have some justification to know it for safety’s sake (in case the cages break), but it’s really of not much utility to us faceless businessmen. Can we climb onto trees to escape our bosses? I hope, but no.

The modern world is a product of our past. The environment is changing, and has already changed visibly from that which our primitive ancestors were used to. The African savannahs have given away to concrete buildings and the daily hunt has become the weekly grocery shopping. All this, however, is because of technology. Technology is going to win the war against Nature, in fact, contrary to what I mentioned above to be the suggestion of many. Okay, maybe not that radical, but may I suggest technology to be a result of natural selection?

The random mutations were initially meaningless. Organisms found them meaning. The gift of sight, argued to be quite a complex series of mutation, would be useless if the world was without light. Would an extra ear sticking out from the back of your head be useful to you? I bet, you could then hear what was going on behind your back, would you not? Why do men have nipples? Why do we have fingernails, only to be cut away? To make nose-picking easier? Of course not, it is to protect our fingertips. Why should the fingernails protect the fingertips? If we know that we are in for a potential nail-hazard, we just wear gloves.

There is no purpose in evolution. We find meaning for our evolution, and find de-evolution for our loss of meaning. Technology is that which replaces the meaningless gap of today. The lions are tamed with psychological tactics and locked in cages of engineering marvels. All these can be traced back to our mutations and our interpretations of them, in the past. We found meaning in bipedalism. We found meaning in using our new hands. We found meaning in signalling we know today as language. We found meaning in imagination. We found meaning in preserving information. We found meaning in knowledge. Ultimately, we overtook the pace of evolution and replaced it with our construct - technology.

Technology offers us several advantages over evolution. Technology is purpose-engineered, meaning that it pinpoints a specific problem and solves it, within the human context. Evolution is random, and has no concept of “problem”, let alone “solution”. Evolution modifies and works on a grand-scale. It may not matter how many eventually are lost in the process of natural selection. As long as one superior species survive from the mere probabilities, life is successful. It would be a mistake now, however, to suggest that Nature is responsible for that, for it is Man who gives that meaning. As Man, then, we are not likely to treat human lives as just mere statistics. If we want to get better, we need to have a much-more reliable means of becoming so, than to rely on evolution.

Hence, the purpose of technology. As our utilization of modern technology increases, our need for evolution to serve us against Nature itself has decreased, ironically. We are no longer the slaves of Nature’s own power, but remember, this is to be seen only within the context of human thought.

Much of the misunderstanding about evolution stems from the ignorance of Man to actually see Nature’s workings with the human eye (symbolically, not literally). If we see everything as random, rather than to see things as constant and predictable, maybe technology is the child of evolution. We are already starting to use it against what Nature herself may throw against us - we are experimenting with weather control, we already have fire-resistant clothes, we have ventured to where we face problems never encountered before by our ancestors - Space. I am not saying that evolution ought to die, it shall always live in some way or other as long as Nature exists, but its importance ought to be downplayed, its basics to be clarified.

A lesson we can all learn from this is maybe that life in itself never has any meaning. Nature never gave us any. It is we who make the meaning, adapting the meaning to our times.
© Copyright 2007 Ajani Mgo (ajani_mgo at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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