Are We Maturing or Evolving As A Species?
You can graph human evolution, which is mostly a straight line, but we do get better and change over time, and you can graph technological evolution, which is a line that's going straight up. They are going to intersect each other at some point, and that's happening now.
- Daniel H. Wilson, American author, TV host, robotics engineer (b. 1978)
Evolution is constant. It's happening all the time, every day, not just occasionally over eons. It is now known that our own genetic composition can change even daily based on life conditions, diet, stressors, environmental factors, medications, even to the extent of finding new love.
Is it possible that our species has evolved slightly over the past century so that we are close to becoming two separate species? What might members of an evolving group of humans look like so that we could distinguish them from those who were not evolving? Would the unevolved ones fear the evolved ones and kill them as enemies the way science fiction has postulated? If so, would the evolved ones want to look like the unevolved ones long enough that their numbers were strong enough that they could repel attacks from the unevolved ones?
That suggestion may sound absurd because you have not heard it before. But look around the world at human populations. You can see major differences in approaches to life in every country.
In North American countries they are referred to as political differences, liberals and conservatives. In many countries the two are represented by two or more different political parties. In other places they may be represented by different religions. In still others the differences may be between those in power and those struggling to escape from the group in power, one that is particularly oppressive. Often the differences will be that one group prefers peace while the other advocates war or control by power. Or those who work for the best interests of others as well as of themselves and those whose only interest is themselves and their own welfare.
Sympathy is a common characteristic among all human cultures. Empathy, the ability to actually feel what someone else is experiencing, is a relatively rare characteristic. Empathy would seem to be a characteristic of an advanced form of human. Characteristics have ways of forming themselves to become part of the genetic makeup of a species.
Could these possibly represent differences in the DNA of our species, differences that are not yet striking enough that we are still able to reproduce with each other. (Species are usually distinguished from each other by their inability to mate successfully, though there are exceptions such as donkeys mating with horses to produce mules.)
Sociologists would say these two groups represent the social evolution of humankind from tribal culture to megasociety culture. This would be what I am calling the maturing of our species.
Tribal culture can best be seen in parts of the world that are still mostly tribal in nature. In these places fighting is ongoing, peace is rare and brief. The Middle East, parts of Africa and parts of the subcontinent are easily recognized as mainly tribal. In tribal culture there is always fear of the other "tribes" because of their differences, fear that the other may conquer or assimilate them.
With 7.5 billion people on our planet we can't afford to maintain a constant tribal state or we would be constantly at war. We must accommodate ourselves to what is called the megasociety. The megasociety recognizes differences and accepts them without fear and without wanting to resort to genocide to protect themselves. Death by violence is frequent in tribal societies, much less in megasocieties.
In the largest countries by population in the world, China, India and the USA, we can see signs of old tribal characteristics showing up, especially at election time. But, generally speaking, these countries remain relatively peaceful within their own borders and with other countries, considering what they were like in the past.
Are we maturing, as we must with an uncontrollably large population, from tribal society to megasociety? Or are we splitting into two separate and distinct species of necessity, by evolution?
It would certainly be more comfortable for us to say the differences are just differences in principles, in political preferences.
But, no matter what your political preferences, are you not tempted to ask yourself "What is wrong with those people that they can think that way?" Are the differences deeper than political preference?
I can't offer evidence of genetic change among our species. Neither can anyone else because this has not been studied. I do wonder why the US State of California has forbidden its citizens from having a complete DNA analysis done by their own request and at their own expense. What might that reveal in a state that large?
Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book that offers inexpensive solutions to social problems through changes in education. He has also authored hundreds of articles which are available free on the internet.
Learn more at http://billallin.com