Can we control evolution?

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Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 09:57 am
Right, so we're supposed to be creatures whose every action tries to contribute towards furthering our species in the process which we call 'evolution'. However, could it be that we humans could have power over evolution itself?

For instance, if we all (by some dictatorial government or other, the mechanism doesn't matter) had to / for some reason decided to stop all breeding, we could destroy our own species - or if by some future incredibly powerful biochemical weapon of some sort, we could wipe out all life on earth? (On purpose or by accident). Could we even stop evolution by altering genes/DNA in some way or stopping mitosis/meiosis in all organisms?

Another related question is what is evolution? Is it a concept formulated by us humans which does not actually 'exist' or is it an external process? God, anyone? Is evolution confined to Earth or could it exist on other planets - how can we possibly know that life on other planets is controlled by evolution? Life on other planets might be based on elements other than carbon (and silicon), maybe elements that we haven't even discovered yet. What might this life be like?
 
Lily
 
Reply Fri 14 May, 2010 01:50 pm
@BennySquire,
BennySquire;163886 wrote:
Right, so we're supposed to be creatures whose every action tries to contribute towards furthering our species in the process which we call 'evolution'. However, could it be that we humans could have power over evolution itself?

No, evolution is NOT about the survival of the species, it's about the individual. But we probably have that power. I would say that knowing about the evolution gives us that power.

BennySquire;163886 wrote:
For instance, if we all (by some dictatorial government or other, the mechanism doesn't matter) had to / for some reason decided to stop all breeding, we could destroy our own species - or if by some future incredibly powerful biochemical weapon of some sort, we could wipe out all life on earth? (On purpose or by accident). Could we even stop evolution by altering genes/DNA in some way or stopping mitosis/meiosis in all organisms?

Many scientists agree on that we can't see the evolutionary consequences of the medicine industry. It could be that genes which in a more "natural society" would have been promoted, and that these genes would give their owner a resistance to certain diseases. Or, for another example, would people who needs glasses have survived long enough to have children 10 000 years ago? But this is of course not something one can't really talk about, since this could lead to creepy hitlerish thought.

BennySquire;163886 wrote:
Another related question is what is evolution? Is it a concept formulated by us humans which does not actually 'exist' or is it an external process? God, anyone? Is evolution confined to Earth or could it exist on other planets - how can we possibly know that life on other planets is controlled by evolution? Life on other planets might be based on elements other than carbon (and silicon), maybe elements that we haven't even discovered yet. What might this life be like?

With our reality, evolution is inevitable. It just is. We could say it's God's way of perfecting his making, but the thing is that the creatures are never perfect according to the evolution theory. I think there would be evolution on other planets, I can't see how life could exist otherwise.
 
BennySquire
 
Reply Fri 14 May, 2010 03:50 pm
@BennySquire,
QUOTE: With our reality, evolution is inevitable. It just is. We could say it's God's way of perfecting his making, but the thing is that the creatures are never perfect according to the evolution theory. I think there would be evolution on other planets, I can't see how life could exist otherwise.

It could exist by a mechanism completely different to evolution we haven't even considered; maybe beyond our understanding - we get bogged down in that all life exists by evolution, but we can only apply this to our planet, one of billions or trillions. Why should DNA etc exist in organisms on other planets / parts of the universe?
 
HexHammer
 
Reply Fri 14 May, 2010 03:57 pm
@BennySquire,
Selective breeding has been going on for thousand of years, whiping species has already been made for hundrets of years ..if not thousands of years.

We already have chemical agents and biological weapons of mass destruction designed to whipe species, ie the rabbit plague in Austalia whiped the rabbits.

Our human future lies in the genetics, with it we can become super humans, rid us for what crippeling illnesses we suffer from, we can become super savants.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sat 15 May, 2010 06:37 am
@BennySquire,
When Darwin discovered the evolutionary process, the idea that we could control our evolution became very popular. It became the basis for various philosophical movements such as social darwinism and eugenics. Francis Galston (Darwin's cousin) and Herbert Spencer were exponents of these kinds of views. But there are many problems. We still don't know if we can run economic systems, let alone evolutionary ones. And also the scale of time over which evolutionary processes take place are enormous in human terms. We have not physically changed much for (I think) around 50,000 years. History only goes back around 4-6 thousand years.

As for 'what is evolution', a great question and one worthy of much study. In a specific sense, Darwin described it in terms of reproduction with inheritance guided by selective pressures, caused by the scarcity of resources and the competition to survive. But in a broader sense, the whole universe is engaged in an evolutionary process - everything is continually evolving. Evolution is the most dynamic of outlooks.
 
BennySquire
 
Reply Sat 15 May, 2010 06:43 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;164569 wrote:
When Darwin discovered the evolutionary process, the idea that we could control our evolution became very popular. It became the basis for various philosophical movements such as social darwinism and eugenics. Francis Galston (Darwin's cousin) and Herbert Spencer were exponents of these kinds of views. But there are many problems. We still don't know if we can run economic systems, let alone evolutionary ones. And also the scale of time over which evolutionary processes take place are enormous in human terms. We have not physically changed much for (I think) around 50,000 years. History only goes back around 4-6 thousand years.

As for 'what is evolution', a great question and one worthy of much study. In a specific sense, Darwin described it in terms of reproduction with inheritance guided by selective pressures, caused by the scarcity of resources and the competition to survive. But in a broader sense, the whole universe is engaged in an evolutionary process - everything is continually evolving. Evolution is the most dynamic of outlooks.[/[/U]QUOTE]

Evolution in living organisms and 'evolution' in the universe in general are obviously not the same thing - change would be a better word for it.
 
Lily
 
Reply Sat 15 May, 2010 09:55 am
@BennySquire,
BennySquire;164385 wrote:

It could exist by a mechanism completely different to evolution we haven't even considered; maybe beyond our understanding - we get bogged down in that all life exists by evolution, but we can only apply this to our planet, one of billions or trillions. Why should DNA etc exist in organisms on other planets / parts of the universe?

Maybe, but if there's no evolution there can only be life in its most simple form. Of course there could be intelligent life that just came out of nothing, but I think this is as plausible as the gravitation doesn't exist in other parts of the universe. You have to remember that the the same laws probably exist in the entire universe, and therefor the same elements. And that limits the ways life can be created. Life probably has to have some sort of genetic information, and this information can probably change over time. I mean, can there really be any living material that can't change?
 
BennySquire
 
Reply Sat 15 May, 2010 10:30 am
@Lily,
Lily;164600 wrote:
Maybe, but if there's no evolution there can only be life in its most simple form. Of course there could be intelligent life that just came out of nothing, but I think this is as plausible as the gravitation doesn't exist in other parts of the universe. You have to remember that the the same laws probably exist in the entire universe, and therefor the same elements. And that limits the ways life can be created. Life probably has to have some sort of genetic information, and this information can probably change over time. I mean, can there really be any living material that can't change?


I don't think you consider how huge and diverse the universe is; just as a start, what about this "dark flow" which has recently come to light, which could potentially undermine all the 'laws' of the universe? I am, however, skeptical of this (especially as it is a newly discovered phenomenon) but if this can be discovered, what next? We cannot be too certain of science, throughout history we have seen some scientists proved wrong, laws changed and confidence shaken - our understanding of science may never be total, if that indeed is even possible.

And why should organisms have to change? In evolution, organisms have to adapt to stimuli (which are very hard to define for humans) - because we live on a changing planet - if conditions were constant for a long period of time, why would living things have to change? This is just an example though, who knows what might be elsewhere in the universe.
 
Lily
 
Reply Sat 15 May, 2010 11:30 am
@BennySquire,
BennySquire;164614 wrote:
I don't think you consider how huge and diverse the universe is; just as a start, what about this "dark flow" which has recently come to light, which could potentially undermine all the 'laws' of the universe? I am, however, skeptical of this (especially as it is a newly discovered phenomenon) but if this can be discovered, what next? We cannot be too certain of science, throughout history we have seen some scientists proved wrong, laws changed and confidence shaken - our understanding of science may never be total, if that indeed is even possible.

yes, but as I said, it is this one universe, and as far as we know the same elements exist in the entire universe, and therefor approximately the same conditions

BennySquire;164614 wrote:
And why should organisms have to change? In evolution, organisms have to adapt to stimuli (which are very hard to define for humans) - because we live on a changing planet - if conditions were constant for a long period of time, why would living things have to change? This is just an example though, who knows what might be elsewhere in the universe.

Why should life forms be created perfect for their home enviroment. Even if the conditions were exactly the same, the life forms could evolve. That is something we at least can see on earth, but as you said, our knowledge is limited
 
 

 
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