The Degeneration of Man
Mutations are inevitable in human reproduction. Very few mutations are beneficial, probably far less than one in a thousand. The human developed under a severe environment. Beneficial mutations improved survival chances, and deleterious mutations were quickly eliminated by the environment. The result was a high birthrate, high death rate, and a short life, but the process of evolution thereby maintained a lean and healthy gene pool. The human conquered its environment with tools, clothing, shelter, medicine, high food production and compassionate cultures. It gained a long life span and huge population growth. The environment no longer removes deleterious mutations unless they are immediately fatal. The human's gene pool is no longer maintained. The result is a rapid degradation in body and mind due to the accumulation without control of degenerating mutations in the gene pool. The rate of human descent is perhaps thousands of times faster than the rate of its ascent. Unless checked, the modern human (Homo sapiens), as a species, will soon collapse. The degeneration is already apparent.
The Design of Man Guarantees Extinction
In evolution, survival is the mark of success. If a life variation is a successful one, it allows that species to survive. When it becomes unsuccessful, the species will become extinct. At first glance, this section title appears contradictory. This comes about because there are degrees of success. A bare survival is considered success from the viewpoint of evolution. Though precarious, the species that barely survives is in perfect balance with its environment. It is neither superior nor inferior to its requirements. Its gene pool is maintained lean and free of deleterious mutations. Man existed under those conditions for most of the past two million years. When man developed agriculture, medicine, shelter, clothing and compassionate cultures, he, to a large extent, conquered his environment. Mankind as a species became far superior to the new basic requirements for survival. Evolution degenerates characteristics that are superior to those needed for survival. Mankind will thus degenerate until again in balance with the new nature that he has created. Such degeneration will cause the collapse of society, which is the mainstay for the new environment. So it will collapse also. The human, no longer equipped for the old environment will perish under it.
DNA replication is an amazingly accurate process, but errors are sometimes made at a critical point during organism reproduction. Such errors (mutations) will pass to future generations. These errors often effect the ability of the new generations to withstand their environment. If the effect of the error is negative, and most are, death and suffering (natural selection) will remove the carriers of those deficient genes. This combination of mutations and elimination of most by death is called evolution.
Mutation provides all initial change. When a mutation occurs, a new allele (a new variation in a gene) is created. As a first approximation, these accidents (mutations) are random (can occur at any location along the DNA), although there are many alleles which are repetitive, indicating a mechanical propensity greater than chance. The rate of these accidents is relatively constant within a given species.
If the accident occurs in a critical location (believed to be less than 10% of the total in man), the result is usually disastrous. Other areas will accept change with no immediate consequence. Once made, and the first generation survives past reproduction, the mutation is perpetuated and variability within the gene pool of the species is increased.
Natural selection occurs when the viability of an allele is tested in real life. It makes only one test. Contrary to popular opinion, evolution does not select the fittest, strongest, or most superior organism. It is instead a question of how many offspring the organism will have which in turn will reach sufficient maturity to have its own offspring. In other words, the figure of merit in the balance between mutation rate and environmental severity is the percentage of new-born which live to become grand-parents.
If the effect is positive, the allele will become a permanent part of the gene pool. If the effect is very successful, it will quickly become a dominant allele. If the effect is neutral or negative, the allele will not spread rapidly through the gene pool and, usually, will disappear from the gene pool.
Evolution is not a planned process. It does no engineering. The end products were never visualized. No goals exist. There is no thought of failure or success. There is no seeking of perfection. There is no seeking of anything. Evolution does not do anything. It only happens. Mutations produce chaos with genetic accident after accident, most of which are eventually fatal. Evolution uses misery and death to sort it all out. Evolution produces the strongest organism when the organism is in absolute misery. Rapid and early deaths make deleterious allele deletions quickly.
Evolution produces the worst possible organism that will still survive. Evolution has no goals. It does not seek excellence. It does not seek creature comfort. The long term result of evolution is that a species is matched to its environment, neither worse than required for bare survival nor better. Genes that describe characteristics that are better than required in the current environment, will suffer the same mutation rate as any other. Since a mutation which degrades a characteristic which is better than required will not distress the recipient, that deleterious mutation will be acceptable to the gene pool of the species. The accumulation of such deleterious alleles will continue until the organism is so bad that it begins to have difficulty surviving. Further degradation will be halted at that point and there it will stabilize at the point of the maximum misery that can still be survived. If by chance a mutation should improve an already superior characteristic, it in time will suffer the same fate.
Man, through his inventiveness and energy, conquered his environment through tools, housing, agriculture, clothing, etc. This removed the environmental pressure which maintained our gene pool. Life is no longer totally dependent on youth, eyesight, coordination, bravery, etc. As a result, a genetic cripple may bear crippled children and they may all survive to endlessly propagate the crippling gene. Our species has already declined to below that of survival in the environment of a short time ago, say 10,000 years. If our worldwide civilization should fail, there would be massive death, and perhaps species extinction.
Since most mutations are deleterious, no species can afford to allow them to accumulate at a high rate in its germ cells. In a species that exceeds the requirements of its environment and by that is increasing in population, there is little natural selection pressure to remove degenerative alleles. Long life and a rising population are direct indications that our species exceeds the requirements of our current environment. Those same factors indicate the rate of degeneration within our gene pool.
It is a common belief that this degeneration is quite slow, requiring many millions of years before becoming a real problem. Not so.
The Species Uniformity Test of Gene Pool Maintenance
A measure of how well natural selection is working in keeping the gene pool of a given species lean, is the amount of variation in outward appearance. The Thompson gazelle has a genetically small population subjected to a uniformly harsh environment. Line up 100 gazelles and see 100 peas from the same pod. Stand on a street corner and watch 100 humans walk past and the opposite is true. No two look alike. It would seem that we were watching a mixture of many species walk past. When new species are derived by evolution under a harsh environment, they are superior to those they replace. When derived under a benign environment, new species are inferior versions of the old.
10,000 years ago, the human was as uniform as the gazelle. He lived against a harsh environment. His population was stable, even with a high birth rate, and the average age at death was in the low thirties. Diversity is a buzz word which puts a spin on truth, since it is a measure of the degradation of the human gene pool, and that degradation is visible. Most of that degradation would have occurred in the last 1,000 years.
An Estimate of Gene Pool Degeneration
Gathering the facts as we know them today:
With 21 million mutations each year spread across 300 million base pairs, every possible viable mutation is likely to occur once in each 11 years. These would remain in the gene pool until natural selection removed them. This bears out a recent report that more than 7,000 genetic disorders in the gene pool of the human genome have been cataloged (and we still do not have any idea what the purpose is of most genes). This figure must be vastly understated. Not one mutation in one thousand would be so obvious as to require medical inquiry. The huge third world populations are not included in the study. There must be far more than ten million lesser, but still degenerative, mutations in the gene pool presently. Essentially none of these would be found in the gene pool of ancient man, 100,000 years ago. The population was much smaller then and the environment was much harsher. This gave natural selection the ammunition it needed to keep the gene pool lean. Even as recent as 10,000 years ago, man's population was quite small and his living conditions quite harsh. Few alleles existed in his gene pool.
It is true that each member of the species does not feel the impact of the millions of degenerating alleles now in the gene pool. Nor will anyone suffer all of them at once. It takes a very long time for a mutation to propagate across the immense gene pool of man, and the genome of the individual is limited to two sets of alleles. Nevertheless, those defects are in the gene pool and so will eventually share in the population with the current gene set. It is a gene pool that does not undergo natural selection. This is an impossible situation. Never before has a species been so successful that it has essentially halted the natural selection in its species. The result is a species that will degenerate in time to the point when natural selection can again become operative. It took man 4.5 million years to develop. The actual percentage of mutations that are beneficial is unknown. It is believed that the percentage is quite small. Not many students of evolution would expect more than one per thousand. If that were true then the degeneration of our species, since natural selection is removed, would be more than one thousand times faster than its development (again verifying that the problem time is in thousands rather than millions of years as many believe).
The huge population is a two-edged sword. A huge population slows the apparent degeneration. It would also slow the regeneration of the species, if we can figure out how to correct it. The human gene pool is huge. It acts as a big tank, one in which a little garbage can grow to a huge disaster.
The Human Combination of Instinct and Intellect is Species Deadly
The unique feature of the human, when compared with all other forms of life, is its intellectual ability. When the species first appeared, it lived in a harsh and demanding environment. Its intellect greatly helped its adaptive ability, and therefore its ability to survive. It allowed mechanical inventions, such as fire, tools, clothing, shelter, etc., which solved many of the harsh features of the environment, improving both survivability and comfort..
The survival advantages of intellect are in its ability to control the instincts. Instinct is relatively fixed and lacks fast adaptability to changes in environment, such as when a species migrates into a new environmental niche. Intellect, by controlling the instincts of the species, is able to make quick behavioral adjustments. Mankind, though primarily a tropical animal, was thereby able to populate the earth, even into the remotest arctic regions.
The modern human species came into existence with strong social instincts. These were a legacy from two million years of Homo erectus and Homo habilis. They in turn had inherited a prior two million years of herd/tribal cultural living from prior hominid species. Hominid cultures are, have been, and always will be driven by those strong social instincts.
There is no conflict between intellect and instinct when intellect is applied to mechanical problems, but there is conflict between intellect and instinct when intellect is applied in the social sphere. For intellect to work in human culture it must control individual social instinct. If intellect is to contribute to culture it must augment some instincts and diminish the effects of others. Individual behavior within a culture becomes controlled by the application of intellect over the community rather than relying on the individual to instinctively behave in the right manner.As it does so, it negates the influence of instinct on the culture.
Evolution degenerates characteristics not screened by the environment. If instincts are controlled by intellect, they no longer need to breed true, since the intellect will dictate proper behavior. The originally strong social instincts will, in time, become degenerate and perverted. As these instincts degenerate, it becomes more and more necessary to enforce community rules for proper behavior. The evolutionary spiral continues to develop more and more perverted instinctive behaviors as stronger and stronger offsetting enforcement measures are required to obtain an orderly community. These stronger behavioral enforcement measures will continue to grow, while the individuals in the community develop less and less tolerance, until a point is reached when the individuals in the community rebel. At that point the intellectual restraints are no longer effective, the now perverted and degenerate social instincts are allowed full sway, and the society teeters on the brink of collapse. If it should collapse, the human, now with distorted social instincts, would be unable to survive.
How fast does a mutation spread in a gene pool? Under a tight evolutionary process (high birthrate, high death rate, severe environmental stress, short average life) the deleterious mutation is discarded from the gene pool almost as fast as it occurs. When the evolutionary stress is removed, all mutations, good and bad, have the same dispersion rate throughout the gene pool. Temporarily, the life span jumps and the population jumps. This abnormally low stress life will then decay until controlled by evolution again, if the species is allowed time to adjust to the new conditions. Unfortunately in the case of man, the downturn in capability can result in sudden societal collapse. The shock due to such huge environmental shift would most likely cause the species to become extinct.
If man is to survive, he must begin immediately to control both birthrate and birth genetic quality.