Humans – Are We Still Evolving?

Note: This is a synopsis only. The complete article can be viewed on the Absurd Being website here.

Evolution by natural selection is well understood and essentially universally accepted among the scientific community as the mechanism by which homo sapiens appeared on planet Earth. But does the fact that we did evolve this way condemn us to evolve this way forever?

In this article, I suggest two reasons why the human species may no longer be evolving according to Darwin’s theory. Both are connected to the extensive and sophisticated culture humankind has developed for itself, and therefore also to human consciousness and the non-physical world of thoughts, imagination, beliefs, etc. that arise from it.

In the first place, our ability to reproduce in the modern world seldom comes down to features that are genetically transferrable to our offspring. We are just as likely (if not more so) to choose a ‘mate’ based on things like our prospective partner’s bank balance, job, religious beliefs, habits, family, friends, etc.; none of which have a significant genetic component. In this case there is simply nothing for natural selection to select for.

Secondly, humans don’t reproduce like animals in the wild anymore. We have developed customs surrounding family that mean we tend to ‘mate’ for life and have far fewer babies than our animal cousins. In addition, there are artificial constraints on how many children we elect to have ranging from the societal to the financial to the personal. The sheer fact that human children are as helpless as they are and require such a long time to mature and become self-sufficient in the human world of work, money, relationships, possessions, customs, expectations, etc. – a world like that of no other animal – places burdens on us as parents that automatically restrict the number of children we are likely to have, or are even capable of having.

At the end of the day, although we may not know exactly how it came to be, it seems that human beings, despite having evolved according to natural selection, have now evolved beyond it.

 

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The Meaning of Life

Note: The full “meaning of life” article can be viewed at absurdbeing.com here.

 

Few topics have become quite as cliched as that of the meaning of life. In this article I ask two questions; first, why all answers to the question end up sounding trite or pseudo-profound and secondly, whether the question of the meaning of life itself has meaning.

What exactly are we talking about when we discuss the meaning of life? Specifically what does the expression “meaning of…” mean? Typically, it is a request for an explanation, as when we ask about the meaning of a dream or the meaning of a certain word. In both cases we are looking for an explanation, “What does this dream mean? Explain it to me.”

It is in this sense that we ask about the meaning of life. We are looking for an explanation; a “why” that can explain this existence into which we have been thrown. Instead of answering this question though and giving us meaning, all of the standard answers tend to provide us with a purpose; do this, don’t do that. It is precisely because the answers we receive don’t answer the question we asked that they come across as pseudo-profound or dissatisfying.

But the bigger problem here is that life is just not the kind of thing that we can explain. The question of the meaning of life is therefore completely meaningless. Dreams and words can be explained because they are symbols. Life is not a symbol or a metaphor – it’s pure existence. You might be able to explain how it arose; this is the specialty of science, but that still doesn’t explain what it means. It doesn’t give us a “why”.

Now we see that all of our answers are pseudo-profound precisely because  the question itself is pseudo-profound. Every answer fails because the question isn’t a real question.