In the lasts blog we introduced George Gaylord Simpson’s analysis of the meaning of evolution. His approach to human destiny is consistent with that understanding. Evolution will continue in human and nonhuman species. Future evolution cannot be predicted, but we can discuss possibilities inherent in man and current life. First he thinks if man becomes extinct, it is unlikely that a similar (primate) species will evolve, though other animals may evolve intelligence and some human characteristics such as prehensile forelimbs. Second, while man exists, no other animals will develop human level intelligence. Ominously he predicts that man will cause the extinction of other species while also noting that man is the first species ever that could cause its own extinction.
Future human organic evolution will be slower than societal evolution, and ,in fact, it is as likely that natural selection will lead to regression as to progression among Homo sapiens. Meanwhile targeted human evolution entails significant ethical problems. Still, man can and likely will add purpose to evolution especially societal evolution where the goal is likely to be to an increase in knowledge including discovery of desirable traits for mankind. Even now we know man is not perfect and in theory can be improved . The most beneficial improvements are likely to be an increase in maximal intelligence and life expectancy both which will facilitate a higher order of knowledge. And since ethical eugenics must be voluntary, that may be preferred by individuals once desirable traits, genes, and mutations are known.
Last he feels the future ethics of man in an apparently purposeless universe where man has choice and thus responsibility must be based on the proposition that knowledge is good and blind faith is morally wrong. The ethical society will likely be democratic wherein the integrity and dignity of the individual is maintained. He concludes that the chaos of our time can be reduced to order only with responsible human knowledge. I find this remarkably reminiscent of the teaching of Socrates who asserts that virtue is synonymous with knowledge.
Next we will investigate a physical science conception of the trajectory of evolution in the universe and the consequences for man’s possible future.
1Simpson, George Gaylord, The Meaning of Evolution. Yale University Press, New Haven, 1949. Chapter IX.
2Ibid, Chapter X.
3Ibid, page 261.
4Ibid, page 262.
5Ibid, page 281.
6Ibid, page 286.