Earlier I was talking with some people about Darwin’s famous line, “Survival of the Fittest,” actually created by his bulldog Huxley, but the phrase wasn’t the issue, it was the personal threat. The problem for most people is that they realize they are not perfect specimens of the human species. It seems everyone I encounter, when I talk to them for very long, mentions their problems, and usually their problems are severe. It is strange, because nearly everyone that comes walking down the street looks healthy and sane, and yet it isn’t so. It isn’t that they are faking anything, it is just that a person who is reasonably dressed and walking normally appears to be holding their lives together and progressing reasonably well. These folks might even say to a Pew research questionnaire that they are in good health and quite happy, even though they are seriously overweight, have a heart condition, aggravated by diabetes and attempted suicide a couple of months ago… but now they are great.
College students have some similar statistics that can be applied to them, that are shocking – 75% graduate with debt, and the average debt is $35,000 and non-voidable. These are the young adults on the supposed path to a successful economic life. These are the Darwinian winners. Hm?
The conversation I mentioned earlier was hostile toward Darwin because it seemed he was promoting the elimination of humans who were not perfect. But that wasn’t true. In fact Darwin spoke piteously about the squandering of life by nature, where few perfectly healthy examples of any species ever lives to anything near their potential life expectancy. There is a strange distortion of perception with my conversational companions, because a girl born in America today can expect to go through all the dangers of life and still achieve eighty percent of her maximum plausible life expectancy of one hundred years; and yet there is currently a hue and cry about how dangerous our lives are and how the government should be taking much better care of us. I don’t think most people realize just how dangerous and unforgiving nature really is to its creatures.
Darwin was himself physically and emotionally sick most of his adult life and didn’t even attend the original reading of his own evolution paper to the Geological Society of London, along with Wallace’s paper. He stayed home because his daughter was dying of scarlet fever. Darwin was often emotionally devastated by local sickness and death. What modern sickly Americans may be dreading is the realization that a hundred years of increasingly effective medicine has permitted a degradation of the DNA that was bequeathed to them. Counterproductive genes have been bred into our gene pool by five generations of parents who would have died in earlier times because of poor health. Diabetes is a common modern threat that wouldn’t last long in the wild. In wild societies many children don’t reach reproductive age, and the natural selection process eliminates those least able to function in their local situation, and even the healthiest are challenged.
Modern medicine is both saving humanity in the short run and condemning it in a longer run. Only five generations of modern medicine are probably already having measurable deleterious effects. I don’t like what’s happening, but I do support every single person and the whole of humanity to achieve the greatest abundance of life they can attain. That’s my life goal, at present. Relative to the gene problem I support modern science and the search for ways to correct these genetic problems. It appears it may be successful, and these problems can be eliminated in a socially more responsible way than is available at present.