The Blind Watchmaker May See

January 14, 2008

There is nothing about our ancestral line or about our current biology that dictates how we will evolve in the future. Nothing in the natural order demands that our descendants resemble us in any particular way. Very likely, they will not resemble us. We will almost certainly transform ourselves, likely beyond recognition, in the generations to come.

Considering humanity as a whole, there is nothing about natural selection that suggests our optimal design. We are probably not even optimized for the Paleolithic, much less for life in the 21st century. And yet, we are now acquiring the tools that will enable us to attempt our own optimization. Many people think this project is fraught with risk. But is it riskier than doing nothing? There may be current threats to civilization that we cannot even perceive, much less resolve, at our current level of intelligence. Could any rational strategy be more dangerous than following the whims of Nature? This is not to say that our growing capacity to meddle with the human genome couldn’t present some moments of Faustian over-reach. But our fears on this front must be tempered by a sober understanding of how we got here. Mother Nature is not now, nor has she ever been, looking out for us.

– Sam Harris, from The World Question Forum

I think this sort of thing is very important to consider when debating what’s ‘natural.’ Yes, we should be wary to mess around with evolution. But we should also keep in mind that evolution is a very blind watchmaker, one that has managed to fashion a species with far better eyes than itself.

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One Response to “The Blind Watchmaker May See”

  1. dave in the west said

    Some say the end is near

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