email - September 2002
by Do-While Jones

Are People Still Evolving?

A few days ago we received this email from James.

Date: Tue, 10 Sep 2002 01:30:01 +0000
From: james

I suppose you noticed this article in the news today, but in case you didn't I wanted to send it to you.

It concludes humans are evolving at an alarming rate due to over eating. Funny, I remember reading somewhere this summer that scientists now believe we have stopped evolving.

Here is the link and if you prefer, I have also pasted the article. Ö

The article he sent was a BBC News Online article by Jonathan Amos. As James says, it concludes that people are fatter today than they used to be because we eat more high-calorie food and donít get much exercise sitting in front of the computer. Of course, that is all true, but it isnít evolution. Hereís why:

For this to be evidence of evolution, it has to be hereditary. That is, one has to show that in subsequent generations the offspring would be fatter because of genetic reasons. Jonathan Amosí article is based on the idea that diet and lifestyle produce changes in humans which have been inherited. Experiments have shown that acquired characteristics are not inherited. Scientists have cut the tails off several generations of mice, but their offspring still have tails.

Yes, sitting in front of the TV all day, drinking beer and eating potato chips, will make you fat. If you feed your kids junk food and let them lay in bed all day, they will be fat, too. But if your grandchildren move to an underdeveloped nation, and work in the field all day growing their own food, your grandchildren wonít be fat. Any characteristics acquired (or lost) through diet and exercise (or lack thereof) will not be inherited and therefore cannot be responsible for evolution of new characteristics.

There are some genetic factors which affect weight. These factors can be inherited; but they arenít directly affected by lifestyle. If a culture values skinny bodies (or fat bodies), then people with skinny bodies (or fat bodies) might be more likely to find a mate and produce offspring that will inherit those characteristics. In this way the population might evolve in the sense that there are more or less of a particular body type.

This isnít evolution in the sense that evolutionists require. Sure, there may be more fat people today than there were a few years ago, but there have always been fat people. Most people today probably arenít as fat as King Henry VIII, so nothing new has evolved. Fat people arenít a different species than skinny people. If human babies were being born today with gills, or wings, or could spin silkout of their , well, anyplace, that would be macroevolution. An inconsequential difference in body weight isnít evidence of evolution.

Evolutionists talk about ďsexual selection.Ē Evolutionists claim birds evolved bright plumage to make themselves more attractive to the opposite sex. As with every other argument associated with evolution, it is all speculation. Nobody has historical records of peacocks evolving more impressive tails in the wild over the centuries. Of course people can breed pigeons to get interesting feathers, but they have to control mating to do it. If beautiful pigeons escape, they donít steal all the available suitors from the uglier pigeons. After a few generations, the beautiful pigeons breed back to normal pigeons.

Ah! Look at all the ugly people!
All the ugly people; where do they all come from?
[An inexact quote from The Beatles, Elenore Rigby]

If sexual selection really worked, there would not be any ugly people any more. They all would have died childless years ago. But look around you. Probably 90% of the people around you arenít as good looking as you are. All those ugly people inherited their looks from their ugly parents, who managed to find a mate despite their looks. (And those 10% who look better than you probably have had cosmetic surgery.)

Seriously, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Everybody looks good to somebody, no matter how much (or how little) they weigh, or how tall (or short) they are. There are lots of people you would not want to marry, but somebody else did marry them. There are lots of people who would not marry you, but there are some who would like to.

Yes, Darwin rightly observed that more individuals are born than will reproduce. But it isnít always the weakest or ugliest that dies without offspring. Even some evolutionary scientists believe chance may be far more important than strength, beauty, intelligence, or weight, when it comes to finding a mate.

Yes, people in the more affluent nations are getting fatter. Yes, that is probably due to diet and exercise. And maybe, because increased weight is becoming the norm, genetically overweight people may be having more sexual success, slightly increasing the percentage of genes related to obesity in the general population. But even if all that is true, it doesnít mean that a reptile can evolve into a mammal.

As James heard, scientists often say that evolution is over. Every species has evolved just about as far as it can go, they say. Why do they say that? Because they havenít seen anything new evolve in the history of modern science.

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