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What have humans evolved to do? What is their evolutionary purpose?


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I am wondering what is the purpose of humans based on how we evolved to be. What does the design of our bodies say about what we are meant to be doing with our lives. What age are we meant to live up to? Also we break up humans into ethnic groups, I am wondering have some of these ethnic groups evolved to do something better than other ethnic groups due to genetic mutation/have ethnic groups evolved differently to have certain attributes about them. One last question is how does genetics shape our personality?

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9 minutes ago, Alex Mercer said:

I am wondering what is the purpose of humans based on how we evolved to be. What does the design of our bodies say about what we are meant to be doing with our lives. What age are we meant to live up to? Also we break up humans into ethnic groups, I am wondering have some of these ethnic groups evolved to do something better than other ethnic groups due to genetic mutation/have ethnic groups evolved differently to have certain attributes about them. One last question is how does genetics shape our personality?

There is no purpose to humanity, other then a line of evolution of life, following from the evolution of space and time that we know as the universe. We are star stuff.

 

In saying that, let me elaborate, in that individually and personally, we do probably have a goal in life.

Edited by beecee
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18 minutes ago, Alex Mercer said:

what is the purpose of humans based on how we evolved

survive and breed

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Well as a Christian I believe there is purpose. If I wasn't a Christian there could still be possibility of purpose we don't know (since we don't know everything about the universe like whether Aliens exist or if there are things that exist that we cannot observe like God that could explain our purpose) about so I wouldn't be set on "no purpose" just yet.

But back to my question. Based on our physiology, what is our intended use for our bodies. We can't handle extreme temperatures for example so we don't live on/in lava which means that not what our bodies are intended for. We have fingers so are our hands intended to do complex tasks (what complex tasks exactly?). I was also wondering if swaying away from our evolutionary intentions  for our bodies is reason why we have so much health issues in the world. Back and body pains from sitting at desks not being active, obesity from too much sugar and chemicals in our food etc. Seems like a burst in the timeline from advancing tech has left us in bad condition.

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3 minutes ago, Alex Mercer said:

Based on our physiology, what is our intended use for our bodies

survive and breed

3 minutes ago, Alex Mercer said:

I was also wondering if swaying away from our evolutionary intentions  for our bodies is reason why we have so much health issues in the world

Not really, no. This is more about us evolving in a world that no longer exists. We no longer have starve through winter and walk hundreds of miles to find food. Our sedentary lifestyle and easy access to high fat high sugar diets is a better explanation (especially since evolution doesn't have intention... it just selects lifeforms capable of surviving and breeding successfully). 

5 minutes ago, Alex Mercer said:

Seems like a burst in the timeline from advancing tech has left us in bad condition.

Advancing tech makes being fat and lazy easier, but we still have a choice to go exercise and eat better. Many just choose not to. These are separate issues. 

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3 minutes ago, Alex Mercer said:

Well as a Christian I believe there is purpose. If I wasn't a Christian there could still be possibility of purpose we don't know (since we don't know everything about the universe like whether Aliens exist or if there are things that exist that we cannot observe like God that could explain our purpose) about so I wouldn't be set on "no purpose" just yet.

This is the Evolution, Morphology, and Exobiology section. Supernatural explanations like the above are completely off-topic.

5 minutes ago, Alex Mercer said:

But back to my question. Based on our physiology, what is our intended use for our bodies. We can't handle extreme temperatures for example so we don't live on/in lava which means that not what our bodies are intended for. We have fingers so are our hands intended to do complex tasks (what complex tasks exactly?). I was also wondering if swaying away from our evolutionary intentions  for our bodies is reason why we have so much health issues in the world. Back and body pains from sitting at desks not being active, obesity from too much sugar and chemicals in our food etc. Seems like a burst in the timeline from advancing tech has left us in bad condition.

There's nothing physiologically we're designed best for. There's no "intended use" for our bodies, because there was no intention. We have developed a high degree of intelligence that, along with other combinations of factors, allows us to adapt in ways other creatures can't. But then, they can do things we can't do. Toss us in the ocean without our tools and we won't do well.

But if you're looking for something we alone seem best suited for, then I would say spreading life from Earth to other planets. We have evolved the capability to do that.

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So it is right to say in simplistic general view that the reason why we have physical features we do is because they are simply carried on from survivors who had a chance to reproduce (pass on their genes) + genetic mutations etc and just constant repetition of that.

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8 minutes ago, Alex Mercer said:

Well as a Christian I believe there is purpose. If I wasn't a Christian there could still be possibility of purpose we don't know (since we don't know everything about the universe like whether Aliens exist or if there are things that exist that we cannot observe like God that could explain our purpose) about so I wouldn't be set on "no purpose" just yet.

But back to my question. Based on our physiology, what is our intended use for our bodies. We can't handle extreme temperatures for example so we don't live on/in lava which means that not what our bodies are intended for. We have fingers so are our hands intended to do complex tasks (what complex tasks exactly?). I was also wondering if swaying away from our evolutionary intentions  for our bodies is reason why we have so much health issues in the world. Back and body pains from sitting at desks not being active, obesity from too much sugar and chemicals in our food etc. Seems like a burst in the timeline from advancing tech has left us in bad condition.

Your belief in purpose is not a scientific belief, so you won't get much help from asking about purpose in a science thread. What is the "purpose" of a shark? Or a mosquito?  It makes little sense, scientifically, to ask such a question. There is no "evolutionary intention". Evolution favours traits that permit reproduction, and traits that do that will depend on the environment the organism is in. And that's about it, really.

Religion may consider Mankind has a purpose, but this is not an idea that is supported by science.    

 

3 minutes ago, Alex Mercer said:

So it is right to say in simplistic general view that the reason why we have physical features we do is because they are simply carried on from survivors who had a chance to reproduce (pass on their genes) + genetic mutations etc and just constant repetition of that.

Not quite. Evolution preferentially selects features that give reproductive advantage. That is the driver of evolutionary change.

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Just to add to exchemists point... mutations happen all of the time, and most have nothing to do with survival. They're just sort of "there." So long as they don't interfere with or hinder reproduction, they'll often carry on to future generations, too.

Not all features are selected. Some simply aren't selected against and just come along for the ride (if that makes sense).

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29 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

This is the Evolution, Morphology, and Exobiology section. Supernatural explanations like the above are completely off-topic.

And obviously unscientific to boot.

41 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

But if you're looking for something we alone seem best suited for, then I would say spreading life from Earth to other planets. We have evolved the capability to do that.

Which raises the question, will we evolve to better handle the harsh conditions of weightlessness for example?

In relation to the above question I put, I remember a lecture by the late, great Professor Stephen Hawking at the White House, entitled the second millenium lectures. Here is an excerpt from that lecture....

"The rate of increase of DNA complexity gradually rose to about one bit a year over the last few million years. But now we are at the beginning of a new era in which we will be able to increase the complexity of our DNA without having to wait for the slow process of biological evolution. There has been no significant change in human DNA in the last ten thousand years. But it is likely that we will be able to completely redesign it in the next thousand. Of course many people will say that genetic engineering on humans should be banned. But I rather doubt if they will be able to prevent it. Genetic engineering on plants and animals will be allowed for economic reasons and someone is bound to try it on humans. Unless we have a totalitarian world order, someone will design improved humans somewhere.

Clearly developing improved humans will create great social and political problems with respect to unimproved humans. I'm not advocating human genetic engineering as a good thing, I'm just saying that it is likely to happen in the next millennium, whether we want it or not. This is why I don't believe science fiction like Star Trek where people are essentially the same four hundred years in the future. I think the human race, and its DNA, will increase its complexity quite rapidly".

In a way the human race needs to improve its mental and physical qualities if it is to deal with the increasingly complex world around it and meet new challenges like space travel. more ....

from https://clintonwhitehouse4.archives.gov/Initiatives/Millennium/shawking.html

 

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31 minutes ago, beecee said:

Which raises the question, will we evolve to better handle the harsh conditions of weightlessness for example?

If we're all living, we're evolving. If we're living in different conditions, we're selecting for traits every generation that make us more successful in those conditions. 

That's one of the ways to show there is no "purpose" for evolution. Success in an environment is just about surviving until you can pass those genes along, as iNow has been saying. "Purpose" is an abstract concept, an assumption made by highly intelligent humans who make sense of their world by imposing patterns upon it, then interpreting the patterns.

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1 minute ago, Phi for All said:

If we're living, we're evolving. If we're living in different conditions, we're selecting for traits every generation that make us more successful in those conditions. 

That's one of the ways to show there is no "purpose" for evolution. Success in an environment is just about surviving until you can pass those genes along, as iNow has been saying. "Purpose" is an abstract concept, an assumption made by highly intelligent humans who make sense of their world by imposing patterns upon it, then interpreting the patterns.

Thanks Phi for All. 

I have just added to that last post as your reply eventuated.

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I find a useful way of thinking about evolution is as an optimisation problem - species are 'tweaking' various parameters in order to improve fitness, which is a kind of objective function. However, that objective function is itself subject to change because it is dependent upon the environment and ecosystem which are themselves constantly changing.

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"Evolutionary purpose" is not an evolution science concept. If humans are fitted by evolution to some overarching purpose it will be through Science and Reason that we will work out what that is. Evolution gave us things like our individual will to live and gave us strong social bonds and a strong sex urge and gave us fierce protective love of our children - but those aren't unique to humans. Brain power with powerful memory and language and dreams and ability to think in abstract concepts and with imagination, tool use and invention are human characteristics. We can discover and invent our own purpose.

We seem to be innately fitted for seeking reproductive success and protecting and providing not just for our own children but those of our family and clan. We aren't so well fitted for seeking protection and providing for those who are not family or clan or whatever social groupings we belong to. We face problems that impact our whole species and require us to do things better.

I do think we face species wide challenges that test not just our individual capabilities but those of our institutions, societies and economies - and it is a test that seems to require a lot of the human characteristics that conform to what many religions count as good, but does not depend on religion to be true; intelligence, accurate observation, truthful record keeping, sharing knowledge, cooperation, organisation, just dealings with others. 

That challenge is - I think - the outcome of enduring and exceptional success by our species in a finite and fragile world - the need to achieve enduring prosperity and security for our descendants. It looks to me that achieving that for our personal descendants requires achieving it for everyone's descendants, which is why I think it may be something like an emergent purpose. One discovered and revealed by Science and Reason.

Edited by Ken Fabian
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On 4/12/2021 at 4:40 PM, Alex Mercer said:

Well as a Christian I believe there is purpose.

!

Moderator Note

You posted this in the evolution section, so leave religion out of it. 

 

This goes for all participants.

 
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