Newsflash: Humans stopping evolution!

A breathless piece in the NY Times asserts that we evil, parasitic hominid viruses are subverting the natural process of evolution! The horror!

Humans can threaten species with extinction in many ways, including overfishing, pollution and deforestation. Now a pair of studies points to a new danger to the world’s biodiversity: humans may be blocking new species from evolving.

The author goes on to lament the loss of biodiversity in the stickleback fish population in Western Canada, in Darwin’s very own finch populations in the Galapagos, and other species. Evidently, we’re stopping evolution in its tracks. No, sorry, not the case at all. We are simply changing the environment, and changing the path of evolution. If the environment changes, like for instance, the introduction of a foreign predator of the sticklebacks, then their populations will have to adapt to confront it, and if you have the same predator, odds are, you’re going to converge upon the same solution.

I suppose, because we do tend to homogenize environments to make them more suitable for our own habitation, that the process will result in less biodiversity. But, to suggest that we stop evolution? That’s carrying a valid concern too far. I half suspect, along with Mark Shea (to whom I’m indebted for the link), that the NY Times is promoting a certain agenda here. Since we’re disrupting Nature, we must stop everything we’re doing and live in harmony with Her. The only problem is, humans are different from the rest of Creation–we have the ability to change our environment; that is, have dominion over it. We’ve done so for at least the past 9,000 years and things aren’t going to change any time soon. While we must certainly be better stewards, to worship Nature to our own detriment is not stewardship, but idolatry.

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