A team sponsored by the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center reports in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that humans are, indeed, still “evolving.”
“The take-home message is that humans are currently evolving. Natural selection is still operating.”
The researchers used data from the Framingham Heart Study, a 60-year review of more than two thousand American women’s health and the number of children born to them. Based on that data, the scientists extrapolated to the future and concluded the women’s descendants, at least, will be “slightly shorter and heavier, will have lower blood pressure and cholesterol, will have their first child at a younger age, and will reach menopause later in life,” a press release from the NESC reports.
“The take-home message is that humans are currently evolving. Natural selection is still operating,” said evolutionary biologist Stephen Stearns of Yale University. The finding goes against the idea that modern medicine has nullified the effect of natural selection in humans.
Stearns went on, “These results place humans in the medium-to-slow end of the range of rates [of ‘evolution’] observed for other living things. But what that means is that humans aren’t special with respect to how fast they’re evolving. They’re kind of average.”
While we don’t doubt that some evolutionist will claim this is yet more evidence to “prove creationism wrong,” the research easily fits into the creation worldview. Natural selection (a biological effect we observe today) is fully compatible with special creation. However, we wonder if some of the study’s extrapolated changes in humanity would better be described as genetic drift (which also fits into the creation worldview).
More important is what “evolution” the scientists didn’t discover: there was no evidence that, on a genetic level, the descendants will have new genetic information leading to new anatomical features and biological functions. That is the “evolution” that would be required were evolution of the Darwinian sort to occur: simple life-forms transforming into complex life-forms over millions of years.
In related news, anthropologist Peter McAllister argues in a new book that modern man would be no match for our ancestors’ athleticism. Manthropology: The Science of the Inadequate Modern Male documents evidence that humans of the past were likely much more fit and fast than even today’s top athletes. Of course, such is what we would expect: God created a perfect human couple in a perfect world, but their descendants (viz., us) have faced millennia of destructive mutations as well as the ease of today’s sedentary lifestyle. (The latter effect, we admit, has probably been much more significant in the past few centuries.)
And while we’re on the topic of human evolution, could it be that the voters who elected U.S. President Barack Obama did so because of the subconscious effects of evolution as postulated in this Physorg article? The researchers believe that “Traits like height, age, gender, masculinity/femininity, and weight all appear to matter when we vote for our leaders. These are likely hangovers from our evolutionary past—ancestral leadership prototypes that are context-dependent.” But the association of height with leadership, for example, can be understood from the creation perspective as well.
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