Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and a whole host of other medical conditions too numerous to mention here were all once fatal to humans. Many are now treatable to the point that sufferers can extend their lives well beyond what would be their natural lifespan otherwise. In many cases, this allows people to survive long enough to reproduce, thereby passing on their inferior genes to a new generation.
Medicine has always been about helping the human condition, but in fact may be having the opposite effect in the long run - survival of the individual may not be as important in the grand scheme of things as survival of the species. Evolution itself encourages adaptive traits while weeding out maladaptive traits, but medicine (and in particular, modern medicine) bypasses this process and promotes the idea that each and every human life is of equal value, even though (from a strictly Darwinian viewpoint) this is palpably false.
The idea of a mother abandoning an unwanted offspring is hardly exclusive to polar bears - certain ancient human cultures also abandoned their young if they did not pass muster. Modern, politically-correct thinking screams that this is morally abhorrent, and yet those same ancient cultures are revered for their strength and their bravery. Were the Spartans strong despite their cruelty towards their own children, or because of it?
For untold millenia, natural selection has directed the evolution of life on this planet, gradually from simple primordial goo into more complex life forms. We know empirically that this process can be wildly successful, because that process has in fact produced us - we claim with some arrogance to be the most intelligent species to ever have walked the Earth, but are we intelligent enough to interfere with the very process that produced us?
Our modern politically correct sensibilities strongly frown on the use of the word "inferior" in reference to a fellow human being, even in cases where it is correct - the same evolutionary process that produced us also granted us a sense of compassion. Compassion is a virtue, to be sure, but it is also a weakness. We can't bring ourselves to destroy that which we find cute or cuddly, even in cases where we know such destruction is warranted, at least from a Darwinian viewpoint.
Human evolution has stalled because we have developed the means to sustain lives that would otherwise be lost, thereby granting reproductive abilities to those who arguably should not have them. As a species, we would be stronger in the long run if this were not the case, even if it meant doing harm in the short run. Of course, this idea is nothing new. There have been several disastrous attempts to interfere with the evolutionary process in what were perceived to be "positive" ways, and our modern timid, politically correct way of thinking stems in large part from those failures.
I believe that society currently holds two contradictory views:
I submit that the process of natural selection as outlined by Darwin should be respected, if for no other reason than that our knowledge of it is still in a very primitive stage. The ancient Spartans were on to something - life should be considered a privilege, one which must be earned. Anyone who argues that this is unfair or unnatural should be forced to watch animals eat each other on the nature channel for a few hours.
- It is wrong to attempt to create better humans through selective breeding, forced sterilization, genetic manipulation, or any other form of eugenics. (We should not play god).
- Genetically inferior humans who would surely die if left to fend for themselves should be given whatever aid they need to survive, and should have the right to reproduce if they so choose. (We should play god).
The fundamental question which needs answering is this: is it better to use our technology to help the lives of a few at perhaps the long-term expense of the many, or should we allow natural selection to take its course for the betterment of the species as a whole? Given our spiraling population, coupled with the finite amount of food and other precious resources on our planet, I believe an increase in the level of competition among humans is in order. Let the fittest survive.