Does religion influence evolution?

For a long time, evolutionary biologists have assumed that the control that human beings have exerted over their environment has canceled out natural selection, but some are saying that not only are human being evolving faster than ever but that religion, culture, art and the economy are influencing our genes.

Arri Eisen writes over on Religion Dispatches:

What factors, after all, most dramatically affect, actually constitute the human environment? Our culture, our religion, and even our economy! What if, as suggested by futurist Paul Saffro, humans wealthy enough to select their own environment and their own genes and body parts (which, by the way, they can already do) might evolve into a separate superspecies? All this culture and ethics is scary territory for most biologists. And for good reason.

So, it’s probably more than just science that helps maintain the evolutionary biologists’ party line that ‘humans are all the same’ and ‘we’ve stopped evolving.’ After all, talk of differences evolving in different human groups evokes lurking dangers of eugenics: the twisted logic of racism, Nazism, The Bell Curve. In fact, according to very convincing evidence outlined in the recent Darwin’s Sacred Cause, his disgust for slavery was perhaps the driving force behind Darwin’s efforts to demonstrate evolution, with its underlying truth that humans are all one species with a common ancestor.

While in no way disputing that we all share a common ancestor in Africa, a group of scientists are saying, first, that we all agree that after our initial start in Africa (about 50,000 years ago), we all spread out around the world into very different environments, and second, that those different environments account not only for why we look different, but the different environments and separation from other groups also account for our different cultures and religions (i.e., new environments). New environments make for selection of different genes. This much no one argues with.

Read the rest here.

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