We are asked to determine whether the race of humans, the modern species of human beings, Homo sapiens, is now in the process of evolving, that is to say moving toward a higher level of development, or devolving, moving inexorably toward extinction. I have chosen to suggest that we are in a position to, at minimum, forestall extinction and perhaps ensure our survival to the extent we are able to do so for the duration of the viable existence of a this planet. I suggest that we have the tools, however rudimentary they may be in comparison to what might be available in the future, and a clear set of historical indicators to work with. The question of evolution or devolution will hinge, I think, on our collective intellect and the morals we distill from our experience.
I like to think of all living things as a conglomerate system. Given this premise, I have to assume that the human race, a primary but dispensable subsystem, will continue to evolve if, and only if, the entire system of living things evolves. In fact, since science has made it inescapably clear the the organic and inorganic systems are interdependent, it is safe to say that, either we all evolve together or will all devolve together.
It seems almost unnecessary to mention that if the generally well known mistreatment of the environment continues at present levels, a factor which without doubt adds stress to a planet that has and will experience naturally destructive forces, we, from or dominant position in the food chain, will have assisted in our own eventual destruction. Unfortunately, it is entirely possible that we might bring life to a standstill, at least here on Earth. Pollution and gradual degradation aside, we have the power to alter the surface of the Earth to the extent that alterations in rotation, however minor, have already been noticed and calculated.
Our human race is yet divided by culture, language and common knowledge. Those divisions are cast in aged, reinforced concrete littered with the graffiti of recurring combative resistance to the forces of change required to bring the world to a state of interaction and interdependence.
In order to appraise our progress, or lack of it, we have no choice but to look out across the global spectrum rather than down at the land we individually inhabit. Unless the world, in its entirety, evolves, no one part of it can or will evolve. I referenced history in an effort to underline the historical atrocities emanating from intentional misapplication of Darwinian principals long before and long after those principals were outlined with pen and ink.
To my mind, we have yet another opportunity to use all of the technology that science has and will produce to maintain an evolutionary path. We have the ability to educate, to explain, to think and rethink those concepts which separate the components of an the otherwise cohesive living system now sharing a segment of the universe. That system of living and non-living things must move toward a state of general compatibility if the human race, one of its primary subsystems, is to survive and successfully evolve.
I hope I have made the point that egoless evaluation is necessary in order to avoid the misleading effects of human entitlement. I am sure that I could probably recite The Rime of the Ancient Mariner with fewer mistakes than a Polar Bear, but I doubt seriously that I could either feel, understand or explain the loss his natural habitat as well as he could, if he could but speak to me. I believe that the human race is fully capable of biological, intellectual and philosophical evolution provided that we proceed as an integrated system of all human beings, a subsystem of all living and non-living things. I think we, collectively, have centuries of work to do if we are to succeed.