It’s alarming to see how far out of sync modern man is in comparison with his own natural evolutionary pathway.
When you contemplate evolution you must appreciate the biological scale time line, commencing around 2 billion years ago till the present time. Man who relates to time in increments of seconds, minutes, hours, up to years has extreme difficulty in genuinely appreciating time spans of billions of years, or millions of years or even ten thousand years. The maximum time span that we can intuitively comprehend is in the order of 1-2 thousand years of historical time. We can clearly appreciate this time span, since we can associate various historical events with it, such as the building of the pyramids, the birth of Christ, etc. peering back beyond these time references everything becomes an incomprehensible blur. So in order to appreciate the scope of such colossal epochs of time let’s utilize the commonly used analogy of a grassy football field. Where one end of the field represents the commencement of biological life on earth and the other our present time. So where on this comparative time scales would place man’s evolutionary step when he first walked upright on earth? Not surprisingly this major evolutionary event in man’s development would be represented by the very last blade of grass. 99.9% of the time since man first walked upright man has continued his evolutionary development via the brutal experience of constant struggle in the wild to avoid starvation or being killed by predators. The last 10,000 years, when man first started cultivating and civilizations began to emerge, has not been easy either – wars, plagues, and famines of Biblical proportions have beset him. As the philosopher Thomas Hobbes observed life was “nasty, brutish and short”.
Only in the last 100 years or less can it be said the majority of people on this planet have enjoyed some little measure of creature comfort (electricity, sanitation, medicine) and security (democracy/rule of law). But our current health problems of soaring cancer rates, heart failure, obesity, diabetes, etc., the so-called “diseases of affluence”, stem not from this advances, but from our simultaneous retreat and finally total detachment from evolution’s immutable laws. Based on the reality of millions of years of brutal, ‘ no-second-chances’, ‘kill or be killed’ survival in the wild, evolution hard-wired us for hunter-gatherer activities and the constant threat of starvation. It did not hard-wire us for mass sloth (sedentary activities like watching television for hours on end and sitting in an office all day for 40 years) or mass gluttony (obesity) of non-organic, chemically manipulated foods.
So it pays to understand how we evolved and what our evolutionary model really expects of us. After all, we evolved from a primal swamp 3.5 billion years ago. Our earliest ancestors were, literally, bacteria and we still have bacterial and reptilian DNA in us today. 100 million years ago the first mammals emerged and clearly we retain many characteristics of early mammals.
So in evolutionary terms the last 100 years- indeed the last 10,000 years, when man first cultivated food – does not even begin to register. It’s less than a millionth of that of the analogous football field – far too small a time span for evolution even to notice. At the same time, however, our achievements via our mental ingenuity, as a species, are nothing more than breathtaking. Our ancient, tried and tested DNA that enabled our ancestors to...