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Published:November 16th, 2011 22:14 EST

To Be Or Not To Be: Malthusianism

By Sean Stubblefield

Malthusianism, an economic theory based on the observations of 19th century economist Thomas Robert Malthus, essentially states that a population tends to increase faster than its economic resources or infrastructure. This phenomenon ensures that a population does not exceed its available resources, at least not for very long. There is a limit to how fast and how much and in what way a population can spread or multiply due to the amount of expansion room and resources available.

A population will naturally and normally continue to increase as long as conditions allow. When a population becomes a strain on its environment, the environment adapts to maintain a balance of population and resources, for mutual subsistence. Like a rubber band being continually stretched and loosened, in cyclical fashion, too much of one leads to too much of the other; balance must be maintained, or the system breaks from the pressure. Maybe this could explain why there are disasters like hurricane Katrina: it is a culling, a thinning of the herd, a restoring of balance?

It is the natural behavior of genes to perpetuate themselves, and to do this they must perpetuate the organisms they comprise. The propagation and reproduction of certain organisms creates a population, and ensures that certain genes replicate and continue.

The larger a particular population type, the greater the chances for continued survival and manifestation. The more extensive the variations of life are, the greater the gene options, and the greater the chance for survival. Genes don`t care what form they take, don`t even care if they exist, are incapable of caring or willing anything to happen; they are mindless automatons, doing only what it is in their nature to do, they exist only to exist. The life of individual organisms, in the realm of genes, matters less than the life of a species, or population.

Life begets life. Some people speculate that all living things are merely servants of their genes, living only to give life and expression to their genes; that everything we do and everything we are is fundamentally driven, if not entirely determined, by our genes.

Whether concerning our physical, emotional or intellectual capacity, our abilities and potential are based on genetics.

It was the combined genes of our biological parents that produced us, just as every combination of genetics created our ancestors and will influence the creation of generations of offspring to come. Our genes are derivative of our parents` united genes, which depended on the respective genes of their parents, etc; the quality of our genes greatly depends on the quality, compatibility and collaboration of our parents` genes.

We, in our bodies, can be and do nothing more than whatever our particular genes, our genetic make up, can accommodate " as a species and as an individual. Who we are is as much nature as it is nurture. It can be argued that everything about us is primarily reduced to genetics.

Charles Darwin`s theory of evolution was influenced by Malthus, and, indeed, became an elaboration of the Malthusian concept. Evolutionary theory has often and commonly been maligned, misunderstood and misconstrued. Many people, godly and godless, educated and uneducated both, seem to think that evolution is a gradual and definite progression towards increasing states of perfection. That each successive generation necessarily gets better than the previous. These individuals may point to an apparent intellectual regression and genetic stalling in humans today as proof " that the theory of evolution is false. They suggest that we are not evolving, because not only do we collectively seem to not be getting any smarter, a great many among us appear to be getting less intelligent, and our behavioral tendencies are relatively unchanged. As if they expect us to be more than or other than human, and without any provocation.

Humans have remained virtually unchanged, genetically and socially, for several thousand years, and show no significant modification or alteration.

They declare that since humans do not seem to be substantially improving or changing " genetically or intellectually-- that there is no evolution, anywhere, ever.

They also claim that because humans and monkeys coexist that we could not have evolved from them. Therefore, evolution is wrong and does not exist.

But that`s not what evolution is. Humans have not achieved any drastic changes because they have adapted to their environment, and their environment has adapted to them, and there have been no drastic changes in their environment to necessitate drastic change.

Survival of the fittest " may be, in a sense, a misnomer; it has nothing to do with being the best or strongest, and everything to do with being the most adaptive.

Evolution is simply " the adaptation of a life form to its environment. It is nothing more than a process of development.

Which can mean either that change occurs in some way " for the better or worse for a life form and its environment, or no change occurs. The presence, degree and type of any evolutionary change are determined by the relationship between a life form and its environment. Evolution may create new life forms, destroy existing life forms, alter existing life forms or leave them somehow unchanged. A life lives and dies, or mutates, as it is required and able to adapt to environmental conditions. Genetic mutation only occurs when conditions warrant and enable it. Stimulus response, cause and effect, action and reaction. An object remains the same unless acted upon by some force.

Basic physics. This is why all mammals closely resemble each other in the embryonic stage: all of their genetic material derived from a single original source, which mutated over time to adapt to changing conditions, becoming distinct life forms.

The reason why monkeys and humans coexist is that humans are a genetic offshoot of primates, not a replacement or transformation of primates. This explains why there is a genetic similarity between humans and primates, particularly with chimpanzees.

According to a report in the September 1, 2005 issue of the scientific journal Nature, new studies that have mapped the chimpanzee genome indicate that humans and chimps actually share an approximately 96% genetic similarity, opposed to about 99% as formerly thought certain. The variance in percentage depends on what and how you measure. Although humans and chimps have evolved separately since diverging from a common ancestor nearly 6 million years ago, their DNA remains very similar. Of course, there are still significant differences between the two species, despite the seemingly minor percentage differentiation in common gene traits. Now that the similarities between man and ape are better understood, we are in a position to study the differences to perhaps better understand what makes us human. At least genetically.

Today`s word is: Monkey. Brought to you by Evolution, the essence of life.