Culture Darwinism Evolution

Astonishing explanation: Why we did not evolve to live forever

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C. elegans/heitipaves, Fotolia

If we evolve at all, we are transient by nature and cannot live in a transient state forever by definition. Never mind, from ScienceDaily:

As Charles Darwin explained, natural selection results in the fittest individuals for a given environment surviving to breed and pass on their genes to the next generation. The more fruitful a trait is at promoting reproductive success, the stronger the selection for that trait will be. In theory, this should give rise to individuals with traits which prevent ageing as their genes could be passed on nearly continuously. Thus, despite the obvious facts to the contrary, from the point of evolution ageing should never have happened. This evolutionary contradiction has been debated and theorised on since the 1800s. It was only in 1953 with his hypothesis of antagonistic pleiotropy (AP) that George C. Williams gave us a rational explanation for how ageing can arise in a population through evolution. Williams proposed that natural selection enriches genes promoting reproductive success but consequently ignores their negative effects on longevity. Importantly, this is only true when those negative effects occur after the onset of reproduction. Essentially, if a gene mutation results in more offspring but shortens life that’s fine. This is because there can be more descendants carrying on the parent’s genes in a shorter time to compensate. Accordingly, over time, these pro-fitness, pro-ageing mutations are actively selected for and the ageing process becomes hard-wired into our DNA. While this theory has been proven mathematically and its implications demonstrated in the real world, actual evidence for genes behaving in such as fashion has been lacking.

This evidence has now arrived according to the co-lead author of the paper Jonathan Byrne, “The evolutionary theory of ageing just explains everything so nicely but it lacked real evidence that it was happening in nature.

So it was believed without evidence because Darwinism “explained” it?

Evolution becomes blind to the effects of mutations that promote ageing as long as those effects only kick in after reproduction has started. Really, ageing is an evolutionary oversight.” Jonathan continues “These AP genes haven’t been found before because it’s incredibly difficult to work with already old animals, we were the first to figure out how to do this on a large scale.” He explains further “From a relatively small screen, we found a surprisingly large number of genes [30] that seem to operate in an antagonistic fashion.” Previous studies had found genes that encourage ageing while still being essential for development, but these 30 genes represent some of the first found promoting ageing specifically only in old worms. “Considering we tested only 0.05% of all the genes in a worm this suggests there could be many more of these genes out there to find,” says Jonathan. Paper. (paywall) – Thomas Wilhelm, Jonathan Byrne, Rebeca Medina, Ena Kolundžić, Johannes Geisinger, Martina Hajduskova, Baris Tursun, Holger Richly. Neuronal inhibition of the autophagy nucleation complex extends life span in post-reproductive C. elegans. Genes & Development, 2017; 31 (15): 1561 DOI: 10.1101/gad.301648.117 More.

Everything in our frame of reality is transitory by nature and it would not have been possible to evolve a means to prevent aging. All that really happened is, things became less efficient as they aged. The Darwinism is superfluous but culturally comforting to some.

See also: Darwinism misleads again, this time about aging and fertility in chimps and humans

4 Replies to “Astonishing explanation: Why we did not evolve to live forever

  1. 1
    critical rationalist says:

    As Charles Darwin explained, natural selection results in the fittest individuals for a given environment surviving to breed and pass on their genes to the next generation.

    This is false. Genes can get copied in the next generation, despite the organism that contains it becoming less fit overall. Genes play a causal role in being retained when embedded in a storage medium. From the perspective of a gene, the organism is part of its environment.

    As for the genes in question, you can think of their cumulative effect a repair man that provides a benefit when first hired, but starts to do more damage than good when it starts to break down. The organism is better off without it when it starts wreaking havoc.

    Autophagy is known to become slower with age and the authors of this paper show that it appears to completely deteriorate in older worms. They demonstrate that shutting down key genes in the initiation of the process allows the worms to live longer compared with leaving it running crippled. “This could force us to rethink our ideas about one of the most fundamental processes that exist in a cell,” Holger explains. “Autophagy is nearly always thought of as beneficial even if it’s barely working. We instead show that there are severe negative consequences when it breaks down and then you are better off bypassing it all together.” “It’s classic AP,” he continues, “In young worms, autophagy is working properly and is essential to reach maturity but after reproduction, it starts to malfunction causing the worms to age.”

    If we’re designed, the why does this system start to cause problems over time? Why doesn’t it get turned off at the appropriate time?

    Let me guess, “That’s just what the designer must have wanted”?

  2. 2
    J-Mac says:

    That is a shame…considering that lowly jellyfish have developed a mechanism to stay alive pretty much forever and we can’t even evolve to live to 200 years…

    I guess there is a price to pay for self-awareness, consciousness, abstract thoughts, special feelings and the search for meaning in life…

  3. 3
    critical rationalist says:

    @J-Mac

    I guess there is a price to pay for self-awareness, consciousness, abstract thoughts, special feelings and the search for meaning in life…

    You guess?

    Since God supposedly exhibits most of those things, does he pay a price for them as well. IOW, that conclusion seems rather arbitrary. Why would they have a cost for us, but not him? That’s just what God must have wanted? Since God is in control, he must have decided it so?

  4. 4
    J-Mac says:

    @critical rationalist,

    All you have to do is prove why we need self-awareness, consciousness, abstract thinking, special feelings, like love and why wee need to search for meaning in life from evolutionary prospective…

    I’m not going to ask to come up with the evolutionary mechanism for these tings because making you to come up with one bad answer is good enough… 😉

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