Is IVF counterintuitive to Darwinism?

Aren’t we just replicating defective genes with this technology?

Take a look around any in any group of infertile people and basically their genes are just not adapted to survival. They suffer repeated miscarriage due to chromosome abnormailities, or a total inability to conceive due to poor genetic material and/or inhospitable uterine environment. In the natural world they would therefore die out with that generation.

However, we now have IVF, which effectively does away with natural selection in those that can afford it. Is this not therefore a really bad idea?

I suppose it all depends on the reason for the IVF treatment, if it’s not because of a genetic malfunction then it wouldn’t have anything to do with Darwinianism but would just be the equivalent of fixing a broken arm .

However, if not then yes, it would be ‘defying’ natural selection. But can’t you also say that wearing glasses/contact lenses would fall into the same camp. Or even all of medicine?

One could say that the people who can’t afford the treatment are being selected against as they didn’t perform well enough to accumulate enough wealth to buy this treatment.

This is a simplification though, I think that natural selection pressures in human still exist, it’s just that they’re very different from other animals now and have been ever since we started inventing ways to help ourselves.

There is a basic fallacy underlying the question.

Darwinism makes no claim about the wisdom of one group doing better than another. It states simply that if an individual is better suited to the environment, he/she is more likely to have descendants, and thus propagate his/her genes.

It may be through murder and mayhem. if so, well, so be it! The murderers are better suited to survive within their environment.

Too bad if the good guys lose out and die out. That’s how things work and it causes arwinists no sleepless nights.

Back to the original question: evolution is a slow process. The human race is relatively young and the Modern World (since 1800 or so) is a mere blip on the scale of evolution. We need to wait a lot longer to see the consequence of IVF!

the ‘evolution’ that will occur among humanity with this new invention will be that more and more people will need IVF. they should lower prices and encourage parental referals to further establish their market for the next generation.

i think a much bigger problem is the evolution of humanity towards being mainly composed of families whos lives are benefitted by having as many children as possible.

if darwin were to calculate which humans are “better at reproducing” and therefore will genetically dominate someday, “wants to reproduce as much as possible” would be the main characteristic of humans today that would contribute to the evolutionary process. we are evolving into poor farm workers.

Another thought!

Someone born thorugh IVF will not necessarily inherit the disease or ‘problem’ that caused his parents to resort to IVF. The process does not therefore necessarily follow the Darwinian process of gene propagation.

So, even if IVF spreads, it doe not follow that the next generation is more likely to resort to IVF.

Since Darwinism does not say what ought to be, but just what is, then IVF is what is, and there it is Darwinism: meaning that humans have evolved to invent IVF, and therefore IVF is good for the species as a whole, despite seemingly contradictory, such as propagating ‘bad’ genes, or genes that will die out if not for the ‘artificial’ help received.

We can make an argument for the necessity for such bad genes for a species’ enhanced survival. Sickle cell anemia is an example: it enhances the survivality against malaria but give anemia to those with the genes. But at least they survive.

And also we dont really know that ‘bad’ genes are really bad. For example one of these ‘bad’ genes may give rise to natural immunity to say bird flu, and then should a bird flu epidemic sweeps the world, and kill off 80% of the population, but 100% of those of this ‘bad’ gene survive, then the human species is still around to continue its propagation in the aftermath of the epidemic.

But there is a problem in this argument, namely it is not falsifiable: what is is what it. So thus it is bad science.

It’s possible that civilization itself deselects physical “robustness,” in a sense. Given the ability to do work in exchange for goods and services, one no longer needs to be hardy enough to hunt, etc. And look at human vision- poor eyes is no impediment to surival or the ability to breed since glasses don’t keep people from surviving or breeding (okay, “Buddy Holly” glasses might prevent breeding. :wink: ).

Is this “good” or “bad”? Neither, from an evolutionary sense. Although if we become more physically “soft” it could work against our survival if we ever has to face an existence without civilization as we now know it.

No! Darwinism does not imply goodness.

It says simply, ‘better suited to that environment’. This implies both ‘at the time’ and ‘in that environment’.

It is entirely possible that something evolves and is not suited for survival elsewhere or in the long run. It will then disappear.

No contradiction there at all. In fact, most developments in evolution have turned out to be bad (in the sense that they did not survive). In the case of IVF, I suspect that ‘non-reproducibilty’ is not gene-based, and therefore outside the scope of natural selection anyway.

(Phaedrus, above, states things very well.)

Not necessarily, but most probably. AND If the parent is not able to reproduce due to natural malfunctions, then according to Darwinism, he/she is not SUPPOSED to. It could be a way of controling the numbers, mutations, and diseases.

[quote="QueenMab…AND If the parent is not able to reproduce due to natural malfunctions, then according to Darwinism, he/she is not SUPPOSED to…[/quote]

Hmm, not sure about that one! Your comment implies a grand design; a grand design is not Darwinistic.

Darwinism is not a moral code. There is no supposition about it - someone either reproduces or does not reproduce. No good or bad is implied. Neither is any judgment.

For example, Darwinism is quite prepared to accept - in the sense to observe, to note - that if a mouse grows wings it will fly. Regardless of the need for it to fly, the wisdom of it, or the effect of such an animal on the other inhabitants of its environment. Or of the flying skills of the mouse.


[quote="QueenMab…AND If the parent is not able to reproduce due to natural malfunctions, then according to Darwinism, he/she is not SUPPOSED to…[/quote]

Hmm, not sure about that one! Your comment implies a grand design; a grand design is not Darwinistic…"

yeh… i guess what i mean, in different words, is that the machanism of natural selection and the passing on of the favourable gene means that those who are better adapted to survival will pass these genes onto their offspirng and so on, and the ones that aren’t, eventually die out, leaving just the favourable characteristics, like the famous finches.

So, an animal that is not able to reproduce is not favourable, and would normally not pass these genes on (yes i know in some cases it does not affect the offspring) and therefore the number of those unfavourable genes in that species would decline. IVF could therefore be “wrong”.

Personally, i’d go through with it because the implications are not as drastic as some people make it out. I mean, we’ve already extended our life-spans drastically, created medicines - so we’re literally cheating death - and IVF may not make much of a difference.

The human organism is the just a highly sucessful proactive adaptor. Instead of being totally dependant on natural selection we have another method to adapt. Our developed brain allows us to plan and modify the environment to suit our needs. Hopefully using our brains we will be able to vastly reduce genetics diseases and disorders over the next hundred years. This is just the next phase of the ongoing process of evolution.

HOPEFULLY. But since when has man stopped at anything. If it’s humanly possible to do ANYthing, people WILL do it, short of blwoing up the world…and i have my doubts there too. It would be all peachy if genetic engineering would stop at eliminating genetic disorders etc.

Are we here saying that whatever we have evolved and are evolving, “naturally”, or “artificially”, as in aided by our increasing knowledge and motivated by our necessarily short-sighted desires, does not guarantee the survival of human as a species? For it is conceivable that with our tinkering of the “natural” selection processes, the environment, and even the genes themselves, we have doomed ourselves to extinction inevitably: it is only a matter of time.

For if Darwinism is true, than whatever is “naturally” selected promotes the survival of the species. But because we have deviated from what’s “natural”, the survival of the human species is no longer “guaranteed” by Darwinism.

On the other hand, what is, by definition, is what’s natural, and vice versa, and so whatever we are doing is just a manifestation of natural selection in the human species, and if Darwinism is true, then we will be extinct is we are not doing what we are now doing, IVF, genetic engineering, cloning, etc etc So if Darwinism is true we can rest assured that we will not go extinct.

But really I think we cannot know. Whatever is happening in human species, whether these conform to Darwinism or are evidences for, or against, it, cannot be discriminated. For no one can predict what the outcome of the human species will be. And thus Darwinism is moot, ie it makes no difference to the way humans lived their lives and conduct their affairs whether or not Darwinism is true or false.

Frankly, i don’t give a toss what happens to the HUMAN species. We’ll most probably cause our own extinction, just like we’ce caused the exctinction of so many other species. Hopefully, when humans die out, there will still be some animal and plant species left untouched by our plague to carry on the life on this planet.

If we wanna destroy ourselves, fine, but nothing gives us the right to destroy other life.

Man needs no nothing to give them a right: they are a right unto themselves, if for nothing else than the fact that the destruction of lives, human or otherwise, has happened, is happening and will happen in future, ie it is a natural thing.

ok, chemical spilages, nuclear damage, hunting for sport and the unecessary killing of animals just cos we feel like it is NATURAL. Just because humans are natural and everything they do is supposedly natural, doesn’t mean it’s supposed to happen. Last time I checked survival of life is the whole purpose. By killing everything around us, we’re not doing a good job of it, cos if one species goes, another will go, and so on, until life cannot be sustained any longer. O, but our destruction doesn’t stop on earth, we’ve already started polluting space too… It would be quite funny if the death of the whole universe is cause by humans…

Wrong, wrong, wrong! The premiss is wrong. Darwinism does not say that whatever is selected promotes the survival of the species.

Darwinism is a random process. Things that are found to survive - in the future, by observation - are said to be better adapted than their predecessors.

This does not mean that all evolution tends towards better survival chances. In fact, most evolution ends in a dead-end (literally).

Imagine someone who buys a lottery ticket. The winner will have bought a ticket. But most purchasers will not win. Darwinism is the same - the winner gets the publicity and the losers are forgotten. But no one claims that a random ticket purchased guarantees a better future for the purchaser!

Then what is Darwinism???

In a nutshell:

Random changes down the generations, individuals best suited to the environment have more descendants than others.

That’s it.

That process says nothing about an inherent, built-in need or desire of an individual to promote his or her species. It just so happens that if an individual does survive, then his or her species survives. That is a consequence, not a primary purpose.

(There is a book by Richard Hawkins called ‘The selfish Gene’. He argues that an animal (or any organism) is only a way for a gene to reproduce itself. The argument may sound odd, but it is actually quite compelling.)