Just to start I'm gonna clarify that I'm not a sadist or anything like that.

My question is plain and simple. Did we screw the evolution cycle with modern medicine? This is not only important for our planet, but for future colonization of other planets.

The basis for that question is since the dawn of time the weak individuals die and the stronger ones pass on their genes, making their species better in the long term.

Us humans, we screwed that by starting to study everything about the body and how it ticks so that we could fix many things that would kill us (as we continuing to do so).

On the other hand we're always finding/creating other diseases like MRSA, climate change is also creating heat waves that kill people, pollution is also affecting a lot of people, etc.

So if a new world was to be created, should healthcare be limited in order to allow the creation of a stronger species overtime?

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    $\begingroup$ Legitimate question, but this is not a forum. Where is the worldbuilding? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Oct 25, 2017 at 8:50
  • $\begingroup$ One of the solutions to the Fermi paradox is that advanced civilizations indeed kill themselves (or similar things, in your case become too weak) before they reach the level necessary for space colonization. I'd argue we don't see aliens because there is no benefit in colonization, but some people believe that one can just step out onto an alien world with oxygen and a forest and not die and it's not being done because of what you wrote and such. However, such discussions are very off topic here. $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Oct 25, 2017 at 8:51
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    $\begingroup$ So, do you want to stop evolution for your story set on other worlds? Otherwise this looks sort of like a philosophical question about the meaning of evolution. Medicine is screwing with what is always simplified as "survival of the fittest" in our own species - but our species is still evolving. Just into a direction where we rely more on our knowledge and machinery instead of our own physical bodies to stand at the top of the food chain. What is your definition of a "stopped evolution"? Cloning the same people over and over again? Stop the aging? $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Oct 25, 2017 at 8:54
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    $\begingroup$ Evolution does not come with a Declaration Of Intent, nor does it come with a manual, any decrees, some laws, a code of conduct, or an EULA. Evolution is way for us humans to describe what is happening in the real world. But there is no will, no force, no intent, no purpose behind Evolution, and most certainly no-one that will be upset if Evolution itself evolves. Is Evolution of humans differently than before? Not really no. Maybe natural selection has taken a bit of a pause but we are about to embark on not only artificial selection but also artificial mutations. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    Oct 25, 2017 at 9:07
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    $\begingroup$ There is no such thing as the evolution cycle, so there's nothing to screw up. Evolution goes on in whatever set of circumstances it finds itself. Now that includes modern medicine. Life and evolution goes on. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Oct 25, 2017 at 11:41

3 Answers 3


No, we did not

  1. Evolution is all about adapting, and facing the current challenges. In that sense - 'survival of the fittest' does not necessarily mean the physically strongest or healthiest, but the better adapted for the current challenges. It might as well be software engineering abilities that make the difference.
  2. Evolution takes a long time. Like, tens/hundreds of thousands of years. Modern medicine and the whole society evolves so much faster than this.
  • $\begingroup$ Point 2. is off by at least an order of magnitude or more. A few generations is enough to see effects of selection in most cases, and most organisms on earth need a year or at most a few years to reproduce. Now, HUMANS are slowpokes in this regard, but even with 20 years for a generation, 10 generations is barely 200 years, not hundreds of thousands. Also, our understanding of evolution has grown a lot since Darwin. The tired "survival of the fittest" is not really the best sentence to put. It's more about "survival of everyone except the least fit" and the amount of progeny. $\endgroup$
    – Maciej
    Oct 25, 2017 at 9:19
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    $\begingroup$ Well, this really depends on the way to look at it - yes, in a laboratory, a small group of species can change rapidly. But that is very different from the real world, and from what the OP suggested - without a drastic crisis or deliberate selection (such as replicated in a lab), large populations evolve [very] slowly. Humans remain virtually the same for thousands of years. As for the second point - well, I merely used the most known phrase. It's accurate enough for the point I made. $\endgroup$
    – Laetus
    Oct 25, 2017 at 9:55
  • $\begingroup$ Sadly i dont have time atm to find You references myself, but if You're interested, check the evolution of human immune system and recent works on darwin finches for starters. $\endgroup$
    – Maciej
    Oct 25, 2017 at 15:08

Neither. Evolution is about the interaction of organisms with the environment, and a change in the environment doesn't affect it. The only thing that could mess with evolution would be if every single individual had exactly two children, 100% of whom survived to adulthood to have their own two children, which is obviously never going to happen.


We will be fine, and no evolution has not stopped

We will have had an effect on evolution, but only a minimal one as evolution by way of mutation tends to work over hundreds of thousands of years or more. Adaption by selection within the existing gene pool can occur much more quickly, but also tends to be more easily reversed unless the selection forces are very strong so as to remove alteratives from the gene pool entirely.

We have also made modifications to improve "fitness" (for want of a better word), by selecting embryos to avoid specific disabilities. In the near future genetic modification of germline gamete cells might be expected to eradicate some of the more serious inherited conditions such as Huntington’s disease. So its not all bad news and over the long term I think we will be fine.


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