Evolution – a statistical question mark?

by Graham Pockett

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Maybe I’m not very smart, but there are some things about the Theory of Evolution that don’t add up.

If it is true then it should be provable either scientifically or statistically. As man is unlikely to ever prove the theory scientifically, a statistical analysis should give us some indication as to its merit as a feasible theory.

The general consensus amongst prehistorians is that there are three main stages of hominid evolution. These are represented by the australopithecines: Homo habilis; Homo erectus; and Homo sapiens.

According accepted sources, H. habilis appeared at least 2 million years ago and lasted until about 1.5 million years ago. H. erectus first appeared about 2 million years ago and survived until 250,000 years ago while H. sapiens first appeared 400,000 years ago and is, of course, the only living species of human being alive today.

Modern man (H.sapiens sapiens) appeared at least 12,000 years ago and possibly as much as 100,000 years ago. However, for this article I have taken the absolutely latest date, the start of the Neolithic (agricultural) period around 9000 BC.

As changes do not happen in a chronological or lineal order, we must look at the total number of generations involved to determine the number of generations required to produce evolutionary change.

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica (Modernization and Industrialization: Population Change – 1999 edition), there have been two population explosions in the course of human social evolution – the first explosion happened between 9000 BC and 1000 BC and the second after the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century.

Prior to 9000 BC the population was limited to a maximum of 6 million people worldwide. Between 9000 BC and 1000 BC the world population increased to 150 million, and then to 500 million by about 1650 AD. Since then the population has doubled at an amazing rate, reaching 1 billion (ie one thousand million) in 1825 having taken 200 years to double from 500 million. It took only 100 years to double again to 2 billion (1930) and only 45 years to double again to 4 billion (1975). It will probably take about 40 years to reach 8 billion (6 billion was reached in 1999).

To analyze these figures, we must look at them as generations, assuming 20 years per generation, and then count ‘concurrent’ generations because, if evolution is correct, it should be the total number of generations that determines evolutionary change, not simply the length of time.

If the figures are correct, then for 2 million years there were never more than 6 million people on the planet at any one time. If we multiply that 6 million maximum by the number of generations in 2 million years we get 6 million multiplied by 100,000 generations, which equals 60,000,000,000 or 6 billion. As these figures are going to get very large, let’s just call everything “billions” so, in our first example, we get 0.006 billion multiplied by 100,000 generations which, of course, gives us our total of 6 billion generations between 2 million years ago and the end of the Paleolithic period in 9000 BC.

It is generally assumed that modern man (known as H. sapiens sapiens) appeared well before 9000 BC so we can assume that it took less than 6 billion generations to go from Homo habilis to the modern form of H. sapiens.

Between 9000 BC and 1000 BC there were a maximum of 150 million people on this planet (let’s say a conservative average of 100 million), which would have spanned 400 generations. 0.1 billion multiplied by 400 generations gives 40 billion generations of modern man.

Between 1000 BC and the start of the Industrial Revolution (a period of 2,500 years or 125 generations) there was a conservative average of about 200 million people, which would become 0.2 billion by 125 generations or 25 billion generations.

From the Industrial Revolution to today (15 generations) there have been a conservative average of about 3 billion people on this planet. This equates to 45 billion generations!

Therefore, from H. habilis, through H. erectus, to modern man (H. sapiens sapiens) it took about 6 billion generations to make major evolutionary changes from a thinking ape to modern man.

Since modern man walked on this Earth there have already been at least 110 billion (40 + 25 + 45 = 110) generations of humans without any visible change!!!

“If it took only 6 billion generations to go from H. habilis to H. sapiens sapiens then why hasn’t there been any changes over the ensuing 110 billion generations?”

My question is this: if it took only 6 billion generations to go from H. habilis to H. sapiens sapiens then why hasn’t there been any changes over the ensuing 110 billion generations? Did evolution stop? If so, why? If the evolutionary changes (between H. habilis and H. sapiens sapiens) were caused by an outside agency (cosmic radiation?) then surely this would mean that all fossil-dating methods used by modern scientists (radiometric age-dating) would be suspect as they rely on a constant level of background radiation.

Yes, there have been some changes to modern man over the past 11,000 years, but these can be attributed to better food and technological advances. We are taller, better fed and live longer, enjoying a much lower infant mortality rate and a longer average lifespan. These aren’t evolutionary changes but changes caused by a changing lifestyle.

So why no further evolutionary change? Has mankind reached its zenith? If so, what will supplant man as the dominant species on this planet?

I am pleased to read comments about this article but I may not be able to respond due to time restraints. Comments can be addressed to Graham Pockett and please include your real name.

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© Graham Pockett
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 03, 2017