This one should be pretty obvious: if cloning and GMOs (genetically modified organisms) threaten life on earth, evolution would already prefer cloning to sexual reproduction.
Why so many organisms, including plants, indulge in sex when they could just quietly clone themself..” (Lane 2009, 3)
The point here is not only that:
a) evolution rests on GMOs since what we have now is a result of natural selection of those modifications (mutations of genes) that survived lasting environmental changes.
But also that:
b) even if something goes wrong with cloning and GMOs (and something will inevitably go wrong sooner or later, as is the rule for any human activity), it would be a massive overestimation of human powers to compare it to the power of evolution itself.
Evolution and creation
Moreover, Nick Lane and other evolutionary biologists who did not succumb to the progressive ideology of social constructivists explain that there are so many recursive “steps” within an evolutionary process that even the most ingenious human invention cannot affect it seriously. Why? Because all our future inventions are already envisaged by evolution. Without human inventions and all other changes in living matter and all other matter, evolution would not exist. Human top-down creation is itself a result of bottom-up evolution, as Danel Dennett (Dennett 2017) frequently repeats.
The game that plays genes between sexual reproduction and cloning, the game that is played between genes and memes, and the game that is played according to laws of evolution within memes is so complex that mere cloning and GMOs represent only a tiny fraction of it.
Printing, googling and cloning
On the other hand, one should not underestimate cloning and GMOs. Changes that cloning and GMOs brought into the playing ground of living stuff are similar to the ones that Gutenberg’s invention of print brought to knowledge and spread of information. Memetic evolution was much faster after Gutenberg’s invention, but leaving the speed aside, nothing exceptionally novel really happened. With print and digital communication, information is spread much faster. The amount of information available to each individual is incomparably more significant than 50 years ago and even more than 600 years ago, before Gutenberg. With both advancements, not only human minds but also human brains evolved. We are capable of processing more information than we used to.
However, can we make more or better sense of it?
Options are limited by experience
No! Human experience and the ability to make sense are limited by time and space. While information can be unlimited, sensemaking is limited to the humble ability of each individual. Furthermore, what is even more important is that experience can neither be reproduced nor transferred. Experience, the result of the sensemaking activity of each individual, dies (expires) with each individual. Should that not be the case, memes would clone according to nuclear reaction laws. The memetic realm would have been blown away thousands of years ago. The spread of memes is fast but ultimately abridged by human mortality that annihilates the experience accumulated in each individual.
This is not only another proof of the validity of homonism against humanism but reveals another mechanism of memetics that explains our memetic reality. With that, memes are not characters from fiction stories but something »material. «
If mortality breaks the speed of memetic evolution, limitations of sexual reproduction promise that all possible mistakes in cloning and GMOs will be adopted sooner or later. There will be casualties, as were also with the invention of print or the introduction of digital communication. Nevertheless, casualties in the African savanna took place for many million years. So much better for life and evolution. I would surely not want to occur as a casualty in Africa or any GMO experiment, but who can guarantee I might not? I might not take the trip to Africa to avoid being eaten by a lion, but then the car could make me one of the unnecessary casualties of contemporary mobility.
Stupidity is not necessarily stupid
Science will bring us new and new techniques in cloning, artificial fertilization, and artificial sexual reproduction even. However, none of such inventions could avoid the evolutionary trap. The trap says that something clever must not be evolutionarily sustainable. Even more: evolutionary history is filled with clever dead ends, while the most robust events tend to be those that won. They were clever afterward. Moreover, no science can avoid this trap.
Dennett, Daniel C. 2017. From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds. Reprint edition. W. W. Norton & Company.
Lane, Nick. 2009. Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
This is the fourth revision of the original post from December 2011. The adapted version is found in Homonism.