Note: I still don't have internet access from home, but I am able to pop into internet cafes now and then, which is where I will take this on disc to upload it. Further bulletins as events warrant.
Further Thoughts on Evolution
Lately I've read some more essays posted on the topic of evolution vs. creationism and done little more musing on the subject.
One writer said in his essay that it was more pleasant to believe that we, and the rest of the universe, were created by some intelligence, than to believe that we came to be through 'random chance'.
I think that some people find the idea of creation pleasant because it gives them two things. The first is a feeling of awe at the wonder of creation, and the second is the idea that we humans are special and unique in all the Universe. What they do not seem to realise is that believing in evolution does not require them to give up either of those pleasant notions.
I have heard creationists repeatedly assert that many organisms are so complex and amazing that they simply must have been created by design, an argument which I do not personally find compelling. They also seem to infer from this that to believe that there is no 'designer' behind the creation of such organisms is to say that they are not actually so complex and amazing after all. I disagree.
As a child I believed in God, and was convinced that he created the Universe. These days I think evolution is the most probable explanation of how life came to be, whether the process was started off by some intelligent being or not.
This morning I visited the natural history museum in my home town. My Dad used to take me there on weekends when I was a child, and I was always particularly fascinated with the animals, both the real stuffed ones and the fibreglass models. I saw the tiny Leaf Tailed Gecko, a lizard whose tail mimics the shape of a leaf to camouflage it from predators. I saw dozens of stuffed birds, from the huge and majestic wedge tailed eagle to the tiny, but beautiful, Blue Wren. There was a display of snakes, from the 6 metre long Amethyst python down to the stumpy, wormlike Death Adder. Huge fibreglass sharks hung from the ceiling, and glass cases shimmered with hundreds of butterflies.
Since I first saw these things as a small child, I have changed, but the exhibits themselves have not. I understand more about some of the creatures on display than I once did, but what was beautiful or amazing to me as a child is still beautiful and amazing to me today. Whether it was created on the fifth day by God, or evolved over millions of years, possible from a prehistoric lizard, an eagle, with its wings spread as it swoops to seize some helpless rodent is an impressive sight. Believing in evolution does not mean you have to let go of feeling in awe of the wonders of the world. However it came to be, the world truly is an amazing place.
Then comes the part about we humans being unique and special. Setting aside the possibility of the existence of aliens (which is whole other topic of debate that I don't want to get into at this point), as far as we know we humans are just that. No other species has produced a piece of music as beautiful as Carl Orff's Carmina Burana.
No other creature has built structures as large as Taj Mahal, or the Great Wall of China. No other animal on earth has built a rocket and gone to the moon just to see what it was like up there. Call it arrogance if you like, but I think we humans are pretty special, whatever our origins.
It seems to me that creationists and evolutionists have more in common than some of us think, and I hope that recognising this fact might allow some of us to get along better.