Thursday, March 06, 2003

According to my Biology professor, evolution is not a teleological system. But having read countless tracts by environmentalists, somehow I think it's still generally understood as one in the scientific community as a whole.

For instance, if evolution is true, why should we work to save the Asiatic Lions, or Leopards, or American Grizzly Bears? If an animal has lost its ability to compete, then it should be forced to adapt or die out. Countless extinctions have occured over time. We're not overly sentimental about them; and the world goes on in spite of it all. So why do we take such pains to save the dying whatevers, when speaking from an evolutionary perspective, the whatevers should feel such pressure, adapt or die.

Now, personally I like animals, and I'm not happy to see them go extinct. But I can see no overriding evolutionary purpose to artificially prop them up. I might make an argument from aesthetics, but a good scientist shouldn't.

I don't mind science really. I find it more interesting now that I'm in college. Maybe because I'm being taught better. Maybe because I've been trained to think more systematically. When I was younger, Science seemed so utterly anal. Now that I'm older, I can see a lot of its base assumptions more clearly, and it doesn't seem so air tight. It's funny to see that the old supposed rock of reason has a soft belly underneath it all.

But that doesn't mean I'm one of those throw out everything we know about the world types. I'm willing to accept an evolution of sorts (though I'm suspect of claims of creating new species. Taking two critters who eventually change so much over time that they can't mate somehow seems different than making the jump from dinosaur to bird. I won't discount it exactly, but I don't understand it). But I wonder how it fits into all of the theology.

I know that Catholics are allowed to believe in evolution. How is a person to balance scriptural claims about the origin of life with evolutionary claims which seem to contradict it? Is Genesis to be read as a giant metaphor? Somehow it seems dangerous to read the creation as a metaphor; but maybe that's the old sola scriptura coming out in me. Surely God can guide evolution, but then why inspire a scripture which implies a different rise? One of the most important concepts of all of Judeo-Christian thought to me, is that man was made in the image of God. But if we basically shelve Genesis as a metaphor of some sort, can this principle be maintained?