This is a heads up! You might not like what you are about to read. But don’t let your feelings rattle you; I don’t like everything I write, either. Give the ideas some analytical, unbiased, objective thought before you burn the paper and cancel your subscription. I’ve been giving these ideas a lot of thought, myself, and it would be a shame if all those brain-sparks were wasted on me without their lighting a fire in your head.
We are a strange society, yet not so strange, but still strange. The most ancient god of the Romans, Janus, was a two-faced character simultaneously looking both ways and we’ve inherited many of our modern thought patterns from Janus. Take a trip back in time but don’t stop with the Romans; time travel gets more stimulating as you move deeper into antiquity. Make your way back and back, past the Greek philosophers (quite the lot, the Greeks; even snuffed out some who questioned the popular myths); stay alert and keep traveling to Egypt and then skip over the rivers to Mesopotamia. In these once-fertile plains.you’ll find the most ancient roots of our science, religion, and philosophy rolled up in neat patties of mud, hard dried.
Not unlike many of the ancients who invented gods to reflect their notions and inclinations, our culture, our society, our science, even our religions have invented their own gods. Like two-faced Janus we still would like to have it both ways at the same time. And we don’t seem to recognize the clash of ideas that we harbor. That’s strange.
So, with this preamble, let’s get to the point.
It has to do with still another look at caribou and orcas, and, of course pipelines and timber harvesting. We want it both ways. How did we get here?
To this point you have no idea where I’m going in my musing.
Charlie, Darwin that is, taught us all he imagined about natural selection and the survival of the fittest and how we humans struggled and scrambled and scratched and belched our way out of the swamps of deep time to arrive, at last – though he pinched the second idea from a poor bloke sweating to survive in the snarly environment of the mid 19th century (it’s all there for your reading pleasure in the histories of evolution). According to the unsubstantiated hypothesis of evolution, the quickest, smartest, boldest, toughest, loudest, fittest, prettiest get the fleeting pleasure of passing on their genes to succeeding generations without any planning, without any help from another species that happens to be a little higher on the tree – no help, period. It’s a fantastic, just so story.
And now we are 19 years into century 21, populating the earth with intelligence (we suppose), compassion (we,d hope), vision, hearing, trying to understand how the peacock evolved his tail, how the eye evolved the capacity to discern color and movement, how the species survived long enough to evolve the blood clotting enzymes – oh, Charlie, why did you leave so many unsolvable riddles?
But it’s the caribou, the orcas, the pipelines, and timber harvesting that really are cutting the ground from under Darwin’s conjectures in our part of the biosphere. It doesn’t matter if you are a Darwinist, a neo-Darwinist, or if you adhere to any one of the many, sometimes bizarre, ideas that have emerged to solve the riddles Darwin couldn’t solve, you’re on quick sand, walk slow. Evolution, a concept as old as time, is by definition a chancy mechanism, unplanned, unorchestrated. To introduce outside interventions reeks unacceptably of divine intervention, and violates the foundation principle of evolution.
I submit that the vast majority of those who are pushing the governments to intervene in caribou-recovery efforts, no-pipeline efforts, shut-down-the-forestry efforts, and save-the-orcas efforts are Darwinists of one stripe or another, it really doesn’t matter which, and that’s OK.
But you can’t have it both ways. Intervention in the natural processes of evolution is contrary and destructive to the hypothesis. The Romans had two-faced Janus to help them through these conundrums but we don’t have even that monstrosity.
Protecting the earth and its life forms is honorable and important but to propose solutions to our issues based on an unsubstantiated hypothesis will lead us to erroneous conclusions. We just might need a second or third examination of the issues. There are other solutions.
We are a strange society; because we live in century 21, we think we are smarter than the ancients but fail to realize that there is nothing new under the sun, not even evolution; yet not so strange, because we tend still to follow blindly the leader as we’ve done from antiquity; but still strange because if Darwin had it right we should leave the orcas and the caribou to their own struggle for survival – but we don’t and that is good. Let’s just find the right solutions.
By the way, while still topside, do consider this wisdom of the ancients: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might: for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.”