Posted by Mike
I was out watching the developing storm this morning. A solitary pelican was heading east, sailing right above the outermost line of beach houses, using the uplift as much as possible, but still having a tough time of it, as the easterly breeze was clearly over 20 knots. I got to thinking how apparently easily pelicans and birds in general seem to individually learn to fly and to utilize the wind currents to maximize that function. I wished I had the opportunity to see a pelican nestling in its first efforts to fly; and imagined a little pelican on its first flight. At some point it might think something like, “Gawks! I’m going away from home. I’ve got to get back.” It would attempt to turn around, and – lo – would execute the turn, if not perfectly, at least good enough to get it back to where it started. Its neurological system and muscles would already be attuned to execute that maneuver as well as many others.
These are just my imaginings, of course. I’m not an evolutionary biologist or even a real scientist; so what we have here is obviously the meanderings of a layman. It does seem to me, however, that we don’t credit the plants and animals about us adequately in recognizing the exquisite perfection of their design for the environments or settings in which we find them. The same is true, obviously, of us humans…. And then I was thinking about this perplexing issue of what might be called the negative aspects of our human nature – our ability to be selfish and cruel and aggressive and destructive. People write about this in different ways: Dawkins writes about the “Selfish Gene”; some Christians talk about “the Fall.” If you think about it in terms of plants and animals having been designed by their environments, then even our so-called negative qualities can be seen as having been acquired because they were adaptive and enabled us to survive as a species. This is not to say that human selfishness and aggression should be justified and sanctioned in its destructive modes.
It is to say, however, that it is the environmental contingencies that have made life forms what they are today and what they will be tomorrow. What could be more intelligent than such design by nature?