We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.
Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk
Saturday, February 25, 2012
How Come Zebras Have Stripes?
There is no getting around it. Evolution is incredible. The creative potential of living cells to "figure out" things like how to frustrate biting flies seems almost boundless. It is made all the more incredible when we consider that the whole evolutionary process is evidently random. Zebras have stripes when less fortunate herd animals don't have stripes for no better reason that they do. Somewhere way back when tens or hundreds of millions of years ago some of their evolutionary ancestors had (maybe) patches of black and white hide, which marginally gave them a reproductive advantage that increased over the ages always favoring those "zebras" that were more zebra-like.
How come God does these things this way? Why does God favor seemingly random evolutionary development? Why has God impregnated creation with this kind of potential and set it on its merry way? Wouldn't it be nice to know! One thought: as a process, evolution seems to combine both structure and randomness. It is not chaotic because it produces concrete life forms of various kinds and complex ecosystems for them to live in. If anything, evolution seems to produce increasingly complex and creative forms of life as time goes on. But it does so in a random way within the basic rules of how evolution works. It is a system that is at once controlled and yet uncontrolled. It has direction but moves forward randomly. Evolution is at one and the same time constrained and unconstrained, free and yet structured. There is Law and there is Grace both built into the very nature of reality as we know it. Law sets boundaries on the random process that graciously gave zebras stripes. How come? Ultimately, God only knows.