Tag Archives: evolution

Nature, Darwin, natural selection

I’d like to begin this three-section mini-essay with the concept of nature. If we think about it nature, by our misconceived conception, really is a space where things interact without the human intervention or existence. Thus the definition is one of absence of the human. It is also one of binary and opposition. In this sense, then, to be human is to be unnatural. But at exactly what point does the nature end and the human begin? To be more precise this is not a question of where but one of when.

Some time in history, or rather existence, we became aware of ourselves and began to define the self as apart from nature. Thus definition of nature and man came into being simultaneously. What once was one entity is now two by the act of defining, and no more.

It would not have been easy for Charles Darwin to have decided to publish Origin of Species. He would have had the entire history of The Christian West to contend with. Even his family particularly his wife harboured doubts even though she was supportive. This proposal would not and could not have been taken lightly. The suggestion that humans are related to chimps and apes when until then we are said to have been the creation of the Creator, a discourse which unequivocally left little room for alternative possibilities. Such was Darwin’s time.

In essence Man (and it was mostly the male of the species who controlled the discourse) was the force behind the artificial rhetoric. This still-very-lost-gender of this species spends most of its time coming up with new versions of the story, the new paradigms. And this continues even today. For stories are necessary. The space must be filled, so to speak, with something other than a void.

The story of Nature, then, is one in which we are still separate from. But if we are indeed the continuation of the long march of evolution (note: another story) then we must be the part of The Story of Nature. Thus the destruction we reek upon the place we call home, the place we share and interact with the other life forms is as natural as it is possible. The story must mean we are like a cancer (more: another story) killing off what is weak only to make the system a stronger more resilient one for the future, whatever it may be.

Listen without ears

Speaking of frogs (which are a favourite topic in Zen) there is an article about a species of frog which listens without ears. But if listening without ears weren’t an actual fact this may well have been a koan which would go something like this:

Who is the man who
Speaks without tongue,
Listens without ears,
Sees without eyes?

We know so little about us

Almost daily we are learning something new about ourselves, the human species.

The branch that is known as homo sapiens sapiens has taken a new twist with the discovery of remains of a new human species in Russia dubbed Denisovans. Together with Neanderthals, Flores, us, and now the Denisovans we have a new picture of our ancestry.

From our DNA it is clear that we interbred with Neanderthals. Surprising is that we also interbred with Denisovans evidenced in Melanesian DNA.

This shouldn’t be surprising to us but as complacent and too intelligent our for own good that we want to believe we are some how different to other animals (for that is what we are) that our genes is pure somehow, is a ridiculous notion to say the least.

Like it or not we are have a mixed gene pool here, perhaps for the better. Diversity is an important feature of the machination of evolution. We should not dismiss but embrace our past. After all our distant relatives were apes and monkeys. To say they are inferior is to say we are inferior which obviously we are not (though this can be disputed).