Darwin’s Dilemma

I held my cat for a long time tonight. I had felt a surge of panic as I thought of the day’s conversations and everything I had done wrong, and before I knew it, the cat I was in the middle of putting outside was clasped tight under my chin. I’m amazed at the gentleness in her. Most of the time she doesn’t like being held like that, probably because her old joints need specific support to be comfortable, but I must have gotten it right, because she didn’t struggle once but purred and rested against me. I hugged all the anxiety away. I know I’ve said it before, but my cat seems to know when I am sick or hurting, and I’m always amazed. Animals are amazing.

Our family also watched a documentary tonight called “Metamorphosis.” After a (rather long) exploration of the journey from caterpillar to butterfly, and then a look at the Monarch Butterfly migration, the biologists finally made the point they were coming to, two points actually.

The first has to do with metamorphosis itself. In metamorphosis, a caterpillar, inside the chrysalis, does something similar to decomposing. Its cells break down, they die, they turn into a pile of mush. Some of those cells disappear, and others are used to the reorganization of a completely different body. Wings, legs, proboscis, compound eyes, antennae, digestive tract, heart, and reproductive organs–they are all completely new and altogether different from the caterpillar. This metamorphosis poses a problem to the common-held theory of evolution which states that creatures evolved by natural selection and slowly grew in complexity over time. Because metamorphosis doesn’t work like that. First off, a creature wouldn’t (figuratively) kill itself unless there was a planned outcome. It cannot just randomly develop this habit of committing suicide inside a chrysalis and killing off most body cells without a system already put in place to rebuild itself. Secondly, it cannot slowly develop this process. So many things, tiny and huge, have to happen all at once for this to work. If the wings and eyes worked, but not the organs, the butterfly would die. If the legs and proboscis worked, but not the connecting muscles, the butterfly would die. If everything, by some happy, random chance, was put together perfectly except for one thing, the butterfly could not survive. For all of these amazing developments to happen at once is quite improbable, maybe impossible. The more logical conclusion is that it was designed.

The second point the biologists came to was that because of the art and beauty in the world that we observe, we can perceive that there must be intelligence behind it. There are approximately 20,000 species of butterflies in the world, and every single species has a different wing shape and pattern. In some cases, patterns help the butterflies to survive, but in many they are simply there. Natural selection has no reason for beauty, and no explanation for how it came about.

Look at a sunset. Look at the stars. Look at a cat. Look at a tiny butterfly. It is art. It is simply the logical response to assume that something intelligent is behind it all, and it is simply the right response to give our praise to that something.

 

In awe,
Ellie