I have decided that it is time that someone did this. I am not the best creative writer out there, nor am I an evolutionary biologist, but for at least the last twenty years the following has been begging to be written.
Firstly let my say honestly in my opinion evolution is elegant. It is an elegant solution to how to maximise the life sustained in an eco-system. Its elegance is that of a good mathematics solution. Mathematics has its own aesthetics, the modern computer solutions which take hours of computing power and involve going through every possible permutation are ugly. The neat classical proof of something in a dozen lines from first principles is elegant. The problem with the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem is that it is ugly and we suspect that what Fermat actually had was a very elegant proof although bigger than the margin. So proven but Fermat’s proof is not found and some mathematicians will go on looking for that proof. Mathematicians suspect that such proof if it exists probably takes less than a hundred pages and would probably open up whole new areas of mathematics.
So then I am using “elegant” in this sense when I am talking of evolution. You might suspect with the diversity that occurs evolution was actually quite complex but it does not seem to be. There seems to be two principles:
- Given that only some of the creatures manage to pass their pattern to the next generation
- There is a process by which genes within animals are able to mutate and change within a generation.
Given these two you have an evolutionary process. These two fairly simple processes are what drives the whole of evolution on this planet and produces the vast variety of life that exists here. That too me seems to be extremely elegant.
However there is also something peculiar, the processes have to be carefully tuned. It must not be that all creature patterns pass onto the next generation. This would mean no space for adaptation, over population or we would live in a static universe. For some reason this universe does not seem to like static stasis only dynamic stasis.
Secondly the rate of mutation must be controlled. Too fast and you would never get species, too slow and life would die out when something changes. The pace of change has to be right.
In other words to get the abundant variety of life there is no earth the parameters have had to be tuned fairly precisely, as precisely as any mechanical device.
I therefore put to Mr Dawkins and his ilk that the creation from design can be written not from some marvel from evolution such as the human eye but from the process of evolution itself. Precisely understood evolution is an elegant, finely tuned process that has all the hall marks of designer as much if not more so than any marvel it has produced.
Now I don’t personally buy the argument from design, I am afraid I go with Hume and acknowledge that showing elegance and fine tuning is not enough but that you must also show purpose and honestly the best guesses at purpose are just that guesses, however much they are dressed up in religious language.
What I do want to do, is make people aware of what the classical idea of creation within Christian theology is. The first thing is to be aware that God’s pan-time existence is very different from human. If we experience life as a viewer in the movie theatre, God experiences it far more as the director at the cutting table. It is of course wrong, we interact with the movie and for God there is never any scene which does not have his attention. It seem natural then that God can be as much responsible for the processes by which we see the universe is created, as he can be for creating elements within it. In the end these processes are only other elements.