Thursday, September 27, 2012

Beyond the Power of Accident

Just over a century ago a gracefully aging scholar quietly left the world with these wise words:

A young bird makes us laugh. When its feathers have grown, the same bird makes Shelley write an immortal ode. Such is the wonder of feathers. And how do they grow? Evolution can explain a great deal; but the origin of a feather, and its growth, this is beyond our comprehension, certainly beyond the power of accident to achieve. … The scales on the wings of a moth, have no explanation in Evolution. They belong to Beauty, and Beauty is a spiritual mystery. Even Huxley was puzzled by the beauty of his environment. What is the origin of Beauty? Evolution cannot explain.

Was this man a fundamentalist resisting the inexorable progress of science? No, this was evolution’s co-founder Alfred Wallace who believed evolution to be a good, but limited, hypothesis. Once again wisdom is justified by all her children for now, a century later, Wallace’s simple yet profound observations have been fulfilled. There is no scientific explanation for the origin of feathers, wings of moths, or untold other biological designs. Evolution is a fact, but not because it explains the origin of species.

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