Monday, August 13, 2007

What There Is

It's just so interesting to me. I get lost in it. You think you know about reptiles. You think they are cold-blooded. But the leatherback sea turtle functions as warm-blooded, and might actually be so. You think reptiles are covered with scales, but the Testudines are not. You might think that they all have a three-chambered heart -- but crocodilians have four-chambers. You think they lay eggs, but some are ovovivparous and others are truly viviparous (no egg, live birth), complete with a placental analog. You think they reproduced sexually, but some do so by diploidal cloning -- parthenogenesis, then, in geckos, in Komodo dragons, in chameleons. You think the males have a penis, but male snakes and lizards have two -- penis-like tubes, the hemipenes. You know they have lungs, but some aquatic turtles also have gills.

You think you know about amphibians. Two kinds -- frogs and toads, and salamanders. But you've never heard of the third type, Caesilians. Blind, limbless, wormy and snake-like, subterranean, minuscule to five feet long. Confined to the tropics. One species has no lungs. They all have two tentacles at the head. Yuck. Some lay eggs, of which some hatch with adult form, while some are larval; some have live birth, of which some young peel off and eat the skin of the adult as a kind of milk. Yuck.

Uncertainty is one of my themes. The world doesn't always classify as neatly as we'd wish. It seems to. Then the anomalies start to show up. Then we find some new order. Then there are more anomalies. The only thing that seems fixed is that mammals have hair, and birds have feathers. The Evolutionists would like us to believe that fossil dinosaurs have been found that have feathers. What then makes them dinosaurs? We've seen that seemingly diagnostic traits are not actually diagnostic. The characteristics that suggest an avian relationship to reptiles are no more profound, or meaningful, than those traits at a cellular level that are shared by humans and yeast. There are only a few, but they are clear -- and meaningless. Every planet has a sunrise -- no matter that it may be a different sun. Similarities do not speak to origins.

I use Evolution only as an example. It's hardly meaningful to me anymore. What is meaningful is the precarious nature of existence. You think you are safe. You think you have a standing in the world. Whatever it is that you value, whatever it is that gives your life meaning and acts as the security of your happiness -- your grasp on it is tenuous. You own nothing. Your strength can be taken from you -- an accident can put you in a bed until the day you die. Your intellect can succumb to the bursting of a blood vessel in your brain -- and you will stutter and slur and grope for words longer than anyone has patience to listen. You think you have friends. But if lies are told about you, and lying evidence brought forward, you will watch them fall away and you are a loathsome pariah. You think you have a family. But your family rides in a car, and no one can control what another driver does. There may not even be skid marks, to mark the place where your family passed out of your life.

What can you trust? What sanctuary, what faithfulness can you find? Even your own character, if you value it -- you might find the weight of grief and loss and rage and despair too much to bear, and the rigidity in your soul that you took for strength will snap like a broken reed. When you find you are not the man you thought you were -- when honor crumbles before fear, or compassion melts away to rage, when whatever defining, whatever diagnostic trait you thought you had proves to be deception or illusion -- what remains?

What are you, when what you thought you were is dust?

We cannot let such fears and possibilities immobilize us, though. If we are spared such hardship, we should remember our blessings and strive to be worthy of them. If such hardships overtake us, we must bear up under the unbearable, with only hope to sustain us.

I don't know why God used whatever plan he used, in designing living things as he did -- following patterns that overlap almost randomly. I know why he made apes, though. He made apes not so that we would think ourselves related to them, but that we might see the differences. When everything is lost to us, we must remember that something remains. As men we can discern what that is. If we were animals, we would lie where we fell and await the darkness that has waited for us.

Hope. It has to be enough, because it is all there is.


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