Your imagination, my dear fellow, is worth more than you imagine.
This past Thursday, February 12, was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, one of the world’s most imaginative and influential thinkers. In the UK, a celebration called Darwin200 is taking place to honor his scientific ideas and their impact. Events are taking place this month and will continue until November 24, the 150th anniversary of the publication of his famous book, The Origin of Species.
You remember Charles Darwin: the 19th century God-fearing husband, father and naturalist who stumbled upon an idea so revolutionary and disturbing that he waited 15 years to publish it, for fear of alienating his friends, family and faith. In fact, his fears were confirmed. His discovery of Evolution–the idea that plants and animals with some traits survive and others do not leads species to emerge or change into new forms over time–did cause alienation, not just in Darwin’s life but for us 200 years later! Even today in state houses across America, educators and boards of educations are arguing, often with raised voices and tear-filled eyes, both sides of the issue of biology curricula: evidence-based science or creationism/intelligent design. As the debate rages, our poor teachers are faced with trying to inspire the scientists of tomorrow while maneuvering the storm.
Thinking about all this, I imagine God shaking his heavenly head and wondering about these miraculous human creatures made of the same stuff as water, spring flowers, sea turtles, star dust… people who by design endlessly long to understand the world, but who sometimes ask “why?” and then refuse to believe the answers they find.
And that is it in a nutshell: Darwin’s explorations as well as human discoveries from the beginning of time are rooted in that very human, and for the faithful divine-inspired, question, “why?” In fact, asking “why?” is at the heart of learning, that thing we humans must do to survive. (more…)