Student's perspective

Frederick W. Schueler bckcdb at ISTAR.CA
Mon Oct 11 22:24:02 CDT 1999

jeffrey shaw wrote:

> I wish only to deal with FACTS. My first organic chemistry
> professor was a soft-spoken man that shared with his class his deep
> respect for the perfect order of all living things. I have found
> that this perfect order, the unviolatable principles upon which life is
> founded, has been the catalyst for my belief in God.
>  Even chaos itself has order when expressed mathematically.

* from an essay on the relationship between People and anadromous fish on
Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands): "Here is the mystery: the
world is as sharp as the edge of a knife because the diet of each species
consists entirely of the souls of others, but this individual selfishness
leads only to reproductive self-sacrifice.  Salmon swim the sea as
perfectly designed silvery slashers, indifferently eating up the lives of
smaller species, and evading pedators.  They do not grow up into any
stable maturity, however, but at some arbitrary size and age that
maximizes their contribution to a new generation — kokanee, grilse, jack,
humpback, tyee, or king — their bodies hump, jaws twist, they change
silver for black, red, or green, and they run up streams where they
cannot feed to use themselves up to the death to deposit, defend, or
fertilize eggs of a next generation.

"From an omniscience, the broad outlines of this story would make perfect
sense as a means of stocking the seas with fish and moving marine
nutrients into stream headwaters, were it not for strange Darwinian
wrinkles that always surround it, little weirdnesses that serve only to
increase the offspring left by individuals, with no contribution to the
functioning of the population..."

If you stand back far enough, you'll see perfect order in all living
things, but when you get close up things are different, and the details
always seem to point towards an origin and organization of life in
'descent with modification by natural selection,' communities made up of
chance assemblages of species, and ecosystem functions performed only
when species that can benefit from performing them happen to be present.
It's been said before that "there is grandeur in this view of life," and
to some of us it seems more wonderful than any alternative that has been
yet proposed.

fred schueler.
         Eastern    Ontario    Biodiversity    Museum
                Grenville Co, Ontario, Canada
(RR#2 Oxford Station, K0G 1T0) (613)258-3107   bckcdb at

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