Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Nature as Perfection

In the subtext of many discussions about nature, there is a view of it as a reflection of perfection coming from a kind of evolutionary-based intelligent design. Therefore, we as humans should leave nature alone, because -- for instance -- the weak should be culled to maintain some sort of evolutionary prescribed balance. In this view, the evolutionary process is able to find a perfect balance for each species living in harmony with its environs.

This seems to be a political view, and one that is reactionary at heart. For humans since their beginning have altered nature, and generally in a way that has improved human life immeasurably. Nature unaltered renders a life that is short and brutish, to paraphrase.

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

I don't disagree that the political dimension you describe is there, but as someone educated in biology I can give you a more sensible reason why biologists are reluctant to, say, exterminate species that are dangerous or pestilential or allow invasive species to flourish unchecked in new environments, and that is that we have learned from the 20th-century attempts to remake our environment with harsh chemical pesticides, and the older, more long-term attempts to make the American environment more conducive to ranching by killing off predatory species. Both of those avenues of endeavor had far-ranging, unanticipated ecological consequences, so now the pendulum has swung from "shoot first, ask questions later" to "ask questions, ask more questions, then maybe consider the possibility of shooting." And I don't think that change is a bad thing.