This morning a reader in Arizona kindly sent me an excerpt from Hidden Beauty: Microworlds Revealed, by France Bourély. This book seems to be one which, like The Science Delusion and The Machinery of Life should be on everyone’s bookshelf, recommending as it does a much wider and view of evolution, and one more in accordance with observed fact.
This marvellous essay from it – embellished with a few purely random photos from my files – is called “Chance or Beauty”:
Why, if beauty is universal, would it not have played a role in evolution? yet, not one university has proposed to conduct a scientific study. Differing from the Darwinists, I do not believe that life can be reduced solely to competition between species that are more or less adapted. It is time to bring a few “mutations” to this theory that is significantly more stable than the “variations” on which it is based. Symbiosis, cooperation, and interdependence also deserve to be acknowledged as engines of evolution. However, more than chance, they obey beauty.
Beauty is indeed a powerful force and a law of life. A billion years ago, the first “organised” living beings were born from a combination of numerous individual cells that joined forces and combined their abilities to meld into a new being from which emerged new talents that until then were unknown. These original qualities gradually favoured the adaptation of the new organism. Forms of life that were progressively more sophisticated developed, and natural selection eliminated those less able. If there is strength in unity, it is indeed innovation that maintains it.
Darwin, the youngest son of an Anglican pastor, befroe establishing himself as a naturalist of genius proportions, experienced the rivalries within his own family, as he later would the secret tensions in his parish and those more public between individuals in his village. His acute observations of nature would always retain this idea of competition. Struggle, conflict, and above all, survival are weapons of Darwinian strategy.
In the context of England as a colonizer, and in the throes of the Industrial Revolution, the weak were held in contempt and Darwin eased the conscience of the strong. I refuse to reduce life to the principles of war. Einstein said, “God is subtle but not malicious!” No, even if it is true that life, the eternal pioneer, likes border disputes, it cannot be reduced to a factory managed by military leaders who would manufacture “weakness” to fill the ranks.
Life is above all an artist who, in keeping with creative desire, takes the time to invent. Over millions of years, it has created union, symbiosis, cohabitation, and interdependence, and for weapons, it has provided love and beauty.
It is high time we bestow upon science more femininity, so that we finally recognise that, within nature, there is a form of ceullular affinity and attraction. Life’s favourite assistance is not chance. More than the risks of variation, the allies that it cherishes are bonds, coupling, and the union that precedes all birth. The universe has been pairing electrons within atoms since their inception. There are duos in every fundamental stage of the living. Is not DNA itself, with its paired chromosones, an alliance of two complementary chains that in addition to the close bond of their links, interlace into a double helix suggesting a ritual between two serpents in love?
The first bacterium that dared to unite with another instead of killing it and absorbing it did more for the evolution of the species than all mutations in the world. I like to think that a certain form of beauty, even archaic, played a role in this primordial affinity. Symbiosis is a sacred bond that unites often profoundly different beings. Despite Darwin’s views, life, like the woman who bears it, will always prefer marriage to war.
..France Bourély, translated by Laurel Hirsch