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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Touchstone: My "Glorious Wild Things" essay now on line

My Touchstone piece is here (scroll down):

We will never understand creation if we insist on separating glory and design from suffering, loss, and waste, because, bound in finite time and space, creation is full of suffering, loss, and waste as well. All must be taken together or put aside together, in a final decision for meaning or nihilism.
The modern debate has decayed in part because that vision of the inseparability of the horror from the glory has been lost. Of course, Stephen Jay Gould was merely being tendentious when he dismissed our deep-seated fears of monsters as commercial hype. As a paleontologist, he well knew that, before humans ever walked the earth, there were terrible beasts on land and sea—far more so than today.

But his evolutionary-psychologist opponents are even more off the track. Any human who is gifted with the mere capacity to imagine fears the serpent’s sudden fang and the ghost’s spectral finger. That’s simply what imagination is; it bodies forth the shape of things unknown. Imagination, not some complex survival calculus, is our true inheritance from our ancestors.

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