Monday, April 4, 2011

agassiz, in the concrete

They descend upon fairy wings, more floating than flying. They follow the seethe of carbon dioxide, the bouquet of blood and pheromone. They thirst for that protein that carries oxygen through the red blood cells. They need it to propagate future generations, to bind their eggs together. There is brutal beauty to them, these gems of the twilight world.

The post-Darwin theology that arose in opposition to evolutionary theory had a rough time with mosquitoes and some types of ichneumon wasps. The feeding habits of various pests and their larvae proved distressing cases for proving the universal benevolence of God's Creation. The literalist and fundamentalist approach to belief spent an inordinate amount of time ignoring the particulars of said Creation while focusing on words written down and translated by fallible mortals. So scads of words were spilled trying to make wasp larvae that devoured paralyzed caterpillars from the inside out and disease bearing mosquitoes into expressions of God's Goodness. I am certainly biased towards the science side of things, but even for those of faith, those arguments had to strain credulity, just a little at least.

I am by no means a believer, but my disbelief isn't founded on a disparity between my sense of moral order and the vast predations and cruelties that the universe seems to feature so prominently. The mysteriousness of divine plans are often offered to people who have lost loved ones to senseless tragedy, so crediting God with unspeakable cruelties doesn't even shake the faith of folk who believe that God is a good guy. Life exists against a deluge of extinction, every level of birth and breeding working against the individual. Life is the gambler and oblivion is the house. Any god there is is playing the odds against us. The mosquito just another sucker going all in, shining in all this dying light.

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