The evolution of hair, of eyes, of noses, of mouths, of sex and the sexes--these are fascinating topics, and they point, each one, to sometimes disturbing, sometimes revolting, but always fascinating, moments in which something original arose out of nature or creation, usually in response to a need. But in anticipation of a need to come?
Impossible, one might suppose--but what if evolution isn’t blind; what if it’s an instrument of an all-knowing, all-seeing God? In other words, what if evolution is teleological? (The very word “teleology,” of course, itself breeds horror among atheistic evolutionists, in whose number Charles Darwin did not, by the way, count himself any more than did the Catholic theologian and evolutionist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.)
Teleology, in relation to evolution, suggests that organisms develop along lines that are purposeful and goal-directed. Teleologists argue that, rather than being determined by its environment and the stimuli that it provides, the organism and its organs are determined by its (and their) purpose. For example, people have physical senses because they need to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell; they don’t sense things because they have senses.
The view of metaphysical naturalism that atheistic evolutionists hold and the view of ontogenesis that teleologists hold have moral implications concerning minerals, plants, animals, and humans. The former assumes that organisms are what they are and that they are neither good nor evil nor better nor worse than one another. The latter view is often the basis for the concept of lesser and greater organisms which each have a correspondingly lower or higher place in the cosmic chain of being. To personalize these views, one might say that Lucretius and Aldous Huxley hold the former view and that Aristotle and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin hold the latter view.
Nothing in the body is made in order that we may use it. What happens to exist is the cause of its use. -- Lucretius. (In other words, function follows form)
Nature adapts the organ to the function, and not the function to the organ. -- Aristotle. (In other words, form follows function.)
These contrasting views of evolution frequently fuel speculative fiction, especially the science fiction branch of it, but they have also occasionally driven horror fiction, especially if one holds, as it seems easy enough to do, that human beings are natural organisms that have evolved to a point that is sufficient for them to begin, through such means as agricultural hybridization, eugenics, genetic engineering, and cloning, to direct evolution, for even adherents of metaphysical naturalism must find it difficult to deny any possibility of purposeful and goal-directed activity to human behavior in its entirety. We have become the gods that nature, perhaps blindly, or that God, with forethought, intended, us to become, and we are now capable, to whatever limited and clumsy degree, of determining the direction and the purpose of nature, as many a horror story involving the experimental procedures of mad scientists have indicated.
If Harry Harrison’s Deathworld trilogy is an example of the function-follows-form theory of evolution (the whole planet and everything in it has evolved to survive at the expense of all other plants and animals), the Terminator film series (especially the original) is an example of the form-follows-function theory of evolution (cyborgs have been created to seek and kill a specific individual and anyone or anything else that gets it its way, and they even build themselves). Both result in scary worlds in which one is apt to end up dead. Which method of execution seems scarier may come down to two questions:
- Would you rather be killed by a natural, organic monstrosity that responds to the stimulus of your presence by killing you or by a technological monstrosity that kills you because it’s programmed to do so?
- Is there an intelligence operating the universe (that is, nature) behind the scenes, so to speak and, if so, is this intelligence gracious or cruel, loving or malevolent?