The Next Natural Selection
Copyright 2009, John Manimas Medeiros
Natural selection also operates as "natural rejection" whenever a species becomes extinct through natural causes, meaning by way of the evolutionary process. Paleontologists argue that several "mass extinctions" have occurred in the distant past due to cataclysmic changes in climate or chemical content of the atmosphere. Of course, individual species have become extinct due to the "natural rejection" process. A species of plant or animal may become extinguished due to ongoing changes in the conditions on Earth, including the evolution of new diseases, efficiency of predators (a disease is a predator) and loss of the habitat or niche or food source.
We know that some animal species have become extinct because human technology has enabled capture and killing of individuals until no breeding pairs remain. In some cases the cause of extinction is "over harvesting" of animals used as food. Both plants and animals have become extinct because of the pervasive human "invasion" and modification of all habitats, as well as extensive environmental contamination by manufactured toxic chemical compounds, in the air, on land, and in water everywhere.
The most fundamental error of "anthropomorphism" meaning "human centered" thinking, is to separate human beings and human civilization from the remainder of the natural environment. This viewpoint causes many people to even think of humans as something other than an animal, and therefore not subject to the limitations that apply to other animals that live on Earth. This viewpoint also "removes" humans from the process of evolution, meaning that people, including educated people, scientists, philosophers, government, think and talk as though a process of evolution does not apply to human beings. Either we have already evolved to an end point, or we were "created" by a Creator God, and therefore the process of evolution does not apply to us. This common viewpoint is contrary to the teaching of Jesus Christ, or the teachings of the New Testament Gospels. In the Gospels, I find a message giving us the vitally important information that the process of evolution does apply to us, and we will be either naturally selected or naturally rejected, and the Gospels tell us precisely what the criteria for selection or rejection will be: good stewardship, our performance as caretakers of life on Earth.
The Gospels repeatedly make reference to "the kingdom of heaven" behaving like a shopper or selector, such as fishermen who get a net full of creatures from the sea and select the good fish and discard or destroy the bad. These many parables actually describe natural selection and the evolutionary process. The Gospels then also repeat parables about good and bad servants, good and bad stewards, good and bad caretakers of a vineyard or a household. The good stewards are rewarded with greater responsibilities, the "joy of one's master," and "eternal life." The bad stewards are destroyed or "cast out into the darkness" forever. The one, the good steward species, survives and thrives indefinitely. The other, the bad steward, is naturally rejected or self-destructs. This is the scientific content of Christ's teachings, which I describe in greater detail in my book The Primacy of Stewardship: The Handbook for Christians Who Believe in Democracy (December 2008). The essence of this understanding of Jesus' teaching is that evolution occurs before humans evolve, and while humans evolve, and the evolutionary process will "naturally select" us for indefinite survival if we, who have technological power, are smart enough and responsible enough to function as good stewards, good servants to the needs of life on Earth, good shepherds of that which is within the reach of our power over the environment that supports life on Earth. This understanding causes the essential summation of Christ's teaching to be science rather than morality or philosophy.
John Manimas Medeiros, November 2009
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