Wednesday, June 16, 2004
The beginning of the second paragraph sets the stage by pointing out what is, for me, one of the most interesting things about biology:
It is a legacy of evolution that teleology Ã the tendency to explain natural phenomena in terms of purposes Ã is deeply ingrained in biology, and not in other fields (Ayala 1999).
This tendency is one against which all biology students are constantly warned: it's convenient language to say 'X trait was selected for Y,' but remember, always, that evolution has no purpose. Some disagree: there may be some force governing it all, some divine intervention.
I say let the theologians and the occasional neuroscientist hash out gods in the brain, but let it remain fundamental to biologists to wonder "why." After all, that philosophic wondering may be what makes us so much more fun than chemists, only concerned with "how."