Sometimes it is aggravating when IT “reads” my posts and sends me links and ads that “they” think I will like (or buy). However, this was not the case when, after I posted the blog involving Darwin, Mozart and Sunny Choi. Quite mysteriously, a YouTube video of Yeol Eum Son’s performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto #21 popped up. I sat mesmerized by what I was seeing.
As if Ms. Son’s stunning performance were not enough evidence of her virtuosity, she frequently closed her eyes and silently commanded her fingers to find 1000s of notes “in the dark.” The concerto was 32 minutes long, which required her to commit perhaps as many as 30,000 notes to memory. From my highly limited musical ability, I could not detect a single error.
The fact that it is highly unlikely that 99.99% of the world population will ever be able to do what she can do lends credence to the reason why many biological and behavioral scientists call her “gifted.” However, if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, perhaps the ability to discern spiritual gifts is as well.
A well-known British biologist has spent much of his career (and made millions of dollars) railing that there is no evidence for the existence of God. Poor chap. I wonder if he has ever hiked to the top of Yosemite’s Half Dome or to the bottom of Grand Canyon; walked through the Louvre in Paris, visited St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, listened to Handel’s “Messiah,” Mozart’s “Requiem,” or Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony.”
Paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson, people have been endowed by their Creator with the spiritual gift of “free will.” It may be the greatest human irony that some of them have chosen to use that gift in an attempt to deny their Creator’s existence.
It is a rare human being (especially male) who is not vexed by being shown that his logic is faulty. Charles Darwin did not belong to that group and reportedly became furious when Alfred Wallace pointed out that his Theory of Evolution did not explain the origin of exceptional human talents involving music, mathematics and creative arts.
Over 150 years after Darwin’s, “On the Origin of Species” was published scientists reluctantly concede that the origin of Wallace’s triad is still completely enigmatic.
Like Darwin and Wallace, they understand that the three extraordinary talents are not genetically transferred or controlled by instinct and cannot be predicted. Therefore, intellectually honest scientists are obligated to regard these talents as “gifts,” thereby allowing that they must come from beyond the recipients. For devout scientists, this realization can be quite disturbing and require acquiescing to the real probability that, if “gifts” are involved, there must be a “giver.”
Serious “birders,” meticulously maintain a “life list” that records every species of bird they have observed first hand. Likewise, serious “seekers” maintain a spiritual list of wisdom, stories, and events that point to the existence of the “intelligent design” of the universe. This lofty approach of striving for greater spiritual awareness was reflected in the 1954 Audubon Society statement of their philosophy, which began with:
“We believe in the wisdom of nature’s design.”
All of these thoughts gushed forth as I watched Sunny Choi perform a beautiful interpretation of John Denver’s, “Annie’s Song.” Choi is not only a highly gifted musician; she is capable of using a piano as an extension of her body, mind and soul. And if her recital were not enough, to further showcase her gift, about half way through the performance she closed her eyes and silently commanded her fingers to find the notes “in the dark.”
Although it is highly unlikely that 99.9% of the world population will ever be able to do what Choi can do, her gift is not unprecedented.
Wolfgang Mozart lived only 35 years, but demonstrated a level of musical genius that many musicologists regard as “superhuman” and predict will not likely ever be equaled. Although his lifespan was only half of the average of 70 years, he composed an estimated 600 works of music. His music has been featured in over 300 movies. He composed 50 symphonies, 25 piano concertos, 12 violin concertos, 27 concerto arias, 26 string quartet opuses, 103 minuets, 15 masses, and 21 opera works. Some of his most famous operas include “Don Giovanni”, “Magic Flute”, “The Marriage of Figaro”, and “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik or (a little night music)”.
“There is a story that Mozart once said, ‘when the angels sing for God, they sing Bach; but when they sing for themselves, they sing Mozart’”. (Googlesearch.com). There are also reports that some of his works were “note-perfect” on the first draft, which meant that not a single note had to be changed.
Like Mozart, Charles Darwin was spiritually gifted and at the tender age of 19 began to see that the Genesis story of Creation must be allegorical and more profound than man had guessed. He eventually arrived at the conclusion that Creation and evolution must be the result of cybernetic interaction. Evidence of this can be found in, “The Autobiography of Charles Darwin:”
“Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with reason and not feelings, impresses me as having more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity for looking backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist”
Although I don’t recall him citing Wallace’s triad, he did accept his failure to explain human evolution, which includes the wonderfully mysterious origin of musical, mathematical and artistic gifts.
In, The Great Evolution Mystery, Gordon Taylor explains why Darwin’s Theory of evolution does not account for “organs of extreme perfection.” This includes the human eye. Human eyes contain over 100 million cells that all must function in perfect synchrony in order for people to see properly. Although ophthalmologists know much about eyes, it remains a total mystery as to how the light image, focused on the retina, can be converted into biochemical data and transmitted via optic nerves to the brain. How the brain decodes the data and displays it as a visual image is yet another mystery.
Anthropologist Loren Eiseley agrees, however, he expanded the mystery to include the origin of life, which he pointed out Darwin also failed to explain. Eiseley contended that it doesn’t matter what we call the mystery, only that we are aware that it exists. Furthermore, he opined that those who fail to acknowledge “The Mystery” are in danger of ceasing to be fully human.
Albert Einstein agreed, but expressed a more forceful position: “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”
Contemplating frog eyes, and lacking a time or place for the origin of life on Earth, Eiseley alluded to the possibility that life may have come from somewhere across the “pond of space.”
“Yet whenever I see a frog’s eye low in the water warily ogling the shoreward landscape, I always think inconsequentially of those twiddling mechanical eyes that mankind manipulates nightly from a thousand observatories. Someday, with a telescopic lens an acre in extent, we are going to see something not to our liking, some looming shape outside there across the great pond of space. Whenever I catch a frog’s eye I am aware of this, but I do not find it depressing. I stand quite still and try hard not to move or lift a hand since it would only frighten him. And standing thus it finally comes to me that this is the most enormous extension of vision of which life is capable: the projection of itself into other lives. This is the lonely, magnificent power of humanity. It is far more than any spatial adventure, the supreme epitome of reaching out.”
The fossil record of frogs indicates that they began to evolve from fish about 400 million years ago. However, “modern” frogs emerged about 200 million years ago. Ergo: The eye you are looking at has undergone 0ver 400 million years of evolutionary change.
With a mystery like that, is it not a fool’s errand to bicker over Creation or Evolution?
Like the classic concept of “yin-yang,” both words may reflect a cybernetic mutualism in which one word cannot exist without the other.
This is precisely what Eiseley was suggesting in his classic book, “The Immense Journey.”
If you are feeling a little spiritually deflated, enlarge the frog image and concentrate on it for one full minute and see if you can connect with 400 million years of time and change.
Perhaps it will encourage you to Celebrate the Mystery!
Excerpt: BOFAW. “I suggested that believing in God was like catching poison oak; some people do and some don’t and no amount of word-making will likely change that.”
Muir was considered an “uneducated tramp,” by some and an “ignoramus” by Calif. State geologist Josiah Whitney. His vision of saving vast wilderness areas as “parklands” for future visitors was often described as lunacy.
Thoreau was often considered a lazy misfit/ recluse who only survived because of Mrs. Emerson’s cooking.
Emerson’s religious views were often considered radical at the time. He believed that all things are connected to God and, therefore, all things are divine. However, even though he regarded Jesus as a “great man,” he did not regard him as the son of God. Although his lectures on the “transcendent power of nature” were popular, he had large groups of critics who labeled him as an atheist.
Loren Eiseley was harshly castigated by scientists who thought he was too religious and equally castigated by “believers” who thought he was too scientific.
In the beginning of the Biodesign experience, I did not realize that, by using these authors, I would be subject to many of the same criticisms that they were. In the introduction to Biodesign Out For A Walk, Linda Williamson described an aura of mystery surrounding room 103 at St. Helena High School. Although I was aware of it at times, I was also aware of storm clouds that were never far away. Just like my mentor’s critics, I had critics (even enemies) who were convinced that the class was really a philosophy or religion class, offered as Advanced Biology.
Because of the scope and depth of Biodesign, it is nearly impossible to select a signature piece of writing that encapsulates the essence of The Class. However, Michaels’ poem comes as close as possible.
“May you always be inspired …
To stand tall in the sunlight,
to seek out the bright face of Beauty,
To reach for the Dream, the Star,
to see the World through eyes of tenderness,
To love with open-heartedness,
To speak the quiet word of comforting,
to look up the mountain and not be afraid to climb,
To be aware of the needs of others,
to believe in the wonder of life,
the miracle of creation,
the rapture of love,
The beauty of the universe,
The dignity of the human being.”
The poem was not only one of the most important goals of the class, it was a beautiful summation of the works of Muir, Thoreau, Emerson and Eiseley. If my critics regard it as“religious” then I humbly stand guilty as charged.