Intelligent design and evolution are not only conflicting ideas about the science of biological origins. They are answers to a basic question about the nature of life: Is the truth about something a fixed form, or is it an unfolding story?
I’m interested in this as it relates to our concept of self. These days we talk about “finding myself,” and “being myself,” as if my self is a fixed form, something from which I must strip away all pretense and assorted baggage, in order to find the real, true me.
In the framework of the “unfolding story” theory, I am becoming myself instead of finding myself. Instead of a set-in-stone, pre-designed form, I am an evolving, deepening story. Instead of digging down towards a base layer, I push out into the future, into unexplored territory.
But maybe these aren’t ultimately competing theories. Becoming often feels something like finding, in my experience. As if I am unfolding in a fashion consistent with itself (though not at all predictable), rather than careening forward in chaos.
Some sculptors say that the sculpture is always there, in the stone, and their job is simply to remove everything that doesn’t belong. Some writers say that the story or the song is already out there, in the air, and their job is simply to take hold of it, to let the work of art draw the artist forward into the reality of its being. It would appear that time and space lose at least some of their relevance wherever creation is involved.