by Don Cadwallader
The mockingbird on the telephone pole outside our beach condo has been belting out his delirious song for days. From sunrise to sunset for two weeks: nonstop trilling, twittering, and harping. My wife and I wonder at his strength to do this, his little grey and black bird body jumping and flitting as he sings out for hours at the top of his world.
Elsewhere, other animals are probably taking the time to display such seemingly pointless behaviors in their own way. For example, in Kentucky, a newborn colt may be kicking up his heels. In Alaska, a grizzly bear could be spinning and splashing in a cold mountain lake. Out West, a condor might be floating in aimless circles at 10,000 feet in the California skies. Down the street in my neighbor’s living room, six black labrador puppies may be wrestling and nipping at each other for hours of playful fun.
But is it pointless fun?
The world of science is obligated to explain these experiences of seemingly aimless animal play. For example, the BBC Future online journal (BBC.com, January 9, 2013), seeks to answer the question, Why do animals like to play? The conclusion of researchers goes like this: “Given that young animals borrow actions from aggressive, hunting, foraging, or sexual behaviors,” and that playful activities are “generic and variational, requiring varied experiences and stressing interactions between simple components,” seemingly pointless animal play, then, “may better prepare an animal to respond adequately in future aggressive or sexual encounters.” Researchers go on to make the connection with human children’s play, stating that childhood games may likewise have a “deeper purpose, helping children learn their place in the social world.”
And so it goes.
For many of today’s scientists, all social behaviors, whether they be animal or human, must be explained in light of their “adaptive or evolutionary function.” Scientists with their process of scientific inquiry is needed to understand how things work in order to solve problems that stand in the way of a better life. But scientists who so completely sell out to evolutionary theory often promote themselves as supreme authorities in all things behavioral are insincere.
There is something more going on in our behavioral world that is not by necessity chained to some evolutionary function. This because we can observe an intellectual personality operating throughout the created order that is best understood by learning about the Christian God of the Bible. Many scientists see their job as extractors of this God from all cause-effect equations, thus diluting his clear communication to our minds as expressed in the language of the created order around us. These scientists do this by never acknowledging any authority higher than themselves, an authority who is in charge of mysteries they will never solve.
Psalm 104, for example, uses words that describe a different kind of relationship between the created order and the God who created it than what many scientific authorities would allow. Here, animals are God’s personal pets. They look to Him for food, comfort, and protection. Even the ancient Leviathan is God’s “pet dragon who romps in the sea.” To acknowledge God thus as the personal Creative Spirit who sends forth his own sportive personality into the world of His Creation is to acknowledge truth in its fullness and to more fully understand our own behaviors, that we ourselves are among a created order who can playfully interact with our creator.
Thus, it sometimes takes a scientist and an old bearded poet to completely explain our reaction to the authoritative scientists of our time. Remember the following poem (c.1865) by Walt Whitman?
When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.