Shubin, Your Inner Fish

A few things are particularly striking to me about Shubin’s Your Inner Fish (besides the pleasant, attractive way the book is written!):

There are actually theological implications to what Shubin is saying, I think. The human being is a remarkable and fascinating creation (to use the word in a winking way), but there’s also a lot about the evolution of the human body that is contingent, ad hoc, maybe even gerry-rigged. It’s double sided. If one wished to hypostatize nature out of Shubin’s analysis (and let’s! at least for the sake of argument), Nature is remarkably parsimonious in creating a wide variety of creatures of complex, fascinating shapes out of some very old (not to say basic) building blocks. There is a definite elegance there, but it is not a picture that tends to build up a belief in human beings as possessing a unique dignity in the natural order, I don’t think.

I like the degree to which Shubin reflects upon the question of the providential arrangement of the human body, the way in which, in a very modest way, he’s in dialogue with the natural theologians of the nineteenth century in particular. (If not more recent thinkers in this vein such as Simon Conway-Morris.)

Even still, I like that there’s a very humane side to the book, that there’s a deep sense of wonder and openness there.

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