Unnatural Natural Selection

The story of Jaheem Herrera, an 11-year-old boy who hanged himself by a belt in a bedroom closet this past week, is absolutely devastating.  During his short life, Jaheem became all too fimiliar with how this world is not how it ought to be.  Unfortunately, Jaheem sought relief from the lack of oughtness by hanging himself after growing overwhelmingly weary of bullies calling him “gay” and “the virgin.”  Alongside grief and sympathies, I can’t help but think of the term “natural selection” and its application here.

Wikipedia summarizes natural selection as “the process where heritable traits that make it more likely for an organism to survive long enough to reproduce become more common over successive generations of a population.”  So, what about Jaheem?  Was he just too weak-minded or weak-willed to survive the constant barrage of bullying and the emotional scars it left?  Is this just another case of survival of the fittest or natural selection?  If so, then why would we cast any judgement on the bullies?  Wouldn’t they just be exercising their free will and letting natural selection run its course?

 I’d argue that this particular incident exposes an unnatural element in natural selection.  Here, something that is generally, and rightly, deemed by society as an undesirable behavior is the survivor – bullying, and/or the bullies themselves.  Perhaps, and hopefully, the bullies will reflect on their behavior and do something responsible, something that truly is unnatural – repent.  If repentance is in order, then could it be that natural selection is in someway incomplete and really not “natural” or what it ought to be?  Could it be that something that is “natural” – human nature, is really in someway unnatural?

Yes, it is.  In many ways, human nature is only “natural” in terms of familiarity, not rightness.  Unfettered, human nature is unnatural because it is fallen and much less than it ought to be.  The consequence is that we are beings in an unnatural state that are responsible to a natural state – the state of how it ought to be.  To some degree, this seems to explain our ache for Jaheem and his family.  We’re acknowledging a world in an unnatural state – that things like this happen, disapproving of a flaw in human nature – bullying, and appealing to a hoped natural state – a standard of how it ought to be.  There certainly is a lot of tension between the natural and unnatural states, but if we examine God closely, we can discover with greater clarity what is unnatural and natural. 

– Terrence

*Origin of Discursion – Waking up on the couch, well past midnight, to the story of Jaheem Herrera on CNN’s AC360.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Unnatural Natural Selection

  1. Marti

    Natural selection is when NATURE decides what is strong vs. weak. Natural selection occurs so that all living organisms on Earth will ultimately survive despite anything NATURE provides. We as a people give NATURE a lot of power when the reality of it is that NATURE is ultimately God (which you already know). We, however, are not nature. Nature is based on what IS and not what CAN be. We can change what IS because of a single difference…choice. God gave us the ability to choose. It is this ability that deems what is natural vs. unnatural. (In an attempt to stay as policitally correct as possible, I have been unable to finish my thought process…so I will have to throw all PCness aside to make my point…my apologies if this offends) We are ultimately born with a sinful self. NATURE does not have the choice to do anything but survive. Survival of the fittest has been utilized in our everyday phrasology, but it is not the reality of our race. If it were, we would not be looking to cure cancer – survival of the fittest right? Why cure the weak? Because we LOVE – and we choose to love. Scientists are fascinated with all aspects of nature – but they are not looking to increase the knowledge base. They are looking to explain why the human race fails. If they can determine that NATURE does it, then it isn’t so ugly when we do it. And we only want to explain the things we CHOOSE to do as a race, we don’t want to explain the things we don’t want to do. Example – murder. The animal kingdom murders all the time – for survival. It is natural for them to hunt something down and kill it and we don’t think twice about it. But when a human being kills another human being, we immediately condemn it as unnatural. Yet when an individual chooses a lifestyle that is deemed “unnatural” they will go thru the entire animal kingdom and find animal species that act the same way. Why?? Why would a human being want to compare themselves to an animal to explain the CHOICES that they make? Animals don’t have the ability to choose. We do. To say that we do what we do because its natural, is exactly what you said…unnatural. We are not animals. We are not here simply to survive. We are here to live. To crossover in topics, it is interesting that humans will choose the rights of nature over the rights of the people. There are animal cops, actual groups of people who patrol for the rights of animals. Where are the children’s cops? One would argue that the entire police force is for kids, but everyday we see that isn’t the case. Natural??? We are the exact opposite of anything natural. Kids are being pushed around and bullied and harrassed in ways that we can’t even begin to understand because the human race refused to take responsibility for its own choices. We make crime sexy and sex desirable and suddenly that dark side of sin is completely acceptable. WE have moved the line in the sand, not nature. WE decided what we want to accept, not nature. Everything we do is UNNATURAL because we are not nature. We are hand-created in the image of GOD…that is not natural…that is unique.

  2. czfinke

    You guys are missing one of the fundamental pieces of natural selection. It is not about the individual but about the species. Traits from individuals are prolonged to protect a species over time, not to protect that single individual. An individual dying of cancer is not helpful or harmful to the species over time. Curing cancer is advantageous for protecting the species.
    Killing other humans, is not advantageous to the species, it is a desire that, thankfully, most humans do not carry. Of course some still do. Animals kill other animals all the time, as Marti so elagantly put it. But they do not go about killing members of their own species for food and survival. They often do so, like humans, for other reasons, usually emotional.
    The idea that a child bully is stronger than a child who is bullied, and will thus have his bullying genes selected for protection against weaker children is absolutely counter to the basis of natural selection.

  3. Finke, thanks for discursing and adding more definition to natural selection. It wasn’t my intent to apply this example of bullying only to the individual level. However, it’s a bit odd that you seem dismiss the importance of the individual. Afterall, isn’t the whole comprised of many individuals? If bullying became rampant on an individual level, couldn’t it threaten the survival of certain positive behaviors, and possibly the survival of the whole? Couldn’t bullying at a more macro level threaten the survival of the human specie? Bullying isn’t justified. If it were, the word would have a different definition and connotations. Here are some synonyms of bullying to consider: coerce; terrorize; tyrannize.

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