An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of August 11, 2002
Issued from the woods just south of Natchez, Mississippi,, USA

TADPOLE-INSPIRED
THOUGHTS ABOUT LIFE

Last week I told you how Gray Treefrogs had left eggs in the dishpan from which I bathe each morning after jogging. On that first morning, though the eggs were only a few hours old, I could already see black frog zygotes suspended inside clear, gelatinous egg-masses. By the next morning the developing frogs had developed through the blastula and late embryo stages, and the slender larvae already had the shape of tadpoles, though they were still suspended in their gelatinous eggs. On the third morning the larvae were free of their jelly and were free-swimming tadpoles. Hundreds of them.

Each morning this week the robust froggy developments in my dishpan have set the mood for thinking about life in general. For example, one day I heard how recently discovered paleontological evidence suggests that life on Earth may have originated more than once. Perhaps it arose earlier than we ever thought, then went extinct, and then life arose again.

Or perhaps life on Earth has ignited several times, and continues to be generated even now, so that the living things around us today do not all necessarily share a common distant ancestor. Genetic sequencing indicates that some bacteria and virus-like and fungus-like organisms are so strange that it's simply hard to fit them onto a Tree of Life with only one trunk.

I personally find it easy, almost obligatory, to accept that life could have arisen several or many times on Earth. Moreover, if I had to guess, I'd say that throughout the Universe life has appeared innumerable times and continues to do so, for, from what I see with my own eyes, the Creator's life-forming and life-evolving instinct is irrepressible.

When I think of what must be the Creator's mood with regard to life, the gleeful, rambunctious Finale in Beethoven's Seventh Symphony always comes to mind -- a piece that's powerful not with broad, sweeping gushes of conventional creativity but with an ongoing series of erratic eruptions of good-humored, unanticipatable genius and energy. Those hungry, wiggly tadpoles in my dishpan each of these mornings, they make me hear those melodies!

Infinitely expanding waves of laughing melodies, peals of energizing God-laughter rippling forever throughout the Universe... and I am sure that my squirmy little tadpoles are responding to tickles of those ripples, and when I see this and understand it for what it is, I chuckle and squeal, too, maybe becoming God-laughter myself. Facebook Icon.