Butterfly Hugh Hume/Flickr

¿Son conscientes los insectos?

MELBOURNE – El verano pasado, una mariposa de la col puso huevos en una rúcula de mi huerto. En poco tiempo la planta se llenó de orugas verdes, bien camufladas contra el fondo verde de las hojas. Yo ya tenía otras rúculas a cierta distancia de esta, que me darían suficientes hojas para hacer ensaladas, y no quería echar insecticida, así que dejé en paz a las orugas. Pronto de las hojas de la rúcula no quedó nada. Privadas de alimento y no preparadas todavía para comenzar la siguiente etapa de su ciclo vital, todas las orugas se murieron de hambre.

Acababa yo de presenciar en un microcosmos algo que hacía mucho tiempo acepto intelectualmente: la evolución es un proceso natural impersonal al que no le importa el bienestar de las criaturas individuales que produce. A veces me pregunto, ¿cómo pueden los teístas reconciliar el mundo que observan con la creencia de que ha sido creado por un ser omnisciente (que entonces sabía que todo esto pasaría) y al mismo tiempo bueno y digno de adoración?

La explicación tradicional que dan los cristianos del sufrimiento humano dice que es resultado del pecado original de Adán, que supuestamente todos hemos heredado. Pero las orugas no descienden de Adán. La solución de Descartes al problema fue negar que los animales sean capaces de sentir dolor. Pero tratándose de perros o caballos, pocas personas aceptarían la opinión de Descartes (incluso entre sus contemporáneos). Hoy, las investigaciones científicas de la anatomía, fisiología y conducta de mamíferos y aves proveen evidencia contraria. Pero ¿podemos al menos esperar que las orugas no sientan dolor?

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