Friday, September 3, 2010

Contemplation: The Wonders of Creation

by Brian Heyer

Confessional Lutherans have an advantage in the study of the physical sciences given that we see the universe as God's creation for our benefit, and yet we also can understand the evolutionist-uniformitarian perspective as well, even if we dismiss it as baloney. The Confessional Lutheran acknowledges our Maker and Preserver and goes about discovering and marveling at the intricacies of creation laid out for us.

David Blume's book on permaculture-based, small-scale fuel-ethanol production, Alcohol Can Be a Gas, contains many sidebar notes on the complexities of nature and how we should take advantage of these inter-species relationships. For instance, a particular genus of bacteria erects a tiny spike onto which molecules of water vapor are attracted. The bacteria survives by accumulating this water and dissolving sugar from the leaf surface it colonizes. No spike, no water, no bacteria. Evolutionists would see that as just another happy accident. Those of us that are lead by the Holy Spirit to trust in Genesis take that tidbit of bacterial knowledge as another happy revelation of God's love for us.

The concept of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi is a wonderful example of symbiosis in Creation. Most land plants exchange surplus phytogenic simple sugars to fungi that grow from the surrounding soil to inside the plant root cells in trade for minerals and water from the fungi. The fungi are entirely dependent on the plant, and the plant is stunted without the exponential increase in surface area of the fungi mycelia to dissolve soil minerals and draw in water. To add to the soil complexity, mezofauna like microarthropod springtails move through the soil consuming fungi and bacteria. As they do so, they translocate and distribute their prey. Soil that tills itself! This gives us a glimpse into the complex order and roles that God gives to even His microscopic creations in the dirt.

Ruminants and pastures are a more visible parallel example of sustainable relationships. The ruminants browse and trample the forbs and brush giving a competitive advantage to the grasses and clovers which can more easily recover from damage. (We do mow our lawns regularly, right?) For millennia, sheep were said to have "Golden Hooves" as their manures distributed seeds and their hooves improved germination by pressing seeds into firm contact with the soil. The plants not only fed the herds, but the bacterial multiplication through the digestion of the plant matter within the ruminants meant that the resultant manures would yield more bio-available nutrients for the plants themselves. (Let's take note that our Lord mentions in Luke 13 the benefit of manure to plants.)

But what if the grasses turned the tables and ate the cows? Let's revisit our microscopic arthropods and their fungi buffet. When springtails attack the fungi too vigorously, the fungi release a paralyzing enzyme into the mouth of the springtail. The mycelia then grow into the body of the tiny forager, consuming it from the inside out. Through radiological tagging of elements, researchers found that up to 25% of the biomass of a tree was the result of the symbiotic fungi's carnivorous defense! Vegans may have to rethink their premises.

The Psalmist says, "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth." (Ps 33:6) Our Creator-King, who set each galaxy cluster swirling in the sky and showed His promise to Abraham, even made 'simple' photosynthetic bacteria that utilize quantum physics in determining the most efficient path for electrons. It took more than one and half millennia for man to understand that a single point of light seen by the naked eye in the night sky can actually be a billion stars arrayed for us to discover. It took another few centuries to even begin to discern quantum infinities. The unbelieving evolutionist-uniformitarian, to his eventual eternal terror, boasts that it's just an infinite chain of random -yet fortunate - happenstance. The joys of the Creationists are that not only are we led to trust in the unseen promises of our Redeemer, but we also get to marvel at the infinite photosynthetic splendor of even the lilies of the field.


Anonymous said...

My stepson is in the public school system so he comes across evolution in science and field trips to nature reserves etc. His mom who was raised Catholic during her grade school years, told him that God just stirred things up. I didn't realize that this was a common Catholic belief and that Catholics don't all believe in a six 24hr day creation as unfolded in Genesis.

BTW, I love the book "God the Creator: Thought of It First!" (Happy Day Books). It points out man made things that are similar to the complexities that God has created in animals. Very good starting point (with the Bible of course) for a discussion on evolution with both younger and older children.

Tammy Jochman

Brian G. Heyer said...

Thanks for the comment, Tammy, and the suggestion for additional reading.

I just read over the weekend of a four-square mile fossil forest discovered in a coal mine in eastern Illinois. Only 230 feet down, it's a spectacular find because the entire forest is preserved, not just individual fossils.

The geologists attribute its preservation to an earthquake that suddenly lowered the swamp 15-30 feet and mud and sand rushed in. "It must have happened in a matter of weeks, said Illinois State Geological Survey's Scott Elrick. "What we're seeing here is the death of a peat swamp, a moment in geologic time frozen by an accident of nature." (cite: "Smithsonian" July 2009, Vol. 40, No. 4)

A Creationist observing this same evidence of a forest quickly buried by fluid mud comes to a decidedly different conclusion as to whether it was "an accident of nature."


In light of the import of your post, it's germane to note that confessional Lutherans were among the pioneers of scientific creationism in the early 1960s. The name of Paul Zimmerman comes to mind, amongst others.

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