Ecosystems and Glory

I was walking past the pond, listening to hundreds of frogs singing in order to score a mate, and I was struck by the magnificence of it all. We don’t know everything about the world, by a long way, but we know a lot of things. We have discovered why frogs sing and how they reproduce. We have found out how frogs came to differentiate from their fish-like ancestors, and how they interact with all the other plants and animals and microbes in that ecosystem.

Creation MythA creationist might say that it is all a display of God’s glory, the wonder of his creative design. To me, that sounds so weak and plain, compared to the intricate interweaving of ecosystems, the result of eons of natural selection working its magic in shifting environments. I am no expert on evolution or geology, but I know enough to be astounded by how it works out in such beautiful (and sometimes horrifying) ways. Compared to that stunning complexity, the creation stories of all religions are cardboard cutouts. They sound made up, and I suppose we know why that is.

Ecosystems and Curiosity

We don’t completely understand all the complex interactions of organisms within any given ecosystem, nor all the interactions of subatomic particles in any star, and we certainly don’t have a grasp of what happened in the first microsecond of the Big Bang. We have something better than all the answers; we have curiosity. To the creationist, “God created the universe” is the answer to everything. That is where curiosity goes to die. The rest of us don’t have the final answer, and will never have it. All we have is an ever-increasing drive to learn more, to find more species and more subatomic particles and more refined theories of how it all happened.

Title image credit: Linda McIver.

2 thoughts on “Ecosystems and Glory

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  1. Hi Chiefy,
    I saved this once and occasionally re read it if I need to clear the air. Thanks for the post.

    Dean Gilliland

    This from Bruce Marlin’s excellent website Red Planet Inc:

    Look not to Nature to to see God’s Glory. Look too closely and instead what you might see is the Giant Ichneumon Wasp. The female wasp drills into solid wood and deposits her eggs into the larvae of the horntail wasp hidden in the trunk of the tree.

    “Scientists are still not sure how the wasp “drills.” It is thought vibration might be involved but no one is sure. I suspect the tip of the terebra is sharp and the wasp forces aside the “soft” tissue of the wood much as you would push a needle into cork. I have seen ovipositors hanging from tree trunks, sans wasp. Evidently, the poor female sometimes flies away without her egg-layer, much as a honeybee commits the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the colony when she leaves her stinger in your arm.

    It amazes me. How does that wasp know exactly where and when the egg must be laid? For it must be laid inside the cell of the alien larvae – sometimes laid directly on the body of the prey, sometimes inside the host larva, where it will develop and eat the host from the inside out!

    The great Charles Darwin came up against one of the greatest tests of his religious faith when studying the Ichneumonidae and contemplating their seemingly evil and cruel ploy for exploiting other creatures; he thought the monstrosity too evil for God to have thought of it, much less condone.”

    In an 1860 letter to the American naturalist Asa Gray, Darwin wrote, “I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.”

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