People have paid much attention to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere because they play a significant role in global warming. The main culprit in the greenhouse gas list is carbon dioxide. Not only do we exhale this gas, but fires of all kinds produce it. With the recent major fires in Australia, there is even more concern about the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But God has given the Earth some tools to counteract greenhouse gases.
The most efficient tool built into the Earth is a microscopic plant called a diatom. There are 12,000 species of diatoms in Earth’s lakes and oceans. Unlike phytoplankton, diatoms are encased in porous, intricately structured silica shells. Examined under a microscope, these silica shells are beautiful, and they are very resistant to change in shape. That means that the spaces between the shells can collect particulate material. So diatoms are used as filtering agents to filter water for swimming pools and as fillers for aerating soils in yards. The shells are used as diatomaceous earth, which is familiar to most of us, especially those who raise roses or tomatoes.
Diatoms can also absorb gases. In the oceans, they absorb massive amounts of carbon dioxide and lock it up in the ocean’s depths. Diatoms capture as much carbon dioxide as all the trees, grasses, and other land plants combined. The fancy latticework of the diatom is not just for humans to admire. Because of the twists and turns of their shells, the surface area of diatoms is much greater than that of smooth shells. The increased surface area maximizes photosynthesis and allows the diatoms greater energy for growth and reproduction.
The life expectancy of a diatom is about six days. Because the silicon is heavy, the diatom at death sinks to the ocean floor or lake, taking carbon with it. One solution to the buildup of carbon dioxide is to catalyze the growth of diatoms. Iron nutrients can do that, and seeding the oceans with iron might be a way to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Diatoms are one more example of the design built into Earth’s structure to allow the planet to exist over the long haul. While diatoms are not apparent to the human eye, they are tools to counteract greenhouse gases and a possible solution to a modern problem.
We all understand why birds of the Northern Hemisphere fly south in the fall. When the temperatures drop in Michigan, and the lakes are covered with ice, most birds have found a warmer place in the south. Michigan has many so-called “snowbirds” in the human population who leave us in November to go to Florida’s sunny shores. They come back in the spring to enjoy Michigan summers and because they have family here. The question is, why do birds fly north in spring? Couldn’t they save a lot of trouble by just staying in the south all year?
The answer to that question is food. The fact is that tropical areas simply don’t have enough insects to provide the protein that birds need to feed their chicks. When birds are in the south, they survive by eating berries, fruits, and nectar. None of those foods provide much protein. The time when birds return to the north coincides with the explosion of insects in the spring. They can enjoy less competition and longer days while dining on insects in the north.
The question remains as to how the birds know this? How do they know that they can benefit by traveling hundreds or thousands of miles in the spring? Why do the birds have the urge to fly north at the time that benefits them as well as the ecological systems they help to support? In other words, why do birds fly north in spring? The answer is that it’s built into their genes.
God’s view of Earth and the systems that make it work is far greater than ours. We are beginning to understand how many things, such as bird migration, must happen for the system of life to exist. It also speaks to us about how important it is that we take care of what God has given us.
Many passages in the Bible seem to be of little significance, yet they are incredibly important. Here is one of them about the water cycle.
“All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again.” Ecclesiastes 1:7.
It is believed that Solomon wrote those words in 977 BC. What did people understand about the hydrologic cycle, or water cycle, at that time? The answer, of course, is “very little.” Meteorologist Dr. Joseph Scott Greeson says about this passage, “Without using modern words – like ‘evaporation,’ ‘condensation,’ and ‘precipitation,’ this passage describes the results of those processes in these words… My twentieth-century scientific mind recognized that the writer of that passage must have had quite an understanding of the interaction between water on earth and water in the sky.”
There is a delicate balance of processes in the hydrologic cycle that allow us to have water even far from a lake or ocean. Many years ago, I had a friend who was involved in seeding clouds with silver iodide to stimulate them to produce rain. I knew that he was involved in this project and that he had many stories about how the seeding of clouds worked. I also knew he got out of that business, and I asked him why? His response was, “We were doing okay in getting rain started, but we were doing very poorly in knowing how to stop it.”
Global warming is bringing water to places that previously were deserts. We know that temperature controls how much water is lifted into the air by evaporation. A one-inch rainfall over a square mile of land involves the lifting of 72,483.84 tons of water. (Do the math. Water is 62.4 lbs per cubic foot. An inch is 1/12th of a foot, so the volume of water in a square mile of land would be 5280 feet/mile x 5280 x 1/12th or 2,323,200 cubic feet.) How many square miles of land receive an inch of rain in a typical spring storm? This is the start of the water cycle.
As the water flows into streams and rivers, it nourishes everything in its path, ultimately returning to the sea from which it evaporated. The system that powers the hydrologic cycle is massive, and all of life depends on it. God used the water cycle to impress upon Job that he “darkens counsel with words without knowledge” (Job 38:2). After talking about the creation, God takes the hydrologic cycle as the first evidence of His knowledge, design, and power. “Who provides a channel for the torrents of rain and a path for the storm to water a land where no man lives, a desert with no one in it to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass. Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew…” (See verses 22-30).
Be thankful for the rain that brings life to us and for the water cycle that God designed so that, if properly managed, we all have enough to drink and to grow our food.
On April 20 of 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill began. By the time technicians could bring it under control, it had dumped 134,000,000 gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days. Ten years after this disaster, we still see the effects in ways that no one would have expected. The entire issue of National Wildlife for February-March 2020 was devoted to new data on the long-range damage.
There is far more involved in this disaster than the removal of the obvious symptoms of the spill. Even on a commercial level, the damage is more than most people realize. Oyster production from Apalachicola to Galveston has collapsed. Louisiana has lost well over 50 million dollars in oyster harvest revenue. Scientists studying the oyster beds tell us that 8.3 billion oysters died as a result of the spill. A single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. When explorers came to the Gulf of Mexico between 1600 and 1800, they described the oyster beds as “the Great Barrier Reef of the Americas,” nearly 100 miles long and several miles deep. Oyster shells are used to make mortar, build roadbeds, and to supplement chicken feed. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has changed all of that.
The massive killing of wildlife has been well-publicized with pathetic pictures still showing up on the web. Does the killing of 30,000 loggerhead turtles, 17% of the Bryde’s whales, 800,000 coastal birds, a vast number of dolphins who are still having lung problems, and 20% of all corals in the area have any significance for those of us living far from the Gulf of Mexico? Most of us eat shrimp, crabs, lobsters, and fish. Much of the fishing industry in the Gulf has gone out of business, and those still existing are hard-pressed to find enough seafood to make a living. That results in higher prices and the risk of pollution effects on what we eat.
So why are we reminding our readers of the consequences of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill? Skeptics criticize any notion of God creating the Earth by saying that if there is a God, He didn’t do a very good job. Humans are threatened with shortages of food and water. In my mail yesterday, I received 16 different requests from organizations wanting financial help in feeding and helping hungry children and starving families. (By the way, all of them were faith-based). Why are there shortages? Human greed, selfishness, ignorance, desire for power, and refusal to live as God told us to has resulted in destructive wars, mismanagement of resources, waste of incredible proportions, and foolish and irresponsible management of resources.
When God created the Earth, He provided for an abundance of food and water. God also told us how to live. Read Matthew 25:34-40 and see how Christ portrayed Christian living. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is just one human failure, but look at what it has done to innocent humans. We are just beginning to understand the biological damage and effects. We cannot blame God for what humans have done. God has given us all we need and the means of taking care of it. Christians must lead the way in the responsible use of God’s gifts.
What most people know about the dinosaurs is what they have seen in a movie or a museum. The emphasis is always on the massive size of these ancient animals. Those of us with a background in paleontology are more interested in the ecosystem in which they lived. The Mesozoic era was a time when the Earth was very different from what it is today. It appears that the oxygen content of the atmosphere was higher, and the temperature was much warmer. The plants and animals living at that time enjoyed a balanced ecosystem that left a legacy that has allowed us to live comfortably on this planet.
The natural resources humans have depended on for our entire history were produced during the Mesozoic era. These include coal, oil, and a wide variety of soils that allow our modern plants to exist. From a biblical standpoint, this was a part of Genesis 1:1 when God prepared the Earth for what was to follow. For more on this, see “God’s Revelation in His Rocks and His Word” on our doesgodexist.org website. (You can purchase printed copies HERE.)
What many people don’t realize is that while the giant dinosaurs were an essential part of the Mesozoic era ecosystem, small creatures were of equal importance. Insects were a significant part of the system, and fossil remains of all kinds of arthropods are abundant in the fossil record. As we all know, insects can reproduce in destructive numbers. Just as there were meat-eating dinosaurs to keep the plant-eaters from destroying all the vegetation, there were insect-eaters to control the insect populations. We have insect swarms like the locusts that are causing massive problems in Africa today because humans are removing the natural controllers of insect populations.
The recent discovery of a creature named Oculudentavis khaungraae has shown us a dinosaur the size of a bee hummingbird, the smallest known modern bird. This dinosaur’s skull was half an inch from front to back, and it had a mouth full of teeth. It was ideally suited for eating insects of all kinds and sizes and was undoubtedly a vital part of the ecosystem during the Mesozoic era of the dinosaurs. God has always used one existence to prepare for another, and the preparation of the early Earth for humans was a long and highly complex process.
Our existence on Earth is also a preparation for a far better one. Continuing to study God’s creation and His Word helps us prepare for that time when we will exist outside of space-time. Read about it in Revelation 22:1–5.
One of the things you hear people in our part of Michigan say is, “If you don’t like our weather, hang on for a few minutes, and it will change.” We have had a strange winter season. We had brutal temperatures, wind, and snow in early December, leading all of us to think it was going to be a terrible winter. As we got near the holidays, the weather became unseasonably warm. We waited anxiously for another blizzard like the ones we usually have after a warm spell in winter. It never happened. Now we see the amazing spring timing.
It was so warm in the winter that I worried about the glad bulbs I had dug up. I put them in buckets covered with moist newspaper and stored them in the garage for spring replanting. I was afraid they would leaf-out responding to temperature, but they seemed to be okay and had not budded out at all. The weather did turn cold, but not the sub-zero stuff we usually have. Now we are in mid-April and, even though it snowed two days ago (and is snowing again today), winter is essentially over, and I used my snowblower only once.
So now I just got the glad bulbs out of the bucket in the garage. They have been in an insulated, dark garage, covered with a foot of newspapers since I dug them up in October. Every single bulb has a green shoot coming out. They are ready to be planted. How did they know it was time? The temperature in the garage didn’t change. No sunlight got into the bucket.
I have always assumed that my daffodils, which are blooming like crazy, used the presence of direct sunlight and perhaps temperature to know when to come up and prepare to boom. The glads had none of those indicators available to them. I am not suggesting that the amazing spring timing is some kind of mystic intelligence that tells the glads it is time to go. Whether it is ultraviolet light or infrared that signals the glads, it is a highly well-designed system.
Amazing spring timing is fascinating. The hummingbirds seem to know when to come north. The sandhill cranes are circling overhead as they fly ahead of the weather systems that might otherwise threaten them. The baby deer are around in such numbers that no amount of predation threatens to wipe out the deer population. That is thanks to the synchronized births that seem to take place in almost all wild ungulates.
When God decided to challenge Job, He used the things that show design wisdom in His creation to convict Job of his ignorance. Job 38:39- 41:34 finds God challenging Job to look around and see God’s wisdom and power at work. There is no better time to see that than in the amazing spring timing. Let us all step away from the ills of humanity and look at what God has done.
We have mentioned before that God did not create the coronavirus that is causing so much pain to people worldwide. In this devastating epidemic, many of us have lost someone close to us. No one is minimizing the damage of COVID-19, but human greed and mismanagement have been the primary cause of it, not God. However, God’s seasons of hope can bring us through times like this.
One blessing that we should all be thankful for is the time of year when this pandemic has struck. It is now April. Geese are flying overhead. My daffodils are ready to bloom. A baby deer crossed my driveway this morning. The yard is greening up, and I will be outside rotor-tilling the garden and spreading fertilizer later this week. Experts say that viruses don’t like the ultraviolet light and high temperatures of the Sun, and the forecast is for clear skies and rising temperatures.
When Paul was teaching in Iconium (Acts 14), he encouraged his listeners: “Turn from these vanities to the living God who made heaven, and earth, and the sea and all the things that are in them. In the past God allowed all nations to walk in their town ways, but he did not leave himself without a witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Verses 15-18).
The rain has come and melted the last of the snow. There is plenty of food, and congregations who operate food banks are meeting the needs of people in their areas. Before long, there will be strawberries, asparagus, greens, and mushrooms available outside our doors. We can once again fill our hearts with food and gladness.
Let us find encouragement in Paul’s words as we enjoy God’s seasons of hope and look forward to a future free from this virus threat.
What appears to be a pest may become a solution to a problem. A recent example of that is waxworms, common pests that eat plastic.
Waxworms got their name because they eat the wax in honeycombs. That makes them enemies of bees and a curse for the honey industry and for bee growers that use bees for pollination. Studies of waxworms have shown that microbiota in their gut breaks down the beeswax and provides nutrition for the waxworms.
The Proceedings of the Royal Society B published the report of a study indicating that waxworms can also eat plastic. Specifically, they can eat polyethylene, which is a non-biodegradable plastic. They metabolize polyethylene into glycol, which is biodegradable. Polyethylene makes up a vast percentage of the 300 million tons of plastic waste generated every year.
Scientists are researching ways to harness waxworms, so they eat the waste without also destroying bees. This study shows that there are natural solutions to one of the biggest waste problems in the world today.
God, in His wisdom, gave us a wide variety of plants and animals that feed on a wide range of foods. That fact not only allows the natural world to exist, but it provides enormous benefits to human society. We need to understand more about what God has done, and science is a useful tool to do that. It was science that told us about waxworms, common pests that eat plastic.
“AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD MOVED UPON THE FACE OF THE WATERS.” – Genesis 1:2 The second verse of Genesis describes a water world, and science indicates the accuracy of the biblical account.
As we have pointed out previously, the first two verses of Genesis 1 describe God’s activity before the creation week begins. These verses are historical and are not a summary of what is to follow. Verse 1 describes the creation of time, space, matter/energy, and the cosmos. Verse 2 describes changes on the Earth that God is making through His Spirit. These verses are undated and untimed, but they are not stated as a summary. As we read about the creation week, we see the creation of land plants and animals that were familiar to the people of Moses’ day. By that time, we have a functional Earth that has all that is necessary to support life.
So what was the Spirit of God doing in verse 2? Science is telling us more about this water world. Recent scientific studies of the marine sediment in the Western Australian outback suggest that biological life was created in a water environment before any landforms came into existence. The studies use oxygen 18 and 16 isotopes to determine the availability of life-supporting oxygen. Land sediments from the early Earth don’t show available oxygen while these marine sediments do.
Dr. Benjamin Johnson of Iowa State University says the data shows that “the Earth was a water world for the first quarter or so of its history.” That agrees well with the suggestion of Genesis 1:2 and is just one more hint of the accuracy of the Genesis account.
For more on this please read “God’s Revelation in His Rocks and His Word” available (free) on doesgodexist.org at THIS LINK. You can also purchase printed copies HERE.
Throughout the natural world, we see special design features that allow animals to survive in environments that place unique demands. Chameleons have an eye-brain connection that enables the eyes to rotate independently of one another or work together when needed. Chameleons use their tongues to catch insects, but to capture their food, both eyes must work together to overcome depth perception issues. At the same time, chameleons are very vulnerable to predators, so their eyes must rotate independently to look in several directions at once. We find another example of unusual eyes in the genus of four-eyed fish, Anableps.
Anableps live in northern South America and Trinidad, where they swim in the surface waters of lakes and rivers. Near the surface, they are easy prey for birds, so they need to see above and below the water simultaneously. They appear to have four eyes, two above the water surface, and two below the surface. In reality, they are not separate eyes. The eyes are divided into two sections, separated by a band of tissue.
Each section of the Anableps eyes has two corneas, two pupils, a single egg-shaped lens, and one retina that is also divided. The portion of the eyes located above the water connects to a different section of the fish’s brain than the area below the waterline. These four-eyed fish are ideally suited to fill an ecological niche that no other fish can.
You might think that all fish could use this design, but every ecological niche has animals designed to inhabit and maintain that location. Anableps are unique, and that makes them popular aquarium fish. More importantly, this unique design speaks of God’s imaginative creativity in providing full use of every resource on planet Earth with creatures like the four-eyed fish, Anableps.