Sabbath Message 10/6/29/120
Have you considered recently what an awesome God we worship, the One who created both us and the astonishingly-complex world in which we live, but a God and His creation which we so often take for granted?
Scientists and engineers regularly go to the natural world for inspiration for some new design of product or structure, even learning from the most (seemingly) basic life forms. The following are but a few of the myriad examples.
In 1988 a Swedish biologist, Dr D. Nilsson, discovered a type of eye in hermit
and other crabs that was previously unknown in the animal kingdom (in which
there are apparently 9 different types of eye structures alone!). Insects that
operate in bright light, such as bees and flies, have ‘compound’ eyes made up
of a cluster of numerous small lenses that focus light on individual retinas,
and which produce a pixilated image exactly like a digital camera (and the inspiration
behind such cameras?).
The following is an extract from The Times (London) Science Report, summarising an article that appeared in Nature magazine in 1998.
“Moths and shrimps have an improved design that helps them to capture as much light as possible from their darker surroundings. Although the eye is still composed of a cluster of small lenses, a transparent zone behind each of them allows the light to be combined into a single bright image of the outside world.
Moths form this image in a rather conventional way, using lenses. …Each unit is in fact a tiny telescope.
Shrimps, astonishing though it may seem, use mirrors to do the same job. Each unit of their compound eyes is square and lined with flat reflectors. Rays of light ricochet down the walls …and are funnelled down to a focus at the back of the eye.
The mirror eye was a great surprise when it was discovered three years ago [only in 1985!]. But its design is simplicity itself when compared with the gothic wonders of the crab eye.
Nilsson found that the crab eye uses both lenses and mirrors. The mirrors are not even flat, but strangely curved into parabolas that, if they were a little larger, would make them fine distorting mirrors for a fairground. …
The mirrors are positioned so that they intercept highly converging rays of light, by a lens at the surface of each facet. The curved mirror neatly spreads the rays of light back apart so that they continue on their way to form an image at the back of the eye. Crabs thus cunningly use a mirror to achieve the same effect as a lens.”
The article goes on to say that a shrimp’s eyes resemble the design of an X-ray telescope, while “the way light is bent by the lenses of moth eyes has been copied in designing optical fibres”, which are vital components for the operation of high-speed terrestrial telephony, including the Internet.
Why such incredibly complex design and construction for such “primitive” life forms? Maybe we see a Creator simply demonstrating a little of His creativity (or just because He can) to a human species that will go to great lengths to avoid acknowledging and, particularly, obeying Him. Paul says in 1Corinthians 1:27: “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;” (KJV)
Here is another example of man borrowing ideas from nature.
“For its thickness, the silk spun by a spider is one of the strongest fibres there is. Some types of spider silk, for instance, are calculated to be five times the tensile strength of an equivalent filament of steel. When an aerial web captures a fly in flight, scientists estimate, it must sustain a shock on a scale equivalent to trapping a fighter aircraft flying at full speed.” (This and the following quotes are from the article ‘Spin-offs from spider’s secrets’, The Independent on Sunday (UK), 3 June 1990.)
And, surprisingly, there are several different kinds of silk in one spider’s
web. Two researchers at Oxford University discovered that the radial and spiral
strands of silk in a web differed quite remarkably.
“The radial strands are drier and thicker and stretch by only about 20 per cent of their original length. The spiral silk strands, despite being about two-thirds the thickness, can stretch about four times their length and recover without obvious signs of sag. …
It gives an aerial web the elasticity it needs to cope with the potential damage caused by wind and flying objects.”
Of course, as it wouldn’t be appropriate to bring a Creator God into the equation, the article then goes on to say: “No doubt, once spiders had “invented” silk, they began to use it in a variety of ways.”
Would that be the same way in which hermit crabs “invented” a complex system of lenses and mirrors from sightless forebears, then? And exactly how long did it take to achieve this? (Pick a number, preferably with plenty of zeroes, to give them plenty of time to evolve.) And, following this reasoning back, why did hermit crabs need to evolve such eyes in the first place when they must have survived quite happily without them for aeons?
Back to the spider story. Further, silk is not just silk: “The exact chemical
structure of silk depends on the species of spider making it, and the use to
which it is put. Silk used to build a cocoon for eggs is fine and soft, with
a gossamer quality, whereas silk used for draglines is extremely tough … researchers
hope to be able to make this type of silk on an industrial scale.”
Dr Nick Ashley, a microbiologist at a biotech company in Cambridge, England was quoted thus:
“There are a number of uses for biosilk,”… “It could be used to make bullet-proof armour, based on its impact-resistant properties. Since it is light it could be used to produce composite materials for structural engineering purposes in the aerospace and car industries.”…
“We have taken a lesson from nature and now seek to go one better, to produce a range of new functional material for advanced engineering purposes.”
Just the mention of using web silk to make body armour reminds us of the Scripture in Isaiah 59 and its association with violence and bloodshed.
Isaiah 59:6-8 Their webs [SHD 3980] will not serve as clothing; men will not cover themselves with what they make. Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands. 7 Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, desolation and destruction are in their highways. 8 The way of peace they know not, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked, no one who goes in them knows peace. (RSV)
Continuing with the military theme, in October 1998 The Sunday Times
(London) ran an article called ‘Butterflies give camouflage tips’.
“Tropical butterflies could be the key to the ultimate military weapon -- invisibility …
Although many birds and fish display iridescent colours - which include violets, greens and golds - butterflies have long attracted particular attention because their colouring is so vivid.
Research by Vukusic [a research fellow at Exeter University] and his predecessors has shown that this is achieved through thousands of tiny scales on their wings - as many as 100 could lie flat on the head of a pin….
Experts at Dera [former UK armed forces research organisation] envisage that soldiers could one day wear a “butterfly suit” made from a special multi-layered fibre, which could be electronically adjusted to change colour. They say the same principle could be applied to camouflage military vehicles such as tanks. … “It’s intended that we’ll use any discoveries to create materials that mimic biological systems. This could lead to improved camouflage techniques and other novel fabrics”.”
Yet another example of science-borrows-from-nature: in March 1999, The
Times (London) carried an article entitled ‘Owl holds clue to cutting engine
noise’, about a joint US-UK research venture.
“The secrets of the silent swoop of the owl have been discovered by researchers who want to produce quieter aircraft.
Scientists at Southampton University and Nasa’s Langley Research Centre in Virginia found three key features on the wings of nature’s stealth bomber… Most important, down on the feathers on the upper surface kills noise above two kiloHertz. ...
“The owl is not really silent but the major noise generated is very low frequency,” Professor Lilley said yesterday. “The little prey the owl feeds on has good hearing in frequencies over two kiloHertz. If the owl makes any noise above this, the prey runs away. If we understand what nature does then perhaps we can adapt this to reduce the noise of aircraft.”
No prizes for guessing in which direction this research will head first. Making passenger jets quieter to avoid disturbing residents in cities under the flight path? Probably not, at least not in the first instance. The clues may be in the words ‘Nasa’ and ‘stealth bomber’, i.e. there’s a good chance that the research will lead to the design (if not already achieved) of a quieter warplane in order to maximise its killing power and keep it safe to fight another day.
It is often the case that borrowings from nature will have more mundane and benign uses, such as building construction. However, many advances in technology, whether in terms of sophisticated electronics or space-age materials, come to us via the military. Man’s military-industrial complex is insatiable, dominant and with an unstoppable momentum of its own, primarily because “the way of peace they know not” (Isa. 59:8).
This copying of ideas from nature and recycling them into new products is just a part of man’s God-given investigative and creative abilities, however, when directed towards the creation of ever more devastating weapons of war, it’s unlikely that our Creator is too pleased. It’s not really what our remarkable brains were designed for. In our desire to be free of God and His Laws, we are only too willing to listen to those who assist us in our rebellion, but who have a vested interest in destroying mankind from the face of the earth -- literally. These are the demons, presumably under Satan’s control, who have in the distant past advised men such as Tubal-Cain (Gen. 4:22) on how to improve their weaponry of war and who continue to do so to the present day.
Often it seems that man has the unfortunate knack of turning something beautiful from God’s creation -- a spider’s web, a butterfly’s iridescent wing -- into something associated with the ugly and destructive business of war. He has taken of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and has more often than not followed the path of evil. (See the paper The Doctrine of Original Sin Part 1: The Garden of Eden (No.246).)
Petrarch, the 14th century Italian poet, once had a conversation with a madman. The madman saw some soldiers on the march and asked Petrarch, ‘Where are they going?’ ‘To the wars’, said the poet. ‘But’, said the madman, ‘this war will have to end in peace some day, won’t it?’ ‘Certainly’, said Petrarch. ‘Well, then’, said the madman, ‘Why not make peace at once, before starting the war?’
It obviously takes a madman to speak with common sense. There is a biblical
parallel to this story.
Ecclesiastes 9:13-18 I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me. 14 There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. 15 But there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16 But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heeded. 17 The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. 18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.(RSV)
And, as Solomon would also say, there’s nothing new under the sun. We have seen it all before and will see it all again but on a vastly increased scale, until finally, the armies of the world and their weaponry are brought down to the Valley of Megiddo and destroyed. See the paper War of Hamon-Gog (No. 294).
God does allow wars, even permitting his chosen people to be punished through war as a result of their persistent disobedience in forsaking His covenant.
Jeremiah 22:7-9 I will prepare destroyers against you, each with his weapons; and they shall cut down your choicest cedars, and cast them into the fire. 8 "'And many nations will pass by this city [Jerusalem], and every man will say to his neighbor, "Why has the LORD dealt thus with this great city?" 9 And they will answer, "Because they forsook the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshiped other gods and served them."'" (RSV)
And one of the other ‘gods’ mankind seems to worship and turn to with monotonous regularity is Mars, the ‘god of war’. Such persistent rebellion against God will lead inexorably to the “war to end all wars” of the Last Days. See the papers The Day of the Lord and the Last Days (No. 192) and The Warning of the Last Days (No. 44).
As an observer of human nature and a man filled with the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul was fully aware of the reasons for wars. He seemed to be referring to the three basic driving forces behind mankind (and the male of the species especially), namely money, power and sex.
James 4:1-3 What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? 2 You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (RSV)
Man is surely at the pinnacle of God’s physical creation, despite Humanistic and atheistic opinions to the contrary. David recognised this and praised God.
Psalm 139:14-16 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (KJV)
Messiah reiterated this sentiment.
Luke 12:24-32 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O men of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be of anxious mind. 30 For all the nations of the world seek these things; and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things shall be yours as well. 32 "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (RSV)
We are of more value to God than all His other creatures (apart from our brothers the angels) and yet we treat human life so cheaply.
Paul put a different slant on weapons of war when speaking to Christians. Ours
is a spiritual battle, which we fight with God’s help -- with the Holy Spirit
given to us at baptism.
2Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (RSV)
Let us do as Paul once enjoined Timothy and be an example to a world that’s
forgotten its God and which is always at war.
1Timothy 6:11-12 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (RSV)
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