NATURE’S COMPLEXITY AND GOD (C. 1958)

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Excerpted from The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, edited by John Clover Monsma. New York: G.P. Putman’s Sons, 1958

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NATURE’S COMPLEXITY AND GOD

By John William Klotz, Geneticist

Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, B.D., Concordia Seminary. Professor of biology, physiology and Nature study, Con­cordia Teachers College, since 1945. Member of Genetics Association. Specialist in genetics of habrobracon and mor-moniella, ecology, lethals, semi-lethals, etc.

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In considering the subject in hand two ancient sacred affirmations at once come to mind:

The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork¹.

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God².

This world of ours is so complex and so intricate that it could hardly have risen by chance. It is filled with intricacies which require as their cause an Intelligent Being, not blind fate. Science has certainly contributed to our understanding and appreciation of these intricacies, and in that way adds to and aids our natural knowledge of God.

Yuccas are only pollinated by these moths, and the pollinator larvae feed exclusively on yucca seeds.

Some of the most interesting of these intricacies are the various obligate relationships. One of the best known of these is the relationship between the yucca moth and the yucca plant, or Spanish bayonet. The yucca flower hangs down, and the pistil, or female part of the flower, is lower than the stamen, or male part. The stigma, however, the part of the flower specialized for the reception of pollen, is cup-shaped, and so arranged that it is impossible for the pollen to fall into it. Instead, the pollen must be transported by the female of the yucca moth who begins her work soon after sunset. She collects a quantity of pollen from the anthers of the plants and holds it in her specially constructed mouth parts. Then she flies to another yucca flower, pierces the ovary with her ovipositor, and after laying one or more eggs creeps down the style and stuffs the ball of pollen into the stigma. The plant produces a large number of seeds. Some are eaten by the larvae of the moth and some mature to perpetuate the plant.

Fig Wasps are pollinators of the Sycomorus, Sycocarpus and Neomorphe sections of Ficus.

A similar situation exists in the relationship between the commercial fig and a group of small wasps. Two kinds of flower clusters are produced, one containing both male and female flowers, the other only female flowers. Both are polli­nated by the female wasps. The openings into these flower clusters are so nearly closed by overlapping scales that the wasps can get into them only with great difficulty. Usually in the process they tear off their wings. After entering a cluster containing both male and female flowers, the female wasp lays her eggs and dies. These eggs hatch and the young wasps mate. Only the female wasps are able to leave the flower cluster. The male wasps die. Before leaving, the female becomes dusted with pollen which she carries to another flower cluster. If this cluster contains both male and female flowers the process is repeated. But if it contains only female flowers, she dies without laying her eggs, for in this case the female flowers are so long that she cannot get to the base of them to lay her eggs. In her attempt to do so, however, she dusts these flowers with pollen, and they mature to produce the ripe figs. When figs were first introduced into the United States, they did not produce the fruit. It was only after the wasp was brought in that it was possible to develop a com­mercially profitable fig industry.

Jack-in-the-pulpit flowers have a fungus-like smell that attracts many tiny insects, particularly fungus gnats.

Very unusual are the prison flowers, such as the common jack-in-the-pulpit. This plant has two kinds of flower clusters, male and female. These are produced inside the pulpit which has a constriction about half way down. Usually pollination is effected by a tiny fly which comes in, gets past the constric­tion, and then finds himself trapped. Not only is the con­striction in his way, but the sides of the pulpit are also waxy, preventing his getting a foothold. And so he buzzes around frantically, dusting himself with pollen in the process. Shortly thereafter the sides of the pulpit roughen, and he is able to crawl out, covered with pollen. If he visits next another male cluster, the process is repeated. But if he comes into a female flower, it is possible that he will not escape. For his frantic buzzing dusts the flower with pollen, and this time the plant is not interested in his escaping. It is to the plant’s ad­vantage to have him escape from the male pulpit to carry the pollen with him. The plant seems unconcerned, however, about his escape from a female flower.

All of these instances testify to the existence of God. It is hard to believe that these could have arisen by blind chance: their existence is due to God’s directing hand and to His creative power.

And we can see further evidence of this in the many in­stances where man to his regret has attempted to make changes in the balance of Nature, only to upset it.

When the early settlers came to Australia they found no placental mammals there except the dingo, or wild dog. Having come from Europe, they remembered the fine hunt­ing provided by the rabbit there. And so in an attempt to improve Nature Thomas Austin imported some 24 European rabbits, back in 1859. The results were unfortunate, for there were no natural enemies in Australia to keep the rabbits in check. They multiplied beyond all expectation and did serious damage, destroying the grass on which the sheep fed. At first an attempt was made to control them by build­ing 7,000 miles of rabbit-proof fences across the continent in Queensland, but this proved useless, for the rabbits got through them. Then an attempt was made to reduce their numbers by a system of bounties, but also this effort proved unsuccessful. Only in recent years has a solution been found, and this is the introduction of a virus disease, myxomatosis, which kills the rabbits and keeps their numbers in check. Even this may not be the final answer, for we are now be­ginning to hear of virus-resistant rabbits in Australia. Yet even the present reduction in their numbers has had its dis­tinct benefits. Prairies once ravaged by erosion and hills grazed to the soil for decades are now miraculously clothed with green. During 1952-53 the sheep industry alone showed an increased productivity worth about $84,000,000.

It is possible that we may have a similar rabbit problem here in the United States. The European rabbit is a different species from our native rabbit. It is known in the United States only on San Juan Island, off the coast of Washington, where it has flourished in isolation since 1900. Recently some well-intentioned sportsmen’s clubs have attempted to intro­duce this European, or San Juan, form into various parts of the United States because it has no longer been possible to import the cottontail from state to state as was formerly done. The result could very easily be disastrous, since the San Juan rabbit might multiply as rapidly in this country as it has in Australia. One attempt to combat this was the recent decision of one state game commission to lift all bans on hunting the San Juan rabbit. It may now be hunted all the year round.

It is interesting to note that the introduction of rabbit virus into Europe has had its effect there. A French doctor, concerned about the damage that rabbits were doing to his shrubbery, imported a culture of the virus and injected it into a few rabbits that he had trapped. These were then released. The result has been a reduction in the rabbit popu­lation in France and the neighboring countries of Europe. What the total effect has been is still being debated. There has been a loss of a meat supply which was formerly available to the common people and on which they depended. Others report that this loss has been more than offset by the increase in garden crops.

Man also should be very hesitant to try to improve Nature’s balances …

A moment ago instances were mentioned testifying to the existence of God. What has been described just now is a powerful testimony to God’s wisdom. The balances which He has established are delicate, and man interferes with them at the risk of doing considerable damage. Man also should be very hesitant to try to improve Nature’s balances—he will find that his human intelligence is no match for that of Nature’s God.

¹ Psalm 19: 1

² Psalm 14: 1

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