Remember my preference

About the Book

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III


Part V

Part VI

Part VII



Part II: Nature as Part of the Kingdom of God

Chapter 1

God Within Nature

     SOME YEARS AGO I was sitting in Queen's Park in Toronto with a friend of mine, watching the squirrels busily engaged in gathering nuts and searching furiously for suitable burial grounds.
     I said to him. "Did you know that the Indians used to watch the squirrels and chipmunks and gauged the probable severity of the winter to come by their activity? If they were very busy, it presaged a hard winter, and vice versa." Then I added, "It seems to me a remarkable thing that God has given these little creatures a kind of built-in wisdom which tells them what to do. We seem so poorly equipped by contrast." I felt rather pleased with myself at having made the point so appropriately.
     But he turned to me with some skepticism and remarked, "I suppose you know that they forget where they hide half of them? It's a pity God didn't make them altogether wise and give them better memories." This was a little disconcerting -- because, of course, it was true. For a while I wondered why God should have given them the instincts they had and not made these instincts more reliable. Then I thought that He had perhaps arranged that they should hide twice as many as they need so that they can afford to forget where half of them are. But in a more sober mood I had to admit honestly that this was not a very satisfying conclusion: it was such a waste of energy, and of nuts!

     But one day, a few months later, a friend of mine sent me a copy of Science Digest, and in it I found the answer. (1) At the end of one article, to fill out the space on the page, there was a little extract from Forestry Digest, which was titled "Chipmunks Plant 17,000 Trees per Acre." I read it without any particular attention until I came to the statement that two research workers had found that chipmunks and squirrels plant about 17,000 trees per acre as a result of "forgetting" where they put them! What appears as a failure on the part of these beautiful little

1. Science Digest, Jan., 1954, p.80.

     pg 1 of 26      

creatures turns out to be an illustration of a far superior kind of wisdom because they are, in effect, guaranteeing the future of succeeding generations of their own kind, as well as contributing towards the well-being of other creatures in the closely-knit kingdom of Nature. Thus, the satisfying picture of God's superintending providence in Nature was once more restored.
     This little story, a true one, very nicely provides an introduction for what we should like to establish in this Paper. It may be helpful, therefore, to state our thesis very briefly, and then to seek in the rest of the Paper to elaborate it by reference to natural history, to human history, and to Scripture. We live in a universe which seems to be so completely regulated by law that philosophers and scientists are always searching hopefully for some kind of single equation which will sum everything up. This equation would then be the key to all understanding, and would equip man with immense power.
     Such a search seems to be justified by the conviction that this is indeed a Universe and not a Multiverse. The same law that operates in the innermost recesses of the individual atom, also regulates the movements of the furthermost star. It is all of a piece. The belief in the universality of natural law is what, in the final analysis, underlies the cosmological principle. This principle holds that the earth is not stationed in any special position in the universe and that therefore whatever may be observed or experienced of the rest of the universe from the earth, would also be observed or experienced in any other part of the universe. The laws of Nature which we discern from our position on earth are similarly assumed to be operating in exactly the same way everywhere else. As we have said, this is a Universe.
     At one period of history, men were convinced that this fundamental principle of operation was a mystical one.
(2) Later on they were equally sure that it was a spiritual one. Then for many years there had been a tendency to assume it to be mechanical, though it now begins to appear that it might rather be a metaphysical one. (3)
     In recent years evidence has been accumulating which encourages the belief that the unifying principle will turn out to be of a mathematical nature. Thus Einstein has been able to equate energy

2. A useful treatment of the changing world view of Nature and man's relationship to it will be found in Stanley L. Jaki, The Relevance of Physics, University Chicago Press, 1966, pp.3-137 -- dealing with the world as organism, as mechanism, and as pattern of numbers.
3. By this I mean merely that substance has tended to become less substantial, until it begins to look as though the real world is a non-material one. Sir Richard Tute said, "The modern scientist recognizes that physical reality is produced by super-physical agencies, which must be so designated because they can never be observed," (Scientific Monthly, Oct. ,1945, p.322). Hebrews 11:3 anticipated this.

     pg.2 of 26     

and matter in a single formula, the famous equation E = Mc2. Within a single mathematical relationship we discover a correspondence between sound, light, and radio waves. Sir James Jeans was quite convinced that God was the Great Mathematician, and he argued that all forms of art (visual and aural) could ultimately be expressed in mathematical terms. (4) More recently still, it appears that even smell, or at least some smells, fall under the same rule. (5)
     In this Paper we shall very briefly examine the history of thought in this connection, because a study of the history of man's attitude towards Nature and his conception of his relationships with it provides an insight into the value systems of each culture, according to its world view. Some of these world views made it very easy for man to believe he held a unique position in the universe, others allowed him to retain his personal identity as an individual but rendered him a rather helpless pawn at the mercy of powers infinitely superior to himself. The present world view has tended more and more towards the annihilation of persons as such, altogether. These basic world views are examined in the second chapter and it will be seen that they have a direct bearing upon our interpretation of the meaning of the term the "Kingdom of God" and hold important implications for Christian theology.
     It requires but a moment's thought to see that almost every basic descriptive term employed in modern literature with reference to the universe as a whole, justifies the view that it may properly be termed a kingdom. Thus we speak of the "reign of law," of the "realm of Nature," of three kingdoms -- the animal, mineral, and vegetable -- of the "state of Nature," and of the "economy of Nature." There is every reason to believe that in some way every element in it contributes to the well-being of every other element. And the evidences of purpose and design are so clear that a very large number of well-informed and careful investigators have been forced to admit them, though often unwillingly. Such a realm, governed by a single system of law, is very properly called a kingdom; and since we believe that this realm was brought into being and is sustained by God, so that He is quite truly its Governor, it is a realm which may very logically be referred to as a kingdom of God.

4. Jeans, Sir James, Science and Music, Macmillan, New York, 1937. And quite recently an issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, (vol.15, no.2, Feb.,1959) was devoted to a study of the relationship between Science and Art (published by the Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science, Inc., Chicago). And one is struck by the fact that though some of the greatest artists were most completely convinced of the rule of mathematical law in all art, these same men's spirits were in no sense "bound" by their recognition of these rules.
5. Hallman, H. E., "Odours and Molecular Vibrations", Nature, July 17, 1954, p.134.

     pg.3 of 26     

     But man is alien to it, standing apart and by himself, sharing virtually nothing of its wisdom, and contributing little or nothing to its well-being. Many look upon him, in fact, as its archdestroyer. Man is evidently not part and parcel of it, but a rebel desiring to take the kingdom by force. This is "the implacable offensive of science," as it has been so aptly termed.
     Scripture recognizes this bifurcation in a number of remarkable ways as we shall see. It sheds a new light on the necessity of the new birth. Until this takes place, man has no rightful place in the kingdom (John 3:5-7), nor indeed does he achieve any real insight or understanding of it (John 3:3).
     In order to make my meaning clear, let me restate it this way: The whole universe is governed and sustained by God. By the word "universe" I mean all things animate and inanimate. This universe everywhere manifests the impress of the wisdom and power of God and is thereby stamped clearly as His kingdom. But this is only part of His domain; the other part is comprised of those spiritual beings who willingly own His sway. Opposed to this, is another kingdom whose governor is Satan. When man reaches the age of accountability, he stands poised between these two. As a child he is by God's grace accepted as belonging to his kingdom, for "of such is the Kingdom of God" (Luke 18:16). When he reaches maturity he does not remain a member unless he makes a deliberate choice and is re-created as such by the transforming experience of the new birth. Scripture sees him as neither angel nor animal, though sharing a little of both. And the Word of God has some striking things to say about the exact nature of his relationships to the rest of Nature, before and after the new birth.
     This is my thesis. I believe many passages of Scripture receive a new depth of meaning in the light of this broader conception of the kingdom of God.

     The proposition that Nature is part of the kingdom of God may seem a strange, perhaps even a disturbing one. Yet not altogether. It is not too difficult to conceive of animate Nature as belonging within the kingdom of God. Quite apart from the many passages of Scripture which reveal God's immediate concern for animals, Nature Study in the ordinarily accepted sense supplies plenty of evidence of the operation of a wise and benevolent Creator making provision for the well-being of His creatures by furnishing them with those instincts necessary for them to play their part appropriately in the total economy of things. It is now being realized increasingly that living things, both animals and plants, form a vast intricate cooperative society, except on rare occasions and usually where man has interferred.

     pg.4 of 26     

     Up until the middle of the last century, naturalists looked upon Nature as God's handiwork. There was no accident or chance about it: all was purposeful and designed, full of wisdom and beauty. Those who approached Nature to study her did so with a sense of awe and reverence, and their writings reflected their attitude of mind. The contrast which they offer to much that has been published in this field during the past fifty years is very marked.
     In his paper "Darwin and Classification," R. A. Crowson pointed out that whereas the pre-Darwinian naturalists had been occupied in a kind of thrilling exploration of the wonders of Nature, a fact so clearly reflected in the enthusiasm of their reports, the post-Darwinians became almost completely absorbed in the creation of systems of classification. The emphasis had formerly been on form and function as they are related to one another; but the main concern is now with form only. And it is difficult to write inspiringly about the similarities or otherwise of skeletal fragments and fossil remains. One might speak enthusiastically of the way in which form reflected function, the design of the living organism being completely appropriate for its way of life. But tables of figures showing the increase or decrease in length or size of analogous bones of succeeding generations do not make the stuff of literary inspiration. Crowson has put it: (6)

     After such a mental sojourn among the Zoologists of mid-Victorian London, many will find it a saddening experience to turn to the volumes of the 1950's. Gone are the beautiful pictures, the personalities, the entertaining accounts of travel and observation, gone are the Colonels and Cabinets.
     Instead, there rises before the eye a vision of drab white-coated figures in laboratories, expressing themselves in a dehumanized language of tortuous obscurity.

     In the closing paragraph of his paper, he wrote: (7)

     A hundred years ago (another) type of motive was socially recognized -- the pursuit of virtue and piety; and in the pre-Darwinian and pre-Huxley age the justification of natural history was seen in these terms.
     The dedicated naturalists had something of the aura of a priest or monk, as the revealer of the divine mysteries of creation, and it would have seemed irreverent to suggest that anything that was worth God's while to create was not worth man's while to study.

     So completely absorbed with the appropriateness of living things in this area of God's kingdom were the older naturalists, that they

6. Crowson, R. A., "Darwin and Classification," in A Century of Darwin, edited by S. A. Barnett, Heinemann, London, 1958, p.121.
7. Ibid., p.129.

     pg.5 of 26     

gained a remarkable understanding of the principles of design in both plant and animal forms. Wood Jones observed: (8)

     It was by relying upon the principle of correlation that Owen, Cuvier, Etienne, Geffroy, and other naturalists achieved their greatest triumphs. With the knowledge they possessed of comparative anatomy, it was possible for them to postulate the general characteristics of an animal of which they actually possessed no more than a tooth or two and an odd limb bone.

     There are some classroom stories from the great universities of England of how such men when presented as a challenge by students with a single bone were able, somewhat like a Scotland-Yard detective, to reconstruct the whole animal without any previous knowledge of it. There is every reason to believe that many of these stories are well founded. In his little book, Wood Jones illustrates some of these very real triumphs of reconstruction, and contrasts them with some of the fantastic blunders of later years made by men who did not share their understanding of Nature. He refers, among others, to the classic case in which a pig's tooth found in Nebraska was erected into a Dawn Man and his wife and given the impressive name of Hesperopithecus. It is evident that Wood Jones inherited something of the spirit of the older naturalists, but because of a change of the climate of opinion he tended to be largely ignored.
     Modern naturalists for the most part feel compelled to exclude any evidence of purpose or design. Whenever some remarkable form of animal behaviour is brought to light which could not possibly have been learned, but yet which is essential to the animal's continuance, it becomes necessary to account for it as the purely accidental by-product of the forces of natural selection. But in many cases it is exceedingly difficult to do this without being unreasonably naive. It is only because the attitude of the older naturalists towards Nature appears less and less frequently in the literature now being made available to the general public that the average reader is increasingly unaware of how thrilling the study of God's handiwork can really be.
     I do not think anyone can read the work of J. Henri Fabre on insects, for example, or of Hugh Miller on geology, without being carried along by the sheer beauty of their language and the extraordinary freedom of association of ideas so fruitfully expressed in the use of illuminating similes.
(9) They made their words live. Everywhere is the evidence of a great enthusiasm and a peculiar insight into Nature

8. Jones, F. Wood, Trends of Life, London, Arnold, 1953, pp.87, 88.
9. For an example, see Hugh Miller, The Old Red Sandstone, Ninno, Hay, Mitchell, Edinburgh, 1889, p.113.

     pg.6 of 26     

which seems to stem partly from their feeling that living things are much more than physics and chemistry.
     Not unnaturally, they created a public thirst for such studies -- and a market, which soon encouraged more imaginative but less informed literary aspirants to mimic their work with an anecdotal kind of writing that substituted anthropomorphic interpretations in place of careful firsthand observations. This brought into disrepute all efforts to re-create in vivid literary form the dramatic events which constantly take place in the realm of Nature, except those which seemed to support the Malthusian doctrine of the supposed struggle and conflict of life.
     The determination to match the strict objectivity of the exact sciences led to the sterilization of most Nature Studies until they became mere statistical catalogues of measurements and population figures, a transformation which better served the proclamation of the new gospel of evolution. The spontaneity of Nature Study was replaced by a deliberate effort to classify forms in such a way as to prove what it was wanted to prove. In fact, very recently Sir Wilfrid LeGros Clark stated, probably without much awareness of the implications of his words, that "the general principles of classification are intended to reflect evolutionary sequences."
(10) The emphasis is ours but the word is his! Only a few independent spirits carried on the older literary tradition, but they have received little encouragement from the present "College of Cardinals" of the new faith.
     But consider for a moment such a work as that of Fabre on the Hunting Wasps.
(11) He easily carries the reader along in his opening remarks, to the point where, as a very poorly paid professor, he turned in his discouragement to a work on insects by a certain Leon Dufour, whose writings opened to him a new world of constant wonder.
     His first absorbing interest came in the study of the behaviour of the Hunting Wasp (Cerceris bupresticida), which provides its larva with an abundant supply of "fresh meat" against the day of its emergence from the "egg." He cannot find words to express his amazement at the condition of the Buprestes beetle which is the wasp's prey, after it has been subdued and placed in the larder for the nourishment of the young that hatches out many days later.
     He refers again and again to the fact that the slightest handling of these beautiful beetles mars their brilliance, whereas the wasp succeeds

10. Clark, Sir W. E. LeCros, "Bones of Contention," Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, London, vol.88, no.2, July-Dec., 1958, p.139.
11. Fabre, J. Henri, The Hunting Wasps, translated by Alexander T. de Mattos, Dodd, Mead and Co., New York, 1920.

     pg.7 of 26     

in capturing them, rendering them instantly inert but not dead, dragging them often great distances to the hole in the ground prepared to receive them. The beetle has twice the weight of the wasp, which yet carries her catch to its appointed place without in any way marring its beauty. Fabre tells in exciting detail how he was finally able to observe the technique by which the wasp renders the beetle harmless. The operation is unbelievably swift, both in execution and effect. Months later he found that beetles so treated by a wasp were perfectly preserved in a state of vegetative animation, without the slightest sign of putrefaction or even rigor mortis in the joints.
     He performed all kinds of experiments at first in an effort to duplicate by laboratory means the effect of the wasp's sting upon the beetle. Yet he was unable to achieve the same result, while the wasp succeeded without leaving the slightest evidence of her attack on the body of her prey even under a magnifying glass. He found that ten days after this had been performed by a wasp, the beetle still showed itself to be alive by electric stimulation, but it was completely powerless to effect movements of itself. The only such movement that was ever observed was the passing of feces until the stomach was emptied, and this was presumably Nature's way of ensuring that the internal organs would not start the process of decay.
     As Fabre put it, the insect appears to be "instantly smitten in the very origin and mainspring of its movements,"
(12) thus rendering it completely harmless to the young wasp, but perfectly fresh as a source of food. Fabre's detailed description of how he made these discoveries one by one out in the open fields and far from his laboratory, reads like a detective story and is fully as exciting.
     His initial failure to discover a poison that would achieve the same end only increased his wonder. All his efforts in this direction were at first without avail, either leaving the beetle kicking and struggling for days or killing it outright, causing the flesh to be tainted or to putrefy, or desiccating it in almost no time at all. The young larvae would have none of it.
     And whereas in a laboratory situation one might attack some vital organ with a hypodermic needle in order to paralyze the whole creature by puncturing the skin in the most convenient spot, the wasp has no such choice in the matter, for the beetle is encased in a horny armour which covers its whole body and which the wasp cannot penetrate. Only in one place is there a weakness in this casing, and it is therefore at this point that the sting must be injected. It so happens that

12. Ibid., p.34.

     pg.8 of 26     

the vital organs, the thoracic ganglia, of this particular species of beetle are concentrated at this point, and the sting of the wasp has just sufficient length to reach them all. There are three ganglia which must all be dealt with in a single thrust. Only in the Buprestes beetles and the weevils does this circumstance appear, and only among these species does the wasp hunt her prey; as Fabre put it, "Among the immense number of beetles whereon the Cerceris might seem able to prey, only two groups seem to fulfill the indispensable conditions." (13)
     This might seem to be a rather long digression, but several things are established by it, and it is only one illustration of many which might have been used for this purpose. First, such highly complex forms of behaviour cannot possibly have been learned, as Ralph Linton, in contrasting such forms of behaviour with those of man, pointed out: (14)

     There seems to be no limit to the complexity of the behavior patterns which can be transmitted in the germ plasm. A wasp is hatched with instincts which enable her to build a nest, hunt (insects) of a particular sort, sting them in the exact spot which will paralyze them without killing them, store them in the nest, lay an egg with them, and seal up the nest. By the time the young wasp emerges the mother will be dead, yet the new wasp will repeat the process detail for detail.

     Superficially, the highly organized societies which are found among insects seem to be analogous to those found among men. But they are, in fact, poles apart, belonging -- to preserve our simile -- to two entirely different kingdoms. Ruth Benedict underscored this distinction when she wrote: (15)

     There are societies where Nature perpetuates the slightest mode of behavior by biological mechanisms, but these are societies not of men but of the social insects. The queen ant, removed to a solitary nest, will reproduce each trait of sex behavior, each detail of the nest. The social insects represent Nature in a mood when she was taking no chances. The pattern of the entire social structure she committed to the ant's instinctive behavior. There is no greater chance that the social classes of an ant society, or its patterns of agriculture, will be lost by an ant's isolation from its group than that the ant will fail to reproduce the shape of its antennae or the structure of its abdomen.
     For better or worse, man's solution lies at the opposite pole. Not one item of his tribal social organization, of his local religion, is carried in his germ cell. In Europe, in other centuries, when children were occasionally found who had been abandoned and had maintained themselves in forests apart from other human beings, they were all so much alike that Linnaeus classified them as a distinct species, Homo ferus, and supposed that they were a kind of gnome that man seldom ran across. He could not

13. Ibid., p.52.
14. Linton, Ralph, The Study of Man, Student's edition, Appleton-Century, New York, 1936, p.70.
15. Benedict, Ruth, Patterns of Culture, Mentor, Neew York, 1951, p.11.

     pg.9 of 26     

conceive that these half-witted brutes were born human, these creatures with no interest in what went on about them, rocking themselves rhythmically back and forth like some wild animal in a zoo, with organs of speech and hearing that could hardly be trained to do service, who withstood freezing weather in rags and plucked potatoes out of boiling water without discomfort.

     With man, wisdom is cumulative and seldom, if ever, perfect; in Nature it is perfect and as abiding as the living creatures who are guided by it. It is built-in, by God. For them, the "kingdom of God is within."
     Secondly, there is an extraordinary system of interaction here, the ramifications of which we see only at the surface. This is a fact which was not greatly stressed in earlier works but is now receiving more and more attention as the disturbing effects of man's plundering of Nature have become alarmingly apparent. The wasp is dependent upon a beetle, and not merely any beetle, but a beetle of one particular species. If for any reason these beetles disappeared the wasps would also disappear. Had we sufficient knowledge, we would probably find that the beetle in turn is dependent upon some other form of life, and that some other form of life is dependent upon the continuance of the wasps. In any chain, the breaking of a single link breaks the whole chain. Each creature plays its part in the web of life -- in the economy of Nature. Not one of these links can be superfluous or it would long since have ceased to survive.
     W. C. Allee gave several examples to illustrate how tightly this web is drawn and how the severing of the smallest strand may bring reverberations throughout the whole chain. He pointed out that S. A. Forbes of the Illinois Biological Survey showed that "when a black bass is hooked and taken from the water the triumphant fisherman is breaking, unsensed by him, myriads of meshes which have bound the fish to all the different forms of lake life."
(16) Such disturbances may not be fatal, although sometimes they prove to be, but the available evidence supports the belief that any disruption of any part of this system has repercussions far and wide in other directions. Where man's work is concerned, his finest achievements are generally those most sensitive to the breakdown of a single element. A computer is more easily damaged by such means than an abacus, and an airplane than a wheelbarrow. By the same token, the sensitivity of Nature to such interference suggests that it is a mechanism of an exceedingly refined order, and its Architect must accordingly be a far superior Designer.
     Thirdly, those who have studied Nature in this frame of mind, as Fabre did, have not merely contributed to our understanding of it but  

16. Allee, W. C., The Social Life of Animals, Beacon press, Boston, revised, 1958, p.23.

     pg.10 of  26    

have tended to supply, in addition to food for thought, something also for the soul. It is impossible to read such a study as his, or even to discuss it with an unbelieving fellow research worker, without at once involving the question of ultimate cause. One does not ask merely, How is this? but, Who is behind it? We turn to the reports of modern laboratory research, much as we turn to a black and white screen after enjoying the full magnificence of technicolor. This is not really progress in understanding, if the human spirit has as much importance as the human mind. We may know more, but we understand less. Fabre concluded: (17)

     The Cerceris that prey upon beetles conform in their selection to what could be taught only by the most learned physiologist and the finest anatomist. One would vainly strive to see no more in this than casual coincidences; it is not in chance that we shall find the key to such harmonies as these.

     But it is not merely in the regularities, the habitual patterns of behaviour, that we perceive the order and design and wisdom of this kingdom of Nature. The things which animals have been known to do in special circumstances are quite fantastic. For example, Jim Kjelgnard tells of a fox which he found in a trap on one occasion -- a pitiful, shivering thing whose right front foot had been crushed and broken by the steel jaws that held it: (18)

     We carried the creature home and bandaged the foot. Then we put the fox in a wire cage. Immediately it ripped the bandages off, dug a small hole with its good foot, placed the wounded one in the hole and padded dirt around it. For days it lay there refusing to move.
     When it finally did stir, although it was thin to the point of starvation and the claws on its broken foot had grown grotesquely long, the foot was healed completely. That fox had put its broken foot into a self-made cast and kept it there until the bones had mended.

     Johan Turi in a paper on Reindeer Lapps tells how unless the hunter sets his traps in the right way, the captive bears caught by them will escape by urinating on the thongs that bind them until they are weakened enough that they are able to break them. (19)
     Animals which have been deliberately subjected to a diet that is deficient in certain vitamins are able to compensate for this deficiency if they are subsequently permitted to do so by being presented with a choice of foods among which are some particularly rich in the missing vitamin. For example, Samuel Brody has pointed out that rats "show

17. Fabre, J. H., ref.11, p.60.
18. Kjelgaard, Jim, "Fantastic Dr. Nature," Coronet, Feb., 1945, p.75.
19. Turi, Johan, "The Study of the Reindeer Lapps," A Reader in General Anthropology, edited by C. S. Coon, Henry Holt, New York, 1948, p.158.

     pg.11 of  26    

excellent dietary wisdom in selecting the needed nutrients if given opportunity to do so by the cafeteria-feeding style, and if not confused by conditioned habits or by synthetic flavours or odours." (20) In fact, it has been possible to use this power of discrimination to make a quick check of the particular vitamin content of various kinds of food by offering such foods to rats denied these vitamins.
     Moreover, this has been found to be true in a general way of other animals including rabbits, birds, and some insects. In a slightly lesser degree it has proved to be the case with cattle, pigs, and chickens. But in the latter it is found that domestication has confused their discriminatory powers, particularly with respect to processed feeds. Brody's report shows that cattle can select from a haystack the most nutritious foods with extraordinary precision, even when the two types of food, enriched and not enriched, are to all appearances the same. According to William Albrecht, out in the pasture they will even crop the ground to the boundary seed-drill row, marking the division between two different grasses, if one has more nutritional value than the other.
     Extraordinary things take place in Nature in connection with food supplies. It has been found, for example, that common aphids are wingless where the food supply is plentiful, but when a shortage begins to develop, the young of the following generation are born with wings. The new generation can migrate from the colony which is facing starvation and establish a new one where food supplies are more plentiful. H. J. Reinhard has pointed out that one of the most effective ways of keeping wings from developing in some species of aphids is to isolate the individuals so that they do not have to compete for food. Conversely one may obtain the winged forms by crowding them.
     In dealing with such responses of animals to environmental pressures, it is customary to imply that the cause of the change is a purely mechanical one, the mechanism being of a chemical order. Having so explained such mechanism responses, the wonder of it tends to be lost. But a serious mistake is made when we confuse description with explanation. To say that crowding produces wings is not an explanation, but a description. It is only an "explanation," in the rather childish sense that the slipperiness of ice is why ice is difficult to stand upon or to use another analogy, when a child asks why a light goes on, we answer, Because I switched it on. But this is not an explanation of why the light 

20. Brody, Samuel, "Science and Dietary Wisdom," Scientific Monthly, Sept.,1945, p.215.
21. Albrecht: William, "Discrimination in Food Selection by Animals," ScientificMonthly, May, 1945, p.347f.
22. Reinhard, H. J., "The Influence of Parentage, Nutrition, Temperature and Crowding in Aphis goosypii," Texas Agriculture Experimental Station Bulletin, vol.353, 1927, p.5-9.

     pg.12 of 26     

goes on; it is only a description of how the light goes on. To explain why the light goes on, one would have to go back to the theory of electron flow and how it came about that the switch, the wires, the power, and the lamp came into existence as a live circuit with the capability of responding as it does. In other words, an intelligent designer stands behind the response of the switch, and so long as we leave him out, we cannot answer the question "Why."
     This is an important point because the general reader is apt to assume mistakenly that because the naturalist can describe how something happens, he also understands why. When we ask, Why do aphids develop wings when they are exhausting the available food supply? it is not enough to say that some conditioned reflex initiates a chemical reaction for the production of wings. This may be how it happens but it is not why it happens. The why takes us back to a First Cause, and this First Cause is clearly purposeful. And for the Christian it is a sufficient answer to say that this is God's doing.
     Many people, today, find it somewhat difficult to imagine that God is behind Nature, because they have been taught to believe that Nature is cruel, red in tooth and claw, as Tennyson has it. An increasing body of evidence, however, has more recently begun to show that this picture of Nature is mistaken. It is perfectly true that in the chains of life animals prey upon animals. To a certain extent the law of life is death. However, there are certain modifying factors in this law, the first of which is that one of the worst features of death is fear engendered by anticipation of it, and the other is the suffering which seems to accompany it so frequently in human experience. If we never anticipated it and if it did not entail physical suffering, and if we assume for a moment that the factor of bereavement is absent, then it holds no terrors. There is very good reason to believe that this is exactly the situation in Nature -- no anticipation, virtually no suffering, and no bereavement in the human sense. In Nature it is not the evil that it appears to be for humans.
     One of the strongest evidences of the truth of this has resulted from the labours of Walt Disney's co-workers in their endeavour to photograph Nature, without upsetting it in the process. Extensive photographs have been taken of lions hunting their prey, in which the apparent fright of a herd is much more probably a kind of expression of animal energy, the sheer delight of violent muscular activity, the absence of real fear being evident from two facts: the first being that the herd stops its flight instantly and resumes nonchalant feeding the moment flight is no longer necessary, and the second being that the animals nearest to the creature captured by the predator show no

     pg.13 of 26   

concern whatever in its fate. It is generally agreed that loss of appetite is a genuine evidence of fear. That such animals should halt their flight and return at once to grazing suggests the total absence of fear in the ordinary sense. And that those who escaped should show no interest in the fate of the one which did not, even though the lion may be eating it in their presence, seems to demonstrate the complete absence of anticipation of death.
     Moreover, there are some remarkable cases in which the predator has had the tables turned against himself, simply because the situation was not a natural one. The Fort William Daily Times Journal reported in 1953 that in making a film of animal life in the Province of Tashkent the Russians put a panther and a young deer in the same cage expecting to be able to photograph the actual killing of the deer. But to their surprise, far from showing fear, the deer became playful towards the panther and chased it round and round the cage until it dropped dead. A veterinary surgeon made a postmortem examination of the panther and found that it had had a heart attack from fright. (23)
     In the case of the hunting wasps, Fabre reported that in the hopes of witnessing the actual attack of the wasp against the beetle, he placed both insects in a bottle. However, this was not a normal situation and both insects showed nothing but a desire to escape. In the process of clambering up and down the sides of the bottle, the beetle several times, quite by accident, seized one of the wasp's legs: the wasp was frantic with fear, as Fabre puts it, and absolutely powerless to attack the beetle.
(24) It appears, therefore, that the fearlessness of the wasp in tackling a creature twice his own weight in the appropriate and natural situation is an anthropomorphic fiction. The wasp is not brave at all nor even ferocious, any more than the panther. They are simply obeying instincts, and in the wrong situation these instincts give them no superiority whatever. It appears that neither the beetle nor the deer are by nature fearful of the creature that is able to bring their death.
     In both these instances the animal's behaviour patterns had been disturbed by man. Anyone who has seen the murderous doings of a fox which has gained entry into a hen house will be easily convinced that they are natural enemies in Nature and in fact that the enmity is of a particularly vicious kind. The same may be said to appear in the case of a flock of sheep which has been attacked by a wolf. However, it has been found that if foxes come upon wild geese or wolves upon wild sheep or goats, they will kill only what they need for food. Two explanations of

23. News item: "Fear of Fear Can be Fatal," Fort William Daily Times Journal, Dec. 26, 1953.
24. Fabre, J. H., ref.11. p.38.

     pg.14 of 26      

this difference in behaviour have been offered. One is that the smell of man infuriates these two predators, and that domesticated animals retain some of this scent. The other is that the instinctive, evasive behaviour of animals has broken down in domesticated ones, and in the whole interacting system of fox-fowl or wolf-sheep, a disruption in pattern of behaviour has occurred which disturbs the normality of the predator as well and removes from him those built-in restraints which would prevent needless killing. If man had domesticated the wolf also (as he has done with a variety of wolf, namely, the sheep dog) this harmony of Nature would have been retained. The breakdown of the wisdom of Nature here is due to the incompleteness of man's government.
     We tend to think that there are habitual enemies in this kingdom of Nature, probably because such hostilities seem to be involved wherever fighting occurs between species. But there is some evidence now that such fighting, where it does not lead to the devouring of one creature by another, is a form of social behaviour which is beneficial to those engaged in it, if not actually enjoyable. James Fisher has believed this to be so, for example, with birds in particular. He has gone so far as to say that the term "aggressive behaviour" should be replaced by the term "display," and that so-called fighting is a form of social stimulation. (25)
     Sometimes when one watches birds teasing a cat, or dogs chasing squirrels, one gets the feeling that although the squirrel might get hurt or the bird might be eaten, everyone is having lots of fun. Even a mouse that has been maimed by a cat will often make little or no effort to run away when it is momentarily freed. Perhaps we should not, after all, be so surprised when we hear of a lioness and a shepherd dog sharing the same cage
(26) or a cat raising three skunks, or a Muscovy duck adopting six puppies, (27) or even a cat raising a mouse along with her kittens. (28)
     We have been careful to state that the physical suffering associated with death also seems to be virtually absent in Nature in spite of appearances to the contrary. Some years ago a book was published by J. Crowther Hirst entitled, "Is Nature Cruel?"
(29) in which he reported

25. Fisher, James, "Evolution and Bird Sociality," in Evolution as a Process, edited by Julian Huxley, et al, Allen and Unwin, London, 1954, p.70.
26. News item: Fort William Daily Times Journal, May 23, 1958, reported at the Zoo, in Staubing, Germany.
27. News item: both instances reported by Associated Press, from Elgin, Illinois, June 14, 1955.
28. News item: The Toronto Telegram, Oct.17, 1951. The cat was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Peyton Harriman of Pasadena.
29. Hirst, J. Crowther, Is Nature Cruel?, James Clark & Co., London, fully reviewed in The Spectator, June 3, 1899, pp.782, 783.

     pg.15 of 26     

having written to big game hunters and missionary doctors, secured the record of some sixty-six men who had been seized by bears, lions, tigers, leopards, and panthers. Sixty-four of them felt no pain or fear whatever. It appears that animals in some way are able to paralyze the victims, or that the nervous system of these victims is suspended in the moment of attack. Many others have reported that animals will not lose their appetite even after suffering the most extraordinary mutilations. (30)
     It is very difficult to watch the frantic struggles of an impaled moth without feeling that it must be suffering frightfully. However, it has been shown that such insects can have the stomach region severed entirely and the creature will continue to eat ravenously. The ingested food will pass out behind without doing it any good and therefore without satisfying its hunger, so that it will continue to eat until exhausted. No loss of appetite is evident, a fact which suggests that no physical pain is being experienced. One must suppose that the struggling is not a response to pain but rather to unaccustomed restriction of freedom of movement. Other animals express the apparent pain reaction vocally, uttering heart rending cries. But even here it is not altogether certain that such cries signify the actual feeling of pain. Some few years ago, Sir Joseph Fayrer was invited to go grouse shooting in the Highlands. With the keeper were two Gordon setters, dogs that worked well. The keeper was a strict man and apparently something went wrong, for when Sir Joseph was a little distance off, he heard one of the dogs howling and saw the whip going in the air. He told how he went up to the keeper and said, (31) "Why do you beat the dog?" The keeper turned to him and said, "I never touched the dog. I was beating the heather by his side; it answers the purpose just as well." One might wonder why, if pain is virtually absent in the animal kingdom (except, of course, where it warns the animal of an injury), it should seem to be expressing itself as such so convincingly. Perhaps the answer is that by this means God intended to impress upon man a sense of responsibility for the avoidance of cruelty to these lowly creatures without necessarily causing them to suffer while teaching man this lesson.
     Alan Devoe wrote of animals which he watched die what might called a natural death. He says that there is no evidence of uncertainty or fear when the time comes.

30. Wood, Theodore, "On the Apparent Cruelty of Nature," Transactions of  the Victoria Institute, London, vol.25, 1891, p.253-278. A most excellent paper.
31. Fayrer, Sir Joseph, in a discussion reported in Transactions of the Victoria Institute, London, vol.25, 1891, p.274.
32. Devoe, Alan, "Wise Animals I Have Known," Reader's Digest, July, 1954, p.122.

     pg.16 of 26     

     Not only do wild things meet life in all its aspects wholeheartedly; they greet death the same way. "Sleep now, and rest," says Nature at the end. I remember when my old dog Dominie died. He lay down in a favourite corner, gave a long sigh, and was gone. I remember an old woodchuck that died in my pasture. As I watched him he stretched out on a sun-warmed stone, breathed his last and surrendered himself to what Nature was saying to him. To do that could not have seemed strange to him -- he had been doing it all his life. In animals shines the trust that casts out fear.

     It has been noted that those creatures which are preyed upon will fight to defend their young only against those animals which they stand a fair chance of putting to flight. When faced with an enemy that they cannot possibly hope to defeat, they will move to one side and allow their young to be destroyed without apparent concern. In a paper dealing with the parental devotion of birds, Alexander Skutch gave a number of examples illustrating this kind of instinctive wisdom: (33)

     It appears to be generally true that wild creatures are instinctively aware of the strength and prowess of their hereditary natural enemies, and avoid risking their lives in defense of home or offspring against such enemies as are likely to overcome them.
     This principle might be briefly designated the Law of Prudence. It applies not only to birds and mammals, but to cold-blooded animals as well.

     It is as though they said to themselves, "If we fight, we shall be killed and so will the young. Why throw away all our lives? We can raise more young ones." Such is the wisdom of Nature in preserving its own species.
     Not a few big game hunters have remarked upon the fact that when first entering areas of wild life not previously invaded by man, they have observed a remarkable peace and quietness, and found a consistent fearlessness of man among animals. So overwhelming has this sense of peace been that they found it difficult to speak aloud and carried on whatever conversation was necessary in a whisper as though in the presence of God. One writer, Robert C. Ruark, described his own experiences in this matter, and remarked that one famous hunter whom he knew, Harry Selby, a man whose life had been spent among animals out of doors, continually stood amazed at the confidence and trust displayed by the very animals he was supposed to be hunting. Ruark said of himself on one occasion:

     We didn't want to shoot, we didn't even want to talk aloud. Here you could see tangible peace; here you could see the hand of God as He

33. Skutch, Alexander F., "The Parental Devotion of Birds," Scientific Monthly, April, 1946, p.369.
34. Ruark, Robert C., "The First Time I Met God," Coronet, Jan.,1953, p.29. 

     pg.17 of 26     

possibly intended things to be. We left the place largely as we found it. We felt unworthy of the clean, soft, blue sky, of the animals and birds and trees.

     To many men the idea has not seemed too strange that even flowers and plants have souls, (35) and in the destruction of vast stretches of vegetation by forest fires it has seemed to them that Nature suffered anguish. Yet curiously enough there is evidence that even such forest fires as are started purely by natural agencies are part of Nature's own way of cleansing herself, and that they are actually beneficial. For one thing, certain balances of plant forms may be restored by such a means, and when forests reach over-maturity they may, as one writer put it, become from the animal's point of view "biological deserts." An interesting report on this aspect of such natural fires -- not man induced ones, be it noted -- appeared quite recently under the title, "Forest Fires a Boon to Antlered Game," written by a Canadian Press staff writer. (36)
     Nature is neither a field of battle, nor even a world of indifference where species go their way seeing only to their own preservation. Nature is a cooperative society in which what have been termed "obligate relationships" are everywhere to be found. The examples of cooperation are sometimes closely akin to the less selfish behaviour of human beings, and cannot, therefore, merely be explained away as purely for self advantage. It is a common sight to see a flock of birds about to migrate rise from the ground at a given signal and wheel several times in the air before heading for their destination. It has been noticed that this wheeling behaviour may be repeated later on during 

35. The soul life of plants: an interesting bibliography listing some15 serious works dealing with this subject will be found in a paper by Walter Lowrie, "A Meditation on Scientific Authority," (Theology Today, Oct.,1945, pp.309-311). See also G. T. Fechner, Soul Life of Plants, (1848). R. H. France, one of the most eminent of German botanists published a smaller book sometime after 1901 entitled The Soul of the Plant, in which he said: "I have a presentiment that the study of nature and psychology will in some future time make the most beautiful discoveries in a place where no one had expected it -- in the field of plant life." The same author later produced 8 immense volumes in German entitled "Das Leben de Pftanzen," a work which was completed in 1913 and which according to the author was largely inspired by Fechner's earlier work. Sir Jagdis Chunder Bose, Professor Emeritus of Presidency College and Director of Bose Research Institute in Calcutta, wrote the following important works, all bearing on this subject: Responsiveness in the Living and Non-Living, 1902; Plant Response, 1906; and Researches in the Irritability of Plants, 1912. Later in 1921 he published a four volume work entitled "Life Movements in Plants."
    On Plant Consciousness, see Stanley Cobb, "Awareness, Attention Physiology of the Brain Stem," in Experiments in Psychopathology, edited by Hock & Zubim, Greene & Stratton New York, 1957, p.202. Even Darwin seems to have recognized this possibility, as quoted by John E. Howard, "Creation and Providence, with Special Reference to the Evolutionist Theory" Transactions of the Victoria Institute, vol.12, 1878, p.217.
36. Boyd, Bill, "Forest Fires Boon to Antlered Game," Port Arthur News Chronicle, May 22, 1958, p.12.

     pg.18 of 26     

the migratory flight and not merely at the commencement of it. It is now believed that the stronger birds in the lead are providing an opportunity for weaker members of the flock who are lagging to catch up. This is achieved by the slower birds taking a smaller circle of flight than the swifter birds. Thus no altitude is lost and none of the birds is required to change its pace, since the smaller circle flown by the weaker birds requires them to cover less distance but gives them the same length of time to do it. A flock that has been stretched out too much can by this means re-assemble in closer formation. And this is not apparently undertaken because of some present danger. (37)
     A remarkable cause of cooperation in Nature which, in this instance is to the advantage of both participants, is that of the crocodile and the zic-zac. This small bird with a long sharp beak shares the crocodile's habitat. Crocodiles are troubled by small grubs which get into their gums. When this becomes bothersome, the crocodile remains motionless on the shore and makes a peculiar little noise which attracts the zic-zac. This bird flies down and lands just in front of it. The crocodile opens its mouth widely and allows the bird to hop in and then closes it, gently. The bird goes to work inside its temporary prison and makes a delightful feast of the offending grubs -- to the relief of his host. As soon as his work is finished, the zic-zac taps with his beak on the roof of the crocodile's mouth. The crocodile, resisting the temptation to make a meal of the bird, opens his mouth and sets the bird free. Such a form of cooperative behaviour could, of course, have been learned, but it is still very remarkable.
     A form of unlearned cooperative behaviour or interdependence, which is considered a classic example because it is truly "obligate," is that of the Yucca moth and the Yucca plant. John Klotz described this relationship:

     The Yucca flowers hang down, and the pistil or female part of the flower is lower than the stamen or male part. However, it is impossible for the pollen to fall from the anthers or pollen sacs to the stigma, the part of the pistil which receives the pollen, because the stigma is cup-shaped, and the section receptive to the pollen is on the inner surface of the cup.
     The female of the Yucca moth begins work soon after sundown. She collects a quantity of pollen from the anthers of the Yucca plant and holds it in her specially constructed mouth parts. She then usually flies to another Yucca flower, pierces the ovary with her ovipositer, and after laying one or two eggs creeps down the style (the stalk of the pistil) and stuffs a ball of pollen into the stigma. The plant produces a large number of seeds. Some of these are eaten by the larvae of the moth, and some mature to perpetuate the species. 

37. Allee W. C. ref.16, pp.145 f.
38. Klotz, John, Genes, Genesis, and Evolution, Concordia, St. Louis, 1955, p.531.

     pg.19 of 26     

    It is difficult to imagine what could cause a moth to collect pollen and stuff it into a stigma . . . but . . . this is an obligate relationship, for in the absence of the moth, the Yucca plant produces no seed, while without the Yucca plant the moth cannot complete its life cycle.

     In such examples as we have considered among insects and birds, there is normally no struggle to survive and no over-crowding. Only occasionally and with a few notable species like locusts does over-crowding occur, and even here it is not yet quite clear whether the term over-crowding is strictly true. As a matter of fact, the phenomenon of over-crowding appears very seldom among animals, though it is sometimes found among plants -- especially in inter-tidal waters. Yet here again, the term is not altogether appropriate, for according to current theory, over-crowding should cause changes in trends, evolution-wise, whereas this is not apparently so in such areas. The struggle for living space is supposed to accentuate any slight advantages which a mutant variety of a local species might achieve by accident, so that one might expect a slow but steady change of plant form in inter-tidal waters. However, such genetic drift does not actually take place. The Malthusian doctrine of the struggle to survive and the consequent survival of the fittest, is an armchair philosophy, not a fact of Nature. Charles Elton said: (39)

     A first impression might be that every niche has long ago been filled with plants and with animals dependent on plants, that the habitats are full to bursting-point with life. . . . The concept fits plant life fairly well, but is not true of animals. It is obvious to any naturalist that the total quantity of animal life in any place is an extremely small proportion of the total quantity of plant life. This general observation has been amply confirmed by all recent studies of the biomass of animal species or animal communities.
     For example, the bird life on an acre of rich farmland with trees and hedges and grass and crops may only be a few kilograms in weight. The animal life is widespread, it has, so to speak, staked out its numerous claims, but seldom succeeded in exploiting them to the full.
     From this situation we may conclude that, on the whole, animal numbers seldom grow to the ultimate limit set by food supplies, and not often to the limits of available space.

     In a delightful little book with the equally delightful title "Wood Folk Comedies," William J. Long has sought, from firsthand observation, to show that Malthus was certainly wrong with respect to animal life. Speaking of the struggle to survive as being a kind of "tragic" conception of Nature, he wrote: (40) 

39. Elton, Charles, "Animal Numbers and Adaptation," in a symposium entitled, Evolution, edited by Sir Gavin de Beer, Oxford University Press, 1938, p.130.
40. Long, William J., Wood-Folk Comedies, Harper Brothers, New York, 1920, p.11.

     pg.20 of 26     

     This "tragedy" is a romantic invention of our story writers; the struggle for existence is a bookish theory passed from lip to lip without a moment's observation to justify it. I would call it mythical were it not that myths commonly have some hint of truth or gleam of beauty in them; but this struggle notion is the crude, unlovely superstition of one who used neither his eyes or imagination. To quote Darwin as an authority is to deceive yourself; for he borrowed the notion of natural struggle from the economist Malthus, who invented it not as a theory of Nature (of which he knew nothing), but to explain from his easy-chair the vice and misery of massed humanity. . . .
     A moment's reflection here may suggest two things: first that from lowly protozoans which always unite in colonies to the mighty elephant that finds comfort and safety in a herd of his fellows, cooperation of kind with kind is the universal law of Nature; second, that the evolutionary processes, to which the violent name of struggle is thoughtlessly applied, are all so leisurely that centuries must pass before the change is noticeable, and so effortless that subject creatures are not even aware that they are being changed.

     John E. Pfeiffer, in his book The Emergence of Man, spoke of the fact that animal behaviour was studied at first among captive creatures, penned up in small cages in an entirely unnatural environment. Here, for instance, apes and monkeys "engaged in bloody fights, often to the death, killed their infants, and indulged in a variety of bizarre sexual activities." But then he pointed out how, later on, when men went out into the fields to study these same creatures, they found an entirely different picture: so different, in fact, that it created consternation: (41)

     Early work created a certain amount of confusion as primates failed to behave as expected. Anthropologists and zoologists entered wildernesses expecting mayhem, and found peace. As a matter of fact, fighting was so rare that in the beginning each observer made a special point of reexamining his own results. Perhaps the species he was studying represented an exception to the rule of violence, or the animals were members of unusually amicable troops.
     Later the observers compared notes and realized that they had not been dealing with exceptions but with a common state of affairs. Their findings have since been confirmed by continuing field studies involving some hundred investigators in a dozen countries, including Japan, India, Kenya, Uganda, and Borneo.

     Ronald Good in a review of a book by Lee R. Dice entitled Natural Communities, expressed the hope that naturalists would increasingly take a more realistic view of Nature and abandon the view of Nature which sees it as in a continuous state of warfare. He pointed out that the concept of Nature as red in tooth and claw has had a profound influence on world history and that the nature of this influence has 

41. Pfeiffer, lohn E., The Emergence of Man, Harper & Row, New York, 1969, pp 247, 248.

     pg.21 of 26     

been such as to at least raise doubts about its validity. He then remarked that even more odd "is the apparent continuing failure (on the part of naturalists) to admit that the very existence of a science of natural communities belies it, for if Nature was indeed as the poet described it, its condition would be chaotic and in a perpetual state of disequilibrium." He said that if there were nothing else to thank Dr. Dice for, we may at least be grateful for the support his book gives "to the view that Nature is essentially a state of beautiful and delicate balance to which each and every member makes its due, but only due, contribution." (42) Recently the English journal The New Scientist had a little item that is apropos. In the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, where wild life is protected against unnatural predators such as human hunters, one experienced naturalist and writer on animal behaviour, George B. Schaller, (43) observed how a gazelle which had apparently slipped from a steep embankment into the river and was unable to get out of the water, was rescued and carried to high ground by a lioness. That's cooperation! I suppose a cynic might conceivably argue that the lion was merely laying in store for the future, but I think not.
     The delicacy of this balance of contribution is well illustrated by a statement by Walter J. Beasley who, in speaking of microscopic plants of very simple type associated with coral reefs, said: (44)

     The business of these plants is to supply oxygen to the corals. The plants need the carbonic acid gas which is given out by the coral animals. On the other hand, the animals (i.e., the corals themselves) need the oxygen which is produced by the plants. These coral animals live within the corals themselves. . . .
     Give the corals a free hand and the water would become in time so alkaline as to destroy them. Give the animals a free hand and they in the end would be killed by the acidity they themselves produced, and so the two working against one another ensure the maintenance of the conditions vital to both.
     All life is like that, a thousand interacting and balanced forces, like the flying buttresses of a towering Gothic cathedral; destroy one and the whole graceful fabric will come down in irreparable ruin.

     Beasley then added this interesting comment:

     The animals that form this group are very sensitive to light, each particular kind having apparently a definite sensitivity that suits it best. During the absence of light at night there is nothing to control their 

42. Good, Ronald, in a review of a book by Lee R Dice, "Natural Communities," Nature, July 11, 1953, p.46.
43. Schaller, George S., "The Serengeti Lion: A Study of Predator-Prey Relations," New Scientist, Jan. 25, 1973, p.204.
44. Beasley, Walter J., Creation's Amazing Architect, Marshall, Morgan and Scott, London, 1955, p.67.

     pg.22 of 26     

position in the water and they spread out through the various layers. As dawn breaks, and light begins to penetrate the surface waters, these move upward and for a short period the surface is thick with them. As the light increases with the appearance of the sun, the plankton begins to descend. Some kinds go deeper than others: each kind ceases its downward movement when it reaches the zone of light most suited to it.
     These "pastures of the sea" are arranged in an orderly fashion, so that not only are some of the multitudinous microscopic plants and animals placed together to contribute the life-giving gases necessary for each, but the various types of plankton so react to the light that automatically they are made to rise and fall in the waters, to provide food at those positions best suited to the higher orders of life that may frequent each particular region.

     The amazing mechanism at the very bottom of the scale of life indicates that in this kingdom of God nothing is left to chance, everything acts according to natural law, and this law is clearly purposeful. We may go even one step further than this and say that the very atoms themselves obey with exactitude the laws appointed for them, so that biochemistry is possible for just the same reason that Nature Study is possible. In fact, in his Presidential Address to the Chemical Association in 1948, Sir C. N. Hinshelwood remarked, "It may not be wholly unreasonable to fancy that to almost every element there falls some unique and perhaps indispensable role in the economy of Nature."
     But we need not stop even here. Frances J. Mott, in a book entitled Biosynthesis has attempted to demonstrate this essential oneness of the universe and of all its phenomena.
(45) Mott believes that from the outermost galaxies to the depths of the human mind, Nature is governed by what he calls the "universal design," or "the grand configuration." He sees in all Nature a rhythmic interaction between a nucleus and a periphery, between the innermost and the outermost, between the life of a single cell and the solar system.
     This is obviously no easy concept to develop, and Mott admits frankly that his personal acquaintance with the greater part of the data is necessarily superficial, but he cites a most impressive volume of material by original investigators to support his thesis.
     If any further evidence were required of the wisdom which stands behind and regulates this inconceivably vast and complex universe, it may be found upon those occasions where natural law appears to have been set aside. We are not thinking of miracles. It may, therefore, come as a surprise to find that the laws of physics and chemistry which operate with such precision that science is permitted to learn how to control these forces even to the splitting of an atom, are indeed 

45. Mott, Francis T., Biosynthesis, David McKay Co., Philadelphia, 1943.

      pg.23 of 26      

reversed upon certain occasions. And these reversals are always found to be essential for the continuance of life. Three fundamental laws are involved.
     The first of these is well known: that the solid form of water (i. e., ice) is lighter or less dense than the liquid form. It is a law that as liquids cool their density increases, and water obeys this law until a temperature just before it becomes solid at which point it begins to expand, thus becoming lighter than in its previous state. It therefore floats upon the water and tends to prevent the water underneath from dropping below a certain temperature at which living creatures in it would be destroyed. The colder it gets outside, the thicker is the shield of ice. Were it not for this reversal of the natural law, all the water on the earth's surface would, as a consequence of those factors which caused the great ice age, probably have been turned into ice, all rivers would have ceased to flow, and clouds would not have formed to disperse the rain over the land. In fact, the world would have become very largely a dead world. Sir Ambrose Fleming has described this phenomenon as follows: (46)

     If we consider what happens when a pond or lake freezes on a cold night, we find that as the cold wind blows over the surface the top layers of water first contract, and sink down, and the process is repeated until all the water has been reduced to 40 degrees F., approximately.
     Then, on further cooling, owing to the expansion which takes place, the water freezes merely on the surface and a thin sheet of ice is formed, though the general body of the water does not fall in temperature below 40·F., and hence the aquatic animals, fish, etc., are not frozen in the ice and killed.
     If it were not for this peculiar behavior of water, in having a temperature of maximum density above its freezing point, all lakes and ponds would in a long winter become solid ice from the bottom upwards, and all aquatic life would be destroyed. Hence this behavior of water has an object or purpose, or is teleological, and has an end in view. It can hardly have arisen by accident.

     No other liquid behaves in this manner, though some solids are known which expand upon cooling. Since it requires less time to freeze water than it does to thaw it out again, during a protracted ice age of any intensity it seems likely that all but a very superficial layer of water would remain continuously frozen.
     The second law which is broken is the law of gravity. Were it not for this law being superseded by the law of the diffusion of gases, the atmosphere would sort itself out so that the heavier gases would be at

46. Fleming, Sir Ambrose, Evolution or Creation, Marshall, Morgan and Scott, London, undated, p.89. 

     pg.24 of 26     

the bottom and the lighter gases at the top. The consequence of this for the earth would be a layer of carbon dioxide of sufficient depth that all life would soon cease. However, gravity is defied and this heavier gas diffuses through the other gases of the atmosphere so that free oxygen remains available at the earth's surface whereby all creatures that breathe are able to obtain energy and sustain life.
     The third law which is broken is a little more difficult to state. When temperatures are exceedingly low, chemical reactions slow down and at certain temperatures combustion becomes impossible. As the temperature rises, combustion takes place as oxides form and the higher the temperature the greater number of such combinations possible. But when the temperature reaches exceedingly high levels, the law is reversed and the formation of oxides becomes impossible so that combustion ceases. In the simplest possible terms, were it not for this reversal of the law, our sun would go out, as Hugh MacMillan put it (47)

     The extraordinary law of heat suspending its ordinary effects, preserves to us the light and heat of the sun, caused by the combustion of dissociated elements, which, at a lower temperature, would combine and extinguish the sun by its own ashes.

     Harold Blum has argued that this fact constitutes a reversal of the law of entropy. Because at extremely high temperatures compounds do not form, all the existing elements must be simple. As the total energy is reduced by the dissipation of heat from the sun, it becomes possible for compounds to form and therefore for more complex structures to arise. We thus have a case where a reduction in energy leads to increasing complexity, a phenomenon which Blum has considered to be a reversal of the law of entropy. (48) This, at least, can be said with safety -- something takes place at such temperatures which contravenes the laws holding universally at lower temperatures, and thus the sun's light and heat is preserved for the benefit of life.
     All three of these reversals of natural law are clearly essential for the continuation of living things, and this provision seems surely to indicate that life is not an accident but part of a grand design.
     Such, then, is the nature of the world we live in. Guided and governed as it is by a firm but wise hand, this beautiful and

47. MacMillan, Hugh, Two Worlds Are Ours, Macmillan, London, 1880, p.xvii.
48. Blum, Harold, Time's Arrow and Evolution, Princeton University, New Jersey, 1951. It is not possible to give a single quotation but the argument is developed in approximately the first forty pages.

     pg.25 of 26     

inconceivably complex system of balanced forces is in every sense a very real part of the kingdom of God, and worthy of our deepest concern and reverent exploration. It is not part of the kingdom of Heaven, but it is part of the kingdom of God. 

     pg.26 of 26     

Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

Previous Chapter                                                                      Next Chapter

Home | Biography | The Books | Search | Order Books | Contact Us