United Church of God, ia
Portland Oregon/The Dalles Oregon

Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

The Scientific Evidence: A Critical Choice

Consider the powerful words of the apostle Paul: "Ever since the creation of the world [God's] eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made" (Romans 1 :20, New Revised Standard Version throughout this mini-study).

Paul's words remind us that we can look at the miracles in the world around us and see compelling evidence of God's handiwork, understanding not only that He is the Creator but glimpsing some of His nature and character.

Let's take a glimpse at a particular flower, an orchid with the scientific name of Coryanthes. Although the scientist's language is a little technical, it's important to read the account in the author's own words as he describes his findings and those of another scientist, a Dr. Cruger. The incredible story is well worth reading.

A built-in bee-bath bucket

According to a famous writer and observer of the wonders of nature:

"This orchid has part of its labellum or lower lip hollowed out into a great bucket, into which drops of almost pure water continually fall from two secreting horns which stand above it; and when the bucket is half full, the water overflows by a spout on one side. The basal part of the labellum stands over the bucket, and is itself hollowed out into a sort of chamber with two lateral entrances; within this chamber there are curious fleshly ridges. The most ingenious man, if he had not witnessed what takes place, could never have imagined what purpose all these parts serve [emphasis added throughout].

"But Dr. Cruger saw crowds of large humble-bees [bumblebees] visiting the gigantic flowers of this orchid, not in order to suck nectar, but to gnaw off the ridges within the chamber above the bucket; in doing this they frequently pushed each other into the bucket, and their wings being thus wetted they could not flyaway, but were compelled to crawl out through the passage formed by the spout or overflow.

"Dr. Cruger saw a 'continual procession' of bees thus crawling out of their involuntary bath. The passage is narrow, and is roofed over by the column, so that a bee, in forcing its way out, first rubs its back against the viscid stigma [the sticky part of the flower that receives pollen] and then against the viscid glands of the pollen masses. The pollen-masses are thus glued to the back of the bee which first happens to crawl out through the passage of the lately expanded flower, and are thus carried away. . .

"When the bee, thus provided, flies to another flower, or to the same flower a second time, and is pushed by its comrades into the bucket and then crawls out by the passage, the pollen-mass necessarily comes first into contact with the viscid stigma, and adheres to it, and the flower is fertilised. Now at last we see the full use of every part of the flower, of the water-secreting horns, of the bucket half full of water, which prevents the bees from flying away, and forces them to crawl out through the spout, and rub against the properly placed viscid pollen-masses and the viscid stigma."

Design reveals the designer

These fascinating design details show us the complexity, variety and even a touch of humor in the world around us. Several scriptures acknowledge that we can learn of God through His creation.

One such passage is in Acts 14. The apostles Paul and Barnabas made quite a stir in the city of Lystra by healing a man who had been crippled, unable to walk, since birth. Idolatry was rampant in Lystra, and the instinctive reaction by the citizens of the city to this miracle was to worship Paul and Barnabas!

What was the two men's reaction? Notice what they told the people:

"Friends, why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to follow their own ways; yet he has not left himself without a witness in doing good—giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy" (Acts 14:15-17).

God's servants deflected these misguided intentions and directed the people to the Creator God.

An orchid that shoots straight

Here's another remarkable example of carefully planned design in the natural world from the same author cited above:

"The construction of the flower in another closely allied orchid, namely the Catasetum, is widely different, though serving the same end; and is equally curious. Bees visit these flowers, like those of the Coryanthes, in order to gnaw the labellum [lip]; in doing this they inevitably touch a long, tapering, sensitive projection, or, as I have called it, the antenna.

"This antenna, when touched, transmits a sensation or vibration to a certain membrane which is instantly ruptured; this sets free a spring by which the pollen-mass is shot forth, like an arrow, in the right direction, and adheres by its viscid [sticky] extremity to the back of the bee. The pollen-mass of the male plant (for the sexes are separate in this orchid) is thus carried to the flower of the female plant where it is brought into contact with the stigma, which is viscid enough to break certain elastic threads, and retaining the pollen, fertilisation is effected."

Here we see another marvelous illustration of God's handiwork. Yet not everyone sees the evidence of creation in the same way. The scientist who penned these observations of the wonders of the world a round him was none other than Charles Darwin, and the quotations are from his book Origin of the Species (pp. 156-157).

Does this surprise you? It should. Darwin used these examples to show the ability of plants to adapt and to vary rather than to show the variety in God's design. Why?

Divergent views of evidence

Why don't we all see evidence the same way?

Charles Darwin was not the only scientist in his time who interpreted what he studied in creation as evidence of life without a creator. Many others examined what we see as inspiring, incontrovertible evidence of God's handiwork and concluded that God was not involved.

But why did they come to such different conclusions, and why do others still come to those conclusions? Let's examine an important passage in the first chapter of Romans: "Ever since the creation of the world His [God's] eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made," says verse 20.

Paul is saying that the creation is a portal through which we can see the Creator. Although everyone sees the same evidence, each makes a choice as to how to interpret it. Some early philosophers made a conscious choice to reject God. They chose to interpret their studies in a way that would exclude Him. Scholars in various fields since have followed in their wake.

But, since natural structures exist that random cause-and-effect and material causes can't explain, many scientists have been and will continue to be prejudiced in their interpretations. Because nature can't always explain nature, it's perfectly reasonable to infer from natural structures that the supernatural exists otherwise many examples from the World around us remain inexplicable.

"So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles" (verses 20-23).

We have an important choice to make about the evidence for a Creator God. We must choose whether we will believe it. Our choice will have a profound effect on our lives.

If we see God in what He has made, then we have a constant reminder of His ability, concern, purpose and even His humor. But, if we do not see God, then there is neither hint nor reminder of His purpose for our existence. Consequently we may imperil the normal workings of our conscience, given by God so that we would question our thoughts and actions.

Belief and behavior

In the remainder of Romans 1, Paul bluntly makes it clear that serious consequences come from failing to recognize God in His creation. Reasoning becomes the substitute for God's Spirit and His Word. Eventually people's reasonings become rationalizations that can lead them to justify almost any kind of behavior.

Psalm 14 confirms this:

"Fools say in their hearts, 'There is no God': They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good" (verse 1).

As does Romans 1, this verse implies that people who choose not to believe in God see no need to abide by a divine code of conduct.

However, as the next verse tells us:

"The LORD looks down from heaven on human-kind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God" (verse 2).

God can guide and bless those who wisely choose to accept the evidence and believe in Him. Let's make the right choice.

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