Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Evolution's Requirements

The recent papal pronouncements on evolution have elicited responses from hundreds of commentators. It is well known that approximately one third of the US population belongs to church groups endorsing evolution. Most of these believe evolution is a God-ordained means of bringing into existence Earth’s millions of species, including humanity. Another one fifth of the population believes in evolution but do not believe God had anything to do with it. Adding the two groups together, we find at least half the population believes in evolution. The two groups are in agreement concerning general evolutionary theory, but not in agreement on evolutionary processes. Most church members who believe in evolution believe God “created all things” in the beginning, a reiteration of “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (all that  exists). From the first appearance on earth of LUCA, a one-celled common ancestor about 3.8 billion years ago, evolutionists say God has been watching evolution proceed without any further acts of creation in the traditional sense. Those who believe in both God and evolution are forced to this conclusion.

Many commentators in the past month reported that the Pope reinforced the position that evolutionary theory is consistent with the Christian belief system. By extension, mainline Protestants and evangelical Protestants who believe in evolution would also find evolution compatible with their Christian belief system. Creationism, thereby, assumes a different definition: Theistic evolutionists have lately characterized themselves using the moniker “evolutionary creationist.” The term creationist, therefore, has now acquired diverse meanings. The challenge of theologians continues to be finding the truth, not merely reciting a spectrum of possible meanings of create, creationist, and creationism. Evolutionist evangelical Christian Denis O. Lamoureux, Associate Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph’s College, writing on the website of BioLogos, writes that, “Evolutionary creation…contends that the Creator established and maintains the laws of nature, including the mechanisms of a teleological evolution. In other words, evolution is a planned and purpose driven natural process.” (emphasis mine)

Pope Francis’ statements conflated the Big Bang and evolution: (1) The Big Bang doesn't contradict the notion of a divine creator, but demands it; (2) “Evolution is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve. The term demands with respect to the creation event seems unrelated to the occurrence of the Big Bang; the term requires seems unrelated to the creation of beings which evolve.

Our blog has expressed the position that the Big Bang was God’s initial creative act in this cosmos. According to many independent discoveries of sound science, the Big Bang occurred. About ten billion years later, life appeared suddenly on this planet. Life’s appearance was also a creation event or events according to Genesis 1. We have stated that the progressive sequence of life forms has consisted of changes occurring in step-like fashion. According to our knowledge of paleontology, the record affirms no significant sequences of transitions of species as evolutionary theory would predict. Thus, evolution is not confirmed; rather, it is denied. Instead, sudden creation acts are affirmed.

Some of the heartiest doubts concerning evolution are voiced by evolutionists themselves. For example, Stephen J. Gould (1941-2002), popular evolutionary theorist, wrote earth’s species exhibit “no directional change” nor do they evidence the “steady transformation of its ancestors.” Nevertheless, the concept of biological evolution is enormously appealing to our modern world. Rationale for this phenomenon relates to the fact that traditional supernatural creation events seem more difficult to accept than naturalistic explanations.

God is the author of miracles. He is also the author of natural laws and processes by which the world operates on a daily basis. To attribute a transcendent miracle to a natural process is as mistaken as to attribute operation of a natural process to a transcendent miracle. We search for the wisdom of God in discerning the difference between transcendent miracles and the operation of natural laws and processes. God is the author of both. 

We affirm, along with the Pope, that the Big Bang occurred. We do not affirm that macro-evolution occurred. Scientific evidence for creation events in the geologic record overwhelm scientific evidence for molecules to man evolution. Micro-evolutionary events occurred, but the evidence for macro-evolutionary events are virtually absent. If we acknowledge creation events, we acknowledge the divine works of God the Creator.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Autumn Appeal

Choosing a favorite season of the year is like picking your best loved hymn or most preferred food. We report best loved or preferred hymns or foods out of true conviction or possibly to spark a conversation. Either way we recognize God gifts us with abilities to discriminate among alternatives—to appreciate diverse physical and environmental characteristics and express preferences according to our personal priorities.

My personal favorite season is autumn, but only by a slight margin. Having grown up near Syracuse, NY, I have fond memories of recreational opportunities supplied by harsh central New York winters—frozen ponds, lakes, and rivers and trillions of swirling, wind-driven snowflakes. Winter loosened its grip in early March even before spring arrived, heralded by the beginning of maple sap flow when my grandfather noted daytime temperatures starting to rise above freezing. A multitude of other reawakening phenomena such as leaf-out became apparent as the countryside warmed. Summer followed, the period of rapid agricultural plant growth followed by rides on the tractor to observe operations of hay balers and corn stalk binders (1930s and 1940s vintage) completing their late summer work.

Fast forward to recent autumns of the 21st century.  A few short weeks ago in our midwest area some grain crops needed additional days of warmth to complete their maturity after a late planting season and a cool summer. Now it is clear that 2014 will produce an all-time US record corn and soybean harvest, 14.41 billion bushels and 3.98 billion bushels respectively. Autumn is a time to contemplate the blessings of God in providing man with ability to supply the nutritional needs of seven billion souls. The harvest phenomenon is but one example of “filling the earth and subduing it” (Genesis 1:28). In autumn humanity reaps life sustaining harvests.

In many parts of the world plants transition to colorful autumn splendor—a sign that the leaves of trees and grain crops have completed their task of manufacturing food from water, chlorophyll, minerals, and CO2 in the presence of light. Plants annually manufacture food for humans and other living things. In Genesis 1:29 scripture informs us: “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.’” All beasts and birds and everything that has life in it were also given every green plant for food (Genesis 1:30). The first mention that humans were invited by God to consume meat occurs in Genesis 9:3. Meat producing animals are ultimately dependent on food supplied by plants.

Colorful autumn resplendence is a sign that green chlorophyll has degraded, mainly triggered by diminishing daylight. This permits different color pigments to appear which had previously been masked by the chlorophyll.  A layer of cells growing at the attachment of the leaf stem blocks further transport of nutrients from the plant’s roots. Food making is finished for the season. Deciduous leaves drop away to become mulch and release nutrients back to the soil, increasing fertility for future benefit of the plants.

Autumn daylight diminishes and darkness increases as the daily east to west arc of the sun falls closer to the horizon. This is a consequence of the tilt of earth’s axis constantly pointing in the same direction in space—away from the sun in cooler seasons; toward the sun in warmer seasons. This astronomical phenomenon provides wondrous variety in terms of earth’s weather conditions. Lack of seasons due to a lack of axial tilt would preclude many agricultural benefits we now enjoy. For example, wheat production in quantities needed by the current world population would not be possible without a warm/cold seasonal cycle.

In autumn all living things rejoice in harvest, preparing and adapting for the coming winter and the approach of another warm season in prospect for the next spring. Psalm 96:12 affirms the devotional reality inspired by the beauties of our harvest seasons: “Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy…”     




Sunday, November 9, 2014

God as a Magician?

Pope Francis created headlines recently when he cautioned against “…imagining God as a magician with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so.” Less quoted is a much better translation of the Pope’s statement: “God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the Creator who gives birth to all entities.” A demiurge is a demigod, a platonic notion of a sub-deity. It relates to the pagan concept of formation of the world from chaos. Pope Francis was misunderstood on this point. He was not announcing his atheistic denial of God’s deity. Rather, he was voicing support for the concept of evolution.

The Catholic Church has long endorsed the concept of evolution beginning with Pope Pius XII in 1950 and continuing with Pope John Paul II in 1996 and Pope Francis in 2014. This endorsement amounts to agreement with the secular science community that natural processes are responsible for the sequential development of life from LUCA, the last universal common ancestor, to the historic development of millions of distinct species, and finally to full-fledged humanity. We characterize these papal endorsements as “molecules to man” evolution. The evolutionary LUCA hypothesis proposes that a simple organism about 3.8 billion years ago was the forerunner of every life form on earth existing at the present moment. Primarily, the foundation of belief in LUCA springs from the commonality of the genetic code: DNA and RNA are found in every living thing in various manifestations. From this commonality, bio-scientists infer evolution has occurred.

Our blog position stands against the theory of evolution. We have held that evolution is a weak theory notwithstanding the consensus of the bio-science community. Creation scriptures are interpreted to signal miraculous interventions of God to account for the sudden arrival of biochemically complex life on this planet, the dramatic appearance of new life forms exemplified by the Cambrian Explosion, and the “cultural big bang” marking startling changes in hominid ability and behavior within the last few tens of thousands of years. The theorized pace and operation of evolution acting under natural law conflicts with significant paleontological and archeological evidence and denies miraculous interventions of the monotheistic deity described in Genesis.   

Substantial segments of church attendees endorse evolution. As noted above, the leaders of the Catholic Church have long accepted evolution as part of their belief structure. Almost all of their members accept evolution and believe, along with their leadership, that Christian faith and evolution are fully compatible. We highlight two other church groups whose origins beliefs are similar. Mainline Protestants largely accept evolution as do some evangelical Protestants. The three groups mentioned would almost unanimously acknowledge that “God is the Creator of all things.” A May 2014 Gallup Poll would doubtlessly place these three groups among 31% of the US population who accept evolution in their survey. Another 19% of the US population endorses evolution but they do not believe God had any part in the process. All told, about half of the US population accepts evolution. They would agree with Pope Francis that “God is not a demiurge or a magician” responsible for creating life forms at any moment of past time.

The Gallup organization reports that a separate 42% of Americans believe the Earth and its life forms originated in divine miracles of creation less than 10,000 years ago. We suspect Pope Francis refers primarily to this group with his cautionary advice not to imagine that God is a magician able to wave a magic wand. The Pope may also refer to old universe creationists who perceive periodic divine interventions initiating life and new life forms. The imagery of waving of a magic wand does not equate with divine, miraculous acts of creation. Evolutionists believe the naturalistic process of evolution occurs neither miraculously or suddenly. The process of creation, however, cannot be explained in naturalistic terms.

Pope Francis’ statements have many ramifications. The media reported his message primarily as affirmation that evolutionary science and biblical faith need not be in conflict. This is a chic and popular proposal in our culture. The Pope’s statements went even further. For example, he conflated evolution and the Big Bang. It is difficult to draw a parallel between these theories. In a future post we will return to these challenging issues.  



Saturday, October 25, 2014

Speciation Requirements

As one of the most important scientific icons of the day, organic evolution permeates our 21st century consciousness. The term evolution is most commonly used in connection with organic evolution, the widely accepted belief that “every individual alive today, the highest as well as the lowest, is derived in an unbroken line from the first and lowest forms.” The previous quote was uttered by August Weismann (1834-1914), an important German evolutionary biologist. Evolutionary biologists today regularly voice identical beliefs. In public school and secular college science classrooms this is the accepted belief du jour. The impact on our young people and the culture at large has been breathtaking. Some evangelical organizations and individuals now accept evolution and disparage concepts of intelligent design and creationism, joining hands with secular scientists and liberal theologians who have countenanced evolution for many years.

The Biblical Hebrew terms for create have several interpretations ranging from fashioning from nothing to organizing, shaping, or forming previously existing material.   Evolution described by Darwin and his followers is not meant to convey the intent of scripture writers. The naturalistic evolutionary production of several million species of animals and plants in hundreds or thousands of incremental developmental steps beginning with a primitive common ancestor is a theoretical process beyond the understanding of many in our culture. The action just described is an idealized “bottom-up” process of development from non-life, to simple life, to complex contemporary life. This hypothetical and inferential scenario consists of a sequence of events supported by little or no observational reality. Rather, it is supported primarily by a theoretical concept—organic evolution—which has acquired cachet as accepted “scientific” reality.

Evolution of each species is supported by the scientific principle of cause and effect, a fundamental relationship in the field of natural science. The principle is sometimes termed “causal adequacy.” When we observe an attractive, beautifully integrated, functioning species of any one insect, bird, mammal, or plant, we could assume the existence of an extended sequence of specimens stretching into the past with unlimited historical information concerning its genealogy. In our fantasy we imagine a pictorial review of this process. The review would consist of millions or billions of sequential images of the ancestors of our recently highlighted post subject, the familiar praying mantis tenodera sinensus. This species is but one of over a million classified species. If our imaginary video review became reality, it would not be science fiction. The record would be a treasure to the community of evolutionary science!

Continuing our journey of fantasy, evolutionary scientists should be able to identify the nexus moment when our praying mantis species transitioned from an ancestral species. How would such a transition from one species to another be observed? Would all the necessary changes in morphology and physiology be observed at once? Would the changes be observed in one specimen or in all species specimens in unison? Beyond the startling visual changes from one generation to the next, how would we account for acquisition of new genetic information and replacement of old genetic information? Many other questions cry out for answers from our fantasized video projection.

Evolutionists must offer hypotheses to account for production of new species. The literature is filled with multiple explanatory hypotheses. Gradual changes are not an artifact of the fossil record. New species appear suddenly and fully formed. These phenomena have been termed “the trade secret of paleontology.” When they disappear from our planet due to extinction, they do not manifest significant morphological changes over their lifetime. In the case of sudden appearance of multiple novel phyla which characterize the Cambrian Explosion, the hypothetical problem for evolutionists posed by our video review fantasy becomes far more intense.

We have quoted Stephen C. Meyer’s account of the necessary steps in the transition of one species to another several times in past posts. We repeat a passage from 6/21/12 entitled “Evolution or Creation Miracles” 

Moreover, the sudden radiations of major new phyla after extinction events are more characteristic of miraculous creation events than of the classic theoretical evolutionary scenario. Stephen C. Meyer details the transition of Species A to Species B: Such transitions would involve the simultaneous production of new proteins, then new cell types, followed by new tissues, new organs, new body parts, and finally, a new organism. Transitions between major phyla would entail even more startling changes to body plans. The relatively sudden appearances of fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals after extinction events have been carefully detailed. The miracle scenario is far easier to grasp. In terms of a familiar figure of speech we might say the miracle of the  creation process may be far easier to “wrap our arms around” than a naturalistic theory involving many complex contingencies.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Insect Genealogy

Do insects have a genealogy? In the sense that insects have a line of descent, yes. As short-lived creatures, their descent may include many millions of generations. Human genealogy is of more interest, a treasured historical entity of the human race. The genealogy of modern man represents perhaps as many as 2000 generations since the well known “Cultural Explosion,” considered to have occurred roughly 50,000 years ago. Human genealogy is in a different category of importance than genealogies of lower animals. To the evolutionary biologist, however, their view of descent puts all living things into a common category since all living things were descended from a common ancestor according to their evolutionary paradigm.

Our recent posts have focused on insects, so we remain with this topic for our present discussion. I have searched back through our posts on insects over the past few years. Readers will forgive your blogger if he cites his experiences with grandchildren and their adventures with several wonderful insects in our neighborhood: ants, digger wasps, monarch butterflies, and praying mantises. Our grandchildren have responded with interest, curiosity, and joy as we captured or observed each of these animals. The Monarch Butterfly, from egg, to larva, to chrysalis, to adult, seems to possess more than its share of observational thrills as we participate in collecting eggs, feed the hatched larva for 14 days, provide a place for the larva to transition to a chrysalis, and finally, after a 10-day wait…watch the animal hatch and send it on its way.

Partial archive of past insect posts:

When our grandchildren are a little older, perhaps they will become interested in a more in-depth discussion of insect life. For example, what is the life cycle of each of the other insects? How long do they live? How do they reproduce? If they study evolution in their biology courses, they may become interested in the proposed evolutionary history of each of the four neighborhood animals they experienced as young children at the home of their grandparents. The lessons they learn in their secular bioscience classes will be startling: All animals have a common ancestor. According to evolutionary theory, ALL living things have evolved from a common ancestor! Surely our children and grandchildren will be exposed to the presentation of evolution as “good science”—the consensus of the bioscience community on origins. In fact, evolution is the consensus of bioscience educators. Consensus is not a synonym for what is true, however.

Our children and grandchildren in secular schools will have no choice but to accede to the teaching of evolution, notwithstanding the weaknesses of the theory and the ongoing changing viewpoints of evolutionary experts. How is the field of evolution changing? Just a few years ago the wonder of speciation of millions of organisms was attributed to natural selection, mutation, and lots of time. At present, it appears that the case for natural selection and mutation as the driver of the wonders of speciation has become exceedingly problematic. Plentiful time does not help, for over millions of years of the history of life on earth, the fossil record manifests multiple sudden appearances of new life forms. The Cambrian Explosion demonstrates abrupt mass emergence of novel life forms. Some writers describe the scenario as a succession of alternating rapid and slow phases resembling steps of a stairway.  

Based on the evidence of nature, supernaturalism appears to trump naturalism when considering origins. But alas, as defined by today’s ruling science practitioners, science does not accept a “supernatural foot in the door.” Did God suddenly create these wonderful animals at certain points in earth history? Or did the naturalistic process of evolution produce them? In most of our science classrooms only natural explanations are accepted. There is, therefore, no basis for discussion when we address the beauty and wonder of ants, wasps, butterflies, and mantises in terms of the production of a supernatural Creator.

Cause and effect is a fundamental relationship in the field of natural science. In terms of recognizing cause and effect when we examine the incredible design and functionality of our insect life, it would be a serious error to overlook the role of the insects’ Creator in producing multiple causes and effects in our world and in our neighborhood. 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Insect Taxonomy and Evolution

Carolos Linnaeus (1707-1778) originated one of the most long lasting classification systems in the world of science. Linnaeus developed binomial nomenclature for living things. He had an early fascination with botany, but his two term Latin scheme for classification of both plants and animals has earned him the title of Father of Taxonomy. He became one of the most acclaimed scientists of his time. He wrote the first edition of Systema Naturae in 1735, a major work which perfected the Linnaean system of taxonomy for the world of science. It was written in Latin, customary for scientific literature of his day. Many revisions and perfections followed during and after his lifetime. The Latin double name classification system persists to this day. He believed his classification system reflected the glory of God’s creation.

When Linnaeus developed the taxonomic system, the prevailing theory was that each species represented an independent act of creation by God. He stated, “The Earth’s creation is the glory of God as seen from the works of nature by Man alone. The study of nature would reveal the Divine Order of God’s creation, and it was the naturalist’s task to construct a natural Classification that would reveal this Order in the universe.” Linnaeus himself claimed, “God created, Linnaeus organized.”

In the 1735 Systema Naturae, Linnaeus listed only 10,000 species of organisms. As a botanist, we may understand why he included 6000 plants but only about 4000 specimens from the animal kingdom. Even in 1753 he believed the number of plants in the world would only reach 10,000. He classified 7700 plants during his lifetime. Two and one half centuries later, we now have 950,000 classified insects, with many more unclassified and undiscovered.

As we examine some of the 950,000 insect species classified under the Linnaean system, several insights come to mind. Each insect has its own design features, its own beauty, its own adaptations, and its own ability to reproduce. The reproduction process inspires reverent awe at the creative ingenuity necessary for the existence of each and every extant species on earth. It is understandable that the wonder of human reproduction garners substantially more attention. The reproductive process of the many diverse species on earth, insects included, is also worthy of our study. Zoologists know far more about such wonders than they do about the speculative and inferential processes supposedly driving the evolution of living species.

Concerning the inferential character of evolution, scientists must develop new and different apologetics for evolutionary theory on a continuing basis. Rumblings within the evolutionary camp are becoming louder that natural selection and mutation as a cornerstone of evolutionary theory may be eroding. Examples are evolutionary scientist Masatoshi Nei, winner of the prestigious Kyoto Prize, cognitive scientist Jerry Fodor, and the Altenberg 16. The latter group met in 2008 to discuss alternatives to natural selection. Lynn Margulis, wife of Carl Sagan stated, “Mutations create impaired offspring.” These few examples illustrate the necessity of “Modern Evolutionary Synthesis” supporters to acquire reinforcements in their battle against creationist and intelligent design theorists.

One need not be a student of the complete history of the development of the evolutionary paradigm to understand that evolutionists and creation/design proponents are locked in a very intense struggle. Contemporary evolutionists have transitioned to topics like gene flow, developmental plasticity, genetic accommodation, phenotypic innovation, and epigenetic inheritance to bolster their confidence, even as they admit that natural selection and mutation are inadequate to support the belief in the “Modern Evolutionary Synthesis,” today’s widely accepted account of the theory of evolution.

How does this discussion relate to our announced post topic of “Insect Evolution?” An extensive and helpful Wikipedia entry on “Insect Evolution” may give us clues that the evolutionists and creationist/ID proponents are far from being on the same page in their discussions. Numerous insect orders have appeared suddenly in the geologic record ever since the first insects appeared on this Earth in the later half of the Paleozic. Thereafter, the term “major radiation” occurs frequently. Major radiation means a sudden appearance and profusion of new forms. The term applies to the sudden appearance and profusion not only of insects, but also of virtually all living things in the fossil record of life on earth. In the case of sudden appearances, the term major radiation applies to the appearance of fish, reptiles, land plants, birds, and mammals.

Hundreds of book-length treatises on these topics exist. Most biological authors are evolutionists. They are untroubled by (1) sudden appearances, (2) lack of legitimate antecedents, (3) missing transitional species, and (4) stasis (unchangeableness) of existing species. All of the experts quoted above are evolutionists, some avowed atheists. Their commitment to the paradigm of evolution impels them to justify their evolutionary beliefs by revising or modifying the mainstays of evolutionary theory.

Intelligent Design, creationism, and evolution are not compatible belief systems. Evolutionary creationism, the chic moniker now used by theistic evolutionists to describe their brand of evolutionism, really does not differ from naturalistic evolution in any significant way. Naturalistic evolutionary processes, however, now seem inadequate to explain the incredible design complexity and functionality of earth life. Even more difficult to explain is the process of speciation (the appearance of new species) without the timely interventions of a Creator.     


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Insect Profusion

The recent post on the wonders of one species of praying mantis triggered our contemplation of the wondrous profusion, complexity, and diversity of life on earth, not to mention our focus on just one class of animals—insecta. Eighteenth century Swedish zoologist Carolus Linnaeus proposed the system of naming individual species by assigning two latin names—one for its genus followed by one for its species. The Linnaean system has survived the test of time. Each time a child enthuses over a specimen of class insecta in the yard or garden, her discovery could be found in a descriptive book of insect species. For example, the praying mantis, tenodera sinensus, recently discovered by our grand-daughter, is but one of thousands of praying mantis species listed in the specialized literature.

In a flashback to our high school or college biology courses, we recall the taxonomic system of Linnaeus which still dominates with minor modifications among zoologists.  The PCOFGS (phylum, class, order, family, genus, species) scheme is still used. Reading backward through the series from species to phylum, the biological groupings become smaller. Each smaller grouping includes specimens with major morphological traits in common. The top of the hierarchy, the phylum, has only 35 categories of animals. All living animals fit within these 35 categories including all named species. Included is the well known praying mantis tenodera sinensus, one of 1.3 million named species of 8.7 million existing species of animals. Many more than 1.3 million species have been described, but not yet named and many more species on earth are yet to be discovered.

One of the 35 phyla is arthropoda—animals with an exoskeleton, a segmented body, and jointed appendages. The largest group of arthropods is included in the class insecta. Specifically, insects are arthropods having six legs and a body divided into three parts. Insects are the most numerous species of animals in the world, making up about 950,000 of 1.3 million named species. Therefore, insects are far and away the most plentiful animal species on earth—about three times as many as all other species known on earth combined! As an aside, beetles are an order of insects comprising 40% of the entire class of insects. One in four of all named animal species on Earth is a beetle.

Earth dwellers may be unwise to shrink in horror from “bugs,” creatures so dubbed by many with less than respectful favor. What accounts for the plentiful distribution of just one class of animals—insects—in the economy of the created order? This is a question without a satisfactory answer for some people. Parents and teachers of young children may do well to foster appreciation of the world’s most plentiful species. Their existence is recognized as a mainstay in the balance of nature. Recently a friend inquired if any purpose was served by annoying, stinging insects on the beach during their vacation. The answer must be given in a broad context of reality.

Why did God create so many insects? The answer has both philosophical and scientific dimensions. In the balance of nature, insects provide various products for man’s use, pollinate our crops, exert natural control of many harmful pests, provide aesthetic beauty (who does not appreciate the beauty of the monarch butterfly with its unique life cycle?), and even food in some foreign countries. In the scheme of God’s creative genius, I enjoy thinking about a Creator with imagination, enjoying his work of creating and inspecting his creation. Considering the millions of insect species, God’s imagination and creativity are virtually limitless.

Finally, an analogy springs to mind. Many skeptics have poked fun at a God who created a septillion stars in hundreds of billions of galaxies in an unimaginably vast universe, yet apparently created life on only one planet in the cosmos. That seems wasteful, even unwise, they opine. Many astrophysicists have concluded that the vastness of the cosmos is a prerequisite for even one habitable planet such as Earth.

We wonder if Psalm 147:4 is literal, figurative, or metaphorical: “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name” (NIV). If the Creator knows the names of all the stars, we may be sure he also knows the names of millions of unnamed insects. We may be certain the God of the Bible is infinitively wise and creative, even though some of our questions have no answer in human terms.