Chapter 7. The Perfect “BALANCE” and Universal “INTERDEPENDENCE” of All life on Earth Witness to the Superintendent of a MASTER MIND.
All life on earth forms a wonderful unit. In nature are found many “checks and counterchecks” which keep the so-called “Balance in Nature.” Bats and birds keep insects in check; large fish eat the more prolific small fish; hawks keep down the mouse population — and in a thousand other ways the “Balance in Nature” is maintained.
Here are some links in the so-called “food chain;” the worm is eaten by the frog; the frog in turn is eaten by the snake; the snake is eaten by the hawk.
Another “food chain” is in the sea. One authority says,
“Ten thousand pounds of diatoms are eaten to make 1,000 pounds of copepods; 1,000 pounds of copepods when eaten produce 100 pounds of smelts, 100 pounds of smelts, when consumed produce 10 pounds of mackerel; the ten pounds of mackerel when eaten by tuna make one pound of tuna. Caught, canned and eaten by man, one pound of tuna increases man’s body weight by one-tenth of a pound.” Such “food chains” not only illustrate the way “balance” is maintained in nature, but also the interdependence of all life.
“Nature’s world,” says Robert S. Lemmon, writing in Nature’s Wonders, “is peopled by no random assemblage of isolated, unrelated forms of life jumbled together without rhyme or reason. Rather, it is an inconceivably vast and integrated organization, a network composed by myriads of. . . vital connecting strands.”
“The living things of a community,” says another author, “form a natural balance, which is often upset but just as often restored. . . . If we consider the living world we see a vast number of species, animal and vegetable, high and low, some numerous, some scarce, some spread everywhere, others confined to limited parts of the earth. On the whole, these proportions, numbers and particular distribution of species remain constant; there is a balance maintained between them which we are wont to call the, ‘BALANCE OF NATURE.’ “ (Book of Popular Science).
The major controls in nature that are used to maintain this “balance” are (1) predators; (2) starvation; (3) disease; (4) weather hazards (such as extreme cold or heat). All four of course result in the death of the members of a population that get too numerous.
Animal and Plant Characteristics are given by the Creator
Though Dr. Irston Barnes, president of the Audubon Society of Washington,
D. C., does not give the Creator the credit, he speaks of the “fixity of character” in animals and plants that assures the maintenance of the “balance in nature.” He says,
“Each animal is chained . . . to an instinctive pattern of behaviour . . . . Thus a hawk is powerless to alter its tastes or its manners. This dictate of nature asserts that each form of life shall fulfill its destiny, that no chaos of individual choices shall destroy nature’s balance. . . . Each form of life has its essential role in a community.”
If each animal is “chained to an instinctive pattern of behaviour,” then all life is static — and evolution is ruled out.
Such an intricate system in nature could NOT have been evolved by “blind chance.” It demands a thinking, planning Architect who is both all-wise and all-powerful to put it into effect.
“Handicaps” and “Safeguards” the Creator’s Hand can easily be seen also in the many “handicaps” and “safeguards” found in nature. “Balance” in nature is maintained by the “handicaps” placed on certain creatures that otherwise would kill off all weaker species. The poisonous snake might become a great threat to all other forms of life, were it not handicapped by having to grovel along the ground without feet. Poisonous snakes in India also have a natural enemy — the mongoose. The stronger predators like tigers and lions breed more slowly than the prolific smaller animals, such as rabbits, that are eaten in large numbers by other predators such as foxes and wolves.
Certain “safeguards” also are given to forms of life that otherwise would be at a great disadvantage in the struggle for existence. The cactus is provided with spines; some plants have a strong poison in their leaves; other plants are protected by disagreeable odors; the sloe turtle is placed in a heavy armored plate; the small fish are very prolific; the dumb porcupine is given quills. All such ingenious devices — handicaps and safeguards — are evidence of a Creator who put each form of life here to perform a predetermined function in the scheme of things. To do this successfully, someone had to have an over-all view of things, with sufficient knowledge to plan an integrated whole, with all parts functioning together, and supplied with the right checks and balances so that no one section of life would wipe out the rest. Only GOD could do that!
“Balance” Maintained in the Insect World Insects multiply at an unbelievable rate. For example, a female house-fly can lay 500 eggs in one season. Each egg develops into an adult fly in one week. Each of these adult female flies can then lay 500 eggs of its own. If all eggs hatch and if all the newly hatched survive, the original fly would have some 200,000,000,000,000,000,000 descendants at the end of the season! That means little to the average person — the number is simply too big to be comprehended; so let us state it this way:
“If all the offspring of a single pair of common house flies lived to mature and reproduce, the earth would be blanketed beneath a layer of flies nearly fifty feet deep in less then six months!” (U.S.D.A. Year Book).
One great enemy of insects is the spider.
“The insects — with nearly a million different kinds — might dominate the land if the arachnids (spiders and their relatives) were not pitted against them. From time immemorial spiders and their clan have killed and eaten insects of all kinds and sizes. One female spider is reported to have destroyed 250 house flies, 33 fruit flies . . .during its lifetime. . . .More than 60,000 different species of arachnids are known, and they live about us in vast numbers. An Englishman calculated that there ‘are probably more than 50,000 spiders per acre in England.’ “ (“Spiders and Their Relatives”).
In a thousand other ways, “insects are pitted against insects” to keep the populations of insects in control. For example, “the horse guard (a wasp) kills horse flies; the Microgaster (ichneumon) helps preserve our cabbage gardens from destruction by the larvae of the cabbage butterfly; the “lady bug” beetles (called the bete a Dieux — God’s creature — by the French) destroy destructive garden aphids by the millions; a tiny wasp (Apanteles medicaginis) each year saves thousands of acres of alfalfa by preying on the caterpillar population that destroys alfalfa; and so the story goes.
Birds and small animals too are pitted against insects. One toad will eat as many as 30 flies an hour; and a giant toad was observed snapping up mosquitoes at the rate of 50 a minute. A swallow will devour as many as 2,000 mosquitoes per day, in addition to large numbers of flies and other insects. Some birds, like the wren, will destroy their own weight of pestiferous insects and larvae in one day. If God had not provided such “hungry” insect eaters, disaster would soon overtake the world. Birds as a whole are God’s agents, His “police,” to keep insects and weeds in check. (They keep weeds in check by eating the weed seeds).
“We have birds for every place where insects and worms might be found. Up in the air we see Swallows. Swifts and the Martins catching flying insects as they sail along. These birds have wide mouths so they can catch flies, bugs and beetles as they fly. At a little lower level we have Kingbirds, Flycatchers, Woodpeckers and others darting out of trees to chase passing insects. In the treetops Warblers and Flycatchers take care of the insects. Birds like the Sparrows and the Maryland Yellowthroats take care of the insects in the bushes. The Quail, Robin and Meadowlark, and many others, make their meals of insects and worms they find on the ground. Snipes, Sandpipers and Herons are the “waders” on stilt-like legs walking around, catching insects along the shores of lakes and streams. Ducks, Geese and others guard the surface of the waters and dig into the mud to keep insects and worms from over multiplying . . . .It has been said that if birds were taken from this world, IN LESS THAN ONE YEAR NEARLY ALL PLANTS WOULD BE DESTROYED BY INSECTS. Birds spend most of their life hunting for food.” (School Textbook). *
* There is a rather large group of small animals (the insectivores) that specializes in eating insects. It includes the hedgehogs, shrews, moles, tenrecs and solendons. they are active mostly at night, and consume enormous quantities of insects.
What a thorough job the Creator did in providing birds for EVERY ENVIRONMENT — air, earth, water and under the water — to keep down the insect population! EVOLUTION COULD NOT BE RIGHT — for if insects had arrived as little as three years before birds, their destroyers, all the earth would have been denuded of vegetation and so all higher forms of life would have been impossible. In fact, insects would eat themselves out of food, and literally destroy themselves! One can easily see that it was absolutely necessary, as the Bible teaches (Genesis 1) for ALL LIFE ON EARTH, WITH NATURE’S MARVELOUS SYSTEM OF CHECKS AND BALANCES TO HAVE BEEN CREATED AT ABOUT THE SAME TIME. It has been truly said,
“Many minds have overlooked the fact that if life had evolved on the earth without a Master Mind it would have evolved its own destroyers” (Dr. B. H. Shadduck).
And if insect would stop eating insect, it would take only ONE year to upset the balance, and “in a single season insects would denude all living plant life from our planet” (Science Digest). One can not help seeing the Hand of the Creator and the Mind of the Supreme Being behind His creation.
What Keeps the Seas From Overflowing with Life? Near the surface, the ocean waters will produce “400 million diatoms per cubic yard.” What keeps the oceans from becoming clogged with diatoms? A small copepod will have about 120,000 diatoms in its stomach; then the herring comes along and eats 6,000 copepods at a feeding; that takes care of getting rid of the surplus diatoms — the “hay” of the sea.
A codfish will release 4,000,000 eggs in a season, an oyster 100 million, and a sunfish 300 million! How is it that the ocean is not soon filled to overflowing with oysters? or sunfish? For the simple reason that many fish eat these eggs by the hundreds — and so the “balance” of life in the oceans is maintained. This shows the handiwork of an all wise Creator.
How Rats, Mice and other Small Animals are kept in Check One of the most fascinating of African birds is the secretary bird. It stands about three feet tall. Stalking through the bush, it captures and eats snakes, scorpions and lizards. Our American roadrunner bird does the same in our Southwest.
“One pair of meadow mice could be responsible for one million offspring within a year, if their fecundity were not disturbed. Nature has wisely provided controls for the mouse population. Not only birds of prey, but a wide variety of mammals eat mice as staple food.”
Rats also are exceedingly prolific; they generally bear five or six litters a year, with an average of ten young in each litter.
“Fortunately for us, rats and mice have a great many enemies. These enemies include mammals such as foxes, coyotes, badgers, skunks, weasels and wild cats; birds such as hawks, owls, crows and ravens; and reptiles, such as snakes and certain lizards.”
The barn owl has aptly been termed “a living mouse trap” — it eats so many mice. Now here is a revealing fact:
“Owl breeding closely follows the mouse population. In seasons when mice are abundant, tawny owls attempt to rear TWO broods instead of one.”
* Loren C. Eiseley, Professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, calls attention to this fact: “Consider the disaster that would overtake an animal like the tubular-mouthed toothless anteater if extinction overtook the social insects (ants and termites). The anteater could never re-adjust. He would starve in the midst of food everywhere available to the less specialized. He will last only as long as his strange environmental niche remains undisturbed.” (Nov. 1950, Scientific American).
this is an indirect admission that evolution won’t work. Dr. Eiseley knows that any radical re-adjustment necessary to save the anteaters if their present food supply failed, would have to be immediate — and evolution does not work that fast. (or at all) Typists note.
owls eat mice; birds eat insects; spiders devour insects; ladybugs eat aphids; big fish eat little fish. The entire self-regulating system shows a Master Mind behind the whole scheme of things.
Nature’s “Undertakers” Plants and animals live and die. If there were not some means of clearing the earth of lifeless tissues, life on earth would soon become impossible, for undecayed leaves, branches, and corpses of animals would pile up and choke out all possibility of new life. God has, in His economy for nature, created a number of “undertakers” who take care of the dead. In His employ, at this lowly yet necessary work, are bacteria, fungi (molds), the Necrophorus beetle, vultures, hyenas, and others.
Bacteria and fungi are great agents of decay. They reduce anything that dies to simple chemical substances that can then be used by green plants.
“Many molds are equipped with a powerful arsenal of enzymes which bring about the rapid decomposition of woody plant materials. Fungi rot leaves, dead branches and tree trunks. In so doing they build up the humus layer and enrich the soil for future generations of trees.”
Since bacteria and fungi depend for their food on dead tissues of plants and animals, we see another illustration of “interdependence” as we as “maintaining balance.”
The Necrophorus beetle, popularly called the sexton, is invaluable as one of God’s undertakers. Working mostly at night, it will bury a small dead animal, such as a rabbit — than use it for food for itself and its offspring. It clears the surface of the ground of what would soon become a foul-smelling, unsightly cadaver.
The bluebottle flies are also on “Nature’s payroll as qualified undertakers.” They and their grubs help dissolve the meat of corpses, such as dead horses and cows or other animals that would soon fill the earth unless disposed of quickly. Bluebottle grubs, by the thousands, live on putrefying flesh and help get it our of the way. These grubs “exude a liquid of great potency” that dissolves the meat; for the grubs can eat only “liquid” foods.
God who planned all things to keep nature solvent and liveable, created these humble “undertakers” for a distinct purpose in the scheme of things. And, He created them without the possibility of “evolving” into something else — their station in life is static. In fact, ALL life is limited by the laws of the Creator to reproduce “after its kind,” and only after its kind. In that way the Creator, who planned every form and phase of life, keeps the “balance of nature.”
Vultures and a few other birds such as Marabou storks that live on carrion are also God’s “undertakers.” They have a keen sense of smell and extraordinary vision, for “the smallest dead snake or mouse does not escape detection by these birds several hundred feet up in the air.” After the vultures have cleaned off the flesh from a dead animal, hyenas (in some areas of the world) come along, crack open the bones and eat the marrow. This hastens the decay of the bones, and adds greatly to the accomplishing of the gruesome task assigned to God’s “undertakers” of clearing the ground of the corpses of animals.
Nothing was forgotten, nothing was neglected, in the “scheme of things” to keep nature solvent and keep one phase of life (or death) from destroying the rest.
The Interdependence of All Life Not only is there designed “balance in nature” that keeps nature solvent and functioning century after century, but also all life is “mutually dependent.” As an illustration, let us take Darwin’s classic example of the effect of cats on red clover in England.
“If field mice are not kept in check by cats, the nests of bumble bees would be destroyed by too many mice. With no bumble bees the red clover could not be fertilized, and would soon die out.”
Species serve one another, as is the case of the birds that eat stone-fruit, thus obtaining food, and effecting thereby a scattering of the seeds — so serving by scattering the very species it attacks! small creatures like squirrels are the means of planting many of our large forests; they eat some of the nuts, and scatter others in their travels from tree to tree. They often bury nuts in the Fall and neglect to dig them up later. Here is another illustration:
“Vast numbers of one-celled plants (fungi) and animals (protozoa) live in the stomachs of cattle and obtain nourishment from the contents of the digestive organs; at the same time they break down the cellulose in the plants on which the cows feed, and as a result the cows are able to make use of the various nutritive elements contained in the cellulose.”
Speaking of this fact of interdependence in nature, one authority says, “The variety of interplay between the great branches of the living world is endless and inexhaustible. We need only to recall two salient illustrations: (1) the formation by plants of chemical compounds which animals can consume; and (2) the formation by animals of carbon dioxide which they pour into the air, and which is a source of food for all the higher forms of plants. Thus plants serve animals; and animals, though absolutely dependent on plants, serve plants.”
Animals breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide; green plants (in sunlight) take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Without plants in the world the time would soon come when all animals and all men would use up the available oxygen in the air and would perish.” *
* “Give the plants a free hand and the water would in time become 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; but the two working against one another insure the maintenance of 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 comes down in irreparable ruin.” (Creation’s Amazing Architect).
Miracles of Interdependence seen in Cross Pollination Flowers supply bees with nectar; bees in turn transfer pollen from one flower to another, thus preserving the life of the species.
The late Dr. Arthur I. Brown said, “God devised a curious and altogether marvelous plan whereby pollen dust would be carried to the proper destination and reach its appointed place safely. He called on the insect world to help with the job. Bees, among insects, are His chief agents, and naturally the Creator, wishing to bring them to the flowers, gave the flowers color and fragrance as definite attractions, along with nectar for food for the bees, also to attract them.”
Bees, with their long slender tongues, can reach the nectar, but most other insects can not. Writing on “The Fertilization of Flowers” in June, 1951 Scientific American, Verne Grant tells an intriguing story.
“As the bee takes the nectar, its body hairs inevitably pick up pollen from the flowers stamens. In some bee flowers the stamens have special lever, trigger or piston devices for dusting pollen on some particular spot of the bee’s body. When the bee has finished working on one flower, it flies rapidly on to another. BEES HAVE AN INSTINCT TO CONFINE THEIR ATTENTION TO FLOWERS OF ONE SPECIES AT A TIME. . . .This assures that the bee will deliver its load of pollen to another flower of the same species which the pollen can fertilize.” (Caps ours).
“Adaptations” and “Design” in the realm of the cross-pollination of flowers are so evident and so truly wonderful that they seem almost unbelievable. The Creator has devised scores of odd means to insure the pollination of certain flowers. We mention some of the more interesting:
Some flowers are pollinated by beetles. “Several of them hold the beetles in a trap while the stigmas receive pollen and the stamens sprinkle a fresh supply onto the bodies of the prisoners. Then they open an exit by which the beetle escapes.
“The flowers pollinated by sunbirds, which settle on the plant, usually stand erect and provide a landing platform. . . .The petals of flowers pollinated by birds are fused into a tube which holds copious quantities of thin nectar. THE PROPORTIONS OF THE TUBE OFTEN CORRESPOND TO THE LENGTH AND CURVATURE OF THE BIRD’S BILL.
“The tree-borne bat flowers of the tropics are large, frequently a dirty white in color and open only at night. (Bats fly about only at night). They attract the bats by a fermenting or fruit-like odor, which is GIVEN OFF AT NIGHT.
“Some flowers are pollinated by flies. Since flies derive their food usually from carrion, dung, humus, etc., THE FLOWERS THAT ATTRACT FLIES CARRY SIMILAR ODORS. . . .Rafflesia, a large blossomed fly-pollinated flower of Malaysia, smells like putrefying flesh; another flower, pollinated by flies, black arum, has the odor of dung; . . . there is a species of Dutchman’s-pipe that smells like decaying tobacco.” (Ibid). (Caps ours).
Let us give a few more examples, in detail, of the various ways the miracle of cross-pollination is carried out.
“When the beetle Catonia lights on a magnolia flower, its weight springs a trigger-like trap that releases a sudden shower of petals that frightens the insect and causes it to take off to another flower, with pollen from the first flower stuck to its back. When it alights on the next flower its back rubs against the stigma and leaves the pollen where it should be!”
And what can match the resourcefulness displayed in the lovely Iris? Attracted by the beauty of the flower, the bee lights on a flag and follows a distinct line that leads to the nectar well in the center of the flower. As she does so she must move under the drooping stigma which rolls the pollen off her back by a little petal curved downward like a bent finger. When the bee then goes on in to suck the nectar, her back picks up a fresh load of pollen from the anther under which she is forced to stand while sucking nectar. Meanwhile the ‘finger’ has straightened out and the stigma has moved up out of the way so that the new cargo of pollen cannot be scraped off as the bee backs out — and so self-pollination of the flower is prevented. Neither bee nor flower designed this.
“An example of the perfectly exquisite way in which insects and some flowers are adapted to help each other is seen in cases where the scent of the flower BECOMES OBVIOUS EXACTLY AT THE TIME WHEN THE FLIGHT OF CERTAIN INSECTS BEGINS. Some of the honeysuckles and petunias, which have a very faint smell, or none at all, during the day, are powerfully scented in the hours of the evening, at which time the particular insects which visit them are on the wing.
“Most important ‘conveniences’ are offered by flowers to their pollen carriers, such as landing platforms or a ‘door step’ for short-legged insects like bees. . . . Another convenience is guide-lines of different colors which converge and point like so many fingers to the opening that leads to the nectar well. . . .” (“Plants and their Partners”).
“Such stories (as quoted above) are limited in number only by the flowers studied, since each one has its own story to tell to eyes keen enough to see. The bleeding heart, the sweet pea, the columbine, the sage, the hollyhock, the laurel, all have very interesting devices for securing cross-pollination and they and their composites have an equally wonderful mutual arrangement.” (Ibid).
“And as you study them,” writes Rutherford Platt in This Green World, “you cannot help feeling that sense of incredulous awe which prompted Jean Henri Fabre, the Homer of insects, to say of cross-pollination: ‘Before these mysteries of life, reason bows and abandons itself to adoration of the Author of these miracles’. “
For such “adaptations” and such miracles of “design” to develop through natural processes — “random changes” — would require billions of years and then could not be developed by mere chance. To believe that evolution developed such marvels is credulity stretched to the point of the preposterous.
The Case of the Yucca and the Pronuba Moth In all nature there are few cases of such obvious interdependence as exists between the Yucca plant and the Pronuba moth. It is most amazing.
“The yucca is a bright and popular desert flower which seems tough and independent, sending up flowers of white lilies from a cluster of sharp leaves like wicked swords pointing out in all directions. But this beautiful, boastful lily’s life hangs on one little white moth that hides underground in the daytime and comes out and flaps around, without ever eating, in the desert night. Yucca buds open at nightfall and pour out their white flowers which, on certain nights, give forth a strong fragrance.
“AT THIS EXACT MOMENT the pronuba moths break out of their cocoons beneath the sand. They struggle up into the air and are led by the odor straight to the flowers. The moth goes to the top of the stamens of the first flower it reaches and scrapes together a wad of pollen three times as big as her head. Carrying this big load in her jaws and tentacles, which are specially enlarged for this purpose, she flies to another yucca plant, Still holding the pollen, she backs down into the bottom of a flower, pierces a hole with her egg-laying needle and lays eggs among the seed cells in the green pod at the base of the pistil.
“Then she climbs to the top of the same pistil where there is a cavity just the right size to receive the wad of pollen. She stuffs this full, pushing down the pollen and padding it to make sure that plenty of pollen tubes will grow quickly and spark the seeds where she has laid her eggs.
“The mother moth plans far ahead. . . .She has deliberately bred the plants so that her babies will have a supply of food when they are born. While the pronuba eggs are getting ready to hatch, the yucca’s seeds are ripening. when the moth’s larvae (caterpillars) finally emerge from their eggs, they find themselves surrounded by delicious food. They eat their fill of seeds, grow and finally cut a hole through the pod and lower themselves to the ground by spinning a silk thread.
“The mother moth never eats. She just lays eggs, pollinates the yucca to make the seeds ripen, and dies. As the moth, babies eat only about a fifth of the seeds in the pod, the rest of the seeds mature successfully and go on raising more yuccas which in turn will raise more pronubas.
“No one can say how and why this vital partnership of the lily and the moth was planned. WHY DOES THE MOTH COME OUT ON THE NIGHT WHEN THE FLOWERS BLOOM? Why does she do things in the right order? WHAT TELLS HER TO CARRY POLLEN FROM ONE FLOWER TO ANOTHER INSTEAD OF POLLINATING THE SAME FLOWER? What prompts her to work so hard to drive home the pollen in just the right spot? Why don’t the caterpillars eat all the seeds? These are just a few of the questions that must go unanswered when we look for reasons in nature’s order of things.” (Rutherford Platt, in an article on “POLLINATION.”) (Caps in quotations are ours). *
* There are other amazing facts not mentioned by Mr. Platt. One is, there are several species of the Yucca plant and each species has its own species of moth. The flower is so constructed that it can only be pollinated by this particular moth — and that moth is as dependent on the yucca plant as the yucca plant is on the moth!
The Pronuba moth “is provided with special tentacles covered with stiff bristles and obviously designed for the purpose of collecting pollen from the anthers of the yucca flowers. . . .There are years in which the yucca plants in a given locality do not flower. . . . It has been observed that in those years when the yucca does not bloom the moths remain dormant in the pupa stage; but when the flowers appear again on the yucca plants THE MOTHS EMERGE AT THE RIGHT TIME TO CARRY ON THEIR PART” in this amazing scheme! This is altogether wonderful, and utterly inexplicable, except on the grounds of DIVINE CREATION, God alone can devise and put into effective operation such miracles!
Mr. Platt may not know the answers to his questions — but the believer in God does. The only possible explanation for such an intricate series of action, in perfect co-ordination between a plant incapable of thinking and a moth incapable of reasoning power or foresight, is that GOD MADE IT SO. And so the little Pronuba moth, and the lovely Yucca plant of the desert are mighty witnesses to the fact that GOD MADE THEM SO. Throughout all creation there are a million voices — voices that rise from the throats of songbirds, insects, animals, flowers and fishes of the sea — that bear testimony to the power and wisdom of God in His magnificent creation.
We would like some evolutionist to answer this question: How could the Yucca plant and the Pronuba moth both evolve, by “chance mutations,” “random changes,” natural selection, or any other “chance” method, in such a way, and at the same time, so that both organisms were perfected together, to be dependent on each other as completely as are the Yucca plant and the Pronuba moth? Such a relationship of interdependence and helpfulness could not possibly come about except by outside intervention. That intervention was and could only be by One of supreme power and intelligence.