The Earth's Ecosystem
by D.W. Cloud
According to the Bible, God created the world as a delightful place for man’s existence, but it was plunged into death and chaos because of man’s sin. Thus we would expect to find two seemingly contradictory things in nature: harmony and chaos, delight and pain, glorious life and terrible death, and this is exactly what we find.
The examples of the harmony and integration of nature are endless. Henry Zuill, Ph.D. in biology, observes:
“When we look broadly at the panorama of life and ecological relationships, we see that ecological complexity is built on layer upon layer of complexity, going all the way down through different hierarchical structural and organizational levels to the cell and even lower. ... we are talking about an essential multi-species integrated service system--an entire integrated system. There seems to be no adequate evolutionary way to explain this. How could multiple organisms have once lived independently of services they now require?” (In Six Days, edited by John Ashton, p. 67-69).
The earth is a finely-tuned environment for sustaining life. Consider a few examples:
The Food Chain
There is the food chain, with its producers (plants), consumers (animals), and decomposers (micro-organisms).
The Oxygen/Carbon Cycle
Plants take in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen, while animals take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. This highly complex, perfectly balanced mechanism involves countless plants and animals and humans.
“Imagine a factory capable of converting nothing but dirt, air, water, and sunshine into millions of different useful and/or edible products! As it turns out, the invention has already happened. These factories not only produce edible goods, but textile fibers, lumber, rubber, oils, and innumerable derivative products from the basic raw materials of dirt, air, water, and sunshine. It all happens continuously in the most efficient manufacturing system imaginable: plants. In addition to providing almost every imaginable necessity for life, plants also allow us to breathe” (A Closer Look at the Evidence, September 25).
The Water Cycle
There is the water cycle, which is composed of vaporization, buoyancy, condensation, precipitation, soil permeation, and distribution. “Here we see a wonderfully complete water cycle which includes the distribution of clean water throughout the land and the drainage of dirty water away from the land” (Stuart Burgess, Hallmarks of Design, p. 55).
The Nitrogen Cycle
“When plants and animals die and decay, or when animals excrete, a substance called ammonia is produced. This substance contains nitrogen but not in the right form for plants. However, the metabolic activities (i.e. the living processes) of bacteria convert the ammonia into nitrites and then nitrates that are suitable for plants” (Burgess, p. 54).
Air has many wonderful properties. It carries the right amount of oxygen necessary for respiration; it carries carbon dioxide for the photosynthesis process in plants; it is a radiation screen; it is a medium for color, unlike the moon with its black sky, because the air molecules scatter shorter wavelength blue light from the white light spectrum of sunlight; it is a medium for sound; it is a medium for vision because it is colorless; it is a medium for smell, because it is odorless; it is a medium for thermal insulation; it is a medium for pressure (astronauts’ faces become puffy because of the lack of air pressure); it facilitates evaporation and drying; it has the right density to support many important processes such as transporting dust particles that form rain droplets (Burgess, pp. 57, 58).
Water is a miracle substance. It is a liquid at room temperature; it is transparent and odorless; it is a universal solvent; it expands before freezing so that it does not sink to the bottom of a body of water and thus kill the fish.
“Like other materials, water shrinks as it decreases in temperature. However, when the temperature drops to about 4 degrees Celsius, the shrinking stops and any further reductions in temperature towards freezing cause an expansion of the water. This expansion has the effect of making ice less dense than liquid water. The lower density of ice means that it floats on the surfaces of lakes and seas and insulates the warmer water below. ... The fact that water expands on freezing is another mystery to scientists” (Burgess, p. 56)
The pollination system is a finely-tuned symbiotic process that involves countless different types of flowers, insects, and birds, all perfectly integrated to maintain life.
The yucca plant depends on the yucca moth for fertilization, and the moth’s larva depend on that particular plant for food.
The voodoo lily raises its temperature by 25 degrees and releases a scent that smells like rotting meat to attract a certain beetle. As it crawls around inside the flower looking for food, it is covered with pollen, which it spreads from flower to flower.
Consider the orchid.
“In many cases the development is such that the flower and insect fit each other like glove and hand. In some cases the device is so ingenious that the bee or other insect is attracted by the fragrance and nectar into a chamber from which there is only one way of escape, and in escaping the insect must first touch the stigma and then the stamen, and as it passes to the next flower it carries the pollen to the next stigma. But the devices are almost endless. There are over seven thousand different species known...” (Robert Broom, The Coming of Man: Was It Accident or Design?).
Bucket orchids, for example, attract two kinds of bees that are drawn to its liquid because it attracts female bees for mating. Since the surface of the orchid is slimy, the bee slips into a tunnel that collapses, trapping the bee and attaching pollen sacs to it, before releasing it. The same bee falls into the same trap in a second orchid, but instead of attaching more pollen sacs, this orchid unhooks the sacs, thus completing the pollination process (Geoff Chapman, “Orchids ... a Witness to the Creator,” Creation Ex Nihilo, Dec. 1996-Feb. 1997).
Blind evolution had to “create” each one of these amazing devices; and not only that, it had to “create” the perfect interrelatedness between the plant and pollinating insect. How did this happen when there was no designer, when the flower was incapable of studying the insect and the insect was incapable of studying the flower, yet each is dependent upon the other for survival and each is perfectly fitted for its role in the intricate process?