21 Reasons Why I Believe in God: Bees
21 Reasons Why I Believe in God: Bees
E-news January 9, 2014
There's a buzz about bees. In case you haven't noticed, the honeybee is in the news these days, all the way to the cover of Time magazine (August 19, 2013). What's driving all this attention? Unlike the killer bee scare decades ago, this time the alarming fear is actually the decrease in the honeybee population.
Before you assume that is good news, go look in your pantry. You may be surprised, but it's not just honey that bees contribute to the human palette. The honeybee actually accounts for roughly one out of three mouthfuls of food you will eat this day. Bees add about $15 billion in free pollination to over 237 different varieties of food you and I will eat this year. Imagine Thanksgiving dinner without potatoes or pie, salad without tomatoes or peppers, strawberry shortcake without the berries, guacamole without the avocados, no fruit, no sunflower seeds or almonds, no oil or onions...and that would be just a small taste of a world without honeybees. As Hannah Nordhaus points out in The Beekeeper's Lament, bees "are the glue that holds our agricultural system together."
I picked up a copy of this fascinating book, recommended by a professional beekeeper in our congregation, on a recent trip to Longwood Gardens. The book, subtitled "How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America," tells in explicit detail how vital honeybees are to our ecosystem. My conclusion, upon finishing the book? The honeybee, like almost everything else on this planet, has been designed for a purpose.
Could the lowly honeybee actually be a reason to believe in the existence of God?
The early pages of Genesis describe a carefully designed ecosystem sufficient for human beings to thrive. Modern-day scientists have coined the phrase, the fine-tuning of the universe, to refer to the millions of systems that operate together in extraordinary balance to keep the cosmos functioning. In 1973 physicist Brandon Carter went a step further when he introduced the term, the anthropic principle (from Greek anthropos, meaning "mankind"), in response to the observation that conditions happen to be just right on Earth for the existence of intelligent life - people.
But how did the universe get fine-tuned? Who or what had the mind to create a complicated system whereby everything has both beauty and purpose? Could a mindless process (evolution) have been behind all of this? Did we just luck out?
The Bible tells us plainly that the beauty of the earth and cosmos point to God. Theologians call this general revelation, the idea that God gives all people enough knowledge of Himself to respond appropriately. As Psalm 19:1-4 says:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
Romans 1:20 adds, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that [people] are without excuse,..."
Science and religion do not need to be archenemies. The more science plumbs the vastness of the earth the more we discover its complexity. For instance, in 1930 scientists announced that, aerodynamically speaking, bees shouldn't be able to fly: their wings are too small to be able to give the necessary lift to their bodies. Finally, in 2006, 528 scientists convened to tell the world they had solved this mystery. Bravo! Bees kept buzzing along anyway in the intervening years. Scientists are only human, and don't always have it all figured out.
Even when a scientific theory is true, it doesn't mean the Bible is false. We are told in the book of 1 Kings that under the reign of Solomon rulers came from the ends of the earth to hear his wisdom. It's interesting that, though Solomon wrote four books of the Bible, 3,000 proverbs and 1,000 songs, his learning also extended to husbandry, horticulture, and, yes, "creeping things." Solomon's wisdom led him on a quest to discover the world which God had made (1 Kings 4:29-34). True science and faith can work together.
But how far can general revelation take us? Though we are told it leaves man without excuse about the existence of God, can it fully reveal Him? The answer is no. For you see, the honeybee that pollinates my food can sting me. The beautiful waves of a sun-drenched ocean can drown me. That is why we need something more, something without dispute, something more personal. We call this special revelation. Special revelation is the belief that if we were divinely created by a God who loves us He would long to communicate with us. Therefore to the Christian the Scriptures become the authoritative revealed will of God.
God's word gives us hope, a sure "anchor of the soul" (Heb. 6:13-20). The Scriptures declare that if I want to be sure that God loves me, I need only look at the cross: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). The logic of the cross supersedes, and is more sure than, anything I may experience or observe on this planet.
Even so, the next time you have the urge to swat a bee at a picnic, don't! Remember he pollinated that food you're eating. He's on a mission from God.
Part 1 in a series: "21 Reasons Why I Believe in God"