Now where have we seen this before?
Now where have we seen this before?
For someone who was a dunce at science it might seem strange that geology should fascinate me. But it does. Many years back I was introduced to the life and writings of one of the early pioneers of geology, Hugh Miller (1802-56). The thirteen volumes of his collected works have long been a treasured set. Geology was by no means the only thing on which Hugh Miller wrote. It featured significantly in his life, however, and his books reflect that. I read them and was hooked.
Part of it is simply love of history. The past is absorbingly interesting to me. Part of it, too, is a love of the outdoors. Rocks and rock formations are among my favourite things to look at and I have often wished for the companionship of a Hugh Miller to tell me their tale. Then there is Miller’s skill as a writer. He is a master of descriptive prose. But it is his reverence for the Creator that has told on me most forcibly. To Hugh Miller, the story of the rocks and their fossil remains is the story of the workings over aeons of a Creator whom he loves and worships. And he makes no secret of it.
On vacation recently I read an article in a Scottish newspaper that brought Hugh Miller to mind. Somewhere in his writings Miller talks about mechanisms that we have invented, patterns that we have designed, that are not actually original to us, though we may have imagined at the time that they were. The very same mechanisms and patterns have been later found in the fossil records of primitive creatures.
But it is not just among the ancient dead that this phenomenon occurs. The article mentioned above was about a plant-hopping insect called the Issus that is found in gardens across Europe. The juvenile Issus – and I quote – “has hind leg joints with curved cog-like strips of opposing ‘teeth’ that intermesh, rotating like mechanical gears to synchronise the animal’s legs when it launches into a jump…The gears in the Issus leg work in a similar way to those found on bicycles and inside car gear-boxes” (The Press & Journal, Sept.13th, 2013).
How are we to account for this? The similarity demonstrates, it is claimed, “that gear mechanisms previously thought to be man-made have an evolutionary precedent”. According to University of Cambridge researchers, “These gears are not designed, they are evolved – representing high-speed and precision machinery evolved for synchronisation in the animal world”.
Enter Hugh Miller. As a Bible-believing Christian he understood that when God created human beings he made them “in his own image” (Genesis 1.27) – uniquely like himself. And one of the ways in which that shows itself is in our inventions and designs. We reproduce in these the Creator’s own ideas. We make things that are just like the things he himself made. It’s like an inherited skill. In making us in his image God has given us the capacity to do similar kinds of things to what he has done in creation – though it may be long enough before we discover that it is so.
Surely it is no compliment to be told that our extraordinary inventiveness as humans has been somehow ‘anticipated’ by a blind, impersonal, unintelligent process of evolution. By contrast, what dignity is ours when by our God-given artistry and creativity we are able to do and design after the Creator’s own patterns! Before we even discover them! Whether it’s a fluted column or gear teeth, it’s part of the wonder of being human.
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