Observations on life; particularly spiritual

A robust and resilient creation

Prostate biopsy needleWhen I had a prostate biopsy in March, core samples from 32 needles were used to check for the presence of prostate cancer. The prostate is located in the male pelvis beneath the urinary bladder. It’s about the size of a walnut. I had no side effects from this procedure and afterwards the prostate continued to function as usual. That’s amazing! What if we stuck 32 needles through a smartphone? It would be useless and never work again.

The human body is robust and resilient

This shows that the human body is more robust than human-engineered machines. In fact, your body is a miracle of precision engineering. It’s also robust with built-in redundancy. As the human body can heal itself from injury and disease it’s also resilient. “Robustness” is the ability to resist failure, and “resiliency” is the ability to recover from failure.

On the other hand, human designs are not always robust and resilient with built-in redundancy. For example, a smartphone is designed to withstand being dropped, but not to survive being pierced by many needles!

This means that the human body is much more complex than human designs. According to the law of cause an effect, this implies that the designer of the human body (God) is much more complex than people like us.

Other parts of nature are also resilient as well.

Regrowth after a wildfire (bushfire) in AustraliaNature is resilient

Last summer the Gospers Mountain fire became Australia’s largest “megablaze” as it grew to link with four other large fires to ultimately burn 1,071,740 hectares (2,648,325 acres). A colony of glow worms in Wollemi National Park was thought to have been destroyed in the wildfire (bushfire), but they survived.

And echidnas can survive wildfires by lowering their metabolism and their temperature while they sleep though fires and the following times of scarcity until their insect food returns.

Although the landscape can be devastated by a wildfire, life resumes soon afterwards. Plants and trees resprout; insects devour decaying animal carcases, logs and tree trunks; and birds and reptiles follow feeding on the insects. A fire sparks a succession of changes as plants, microbes, fungi, and other organisms recolonize the burned land.

Colonization of the island of Surtsey which was formed by a huge undersea volcanic eruption off Iceland In 1963, the island of Surtsey was formed by a huge undersea volcanic eruption off Iceland. It was colonized rapidly by flowering plants in 1965. Then Lyme grass, sea sandwort, cotton grass and ferns soon followed. Mosses arrived in 1967 and lichens in 1970. Insects arrived by 1964 and birds were breeding in 1970. The birds bring more plants which support insects which in turn attract the birds. This cycle eventually produces a sustainable ecosystem.

When Mount St Helens in USA erupted in 1980 to produce an apparently sterile landscape, experts were worried that “maybe the entire ecology of the area had changed” and that “it would be impossible for insects to recover at all”. But three years later 90% of the plant species that originally inhabited the area could be found and insects were quick to recolonize the blast zone.

Revegetation after the Mount St Helens eruption in USAThe recolonization of a barren Pumice Plain at Mount St Helens was studied. Scavenger and predatory beetles settled first, followed by plants. Many insects were blown onto the site. Gradually, plants and insects colonized these areas, providing food for small animals, which came next and in turn were a food source for larger animals. Ecosystems gradually gained momentum as more and more species were added and ecological spots were filled in. And after 30 years, the ecosystem was largely re-established. Millions of plants and animals, representing thousands of species, were flourishing—from microbes to mammals and fungi to flowers. The ecosystem of plants and animals had remarkable resilience. According to the law of cause an effect, the implication is that they were designed to withstand major disturbances.

The genome is robust

The presence of mutations in a population increases at a certain rate per individual per generation. For example, the mutation rate in human mitochrondria is about 0.5 per generation. As most of these mutations are slightly deleterious, they are invisible to natural selection and are accumulating in humans and other organisms. This process, called genetic entropy, steadily degrades a genome over successive generations. Fortunately most of these mutations (mistakes) in the genetic code don’t have a significant impact on people or organisms. Genetic redundancy is the cause of this robustness of organisms.

However, if we make a typographic mistake in an email address it doesn’t go to the intended recipient, and if we make a typographic mistake in an URL, we don’t reach the desired web site. And if there is an error in the code for a computer program or app, it won’t function properly.

So the genome of organisms is more robust than human communication and computer systems. According to the law of cause an effect, the implication is that they were designed to withstand many mutations.

Discussion

We have seen that the human body is robust and resilient, with built-in redundancy. And it’s much more complex than human designs. So, God is much more complex than people like us.

And there is remarkable resilience in the ecosystem of plants and animals. This is an example of the complexity of nature (or God’s creation). Nature has built-in mechanisms to ensure that things survive.

And the genome of organisms is also robust, which  is another example of the complexity of life.

Clearly on all scales, nature (God’s creation) is robust and resilient. And it’s amazingly complex – otherwise, scientists would not keep making new discoveries every year. This is consistent with the fact that DNA contains astonishingly complex information structures. And this complexity is in the software and not just the hardware. The information in DNA (via the sequence of nucleotides) is greater than the information in the nucleotides themselves. The sequences of DNA and proteins must be imposed from outside by some intelligent process. Proteins are coded in DNA, and the DNA code comes from pre-existing codes, not by random processes.

Such amazing complexity cannot be produced by nature – by the laws of physics and chemistry. Or by processes like mutation and natural selection. Or by random processes. It requires intelligent design, like the design of the genome of an organism that leads to its unique growth and functioning within the ecosystem.

The only reasonable cause and source of this complexity is given in the Bible, “His [God’s] invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made” (Rom. 1:20CSB). God created the complexity of the universe.

Conclusion

In the beginning God created the universe to be robust and resilient, with built-in redundancy and these characteristics are still evident today. In particular, living organisms, including humanity, are amazingly complex.

For this reason, God deserves our praise. The Bible records that John had a vision of the Lord God Almighty enthroned in heaven, receiving unending praise as the eternal Creator and Sustainer and Ruler of all:

Our Lord and God,
you are worthy to receive
glory and honor and power,
because you have created all things,
and by your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:11CSB)

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