Friday, June 6, 2008

Ant Colony Architect

Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!

Last evening my wife and I watched 45 minutes of an hour long National Geographic program about ants.

Although we didn’t know who they were it was pretty evident that the scientists whose experiments they were featuring took ants very seriously. Although we didn’t get the whole story or setting for the program what we saw and heard was very interesting; especially one particular phrase in the narrative voice over.

Showed and discussed was the great network of communication that happens within a colony of ants. They presented evidence of contact through broadcast vibrations and trailblazing chemical secretions to superior food sources by food gathering ants. These foraging hunters would pave food supply paths for the entire colony to use. Even if the highways were destroyed the ants quickly reestablished them. Hauling and collection of food continued over riding the interruption.

They showed ants using sap from trees as a type of antibacterial agent to keep the colony safe from disease. Some colonies even created their own special type of fungus to keep their members and dwellings healthy and thriving; especially the young.

As each minute of the show unfolded I quickly realized that there is a whole lot more to ants than I had ever imagined. The intricacies and social structure of their neighborhoods were just absolutely amazing. Even the narration took great strides in using words strong enough to convince the viewer that the actions and behaviors of the ant seemed far more advanced than should be possible for any creature of its size or intellect.

At about the halfway point of the show it changed directions. The scientists changed their focus from behavior toward discovering details about an underground structure inhabitited by a colony of ants. This wasn’t a rare species of ants located deep in the jungles of Africa or Australia. Judging from the surrounding geography that it was somewhere in the West or Southwestern portion of the United States. It was a large colony with a system of dirt hills, ant-made ducts and vents that both supplied oxygen to and vented carbon dioxide from the underground insect city.

The first step in this investigation was to pour nearly 10 tons of concrete down the vents until the colony was completely flooded and filled (a moment of silence for the ants, please). They waited until the mixture had time to set and dry then began excavating. I don’t recall the exact details of the size of what they finally uncovered but it was a massive structure. The narrator stated that the construction of the colony infrastructure was, for the ants, proportionally equivalent to the building of the Great Wall of China.

Now I have written all of that to put the spotlight on one phrase that was used in the narration. When the concrete version of the colony interior was initially shown by the camera the narrator used a phrase that made a great impression on me. While I can’t quote it word for word I can paraphrase it in a way that is true to the phrase and will effectively get my point across.

Again as the camera panned the structure and switched to different shots of this massive insect residence the narrator used the phrase “As though designed by a master architect the interior of the colony is a system of efficient and interlocking pods and tunnels.” He then went on to add that there was no ‘master architect.” it was the collective instincts and efforts of the ants that had constructed this colony.

Now given the position of the National Geographic Society and the scientific community it features in its documentaries; I believe that it is safe to say that this program had an evolutionary undertone. However even with that underlining evolution theology behind it those responsible for getting this program on the air could not help but allude to, and at the very least introduce an outward wondering about, the presence an intelligent designer in the world of these ants.

This tells me that God is so great, mighty and powerful even those who adamantly and purposely set out to deny His existence cannot prevent His Glory from being discovered in the evidence of His creation.

While this late night program may have been just another documentary for most of the people who watched it; for me it was just another reassurance of my faith in the creator, sustainer and redeemer of this world, Jesus Christ.

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