Thursday, May 31, 2007

Biodiversity to the Praise of God

The Economist had a lovely article a little while back about deep sea creatures in the Weddell Sea, an Antarctic depth that is home to millions and millions of microscopic creatures, many of them unknown to humanity until recently. It put me in mind of an earlier story from HaAretz last year speaking of a cave in Israel that had been completely sealed off for millions of years in which they found eight new species of animal never before known.

These stories put me in awe, remembering how much grander God’s design is than our little machinations can grasp. Here these unknown species have been existing for years and years in the sight of God alone, and their hidden activities bring Him delight, unbeknownst to us. Wherever we turn in this great world, God’s glory is revealed to us, even in the depths of the Antarctic or hidden in a cave in the desert.

Last month was the 300th Birthday of Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish biologist who invented the system of taxonomy that we still use today. Each of these unknown creatures were assigned names using Linnaeus’ system. The May 2007 Smithsonian Magazine features an outstanding tribute to this great man.

One of the nice features of the Smithsonian article is to remind us of Linnaeus’ faith: “Though he didn’t follow his father into ministry, Linnaeus remained a devout Lutheran throughout his life, despite the clash of his scientific views with his theological conclusions. Faith led him to believe that human beings are “candles in God’s palace,” reflecting the “creator’s shining majesty.” His bouts of depression and egocentrism are tempered by his exuberance and joy in creation, care for his family, and love of the pets and garden he kept at his household. He was a great man, a flawed man, but a great man – and he was enraptured by the glory and diversity of God’s good creation. Perhaps we can learn from him that our faith can lead us to wonder….

Soli Deo Gloria