Tuesday, May 27, 2008

God’s Contraptions

We opened the pool last weekend. That means summer – if not by the calendar, at least in our minds – is here.

So I sit on the backyard deck a lot now. I'm sitting there now as I type this, although the temperature is only ten degrees Celsius (or fifty two degree Fahrenheit for my American metric impaired friends). It's quite cool and there is a strong breeze.

Strong enough to blow stuff around in the back yard. Like those little "key" seeds that fall off of Maple trees. You know, the ones that have a single wing attached to the seed, and as they fall, they spin to the ground like a poorly crafted Canadian Armed forces helicopter.

And they crash to the ground. On my backyard lawn. And in my newly opened pool.

The Maple tree (a Chinese Maple they tell me – although a Maple is a Maple to me) resides in the middle of my neighbors back yard. To the west of my house. And since the wind blows predominantly from the west, they predominantly land in my back yard.


I have always liked that tree because it covers so much of the view into neighboring yards it provides a sense of privacy to the west. But after two days of fishing those little key seeds out of the pool, and knowing that there are two large lawn bags worth of these keys to rake and sweep up back here – I am questioning that love for this particular Maple. Chinese or not.

But as I sit and watch the keys fall, I am struck by a certain awe.

How incredible it is that that the seeds of this tree are designed this way. It takes a gust of wind to blow them out of the tree. Grouped in large bundles like grapes on a vine, the wind blows of an entire cluster and the result looks like a mini sortie of helicopters attacking my back yard.

Which is pretty cool. But what has me in awe is the thought that has gone into this means of seed distribution.

These seeds do not simply fall to the base of the tree. They blow away from the tree. Far enough away that if they take seed, the new trees won't grow directly under the parent tree.

As I sit and marvel at this, I notice Hoppy the squirrel running past. He has a fresh new walnut seed in his mouth as he bounds across the fence in my back yard. And he stops to eat that green walnut, like a corn cob – twisting it until he gets to the center seed, which he discards to the ground.

And my awe in the means to distribute seeds strengthens.

And my faith in God is reaffirmed.

You see, I consider myself to be a logical, rational man, superstitious only when it comes to sports like baseball or hockey. You don't step on the lines of a ball field, and you never shave during hockey playoffs.

And for many years I was a true believer in the scientific evaluation of evolution. Which led me down the path of agnostic belief. But each day as I grow older, I find there are just too many little things that couldn't possibly be just a coincidence. Even millions of years of random combinations and natural selection could not – in my humble opinion – and I stress the word humble – result in a system where seeds are deployed and distributed like the key seeds helicoptering down to the ground, or the chance a squirrel will eat a walnut and drop the seed to become a new tree.

There must be a diety that masters this intelligent design. A conscious cognitive force that reasons a thumb is a good thing for biped mammals to grasp tools to work with. A well thought out plan that combines the forces of nature like wind to spread the seeds, bees to pollinate the seeds, and rain to nurture them.

There must be?

A cartoonist from the early nineteen hundreds named Rube Goldberg drew amazing complex cartoons of contraptions that perform simple tasks – usually by launching a ball to knock things over to trigger wheels to spin to scoop up water to flow down a tube to fill a bucket to be heavy enough to pull a rope down a pulley and land on a see-saw to turn on a light switch. You know the guy. And these contraptions as you watch them are hilarious and ingenious. Like his Simple Moth Killer machine:

I think that in a much more subtle – more sophisticated – more ingenious way, God's contraptions work in that same fashion. And they are just as hilarious. God has the most amazing sense of humor.

God's contraptions in nature have helicopter seeds blowing off trees, have strong streams that carry fish downstream and force them to swim upstream to spawn. Volcanoes that erupt to create islands in the middle of oceans, and lightning that triggers brush fires to clear away dead debris to make space for new growth, perhaps by squirrels like Hoppy dropping or pooping seeds back into the earth.

It's incredible to witness even the simplest of these miracles. And you know his awesome sense of humor is present. God is a real practical joker. He's laughing at me right now.

Because it's a real pain in the ass to rake these helicopter seeds up.


Anonymous said...

I can't tell if the author is making fun of creationists or not. At first glance it's simply the standard argument from personal incredulity, but the mention of Rube Goldberg puts it over the top. Still, creationists have cited arguments that destroy their claims in an attempt to support those same claims before, so I can't simply write this off as parody.

Fred Brill said...

I appreciate and respect your comment, Anonymous. Very much.

My intention was not to parody, simply share my observation - or opinion - in a light manner - as the moment struck me.

I'm not sure anyone truly knows - for certain - the real truth - although as I have written before - if you believe you are right, then you are absolutely right - until you're proven wrong.

Please feel free to "write me off" if you wish - you may be absolutely right. I have no intention - nor means - of proving anyone right or wrong.

But I do think you may have taken me a tad too seriously.

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