The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Monday, October 17, 2016

The Difference Between Humans and Animals.
Behold the Fowls of the Air

Hurricane Matthew left behind this treasure-chest
of shells at low tide.

Sometimes we have to move from the lesser to the greater, a familiar argument in the Bible.

Matthew 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of Creation realizes that every single living organism in Nature, - as they often call it - has a purpose. Luther wondered about flies, but now we know that their repulsive maggots are ideal for cleaning up infections, since the little worms devour dead tissue and leave behind an antiseptic. One would think doctors prayed that God would create something that worked when powerful antibiotics failed.

But what about the Tachinid Fly, that looks like a common housefly, but works in the garden? The Tachinid Flies lay their eggs on or near pests, so their babies devour aphids or other insect pests on roses, growing up into parents who lay eggs near or on destructive insects.

Likewise, the purpose of the rose, from a beneficial insects' perspective, is to provide a place where food is available for their babies when they hatch. The adult stage of many beneficial insects will feast on nectar or pollen, so the plant also supports adults.

Adult tachinids feed on pollen, nectar, and honeydew and are important pollinators. They are very active fliers and are often seen alighting on flowers, fences, rocks, and people. All species of tachinids are parasitoids that use various insects as larval hosts. Most species use caterpillars (cabbage loopers, corn borers, gypsy moths, cutworms, fall armyworms, coddling moth larvae, leaf rollers, bollworms, and many, many others) as hosts while other species parasitize adult and larval beetles, and even various true bugs and sawfly larvae. Tachinids can be generalists that use assorted species as larval hosts or specialists relying on only one species to feed their developing young.

Walliser, Jessica. Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 862-867). Timber Press. Kindle Edition. 

All scientists recognize the overlapping purpose of Creation and state those observations, often without acknowledging the contrast with their evolutionary philosophy. If a an insect has menacing and beastly eyes on its back  - so they will protect themselves from predators (purpose clause) - then one philosophical viewpoint must give way to the other.

Owl Eyes Butterfly (Caligo).
"The spots or ‘owl eyes’ are found on the hind wings of the caligo, and despite their eye-catching appearance, they protect the butterfly in nature by confusing would-be predators into thinking they are looking at something a bit more threatening."


The Viceroy Butterfly has taken purpose to the ultimate stage - deliberately, with malice of forethought - looking like the horrible tasting Monarch Butterfly, for the very purpose of fooling its predators into avoiding them. After all, any butterfly that develops on the toxic Milkweed plant has to taste far worse than cafeteria food at the junior high school. "Come let us reason together," said the Viceroy, "and discard our beautiful colors for the livery of the icky-tasting Monarch. Only that change can ensure our stability, growth, and prosperity."

Sure enough, a couple in Arizona spotted a Viceroy in my garden and said, "Look, a Monarch!" The plan worked.

The purpose of each appetite, camouflage, and taste is determined by the Creator, not the creature. Only man can sit and ponder his purpose in life. The animals, plants, even the fungi simply go about fulfilling their purpose.



From the Lesser to the Greater
If animals and plants have a given purpose, often an overlapping purpose and multiple dependencies, does God also give purpose to humans, the pinnacle of Creation?

Jesus teaches - we do have a purpose, no matter what we may think at a given moment, when disasters strike, when illness takes a loved one away, when jobs disappear, when physical or emotional pain dominates.

Matthew 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

When people see their purpose in life, the barriers and pain decrease, but may not go away. From a Christian point of view, whatever is done in faith glorifies God - and that is our purpose. 

One person I know is especially productive when a malady is at its worst. Others look at the output and say, "What a gift!" - which is true. 

I think, "Oh oh, another really bad spell." There is not an operation or pill for everything, but faith moves us to turn the ugly caterpillar of pain into a butterfly.