God's Handiwork in the Insect World
Penny Gullan and Peter Cranston, both professors of evolution, ecology, and genetics, are the authors of the latest edition of a widely-used college entomology textbook entitled, "The Insects: An Outline of Entomology". These two evolutionists begin the third chapter with this statement: "The dissected open body of an insect is a complex and compact masterpiece of functional design."
You know, I couldn't have said it better myself. An insect is intricately complex with multiple life systems all working together like clockwork. And this clockwork is not fit into a five or six foot body, but a several-millimeter to several-inch-long body. An insect is truly more compact than the most compact of micro-chips made by man. And insects are masterpieces. From their segmented bodies and six legs down to the smallest pigment of color, insects are beautiful.
But the most amazing fact about insects is that they are functional. God didn't just make insects complex and compact masterpieces, but he made them to function wonderfully in many environments.
All of these facts point to one thing: design. You can't have complexity without design; you cannot have a compact masterpiece without design; you cannot have beauty without design; but most of all, you cannot have functionality without a designer!
Fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals all have endo-skeletons or skeletal structures on the inside. Our bodies are held up by a structure of bones.
One incredible design that God has masterfully created for insects is an exo-skeleton, which means an external skeletal structure. This provides internal support and external protection. An exoskeleton is not made of bone, but consists of two specific layers. The epidermis is a single layer of living cells which secrete the cuticle. The second layer, the cuticle, is what provides protection.
The cuticle is split into another two main layers: the procuticle and the epicuticle. The procuticle composes most of the cuticle and is what provides support. A key component of the procuticle is the compound chitin whose molecules are formed into microfibrils which are embedded into a protein matrix parallel to each other. These kinds of sheets are stacked one upon another, with a slight rotation to each layer, creating a very strong but flexible material. It's much like a polymer composite material, like carbon fiber. Beyond this, part of that procuticle can go through a process called slerotization which provides additional stiffening. All this creates the strength and structure to support the insect.
The second layer of the cuticle is a thin layer mainly to prevent the dehydration of the insect.
Without all these components, insects could not exist because of a lack of protection or support of the body.
But the exoskeleton does create one problem. Because it's on the outside, there is no way an insect can grow. Well, insects get around this by shedding their cuticle. I can just imagine the first insect in the evolutionary process to decide to break out of his skin (he probably overate). After finally shedding the restriction, he would have realized, "Rats! now I have no skeletal system or protection." Needless to say, that bug-a-roo wouldn't have survived.
Well, fortunately for the insect, evolution doesn't exist, because God made it in its original state to be able to shed its old skin and grow a new one. That first layer of cells begins to secrete the new cuticle even before the insect begins to molt.
God's design just gets more wonderful the closer you look. It's amazing how different an insect's circulatory system is from ours. We have arteries and veins in which blood is pumped throughout our body. Insects don't have them. Instead, they have what is called an open circulatory system. This is where hemolymph, an insect's equivalent of blood, circulates freely around the internal organs.
The main organ of the circulatory system is the dorsal vessel, which is a long tube located at the top of the body. The hemolymph is drawn from the back end of the dorsal vessel and pumped forward toward the head where it is released and flows down and back through compartments separated by membranes, helped by other muscular pumps. Eventually it is pumped back into the dorsal vessel and starts its journey again.
The circulatory system displays a precise synchronization of the muscular pumps and the dorsal vessel. This complex masterpiece could in no way come about through random chance, because, even ignoring the impossibility of genetic change, the insect would need every muscle in the circulatory system to be working and pumping the hemolymph where it needs to go, the right direction, back to the dorsal vessel, and all synchronized together with precision. One small problem would cause an uneven flow and would ultimately result in the death of the insect.
One interesting fact about the circulatory system is that it does not circulate oxygen. How then does the insect get oxygen throughout its body? How does an insect's gas exchange work? The answer to these question is found in the tracheal system.
Unlike humans, insects do not have a respiratory system. Rather, the tracheal system is a system of tubes called tracheae that branch out through the whole body bringing oxygen to every organ of the body. Air enters the tracheal system through spiracles found along the side of an insect. Spiracles are muscle-controlled openings with a valve to control airflow. During growth, an insect's tracheal system can expand to fulfill the needs of any tissue.
Due to difference in concentration of types of molecules in the tracheal tubes, and the external air, the net flow of oxygen is inward and the net flow of carbon dioxide and water vapor is outward. Isn't it amazing how God has designed physics to work in such a way?
Certain insect species exchange gas continuously, with their spiracles always open; others, to reduce water loss, exchange gas cyclically; still others have a process called discontinuous gas exchange, which reduces water loss even more effectively. Discontinuous gas exchange is a three-phase cycle. First, during inactivity, spiracles are closed and oxygen is depleted to a certain level. Once it reaches a certain threshold, the spiracles begin to open and close at a high frequency, allowing oxygen to enter the tracheal system, but causing a continued buildup of carbon dioxide. This is called the flutter stage. After the carbon dioxide builds up to a certain level, it triggers an open spiracular phase where gas exchanges normally.
Again, setting aside the impossibility of DNA evolving, it might seem possible for an insect to evolve from an open to a cyclical gas exchange, but how could random chance produce a complex, three-phase system of gas exchange? This not only points to a designer, but to one who is infinitely wise and knowledgeable.
If you study insects, you will find certain types labeled as "primitive", but this is completely arbitrary. If you look closely at any insect, all you will see is complexity beyond what we even understand. I've just shared with you a few of the basics, but there is so much more to explore!
Insects are truly a "complex and compact masterpiece of functional design." Even a short study of insects will point you to your Creator. But if that were all, I wouldn't be so excited about studying them. I already know God exists. The thing is, insects reveal some of God’s attributes.
God is all-knowing. To create such complex and efficient designs requires supernatural knowledge. It is said that the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know. I’ve found this to be very true. The more I learn about His wondrous creation, the more I stand in awe of His majesty; in awe because I cannot fully comprehend His works.
And the fact that He is able to make insects, reveals He is nothing short of all-powerful. Scientists have tried to make micro-robots mimicking insects, but can never get anywhere close to the real thing; and they sure can't give any robot life. Yet, God spoke insects into being. There is nothing God cannot do!
Beyond that, God made insects beautiful. In fact, my opinion is that insects are some of the most beautiful creatures God has made. What can compare to the beautifully intricate pattern on the wings of a Fritillary butterfly? Or what can compare to the dazzling metallic woodborer? Or what can compare to the soothing sound of a tree cricket? God has made beauty, and this declares His goodness to all who witness it.
Insects, and all creation, do not simply point to the existence of God, but point to the majesty of God. As Paul said in Romans 1:20 "For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world." We can learn of God's power and knowledge by simply looking at His smallest of creations.