Intellectual and Aesthetic Richness
A butterfly’s wing – shimmering in the light, black at this angle, blue at another – with orange and white spots embellishing each half. It’s the very definition of beauty, and it sits upon a fluffy brown abdomen adorned with six thin legs, huge kaleidoscope eyes, and two elegant antennae.
This fragile, dusty wing is not only a masterpiece of creative beauty, but also a finely designed machine. Those thin, shimmering fans can lift that fuzzy brown body in flight. The patterns on the wings flash colors that enable the butterfly to camouflage, startle, or impersonate. The scales on the wings reflect light in such intricate ways that their design has been copied to provide force-sensitive badges to soldiers; the “scales” on the badges deflect when exposed to explosion. If a soldier is unfortunate enough to be nearby a bomb when it goes off, the color of his badge can reveal how much he was impacted - invaluable information for the doctors, who may otherwise overlook internal damage.
These wings – these two jewels I’ve lifted from the dirt-and-leaf litter of the forest floor – display order and beauty that is not uncommon in this universe. Consider stars in the heavens, seashells along wave-ridden beaches, flowers in grandmothers’ gardens. Each is breathtakingly beautiful. Each is a technical marvel.
Twinkling lights on new moon nights are sights of nuclear processes unseen in modern laboratories. Look closely and you'll find that the night sky is a canvas full of colorful nebulas and expressionistic supernova-art.
Seashell spirals follow the pattern of the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical sequence ubiquitous in the natural world. Understanding seashell structure on a molecular level could enable us to model more protective and lightweight bullet-proof vests. But their diversity of colors, twists, and ridges is more than enough to inspire our appreciation. The gentle gleam of mother-of-pearl is, despite its humble snail origin, given great value for its beauty.
A flower is an intricate machine, and many flowers are fine-tuned to the pollinators they feed and rely upon. The shape, color, even delicacy of a flower may reveal if it caters to bees, flies, bats, or hummingbirds. Its beauty serves it well until it becomes the factory for a new unit of life – a seed. Those seeds may then be launched into the world via botanical cannons or equipped with wings for flying on the wind.
All this is not to say that creation is unmarred – carnivory, parasitism, even roses’ thorns are testament to the fact that we no longer dwell in Eden.
But these two butterfly wings – shimmering blue, then black as I rotate them in the light – they are reminders. They are a testament to the God who created them. A God of infinite wisdom. A God of astounding beauty.
One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple.
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:17