by The Old Scott
If you were to watch an archaeologist at work as he exhumes the relics of an ancient city and civilization-and if you were able to put aside the feelings of awe and mystery that accompany the discovery of ancient artifacts-you probably would quickly recognize that you were looking at a vast garbage heap.
Those who study ancient civilizations learn how people lived in those long-ago days by sifting through their rubbish. In fact, most of the ruins of lost cities have been found by digging into little hills to see if they are natural hills or if they are the remains of old cities. In those days, cities often got higher as they got older, because they were built up, layer on layer, on their own garbage.
But it is not so with Nature. Man alone accumulates garbage. Nature has no such problem-for the problem was solved before it could become a problem.
That solution involves a number of life-forms which seem to us to be odious, unclean, distasteful, ugly. We swat flies. We stamp on snakes and earwigs. We shudder at vultures. We abhor maggots. We wonder if the world would not be a better place without such things.
But nothing is without its proper place and purpose in the world. Nothing is without value. If something seems worthless to us, it is simply that we have not yet discovered its purpose.
Take flies, for instance. We see them feeding upon filth and breeding in carrion, and they seem to be unmitigated pests. Yet a French naturalist discovered that they play an important role in disposing of the bodies of dead animals-carcasses that otherwise could eventually cover the earth, if not disposed of.
What the naturalist discovered is that when flies lay their eggs in animal bodies, and their maggots later feed upon the corpses, this somehow aids in the decomposition of the body-parts. Flesh and hide and even bones are allowed to dissolve, freeing nutrients to enrich the soil and sustaining the cycle of all living things.
But when the flies were shut out from their egg-laying role, the corpses (of birds, in this case) did not dissolve. They merely dried out. They became, in other words, garbage!1
Again, take the case of burying beetles. These insect undertakers seek out the bodies of small animals and do literally bury them-sometimes as much as two feet deep, but often only a few inches. They do this by digging away the soil under the mouse or mole or whatever it be, and the corpse gradually sinks into the earth of its own weight.2
Underground, the beetles prepare the dead flesh to be food for their young-and the cycle of life and death goes on.
Think also of termites, which speed the process of decomposition of dead timber; and the invisible enzymes in the soil which continue the process at the microscopic level.
Truly, Nature is in fantastic harmony. All her parts function together, as a smoothly-operating machine. Nothing extra, nothing missing, nothing unnecessary. And like a gleaming modern machine, Nature shows every evidence of a Master Creator. All the built-in checks and balances and harmonies are far too much for sheer chance to account for. Indeed, the miracle of life demands a Worker of miracles!
Certainly, the more closely we examine the world around us, the more it points to a Maker who is not only all-powerful but also all-wise. Man's puny intellect exults at finally unraveling some of the clues which reveal the nature of Nature-but this is a far cry from the mighty Mind which invented Nature. We do but follow the tracks of God. And if we are led to respect and stand in awe of the majesty of Nature, how much more ought we stand in awe of Him who made created it-including ourselves!
1. The Wonders of Instinct, Jean HenriFabre, Century Co., NY, 1918, pp. 106-108.
2. Insects of the World, Walter Linsenmaier, McGraw-Hill, NY, 1972, p. 153.