Monday, January 2, 2012
It took a long time for me to write this next blog. I had to take a hiatus’ from blogging because of so much destruction and sadness after the Joplin tornado, and then, the loss of my husband of forty years. But writing and blogging are important to healing for me, so I hope you will take some time to read this blog about the natural order of natural phenomenon. Please comment if you like.
Since I want to keep this blog about natural things, it seems right to discuss the Joplin tornado. Tornados are a natural phenomenon, one we could do without, but part of nature like the seasons. As a naturalist, I can fully accept the natural order of things. I always find a balance; snakes eat rodents, birds eat snakes, and mammals eat birds. There is good and bad in nature, life and death. We have to take the good with the bad because that is how nature works.
After the tornado, like a lot of people I had a hard time driving through the devastated area. The only pictures I took of tornado damage were of this one tree. It appears to be a hundred year old Osage Orange. We had a large tree just like it in our backyard in Carthage. My family loved that tree, not for the hard green balls it dropped on our cars, but because it seemed to radiate strength. The smooth worn and twisted bark seemed to say, “I have survived many seasons.”
Trees like this became a bright spot for me, and probably others. Regardless of the damage it suffered, the tree followed its God-given natural directive, and pushed out new leaves as it did every spring. As people went about the business of cleaning up and putting lives back together, many paused to notice trees like this. They became symbols of renewal for the people of Joplin.
As a Christian, I cannot help but believe that all things in nature were created by God. I am constantly reminded of His greatness as I observe the natural order of things. I believe God created the natural order of things at the same time He created our universe, and expects nature to run a random course. Any lesson we can learn from nature is a good one.
Charles Darwin, in his Origin of Species, said that nature is not complete and perfect, but constantly evolving. I agree with his theory that chance determines the order of nature. The tornado could have hit anywhere or not at all. It wasn’t God’s punishment, it wasn’t Mother Nature showing her displeasure, and it was not a sign of anything. It was pure chance. Many random natural factors had to come together for it to occur and to occur at such a magnitude.
So does that mean mankind is off the hook? That we are not causing some of the natural phenomenon we’ve seen in the last decade? That we don’t need to worry about protecting nature? Of course not.
In Darwin’s theory of chance, mankind can intervene in chance relationships, and we often do. Sometimes it’s in a negative way, and sometimes it’s positive. Survival of the fittest seems to have been proven true over time. But I don’t really care about theories. I care about enjoying and protecting our natural surroundings.
This quote has been attributed to Sir Karl Popper, a twentieth century philosopher, and it speaks to the thought that God is in control, but not necessarily intervening in every chance encounter in nature.
“If God had wanted to put everything into the universe from the beginning, He would have created a universe without change, without organisms and evolution, and without man and man's experience of change. But he seems to have thought that a live universe with events unexpected even by Himself would be more interesting than a dead one.”
This says to me that we do have choices in how the order of things evolve. We can choose to study and protect natural things or not. We can try to push nature out of our lives with technology, or use every day we have to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. We can, as the fittest, use up all our natural resources, or in that same regard, we can choose to create a shallower footprint on our world.
Sir Popper also described the creativity of nature as the greatest riddle of complexity. I certainly am glad that God created a universe that is not boring. And I am also glad to have such a wonderful riddle to solve as I spend every day listening, watching and enjoying natural things.