Insight on the News
● What is believed to be “the first [observed] case of tool use in a social insect” is reported in a recent issue of “Science” magazine. Common woodland ants were observed using pieces of leaves, dried mud chunks and grains of sand to transport far more soft or liquid food than they could carry otherwise, much as a shopper might use a cart.
When researchers from the University of Maryland put out small portions of jelly as bait, ants that gathered would leave after a few seconds, returning to place pieces of leaf on the jelly. Other ants would tend the fragments for up to an hour, adjusting their position to cover these fragments with jelly. Then the coated leaves were carried back to the colony and the jelly was consumed there.
Without such “tools,” soft or liquid foods have to be carried back between their mandibles or stored internally, to be regurgitated at the nest to feed others. But the experimenters found that ants who used the “tools” could carry ten times as much back to the colony. Truly, ants deserve to be classed among the “four things that are the smallest of the earth, but . . . instinctively wise: the ants are a people not strong, and yet in the summer they prepare their food.”—Prov. 30:24.
Dr. Banda and the Church
● Atrocities committed against Jehovah’s Witnesses in Malawi for refusal to purchase political cards are now well known world wide. As a result, a number of Presbyterian bodies in other nations are disavowing any organizational connection with Malawi’s Presbyterians. Why?
A letter circulated to Presbyterian pastors in the U.S. admits that “it is true that the President, Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda is a Presbyterian. At one time he was an active Presbyterian lay person and it is reported that he served as an elder in the church. . . . to the best of our knowledge [he] is no longer an active Presbyterian.” At any rate, says the letter, Presbyterians in Malawi are “the result of the mission of the Church of Scotland,” not the U.S. Church. But the General Secretary of the Church of Scotland’s Overseas Council says that “final responsibility [for missionaries] was handed over to the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian.”
However, when another Overseas Council official, J. W. Waddell, recently visited Malawi for a Church celebration, he was more friendly. The periodical “Life and Work—The Record of the Church of Scotland” reports that “Dr. Banda read the Old Testament lesson at the service,” and clergyman Waddell called it “a magnificent tribute to Scottish missionaries.” Banda himself later “recounted the history of the Mission, his debt to it, and his pride in it,” notes the Church paper.
It is commendable that Presbyterian officials reject atrocities committed against an innocent religious minority in Malawi. But at times the actions and words of certain of these officials seem both contradictory and confusing.
“A Loaded Gun”
● “The American public is continually warned about the hazards of drunk driving, smoking, cancer, narcotics, etc.,” notes “Oasis,” a magazine published for employees of the U.S. Social Security Administration. “But,” it continues, “have you ever seen a warning dealing with blood transfusions? There is ample information available on hazards of transfusions . . . in medical journals and such, but very few, if any, warnings. Sure, every transfusion may not result in a reaction or disease, but as one author stated on the subject, ‘it is like playing liquid Russian roulette.’ Every drunk driver does not cause a death or accident, everyone that smokes does not develop lung cancer, . . . not every loaded gun kills, but we are still warned about the potential dangers. . . . anyone who administers a blood transfusion should, like the Surgeon General warns about smoking, warn the participants that transfusions are dangerous to your health, as dangerous as a loaded gun.
The article notes that “Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religious organization, have repeatedly refused to accept transfusions on Bible principles (Genesis 9:3-4; Leviticus 3:17; Acts 15:28, 29) and very obviously on other grounds as well.”