Creation’s Testimony to the God of Purpose
ALL of us humans have many questions before us—especially the how and why of things—in the universe around us, about life in general and about our own lives and future. How? and Why? are two big questions.
The How? can be partially answered by intelligent men. In the fields of science and of medicine many conclusions have been reached as to how things operate. On the other hand, they give few or no answers as to why.
But for our mental and spiritual welfare we need the why answers even more than the how. Why is the earth fitted so well to support life? Why is there such interdependence between the plant and animal kingdoms so that each occupies its place for the welfare of the rest? Why, since science has recognized these facts, has it not given us an answer to the question, Is there a purpose in it all, and Why are we here?
There must be a purpose in our being here. Just a brief glimpse at some of the things around us should convince the thinking person that we are not in a purposeless, chance situation, governed by mere blind forces.
TREE GROWTH REVEALS PURPOSE
For example, take the trees. Trees, like all other living things, are made up of cells. For the growth of a tree the cells must divide, starting from the first cells in the fertilized seed. In a growing tree, a single-layered sheath of cells just inside the bark, called the “cambial” layer, is made up of “mother” cells. These cells are all exactly alike and they initiate the cell division that is responsible for producing the bulk of the tree in its full diameter. There is a certain proportion of “daughter” cells produced by the division of the “mother” cells that must form the wood of the tree, and a much smaller proportion of cells that form bark. There is obviously a marked difference in these two types of cells, wood and bark. In the process of division the cambial cells produce many more wood cells than bark cells, because, of course, there is more wood than bark. Thus the proper proportion is maintained and the tree grows as it should. Each of the millions of “mother” cells always produces bark and wood cells in exactly the proportion needed.
Now, we know that neither the tree nor its cells have any intelligence. The tree does not know that it needs more wood than bark, or that there are other trees like it. It does not understand that it occupies a functioning place with all the other trees in the forest ecology, so that it has to grow exactly right. What factors cause the tree to make exactly the cells it needs in the right proportions?
In this case, the how is unknown. But the why can be known, provided that we acknowledge that there is a purpose in life on earth and that there is a Master Intelligence behind it all. We can see the reason for shade trees, lumber trees, fruit trees, nut trees, and so forth. We know also that trees have many functions essential to the life of animals and mankind. But if we think that everything came through the action of blind forces, there is really no why.
Even if it could be granted that chance force could have caused the tree’s cells to produce the right proportions of wood and bark (though the odds against this are so astronomical as to make it virtually impossible), how do they also “know” to make, among the wood cells, not just one type, but the many different cells needed to make the growing thing a tree? For many of these wood cells, formed from the “mother” cells, will be designed for water conduction, or formed into long fibers for mechanical support of the tree, or for food storage. And all of this continues over and over, in exactly the right proportions, not just once or twice, as chance would have it. This process continues to occur, without flaw, for hundreds or even thousands of years in the same tree and also in all its neighbors.
Furthermore, if there is no Creator and no distinct intelligent purpose behind the growth of the tree, why does it persist in living and growing under varied and even unfavorable conditions? An animal may move to another locality or area, but a tree has to stay where it sprouts. It has to be designed in advance to meet whatever situation arises. If a tree seed sprouts on a hillside or is constantly bent over in one direction by the wind so that it is not growing in a vertical direction, does it simply fall over? This would be the case if there was no purpose or intelligence in its design. But it does not fall. It produces abnormal tissue or “reaction wood” that attempts to force the tree trunk into vertical alignment so that it will not become unbalanced.
Some trees use one method and some another to accomplish this stability. The conifer trees produce reaction wood on the lower side of the leaning tree. This wood, by its peculiar makeup, has compressive strength, tending to “push” on the lower side of the tree to straighten it. But in broadleaf trees, the reaction wood forms on the upper side. It is of different composition, having tensile strength, and tends to “pull” the tree back into an upright alignment. In either case, when the tree again becomes vertical, or nearly so, the “mother” cells again produce only normal wood. How could anything but an intelligent Designer know that either method would work and then, for some reason, no doubt a valid and necessary purpose, use a different method for each type of tree?
We cannot afford to claim to be reasoning, rational persons, and at the same time shrug off the whole thing by saying that it is some process that must have come about “naturally,” all by itself. This would be only avoiding the problem, not solving it. Rather, we know that these trees regularly and continuously serve a real and beneficial purpose, and a purpose must have a purposer. It must have behind it a mind that coordinates the activities of things, in this case the growth of trees as an integral and essential part of the ecology.
MAN THE ONE WHO BENEFITS MOST
To go a little further in this investigation as to there being a purpose for man’s benefit in plant life, consider bamboo, which is classified as a grass. This sturdy, tough plant with its hard, glazed surface has literally hundreds of uses. Bamboo sprouts are a tasty food and a source of enzymes. Bamboo poles are used in constructing houses, scaffolds and ships, as well as for hanging the laundry out to dry. Furniture and many household implements, including drinking cups and even knives, are made from bamboo. Most of us are familiar with bamboo fishing rods. And bamboo pulp and fiber are valuable for making paper, as well as for certain medicines and a chemical catalyst.
Or, take the coconut palm trees. From the coconut husk come rope, matting, baskets, brushes and brooms. Copra, the meat of the coconut, serves as food for man and animals, fertilizer, and coconut oil—used in the manufacture of soaps, shampoos, detergents, margarines, vegetable shortenings, synthetic rubber, glycerin, hydraulic-brake fluid and plasticizers for safety glass. Why, unless there was a purpose, would a plant have such properties?
Does it seem to you that such valuable plants came about by accident.—all these features of the plant built into it to no purpose except, perhaps, for the plant itself to live? Or did a Creator produce it to provide its fine products for man’s life and enjoyment?
WE NEED TO GO BEYOND “NATURE” STUDY
Of course, a study of trees or other natural things does not fully reveal why the Creator made these things, but it does alert us to the fact that he has superior intelligence and is really God over all his creation. The Bible expresses it in this way: “[God’s] invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.”—Rom. 1:20.
From a very brief consideration of only a few forms of plant life a reasoning person can recognize the exercise of tremendous power and unparalleled wisdom. More importantly, another quality, namely, love, is most evident. And that love is directed primarily toward humankind. Unintelligent trees and unreasoning animals also benefit, though they are not able to appreciate the loving care shown in the way that the created things work together for good to all. But humans can see and they should appreciate this fact. They should realize that God created things to function in order that man might live and enjoy life on earth.
As an instance of purpose God cites the rain cycle. He says: “The pouring rain descends, and the snow, from the heavens and does not return to that place, unless it actually saturates the earth and makes it produce and sprout, and seed is actually given to the sower and bread to the eater.” (Isa. 55:10) Scientists cannot fully explain the How of rain, but the Why is certainly manifest in its accomplishing a most vital purpose toward mankind.
Though a study of things such as these is fine, and can bring a person closer to God, it reveals only “the fringes of his ways” and a “whisper” of what God is like. (Job 26:14) A look at created things should incite us to go further to know and establish a relationship with him. There is much more exciting, much more satisfactory and profitable information in God’s own communication to us—the Bible. Much of it is written there in plain, straightforward statements that anyone can understand.
If we recognize God, he will recognize us. He will teach us of his ways and carry out toward us what he originally purposed. What is that purpose? Not only that we enjoy life today, with a purpose in living, but that men and women live forever on a beautified earth in full harmony with Him and with all created things.—Rev. 21:3, 4; Gen. 1:28.
We encourage you to consider the Bible with an open, searching mind. It will surprise and greatly encourage you. You will understand Why conditions are as they are today and How God will remedy them. Jehovah’s Witnesses are happy to help any searcher for truth to look into the Bible at his or her own convenience, free of charge.
[Diagram on page 580]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
CROSS SECTION OF TREE TRUNK
OUTER BARK protects the tree
INNER BARK carries food produced by the leaves
SAPWOOD carries water from the roots to the leaves
HEARTWOOD helps support the tree
[Picture on page 581]
A tree sprouting on a hillside stabilizes itself by producing reaction wood, causing the tree to grow upright