In March 2015, the magazine Australian Popular Science reported that a company is hoping to “resurrect” people by the year 2045 through artificial intelligence and nanotechnology. Their goal is “to store data of conversational styles, behavioral patterns, thought processes, and information about how your body functions from the inside-out.” Then they’ll code this information, have it built into an artificial body, and use the brain of a “deceased human.” In many ways, what was previously science fiction is becoming reality.
Hieronymus Bosch’s painting Ascent of the Blessed depicts souls being escorted from a place of darkness through a tunnel leading to dazzling light. At the end of the tunnel awaits a radiant being. The painting portrays a phenomenon often described by those who have had a near-death experience—a “tunnel of light” leading to what seems to be heaven.
A few years ago, I learned about a type of protein found in humans and animals called laminin. This protein, positioned outside cells, provides support for cells inside organs. Because laminin has the ability to bind like glue with other proteins and cells, it provides a vital role in holding tissues and organs together. Interestingly, when viewed from a specific angle, laminin has a shape similar to that of a cross.
The diving bell spider lives the majority of its life in a bubble of air at the bottom of freshwater ponds and streams in northern and central Europe and northern Asia. To create the bubble, it somersaults on the surface of the water, catches a bubble of air, holds it over the breathing holes in the middle of its body, and then dives down and spins a silk web between underwater plants. This arachnid then swims back up to the surface, bringing down bubble after bubble until a big balloon of air is formed. It then eats and lives in the big bubble.
The movie Self/less tells the fictional story of a wealthy, dying man trying to attain immortality by transferring his consciousness to a younger man’s “host” body. While things go well at first, it eventually becomes clear that all is not as it should be, as the memories of the younger man begin surfacing in the wealthy man’s mind, resulting in some dire complications.
In Ridley Scott’s film The Martian, astronaut Mark Watney undergoes a harrowing struggle to survive after being stranded on Mars. Using his skills as a botanist, Watney manages to create ingenious solutions for each crisis he faces. In one particularly compelling moment, Watney gazes in wonder at the first green sprout he’d managed to coax to life in the barren planet.
First words can be significant and transformative. The first words ever heard over a telephone were spoken by Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the new technology. On March 10, 1876, Bell called his assistant, Thomas Watson, and said: “Mr. Watson, come here.” On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey composed the very first words on Twitter, that “global water-cooler meeting place” of news and culture. It was a succinct message: “Just setting up my twttr.”
In the last years of his life, atheist Antony Flew changed his mind about the existence of God. Famous for his academic denial of God, Flew’s understanding of DNA research changed his long-held perspective. Specifically, “the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements . . . needed to produce life” convinced him God did exist as the intelligent designer of our world.
In a 2016 Washington Post article, Harvard-Smithsonian Center astrophysicist Howard A. Smith wrote that “the universe, far from being a collection of random accidents, appears to be stupendously perfect and fine-tuned for life.” Smith went on to describe the unique ways Earth is designed—that it doesn’t seem to be simply a random little planet as some would believe.
In the 1940s, George de Mestral faced an issue only too familiar to dog owners: After a walk in the woods, his dog’s fur was riddled with cockleburs—thorny seeds which are nearly impossible to remove. But de Mestral realized that more than simply an inconvenience, perhaps the design of the cockleburs could inspire something useful. In time, he invented VELCRO® brand fasteners which are widely used for fabric and more. This is just one example among many of inventors who used the wonders of the natural world to provide inspiration for their creations.
What makes grass grow thick and green? Would you believe that part of the answer is lightning? The main ingredient in most fertilizers is nitrogen, and the air is full of it. But grass can’t access the nitrogen in the air until lightning moves through it. Lightning heats the air and splits nitrogen into separate molecules. The molecules of nitrogen then join with oxygen and hydrogen and fall as rain—nourishing the vegetation. Who knew that lightning is one of God’s messengers to make the world green?
My adopted teenage son and I had the privilege of hosting two of his closest friends, Brock and Wesley (and their parents), in his native country of Uganda. Though our friends were spending just one week in East Africa, their plans were so ambitious that I said to Brock, “Your dad wants to do everything in seven days.” “It’s possible,” Brock replied. “God made the earth in seven days.” “Yes,” my son said with a smile, “but did God do all of these activities?”
As you read this, the moon is circling the earth at 2,300 miles per hour. Even at that speed, it will take it nearly a month to make a full rotation. Meanwhile, despite circling the sun at 66,000 miles per hour, the earth will take a whole year to make one orbit. And our sun is just one of 200 million other suns spinning around the Milky Way at 483,000 miles per hour—a speed which necessitates 225 million years to circle around once. And the Milky Way is but one of 100 billion other galaxies shooting through space at over 1 million miles an hour. The universe is immense!
I’m not a farmer, but I once attempted to be one as the guest of a self-sustaining community. The group lived together in dormitories, eating their meals together as a family. They grew most of the food they consumed and raised cattle for milk and meat. During my stay, I performed a number of barnyard chores, from shoveling dung to taking the old cow on her morning walk around the property—leash and all!
Talking plants? Recent studies have shown that plants can communicate through airborne chemicals and underground networks of fungi. They can even warn neighboring plants about dangers in their environment. And we’ve gone millennia without knowing this!