Our designer world
Is the world an accident of evolution? Is mankind? If so, it’s odd that the earth is so perfectly adapted for human life.
The Bible teaches that the earth is no accident. It is full of the goodness of God, who is generous to all (Psalms 33:5; 145:9). One example of that goodness is the way the earth affords many natural products that are well suited to mankind.
Water is easy to take for granted but without it life could not exist. Water is clear and tasteless. How different it would be if we drank, washed and cooked with water that had colour and taste!
Water is delivered in a remarkable water cycle that involves its purification (by evaporation), its delivery (by condensation and rainfall), its distribution (by rivers and streams) and its recycling (by its return to the sea).
Banana skins are cool
Fruit was specifically intended as human food from the outset (Genesis 1:29). Many fruits are remarkably well designed for human use, being nutritious and well sized to hold in the human hand. Fruits like bananas, apples and grapes are firm enough to hold but soft enough to eat without cooking.
Many fruits have excellent packaging features. Banana skins can be easily removed with the fingers yet allow us to eat the fruit while holding the skin. That, as they say, is cool! Oranges have convenient bite-sized segments.
There are even some features in fruit that human packaging designers have not been able to imitate. The skin of fruits like bananas usually indicates the ripeness of the food inside, and the skin is also biodegradable.
Apples and oranges have a remarkable design feature of small cells that hold the juice so that it doesn’t all leak out when we bite into the fruit (no need for a straw!).
It’s not just fruit that is well designed for humans. Vegetables and grain like wheat and rice are also ideal for human use.
God has also designed the earth to bring forth clothing materials that are well suited to mankind. Cotton is a remarkable material that can be easily grown in large quantities and turned into thread.
Cotton is more comfortable than man-made materials like polyester because it absorbs significant amounts of moisture before feeling wet to the touch.
Wool is another well-designed clothing material. It has amazing insulation properties for its weight because of the way it traps air in its fibres. Wool also has the remarkable characteristic that it heats up when it first gets wet – very helpful for anyone caught in the rain on a cold day!
Animal, vegetable and mineral
God has also designed certain animals to be directly useful to mankind. Dogs provide companionship for man as well as serving as workers (sheepdogs, huskies, guide dogs and so on). Many domestic animals yield products like leather, milk, eggs and meat. And before the advent of modern machinery, horses, camels, asses and oxen were essential for such tasks as ploughing and the transportation of heavy goods.
Horses are still an enjoyable means of human recreation. They are fast, quiet and their backs are remarkably well shaped for a person to sit on. They are even environmentally friendly!
Trees are another key product of the earth that has many uses for mankind. Trees produce fruit, shade, wood for construction and shelter, and fuel for burning. One important aspect is that trees come in a great variety of densities and strengths so that there are woods suitable for different applications like building materials, furniture and tools.
Even inanimate materials like minerals are essential. Without things like common salt, and calcium and potassium minerals, life as we know it would be impossible. Rock, fired clay and bitumen have provided materials for buildings and highways throughout history.
On top of all this, the earth is beautiful. The Bible teaches that God deliberately made trees and flowers beautiful (Genesis 2:9; Matthew 6:29) and deliberately beautified the heavens (Job 26:13). And all is given, not sparingly, but in abundance (Job 36:28-31).
God’s overflowing goodness is impossible to fully comprehend. His character is to give mankind far more than we need or deserve. But above all, the generosity of God in creation reminds us of his abundant goodness towards mankind in sending his Son to be the Saviour of the world.
It is good to give thanks to God for his goodness in creation – but even more for the abundant forgiveness he has provided through Jesus Christ to those who trust in him. Thank God for it and receive it personally.
The author is Professor of Design and Nature; BSc, PhD, CEng, FIMechE