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To see how Monarchs are a glorious testament to our creator God, keep
For those paying attention, it is clear that God
has left pointers to himself in his creation as scripture says:
For since the creation of the world God's
invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been
clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men
are without excuse.
tours of the Milwaukee Public Museum, I point out how that's true
regarding the duck-billed platypus. Today we're going to look at how the
miraculous features of the monarch butterfly point back to its divine
Mysteries of the Monarch
There are some 20,000 species of butterflies.
Richard Boender - founder of Butterfly World in Fort Lauderdale,
Florida, says this about them:
"Every one of these 20,000 species have
different color patterns, and everyone of them has different shaped
wings. The diversity is just so magnificent. If I was the greatest
artist in the world, there is no way I could come up with all of
these patterns. It would be absolutely impossible."
The diversity alone is astounding, a reminder of
how much our God appreciates the subtle differences that make us
distinct. And many of the miraculous mysteries concerning the monarch
are true with regards to the 20,000 species of butterflies in general,
but for the purposes of this article, we're going to focus in on one
species: the Monarch butterfly.
So there's the first evidence of God from the
diversity and beauty in butterflies. If you don't understand how beauty
itself points to God, see
this article where I outline an argument for the existence of God
from the existence of beauty in God's creation.
The Monarch Life Cycle
There are a number of things that point to God
when considering the Monarch, and perhaps an easy way to organize them
is to go through the life cycle as laid out by Pam Courtney, (left) a butterfly aficionado who raises and releases Monarchs.
written a workbook and Bible Analogy Study Guide titled "Monarch
Adventure." She lays out the lifecycle as follows:
2. Larva (Caterpillar)
3. Pupa (Chrysalis)
4. Adult (Butterfly)
Each has a unique feature or features that
either directly point to the creator, or are reminiscent of similar acts
of the Creator that remind us of him. We'll look briefly at some of
Pam points out the Monarch butterfly lays eggs that are transparent
(I'll come back to this) and in the shape of a dome, like the majestic
church cathedrals found throughout the world. And they have a unique
grooved texture to them. Already we again see the beauty inherent
in the form. But further, the eggs are laid on only one type of plant:
milkweeds. And they are secured by an adhesive secreted by the female
butterfly when she lays the egg. And then she covers them with a wax
that keeps them moist and viable.
Here we see another argument for God at work,
one that we will see time and again with the Monarch Butterfly: the
teleological argument for God. There are a number of teleological
arguments, I outline the more familiar ones
here in my defense of Paley's watchmaker argument, but I think the
simplest, and one that fits best here is by Aquinas in his Summa
Theologiae. His argument focuses on the guidedness of nature. He
points out inanimate, or non-designed objects cannot tend toward a
particular purpose or outcome unless some intelligent agent with that
particular purpose arranges things, and sets things in motion to achieve
that goal. The example he uses is the arrow. It is an inanimate,
unthinking object which cannot hit the target unless an archer arranges
it to do so by shooting it with skill and precision at the target.
Note, that according to evolution, every
creature, indeed all that exists has arisen from inanimate, non-guided
processes, so they should not tend toward any goal. Yet we see the egg
tending toward a number of goals: To keep the egg moist and alive and
attached to the milkweed leaf. And why the milkweed plant? One possible
reason among others: because the leaf contains:
"...cardiac glycosides that are
progressively assimilated by the caterpillar tissues, which let them
... acquire a disgusting taste that prevents them to be predated.
This taste will last during their adult phase."
The glycosides can cause illness or death - but
not for the caterpillar. So the caterpillar can eat them, and it keeps
them safe from predators. Another indication of design - a specific
process is needed to achieve this effect for the caterpillars, it
cannot just happen.
And I haven't even mentioned the beauty in the
transparent dome shaped egg.
Monarch caterpillars take on a distinct black,
white and yellow striped appearance that predators associate with the
disgusting taste that helps prevent predation. Interestingly Pam points out only the black
portion is exoskeleton. The yellow and white you see on the caterpillar
are the internal organs seen through transparent portions of the skin.
The caterpillar has been described as an amazing
eating machine. It eats it's own weight in leafy material every day
until it multiplies it's weight by a factor of 3,000 in less than two
weeks! In comparison, a 8 pound baby multiplied by a factor of 3,000
would be a 24,000 baby. In two weeks! Truly amazing.
the proper time, after the caterpillar has eaten enough to make the
transformation, it forms a green Chrysalis and the metamorphosis to a butterfly begins. The caterpillar contains two
types of cells: larval cells, which is what all its organs are made out
of as a caterpillar; and imaginal cells - the cells that will allow it
to turn into a butterfly. The imaginal cells will turn into the
structures that are non-existent in a caterpillar, but necessary on a
butterfly like wings, long articulated legs and sensory structures. The
larval cells are consumed and destroyed, while the imaginal cells, often
in pairs, develop into their final form. Destroy the wrong cells during
the metamorphosis and the creature will die.
So not only are there specific cells with a
specific function, but during the transformation, one set of cells are
selected to be destroyed through being broken down and re-purposed in
the adult creature, while the others are allowed to grow and develop
into its final form. Once again, clear purpose with a goal in mind.
Another clear indication of design. That is to say nothing of the magic
of the transformation itself.
is a miraculous and complex process. No one
understands how it happens. But I want to focus on one thing here: the
color of the chrysalis. For a Monarch, it starts green and is
transformed into a transparent structure - it appears to be designed to be
looked through. But why? I'm reminded of the empty tomb:
"There was a violent earthquake, for an
angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb,
rolled back the stone and sat on it."
Why was the stone rolled back? It wasn't to led
the Lord of Life out; rather it was to led us humans in to see that Jesus
was risen. He was no longer in the grave. It appears to be the same
dynamic here. The clear chrysalis is not for the benefit of the
butterfly; rather it's for the benefit of us humans once again to see
the beauty of the completed - or nearly completed - transformation, and
the wondrous thing that the Lord has done. Ditto for the clear egg.
(Mark 12.11) This is another teleological argument for design in the
The glycosides that were mentioned in the
caterpillar are transferred to the adult butterfly. So the distinctive
coloring of wings indicates to predators, "don't eat me, I taste
Perhaps one of the most well known facts about
the Monarch Butterfly is the mulit-thousand mile migration it makes
every year to its warm wintering place. Here's another curiosity. How
does a tropical butterfly wind up living in the cold climates of the
northern U.S. Evolutionists will claim it evolved the ability to do the
migration. That is an absolute impossibility. Here's why.
Monarchs born during the mating season (April to
August) live only 2-4 weeks. Too short a time period to make the
mile flight. But those born after that - the last generation late in
August - are able to live up to 9 months - long enough to make the
migration there and back again. How are they able to do that? (It's a
problem for secular biologists professor of zoology and entomology
Thomas Emmel notes. It's genetically programmed. Maturation of
the reproductive organs is stopped and all energy is redirected to allow
the longer life span. Butterflies born in this time frame are know as
the Methuselah generation. (See Gen 5.27) Question for
evolutionists: How does evolution program a "Methuselah" generation? And
why can't humans do it - evolve to live nine times as long?
And with its focus on reproduction and "the
selfish gene" as Dawkins calls it (a nonsense concept - and a
contradiction to evolutionary theory - genes cannot and do not have
purpose or goals - selfish or otherwise), why would reproduction be
paused? That can only be done by someone with a purpose (again the
teleological argument) who knows reproduction is no longer needed, and
what's needed next is the ability to make the migration.
And now, perhaps the biggest question after that
of the metamorphosis. How are Monarchs able to make the
Recall, those who make the trip south have never done so before. It was
butterflies a few generations before them that had returned for the warm
months to reproduce. How can the grand children or great grand children
navigate to such specific spots, even specific trees annually from
thousands of miles away, having never been there before?
No one knows. Experiments suggest that the
earth's magnetic field is involved. When tests are run that produce a
magnetic field stronger than the earth's, the butterflies are confused
and their navigation thrown off. As I point out on the implications of
design in my article on the
earth's magnetic field, that scientists have concluded that various
creatures, among them birds, fish and eels can detect the earths
magnetic field, and it is thought they have an internal map that allows
them to migrate and navigate. Why would it be so surprising for the same
to be true for the Monarch butterfly? I suppose because the brain is so
small, but that's just another wonder of the efficiency of the designs
or our creator God!
Regardless of how they do it, whether its
Monarch butterflies or birds or fish or eels, the point Aquinas makes is
the same. In migration, these creatures are tending toward a goal. The how is
unknown, but the thing that is important is the why? Why do they tend
toward that goal? Remember, evolution cannot purpose to do anything.
Rather, it's as Aquinas points out: for the same reason an arrow
tends toward the target. Because the archer caused the arrow to do so.
Likewise for these butterflies - their creator, the Lord Jesus has
caused them to fly (in passing flight is another miracle in itself), to migrate to
the goal they need to reach, and to do so using means we can't even
From beginning to end the life of the Monarch
butterfly holds mysteries, miracles and wonders. Upon pondering
these, anyone with eyes to see should truly praise the creator of heaven
Watch the Arrival
Monarch butterflies are truly a marvel of God's
creation. Are you ready for a Monarch Adventure?
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Monday, November 15, 2021
Tuesday , November 16, 2021
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