I Am a Marine Biologist, and I Believe in Science (A Scientist’s Testimony to Creation)
In the past few months, we have seen several terrorist attacks and horrible shootings on U.S. soil. I was recently reminded about the situation in Oregon where a gunman seemed to single out Christians on a college campus, shooting those who professed to be Christians. We would be foolish to think that this situation couldn’t happen again.
It got me wondering…
What would I say? How would I answer the question of what I believe? Well, I think I could startle the questioner by saying this:
“I am a marine biologist, and I believe what science is showing me.”
Is that a cop-out? Well, in one of those circumstances it might be. If asked if I was a Christian, I would have to answer “Yes” and get ready to be with my Lord!
But let me continue my original statement which I could state with all honesty:
I am a marine biologist, and I believe what science is showing me. I have studied creatures such as a tiny marine bacterium, called Vibrio fischeri, which is an amazing creature that can bioluminesce. That means it can create its own light. But what is interesting is not how these guys make light (though that is definitely interesting) but WHEN they make light. Scientists found that in a dilute suspension of these bacteria (not many in a certain volume), they made no light, but when the population grew to a certain number, all would bioluminesce simultaneously! I believe that these organisms can bioluminesce at the same time.
How can “simple” organisms tell the difference between being alone and being in a large group of other similar specimens? They have no eyes, nose, ears, or mouths. Yet scientists discovered they actually talk to each other via a chemical language. You see, alone, a single Vibrio bacterium doesn’t make light, but instead sends out a few molecules (kind of like sending out hormones). No light is made. However, after reproducing and increasing its population (bacteria can reproduce about every 20 minutes), all the new cells make this chemical too. So the amount of that hormone-like molecule outside the cells increases in proportion to number of bacteria in the area. And when a certain quantity of that molecule is present, these “simple” creatures recognize that specific amount, triggering them all to glow at same time. I believe that bacteria can send out molecules to turn on a group behavior.
Now these guys live in the body of the Hawaiian bobtail squid. Two lobes on the squid house the bacteria, and when there are enough of them, there will be enough of that molecule and they make light. So the squid glows. This is a type of mutualistic symbiosis where both organisms benefit from this deal. I believe mutualistic symbiosis exists.
The squid lives in shallow water off the coast of Hawaii and it’s nocturnal, meaning it is active at night and “sleeps” in the day, buried in sand, coming out to hunt at night. When there’s lots of moonlight at night, the light penetrates the shallow water where the squid is. The squid has light detectors on its back to see how much light is coming into the water. It also has a shutter that can open or close over its glowing bacteria sacs on its tummy to control how much light is emitted. What is really cool is that it will actually adjust these shutters to match the moonlight, making it “invisible” to predators by not making a shadow. Yes, it is the ocean’s answer to a stealth bomber! I believe this symbiotic relationship helps the squid to hunt invisibly and stay alive.
Now, that Vibrio culture in the squid’s body can’t keep growing and growing or the squid will pop! So every morning, the squid uses a pump mechanism – triggered by the sunrise – and it will pump about 95% of the bacteria out of its body. Now the bacteria in the squid are dilute and there’s not enough hormone molecules around to cause them to make light. That’s OK because the squid sleeps during the day. So as it sleeps, the bacteria continue to reproduce, growing in numbers so that by nighttime, their population is large enough to cause them to glow again, just in time for the squid to hunt! I believe that these organisms couldn’t survive without each other.
Scientists wanted to know how these tiny, “simple” creatures are able identify what’s going on. How do they know the chemical is increasing? Well, with molecular biological studies, they found out that the bacteria have a signal-producing protein which makes the hormone molecule. They also have a receptor to identify this molecule. When there’s enough of that hormone around (which says something about the population of Vibrio bacteria), some of the chemical finds its way into the sensor and tells the cell to turn on its light. In the past 13 years, scientists have discovered that ALL bacteria actually have sensor systems like this. They make chemical words, identify those words and “turn on” a group behavior. I believe that bacteria can communicate.
This process is called Bacterial Quorum Sensing. They vote with chemical votes, and when the vote is high enough (they have a quorum), they respond with an action. A good example of an action besides glowing is virulence. Think about it, if you get a few bad bacteria in you and they secrete bad chemicals, you won’t really be affected by it – you’re giant compared to them, and your body will send out an immune response to swat them like a fly! So the virulent bacteria get into you and wait. They begin reproducing until they have the right population so that the chemical concentration is large enough, and they can all launch their virulence simultaneously to have a better chance of overcoming a huge host like you. I believe I can be “taken down” by tiny bacteria and feel awful within a few hours.
Now, each chemical “hormone” is specific to each species of bacteria and will fit into that species’ partner receptor but not other species. That means within your body, there are private conversations going on between bacteria of the same species. But we know that bacteria don’t live by themselves. They live in large communities of other bacteria, like the many millions living just in the crook of your arm (Don’t worry. Most of them are good for you!). Well, scientists have also found that bacteria are multi-lingual and can not only send one species-specific chemical for communication but also can make and sense a ‘trade language’ chemical which all bacteria identify. This helps them to know how many other species are around. I believe bacteria are multi-lingual.
These multiple languages help them identify how many bacteria are around that are of the same species, and how many are not their species. They use this information, then, to decide what tasks to carry out depending on who’s in the minority and who’s in the majority. I believe bacteria are NOT simple organisms.
You see, I am a marine biologist, and I believe what the science is telling me. Bacteria are the simplest living organisms known to us, and they are thought by some to have popped up out of a primordial ooze that housed all the chemicals needed for life. But as a single cell, these guys do everything that a “complex” creature does: hunt, feed, digest, reproduce, defend themselves, and even communicate!
I believe that science is showing us there had to be an Intelligent Designer for these guys to come into being. In fact, what we are learning about the simplest of creatures tells us they are not really simple at all. They “tell” us they have a Creator.
We humans aren’t the only ones to worship the Creator. All creation sings God’s praise. I am a marine biologist, and I believe in what science is showing me. There is a God. And I worship him along with creation!