Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Isn't evolution wonderful? — 14 (mind-controlling plants)

In the past, we have often marveled at little beasties who, with (literally) incredibly foresight and ingenuity, designed chemical and physical changes to themselves that defy belief.

Today, it's a plant.

The tropical acacia plant exudes a drug that controls the minds of the ants that live on it. The drug both motivates the ants aggressively to attack anything — from spider to giraffe — hapless enough to try to feed on it. Then, when it serves the plant's purposes (?), it also drives the ants away from its flowers.

If we believe that all is nothing but matter in motion, purposeless and blind... what a lucky plant.

Otherwise, just imagine the countless generations of veggi-scientists, luring species after species of ant, running chemical and behavioral diagnoses, then hitting the lab for innumerable chemical combinations and experiments, looking for that perfect mixture of elements. And of course, the vast generatiosn of acacia plants dying without the ants' protection.

Clever herb, eh?

Not really.


Kim from Hiraeth said...

It's still fascinating, though not in an evolutionary sense, of course!

Trinian said...

Reminds me of a cordyceps. Great stuff.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

The complexity of God's creation astounds me. We could live in a blah, black and white world, but we don't.



Mike Riccardi said...

I hate to be such a John Piper fan, Dan, but DG just posted a 4.5 minute clip of Piper discussing a similar thing. Compliments your post nicely.

DJP said...

Not to be a nit-picker, but I think you mean "complements," with an "e."

"Compliments" would be if Piper said "Mike Riccardi has written me thirteen times telling me about all these posts Dan Phillips has been doing for three years illustrating how absurd the fantasy of mindless processes is... and they're nice posts."

Mike Riccardi said...

You're right. Thanks. Been a long day.

Mike Riccardi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJP said...

Totally understand. So, long day of work and classes? How's all that going for you?

Mike Riccardi said...

Going well. Thanks for asking, seriously.

I'm actually extremely blessed with an amazing wife who is a great nurse, so I've not had to work. I've been able to devote all my time to schoolwork, ministry, and her (probably in that order, which I'm seeking to change), which has indeed taken up all my time.

It's a lot of work, without a doubt. I'm taking quite a full load; this semester it's 15.5 credit-hours with a couple of courses that are severely underweighted. One in particular, my pastoral counseling class, is counted as 2 credits but even Dr. Street has admitted that he's compressing around three classes of material into one. It's the only required Biblical counseling class in the curriculum, so he's passionate about making us work and exposing us to as much as he can. So yeah, a ton of work. It's been stretching, but good.

I was talking with my dear friend (who also happens to be my brother-in-law) the other day, who's recently gotten married (about 5 months ago). I asked him how it's been going and he said, "It's exceeded my expectations. I thought it was going to be hard, and it's harder than I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be good, and it's better than I thought it was going to be." I could say the same for seminary so far.

Through all the demands, reading assignments, papers, etc., I'm tempted to complain, but I'm reminded that Paul told Timothy to be absorbed in these things and take pains with them. I've been recognizing what a blessing it is to be absorbed and take pains with these things, and how for much of my life I've been absorbed in other, lesser things. What a privilege to devote my time to thinking about the greatest things -- and the greatest One -- in the universe, the One for whom the universe exists! His goodness to me is abundant, and I pray for a heart that actively recognizes such things continually, and against the heart I have, which takes them for granted and even seeks to complain.

I've bumped into Phil a couple of times, which has been awesome. Though, I kinda feel like he thinks I'm weird because when I first introduced myself he asked me if I had a job. My inferior brain interpreted something about the way he said it to be asking me if I'd like to come work at Grace to You. (I know.) So I said, "Hey, I'll work for you!" And he kinda nervously chuckled and backed off. And then I thought, "I'm a moron." Haven't really talked to him since then. In person, anyway.

But yeah man, it's been a treat. I'm having fun learning Hebrew, and think of you often when I'm working such things. (You were the first person I read who made use of Hebrew in lessons/posts. Btw, do you say waw or vav?) I've actually got a Hebrew exam on Jonah tomorrow, so I'll be spending the evening studying while the wife is at the Seminary Wives Discipleship group.

Mike Riccardi said...

And Grace Church has been awesome. It's weird, but really cool, that I can say that John MacArthur is my pastor. Shepherds' Conference is next week (you're not coming, are you?) and so everyone at TMS and GCC is getting hyped up for that. It's great to see how much of the church body gets involved in praying for and volunteering at the conference, and even sponsoring pastors who can't afford the registration fee. There are about 3,300 guys coming from (I think) 15 countries, and around 850 or so are first timers. So that's encouraging.

And one really awesome thing is just the amount of world-class teachers and preachers that we're exposed to as seminary students. We had Ligon Duncan in Chapel early in January when he was down for Truth and Life. I got to meet and talk with him for a bit, and he is just a wonderful guy. So nice to talk to, so unassuming. A couple weeks later Iain Murray was in Chapel and I got to meet him. (He autographed my copy of Evangelicalism Divided, which I have to read this semester for Historical Theology.) This Friday we're having the TMS banquet and Jerry Bridges is the speaker. RC Sproul and Michael Horton will be down here for the Christless Christianity conference at the end of March (they and MacArthur are going after the Prosperity Gospel in conference format). So it's really been a treat to get to see all these guys in person and meet some of them.

So yeah, I could probably go on, but that's probably more than you bargained for already. Thanks again for asking. I hope that when you guys drive through this way on your way to San Diego we might be able to catch up for lunch or something.

DJP said...

No, that's all great. Sounds as if you're having the time of your life.

One question, one answer:

Q - do you correct MacArthur after the sermons, by what Piper said?

A - Waw! Of course!


Mike Riccardi said...

Q - do you correct MacArthur after the sermons, by what Piper said?

A - Waw! Of course

You asked and answered your question!

:o) -- Just kidding. No, I don't.

DJP said...

LOL, I should have seen that coming.

So poor MacArthur just has to wonder, as he's preaching, "Why's that one kid keep shaking his head and looking sad?"

Mike Riccardi said...

LoL... I'm not sure why you'd be thinking that. For one thing, I don't find MacArthur's and Piper's teaching to be too far off from each other. For another, I love MacArthur!

Aaron said...

I'm currently in Australia. The wildlife and scenery is incredible. How anybody Do anything but sing the hymn "How Great Thou Art" is beyond comprehension.

As an aside there is a huge fascination with the aborignes. People think primitive life is so wonderful.