A Pepper Grinder Post

Scientific Ants

I happened to be walking across the front lawn after my son mowed it the other day.  I saw something white on the ground and bent down to have a closer look.  It looked like a tiny piece of paper, no more than a few millimeters long.  I took it inside, looked at it under a microscope, and found, to my astonishment, that there was writing on it that I could read.  Here is what I saw:

antsWinter was over, and as the ground started to warm up, I felt more energetic.  Then word came down from the queen that it was time to start building an ant hill, and everyone got to work.  Things were going pretty well, and the ant hill was about four inches high. 

Then came Black Saturday.  The day started out fine.  It was sunny and warm.  In late morning, something strange happened.  Suddenly there was a loud roaring sound.  The sound moved around the yard, sometimes getting closer to the hill, sometimes getting farther away.  After a bit, the roaring got even closer to the hill, and suddenly it was right on top of the hill.  We had no idea what was happening, but some powerful force began to strike at our hill.  In a few seconds, it was all over and the roaring faded away, but the beginnings of our beautiful hill were spewed all over the yard.  Worst of all, some of my brothers and sisters had been killed or maimed by the force, and like the dirt, their bodies were scattered around the grass.  The mysterious force was so powerful that even the grass around the ant hill was chopped off short.

You would think that a tragedy like this would pull the community together.  At first it did.  Every minute of Sunday was spent working together, burying our fallen comrades, and nursing the injured back to as much health as possible.  Then we began to tackle the hard question of what had caused the disaster of Black Saturday.  The more we thought, the more we disagreed.  There were some who were sure that a god had punished our colony because we failed to offer the necessary sacrifices.  There were others who pointed out that although we did not know exactly what caused the disaster, it showed every evidence of being the result of an intelligent being.  They reminded the rest of us that the roaring had moved around the yard in a regular pattern, and that the grass and the ant hill had all been chopped off at a fairly consistent height.

Last of all were the group who called themselves the scientists.  They said that the only logical way to figure this out was to start with known facts and with things that could be reproduced in the laboratory.  Even though they couldn’t find any way to make something like Black Saturday happen in the lab, they argued that they could extrapolate from known facts and come up with a plausible explanation.  Most of all, they insisted that for an explanation of the disaster to be scientific, it MUST be based on strictly material causes.  No explanation that depended on any kind of being more powerful or more intelligent than us could be considered scientific.  For all of Monday, most people didn’t pay too much attention to the scientists, because although they sounded very intelligent, they didn’t have any plausible theory that could explain Black Saturday.

anthillThen, early Tuesday morning, Charles Antwin published his seminal paper, “The Origin of the Disaster.”  Antwin spoke of the days he had spent studying unusual and powerful wind currents such as dust devils.  Based on his observations, he speculated that the shape of our ant hill had channeled the wind in an unusual way.  This, along with an especially strong wind, had created an exceptional dust devil which wreaked havoc on our lives.  Within hours almost all the scientists had given their support to Antwin’s theory.

There were some very smart ants from the group who thought the disaster showed the marks of the actions of an intelligent being.  They argued with the Antwin supporters.  They maintained that no dust devil ever observed had anything close to the power or sound of whatever caused Black Saturday.  Mathematicians among them pointed out that the odds of such a dust devil naturally occurring were infinitesimally small.  Engineers pointed to the consistent height of the cut-off grass as evidence that this was not a chance occurrence.

However, the scientists came up with theories which they claimed explained all the objections of the Intelligent Disaster group (often referred to simply as ID).  Furthermore, they claimed that the ID proponents were not scientists at all.  After all, science is not science unless it relies purely on material causes.  What the ID group propounded was nothing but religion in disguise.

The scientists closed ranks and excluded everyone who did not wholeheartedly accept Charles Antwin’s theory.  Although they still referred to Antwin’s idea as a theory, anyone who did not accept it as a fact was portrayed as a religious fanatic and driven from the ranks of the scientists.  By the end of Wednesday, the scientists had complete control of all major colleges and universities.  No ant could gain tenure without professing substantial agreement with Antwin’s hypothesis.  By Thursday evening, all public schools were also teaching Antwin’s theory as a fact.  Even attempts to allow the teaching of difficulties with Antwin’s theory were rejected as the scheme of fanatics to turn children away from scientific and rational thinking.

With most ants united behind Antwin’s theory, work on the ant hill resumed.  This hill was built with steep sides, instead of the gently sloping sides we had before, as it was thought that this new design would prevent the killer dust devil from recurring.  Friday passed peacefully enough.  There were some strong gusts of wind, but we never heard the roaring start.  The scientists were very proud, claiming that this should remove all doubts about the validity of Antwin’s ideas (along with the many modifications the scientific ants had made to the theory over the week).

lawnmowerNow it is Saturday morning.  I am in an upper chamber of the rebuilt hill, writing this for the chronicles of our ant colony.  There is almost no wind today, and everyone is working peacefully.
Wait!  What is that sound?  I don’t understand it.  It sounds like the roaring we heard on Black Saturday.  I just saw one of the scientists, and he assured me that what happened last Saturday could not possibly recur with the shape of the new hill.  The sound is getting louder.  I don’t care what they say.  I am going to head for one of the lower tunnels.  I am frightened.

I am sure this will come as a shock, but I made up that story about finding the little piece of paper.  I am trying to make a point (another shocker).  I believe that the scientific establishment in modern western society has done something very similar to what the ant scientists did: it has defined science so that any explanation that involves an intelligent and powerful being other than us is automatically regarded as unscientific. 

I have a very simple question—what if the scientists are wrong?  If there actually IS a God who is able and willing to intervene in the physical world, will the keepers of the modern temple of science ever be able to discover this?  Not any more than the ant scientists were able to discover that a lawn mower is what destroyed their ant hill.  The ant scientists set the ground rules so that the true explanation will never be allowed to be considered.  In the same way, modern science has laid down the law so that no explanation involving God may ever be considered as part of a scientific explanation.  If we rule out the truth right from the start, we will never find it.

Someone could make the point that I am doing the same thing as the modern scientists.  I am starting out with an assumption which limits my choices.  There is some truth to this.  The thing is, it is impossible NOT to start out with assumptions.  If you have no assumptions, you have nothing to build on.  People who think they are making no assumptions are simply unaware that the things they  consider “obvious” are actually beliefs.  Given the phenomenal beauty and complexity of the created world, and man’s utter inability to create anything even CLOSE to it, I am much more comfortable with the assumption that God exists and that he created the world, than I am with the assumption that everything we experience in our life is only the result of random natural processes.


*Photo Credits: ants by , lawnmower by ; anthill from