Evidences of Faith

Going to the Ants

A good friend of mine lent me the June, 1984 issue of National Geographic, which has a large section on ants. The main article in this section is well-written, lavishly illustrated, and downright fascinating. The author is clearly an expert on ants - and a firm believer in the general theory of evolution. In fact, he begins the essay by describing his efforts to find a rare Australian ant called Nothomyrmecia macrops, which he had hoped would prove to be a "missing link" between modern ants and their alleged primitive ancestors. As you are probably aware, scientists who believe in the general theory of evolution are always looking for "missing links", because they have not yet found any hard physical evidence of the supposed evolution from primitive to complex forms of life. As it turned out, the Nothomyrmecia macrops proved to be yet another disappointment. Rather than providing a link between modern social ants and their alleged semi-social or solitary ancestors, this ant prove to be, in the author's words, "fully social."

If you are wondering why he thought this particular ant would prove to be a link, it is because of its "simple, primeval features", which apparently "resembled those of long-extinct, 100-million-year-old fossil ants that have been preserved in amber." At this point, I have to ask some questions. Let us assume that the fossil ants are indeed very, very old. If there are ants still walking today that look very much like ants that lived such a long time ago, doesn't that suggest a weakness in the theory of evolution? After such a huge span of time, why did these particular ants not evolve? If other ants evolved because it was advantageous to do so, why didn't these?

Another question that may come to mind is, exactly what is it about these ants that so closely resembles their ancient ancestors? Which features are regarded as "simple" and "primeval"? A partial answer, at least, is supplied by the author: "Some of these features, such as the shape of the head and abdomen, are wasplike. Ants, we believe, evolved from wasps." This statement is particularly interesting to me, having worked in the pest control industry for some years. In pest control, ants and wasps happen to be among the most common targets - for obvious reasons. I can tell you, although I am not an entomologist, that ants and wasps tend to look alike. In fact, it is not unusual for a homeowner to see a carpenter ant swarmer (which has wings) and think he is looking at a wasp. On the other hand, it is not unusual for an inexperienced pest control technician or salesman to see certain types of wasps, and mistake them for ant swarmers. Ants' abdomens especially tend to be wasplike (or are wasps' abdomens antlike?), and some ant species even have stingers in the same spot as the wasps. So, it is apparently not all that unusual for ants to have what might be considered "primeval" features, if we accept the theory that ants evolved from wasps: which leads us back to the questions raised in the preceding paragraph.

Taken as a whole, the evidence could very well lead us to a very different conclusion than the one drawn by the evolutionists. Rather than having a common ancestry, perhaps the more reasonable conclusion is that ants and wasps have such similarities in design because they share a common Designer. The radio in my wife's van looks suspiciously like the one in her friend's car, even though the two vehicles have a very different overall appearance. Just as engineers who design automobiles very often use the same - or very similar - components in several different models, so also the One who designed the insects used similar components in a variety of different species.

But there is much, much more to be learned from just this one article about ants. For example, consider the weaver ants. These ants build their nests in treetops by weaving leaves together. The process by which these tiny creatures accomplish this task is truly amazing:

"One ant grasps another's waist and so on, until their chain of bodies reaches a leaf needed for a new nest. Then the living chain contracts, pulling or rolling the leaf into the desired position. Next, some members of the swarm scurry back to the home nest. Minutes later they return, each ant carrying a white larva in her mandibles. They then move the larvae back and forth across the leaves they want to join together. As they do, the workers stroke the larvae in a way that provokes them to secrete silk. The silk glues, or weaves, the leaf into position."

When we consider the fact that ants do not have the capacity to reason, we cannot help but be amazed at their efficiency and organization. The author himself raises the questions for us:

"How do they decide en masse which leaf to go after? How do they organize and coordinate their actions?"

Indeed, how do they? If ants are the product of evolution, then they were not designed by an intelligent being, but are the result of a series of random accidents. If they were not designed by an intelligent being, and they have no intelligence of their own, then how did they ever develop such complex organizational skills as decision-making, teamwork, and division of labor?

The author admits that he does not know the answer to these questions. However, he alludes to the solution near the end of the essay. He writes, "Ants do what they were programmed to do."

The programs on my computer were written by intelligent beings; in fact, it is inconceivable that they should have happened by accident. The ants' programs appear to be even more complex than those on my computer. Am I to believe they happened by chance?

The last line of the article is also undisputed:

"Yes, we can learn a lot from the ants."

See Proverbs 6:6-11 and Job 12:7-12.

e-mail this author at jimrobson@tp.net

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