Oct 31 2012

Creepy or God’s Work?

Spiders are a common part of the fall scene. This is one reason they have been associated with Halloween, plus they always seem a little creepy to most of us. Many spiders breed in the fall which is one reason why they are more commonly seen. Our inclination is to judge them as somehow bad and only worth a stomp of the foot or a spray of some pesticide. Spiders are just pests … or are they?

Chuck has often referred to the two books of God, the Bible and Creation. This is not a new concept and has long been part of the tradition of Christianity, likely beginning with Christian scientists between 1600-1800. The Bible itself has something to say about this, such as Psalm 19: 1-4, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out to the ends of the world.”  Paul also wrote in Romans 1:20, “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.”

So back to spiders (and we could include a whole lot of other critters we don’t understand). We tend to see them with man-centered eyes, rather than seeing the glory of God as written in the book of nature. Look closely at spiders and one has to be amazed. These are the most important predators on earth – both in sheer numbers and diversity of species, spiders outdo any other predator. Would God have formed a world with spiders being so important if they truly were not special in His eyes? These little creatures could not be better adapted to a life connected very closely with every part of our world. Most create webs to capture prey, other small creatures. These webs are engineering marvels with supporting structures stronger than steel – yes, spider silk is stronger than steel if you compare pieces of each at the same size. If we believe that Creation declares the glory of God, then such amazing feats of design and engineering makes perfect sense. Of course spiders are this “smart” – God made them as important links in a nature filled with complex webs of life. God did not make them for us but for a world that is so much more than simply people.

I seem to have a cautious love for spiders. I find them fascinating, but I still find them a bit creepy. I think the big orbweaver webs are stunning, but if I run into one, I panic and act like a man possessed. Even though very few spiders are capable of biting a person, I cannot react calmly to one crawling across my skin.

But I can and do photograph them. There is something remarkable about watching a spider build a web, finding sheet webs decorating your yard’s plants or discovering a spider that has hunted down its prey as surely as a lion hunts its prey. Everything about a spider is adapted to make it perfect for its unique place in the world, from its eight legs to its silk glands (spiders can make seven different types of silk), and these adaptions “display knowledge” of God’s amazing Creation.

— Rob

Feb 1 2012

Does God Like Spiders?

I admit it. The title is deliberate. Spiders are something that most people don’t care for. I have not always liked spiders, even though I found them fascinating. But just because we don’t like them does not mean that they are not important and that God does not like them. This applies to a lot of small creatures, not just spiders.

Sometimes I know we feel that if we don’t like something in nature, it is of less value. Certainly spiders are not beautiful … or are they? Do you think God believes they are ugly and creepy? Probably not. After all, when God created “every living thing”, as it says in Genesis, He “saw that it was good.”

The Bible doesn’t talk much about spiders. They are not even mentioned in the book, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. In the King James Version Proverbs 30:28 says, “The spider taketh hold with her hands and is in Kings’ palaces.” In other versions, spider is translated as lizard, but I think the point is still valid. A spider can be taken up with your hands, yet it is also found everywhere, including Kings’ palaces. That’s not so bad for a little creature that has no “riches” or “power.”

Spiders are like so many small creatures that we pay little attention to until they “bother us.” Yet, spiders are one of the most highly adapted predators on earth. They live nearly everywhere and you would be surprised at how many live in any small area of nature. They are a critical part of the balance of nature. When you get to know a little about them, you discover that they make up to seven different kinds of silk and that some of this silk is stronger than steel or Kevlar, plus it gives!

If we are to truly appreciate one of God’s greatest gifts and care for his Creation, then I believe we need to appreciate all of it. Not everyone will like spiders and a lot of other little “creepy-crawlies”, but that does not make them less worthy in God’s eyes. Respect for God’s world cannot stop at just respecting the things we like.

The first photo is a little crab spider, a little hunter on a green eyes flower in Florida. The second is an orbweaver, a trapper from Southern California.

— Rob