Why we are here:

Our signature Bible passage, the prologue to John's Gospel, tells us that Jesus (the Logos) is God and Creator and that He came in the flesh (sarx) to redeem His fallen, sin-cursed creation—and especially those He chose to believe in Him.

Here in Bios & Logos we have some fun examining small corners of the creation to show how great a Creator Jesus is—and our need for Him as Redeemer. Soli Deo Gloria.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Late bloomers and multicolored fruit

(Today's photos appear at the bottom. Scroll down to see them.)

Mid-October isn’t a season of riotous color in the meadow and woodland. It should be, with autumn leaves ablaze. But due to the "unusual" weather the trees are being conservative so far. So we have to be satisfied with a sparkle here and a glint there, mostly in flowers and fruits. The Evening Primrose persists in showing off, while little white unidentifiable (at least by me) asters hang on. But where flowers fail, the fruits of various plants offer some color, some vibrant, others subtle.

Fruits designed to attract birds as their seed dispersal agents are usually colorful, while wind-dispersed seeds tend toward brown. Why should they spend energy producing colorful pigments? Wind is blind. So apples, moonseeds and rose hips do serious organic chemistry, while Japanese Knotweed, Milkweed and Joe-Pye-weed just stick with brown or white. They pour their energy into making wings, parachutes and other paraphernalia that catch the wind and carry their babies (seeds) far and wide.

If you want to enter into a whole new world, that of botanical terminology (not recommended for the faint of heart), take a look at the classification of fruits. Is it fleshy or dry? Dehiscent or indehiscent? A pome, drupe, berry, hesperidium, pepo, multiple, aggregate, capsule, pod, achene, samara? And on it goes, all to the delight (or possibly despair) of every botany student.

But why should we worry about the technical jargon? The birds don’t care—they just eat. And the wind doesn’t care—it just wafts. So if the intricacies interest you, indulge yourself. Just don’t let the daedal lexicon interfere with your appreciation of the Creator’s wonderful engineering that enables the integration of all living elements of the biosphere, as well as wind, water and soil, into a system that keeps going and going, season after season, year after year.

Even as we appreciate the complexities and mechanisms of the biosphere, we must not fall into one or both of two traps: naturalism and/or deism. Not only is the living world inexplicable without the existence of an Intelligent Designer; it is also unthinkable that it is self-sustaining.(
Genesis 1 : Colossians 1:15-17).

(Click on the pictures to enjoy larger views)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Autumn Asteraceae—E Pluribus Unum

In spring, it’s the fleabanes; in summer Black-eyed Susan shows her smiling face, along with Oxeye Daisy, Sunflower and Oxeye (False Sunflower). But in late summer and autumn, the Coneflowers, Asters and Goldenrods take over the meadow.

They are all members of the Family Asteraceae, formerly called Compositae, the second- most abundant of all plant families, with well over 20,000 species in some 1,100 genera. Only the Orchid Family is larger, with more than 25,000 described species.

As you can see, some composites look like daisies while others don’t. The Mistflower, Joe-Pye Weed and Boneset in the previous essay and the Goldenrods shown here certainly don’t. The feature that puts all these beauties in the same family is the habit of arranging their flowers in “heads,” often consisting of more than one form. In the daisies, this is particularly noticeable. The “petals” of a daisy (or aster) are actually individual flowers, each with a petal and male or female parts—while the central disk is composed of a tightly packed bunch of florets that look entirely different than the ray flowers.

That is why I like to call the Asteraceae the “E Pluribus Unum”—“From the many, one” family. They pack a lot of flowers together in an arrangement that is designed to attract pollinators—which, besides offering beauty for human admirers, is the sole purpose of any entomophilous (insect-pollinated) bloom. Attract them with form and color; reward them with nectar and pollen; get your pollen transferred in the process. Great engineering! “E Pluribus Unum” has worked for over 200 years for our great country and for much longer for the Family Asteraceae!

That motto on our coinage and a big plant family also remind me of an even more significant “composite”—the Trinity. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s only a faint reminder, a grossly inadequte analogy. There is no way that packing a bunch of flowers together in one head is in any way comparable to “packing” three Persons together into One Godhead! But perhaps the Creator, living as three Persons in one Being from all eternity, thought that designing the daisies as composites might just give us a tiny glimpse of His nature and of the glory only He rightly deserves. We need reminding every day!

E Pluribus Unum
Soli Deo Gloria

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Scientific names never change! Oh, really?

Mistflower, Joe-Pye Weed and Boneset. Two of the three have had their names changed. (Click on the pictures to enjoy larger views.)

Some scientific names for plants just roll off your tongue: Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset), Liriodendron tulipifera (Tuliptree), Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweetgum)!

Some may disagree about the pronounce-ability of scientific names, but we are not allowed to disagree about their importance. Common names are famously ambiguous and confusing; Latin names standardize the identities of species, pinning them down once and for all—supposedly.

Not so fast. Botanists in particular like to argue and nit pick. They’ll stick their noses and hand lenses into the private parts of flowers and find minute differences. And then they’ll go to meddling with classifications that have been around for years. Such is the case with the Genus Eupatorium.

Eupatorium used to include some of my favorite plants. Then some overzealous botanists looked really closely at the stigmas (pollen-receiving structures) and saw some distinctions. So in their little nit-picking minds they determined to split up the genus and cause no little amount of confusion—especially to amateurs like me! And so a lot of Eupatoria (?) in good standing were kicked out of the genus and got harder-to-pronounce names.

For instance, the Joe-Pye Weeds went from Eupatorium to Eupatoriadelphus or Eutrochium. White Snakeroot, formerly Eupatorium rugosum, lost both Genus and species names, becoming Ageratina altissima. Pink Thoroughwort went from the easily pronounced Eupatorium incarnata to Fleischmannia incarnata. (sounds like a bit of egotism by Mr. Fleischmann to me!) And Mistflower joined the Genus Conoclinium.

But our first-mentioned species, Boneset, with its roll-off-the-tongue Latin name, Eupatorium perfoliatum, has withstood the botanists' snooping and stands unchanged—at least for the present!

It just goes to show how temporary things can be in this sin-cursed world. Even science changes day-by-day and year-by-year. Today’s science textbooks are outdated tomorrow. But God’s inspired Word never changes, never fails and always accomplishes His purposes. Here is a little Bible Study to meditate upon:
(I Peter 1: 24-25); (Hebrews 4:12-13) (Psalm 139 -- All of it!) . These passages comfort and challenge me every time I dare meditate on them!