God is a master of design. He carpets the world in ivy green, poppy red, violet blue and sunflower yellow. His grandeur and the elegance of His touch are seen in the smallest flowering plant and the tallest tree. Each reveals a miracle of intricate complexity.
How does He do it? We don’t know. We can only say with certainty that His creation is filled with proof of His existence. In His handiwork, we can see overwhelming complexity, artistic sensibilities, a predilection for bringing order out of chaos and a deep engagement with life. The believer and the doubter alike have proof, if they have eyes to see.
Witness the graceful ivy. From ancient times, its beauty and strength have captured our imagination. Artists have long been inspired by this evergreen vine that attaches so tightly it forms an almost inseparable union. Wander through the great medieval cathedrals of Europe gazing at stained glass windows, or peruse the hand-painted illuminated manuscripts of the early church and you’ll find ivy motifs everywhere, used as symbols of faithfulness and immortality.
Today, the ivy-covered cottage is one of the most enduring symbols of home and hearth—a romantic vision of all that we hold dear. Look behind the soft beauty, and you’ll find an extraordinary plant that could only have been produced by the mind of a creative God.
Each ivy plant starts life as a tiny seed, part of a small berry that ripens from late winter to early spring. This is perfect timing for a host of hungry thrushes, warblers and wood pigeons.
Why are these birds so attracted to ivy berries? It’s part of the grand design, vital for the survival of both. The small, bitter berries, each containing just one to five seeds, provide a feast for the hungry birds. And it is only after the seed has been in the
forestomach of the bird, that it will germinate in the wild. As the berries travel through the digestive canal, a change in the pH (acidity or alkalinity) removes a germination-inhibiting chemical from each tiny seed. Once a bird has passed the seed and it has fallen to the ground, the tiny plant waiting within is able to take advantage of sun, soil and water to emerge and grow.
What a miracle of timing. Without the bird, the ivy could not grow. Without the ivy, the bird might go hungry. Who can doubt God’s creative hand at work?
The ivy plant grows quickly, maturing into a rugged vine capable of climbing 100 feet, scaling trees, rock, smooth walls and chimneys. Its ever-thickening stalk provides support as it grows.
Scientists have only recently discovered ivy’s remarkably complex and energy-efficient mechanism for attaching itself. Once it makes initial contact with a surface it will climb, ivy’s roots change shape to fit that surface, increasing the area they contact. The ivy then excretes a glue that anchors it to the surface. Tiny root hairs make their way into minuscule cracks and crevices, where they dry out in spiral shapes that lets the roots lock into place. Hook-like structures at their tips strengthen their attachment. Their grip is so strong, that should the ivy die, it will remain attached.
Is it likely that this design happened by chance? Surely, this is an example of the Master Designer at work.
As the ivy thrives and grows, it flowers, providing a rich source of nectar for bees, who ensure there will be berries for the birds. Even the leaves provide a vital food source for the larvae of some species of moths and butterflies. The complex, interlocking circle of life provides for all God’s creatures. Though ivy can be troublesome where it thrives, it is surely an example of God’s magnificent design and engineering.
That the extraordinary complexity of even a simple vine happened by chance seems impossible, even ludicrous. We choose to believe Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, where he writes of Jesus as the Creator.
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him” Colossians 1:16 NIV.