Do you remember Ken Jennings?
Back in 2004 he set the record for the longest winning streak (74 games) on the U.S. syndicated game show Jeopardy. He earned $3,196,300 in the process.
Well, besides his exploits on Jeopardy, Jennings is a computer scientist, author, and phenomenal trivia wizard. One of his pastimes is identifying geographical oddities. In 2011 he came up with a dandy. Jennings discovered the world’s largest “third order island.”
Now in case you don’t understand what a “third order island” is, it’s an island, in a lake, on an island, in a lake, on an island.
Victoria Island is the eighth largest island in the world. It is located between Canada’s Northwest Territories and Nunavut in the Canadian archipelago. On Victoria Island is an unnamed lake. In this unnamed lake is an unnamed island. On this unnamed island is another unnamed lake. In this unnamed lake is another unnamed island—about four acres in size.
This geographical oddity is somewhat reminiscent of the kid’s song, “There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea.” It drills down from a big island, to a smaller one, and then to an even smaller one.
But as I read about this oddity it reminded me of God’s creative genius. If we use a human being as our starting point and look inward, we do not find decreasing complexity. Instead, from a complex human being we look downward to find complex organs, made of complex tissues, made up of billions of complex living cells, made up of complex proteins, made up of a complex arrangement of amino acids, made up of complex molecules, made up of complex atoms. At every level we discover order and complexity. In other words, we find a world within a world within a world within a world.
What a contrast to the work of a human artist! To appreciate the painting of an artist, the observer must stand at a distance to look at it. As the observer gets closer the painting’s apparent complexity and order devolve into chaos. Up close, his masterpiece is no different than the work of a chimpanzee.
That’s the way biologists used to look a living things in the mid-Nineteenth Century. To them a living cell was nothing more than a globule of simple protoplasm. Now, more than a century and a half later, we see order and complexity at every level—whether we peer downward or upward. If we look upward then we find that our earth is a rare, unique planet perfectly suited to sustain complex living organisms. Within this beautiful habitation is a biosphere containing millions of different types of living things. All of these mutually benefit each other in myriads of symbiotic relationships. And they are all sustained by a complex arrangement of cycles (e.g., hydrological and biological), wind and ocean currents, magnetic fields, plate tectonics, and an atmosphere of just the right components and pressure.
Looking further upward, we continue to discover order and complexity at every level. We find our planet orbited by a moon which exerts just the correct gravitational pull on our planet to sustain tidal action and the earth’s axis. Looking further upward we find that our planet is just the right distance from the sun, the so-called “Goldilocks Zone.” We also find that our sun is the correct type to allow life to exist, in that its energy emission is far less erratic than 90% of the stars in our galaxy.
Even our solar system’s placement in the Milky Way Galaxy is conducive to sustaining life on earth. If it was closer to the center or within one of its spiral arms, cosmic rays would be too intense to permit life to exist on earth. Instead, our solar system sits between the Milky Way’s spiral arms and midway from its center.
And as we peer higher and higher we continue to discover order and complexity at every level. We find the laws and forces which govern our entire universe are all finely tuned to allow life to exist.
You see, whether we look upward or downward we find evidence of God’s creative genius, power, and love at every level. God’s fingerprints are everywhere. So don’t ever believe that your life is nothing but a chaotic chain of events. Your life is surrounded by the loving activity of God, who is forever trying to steer you into His healing embrace. “The LORD appeared to us from afar, declaring, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore, I have drawn you with cords of lovingkindness’” (Jer. 31:3).
Dear Father in heaven, please open my eyes to all Your divine activity around me. Help me to see the blessings You pour into my life every day. Cultivate in me an attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving. Amen.