Happy Valentine’s Day from Your Creator

The whole universe and everything within it is God’s special love letter to you, me, and every other member of the human race. I have written about these love letters in previous web articles and in my book, Improbable Planet.1 Here are a few of my favorites with brief descriptions (most of the photos come from my nature excursions) and links for those of you who want to explore more fully the depths of God’s love:

1. Flowers: Flowers are not just for romance. Our very existence would be impossible without flowering plants. Without them we would lack the rainfall we need for global civilization. Without flowering plants Earth’s surface would be too hot for human existence. Without flowering plants there would be a catastrophic drop in the number of plants and other species Earth could sustain. We would lack the food we need. Flowers show us how carefully, generously, and beautifully God designed Earth and all its life for our specific benefit.2

2. Whales: Whales efficiently fertilize the photic zone of the world’s oceans, thereby greatly increasing the abundance of phytoplankton. This great abundance of phytoplankton sustains enormous stocks of fish that we are able to harvest for nutritious food. Furthermore, the great abundance of phytoplankton removes greenhouse gases from our atmosphere, which makes Earth’s surface cool enough for our existence.3 Whales also are fun for us to watch.

3. BeaversBeavers do not exist simply to supply warm fur coats. Through their building of dams and lodges, beavers are one of the most important producers of valley sedimentation, wetlands, and wet meadows. These beaver construction projects enhance both the diversity and abundance of plant and animal species. They also help purify and oxygenate our lakes, rivers, and waterways. Busy beavers benefit all life and model for us an outstanding work ethic.4

4. Sulfate-reducing bacteria: For the first three billion years of life’s history on Earth, only microbes existed. During that time, Earth’s habitats were too toxic for animals. Thanks to over two billion years of sulfate-reducing bacteria transforming soluble metals into insoluble metals, Earth’s surface became a safe environment for life, where for each metal the amount in soluble form became optimal for animals.5 The concentrated insoluble metal ores produced by the sulfate-reducing bacteria made possible the launch of metallurgy and our high-technology civilization.

5. Cryptogamic crusts: The vascular plants that we depend on to feed ourselves and our animals need nutrient-rich, well-conditioned soils. It took over a billion years of complex ecosystems of microbes known as biological soil crusts or cryptogamic crusts to transform the barren chunks of silicates that comprised Earth’s early continents into rich, conditioned soil that allow vascular plants to live and thrive.6 God showed his love for us in that he made our planet “dirty”—comprised of the just-right kind of dirt.

6. Sand: Sand is essential for maintaining the texture and moisture retention of terrestrial soils that advanced plants require.7 It is also crucial for sustaining our civilization and technology.8 Earth did not start out with sand. God’s hand is evident in shaping Earth’s formation and history to ensure that the planet continuously possesses just-right geophysical and geochemical processes operating at just-right rates, times, and places to create an abundance of sand.

7. Falling leaves: Plots with the greatest quantity of leaf litter receive the greatest enrichment of inorganic nitrogen and nitrates—the keys to forest growth and health. Too much leaf litter, however, prevents seeds from gaining access to the soil. The fine-tuned abundance of leaf litter in Earth’s forests speaks of thoughtful, intentional, loving design.9

8. Wildfires: These events keep the leaf litter from accumulating to too great a degree. Wildfires also deposit charcoal into the soil, an important nutrient, conditioner, and aerator to enable vascular plants to thrive. God designed Earth’s atmosphere and Earth’s vegetation to give us the optimal number and intensity of wildfires.10

9. Merging neutron stars: Nearly all of half the elements heavier than iron are manufactured when two neutron stars merge together to become a black hole.11 These elements include platinum, gold, palladium, thorium, and uranium. Thanks to thorium and uranium, Earth has continents and a magnetic field that protects us from solar and cosmic radiation. Thanks to platinum, gold, palladium, and other elements manufactured by merging neutron stars, we can enjoy high-technology civilization. God showed his love by exposing Earth to neutron star merging events when it was forming but kept Earth very far away from these events during the epoch of advanced life.

10. Mountains: The diverse and variable diet of herbivores, and consequently of carnivores, is significantly higher in mountainous forests than it is in flat lowland plains. One of Earth’s miracles is its abundance and extent of mountain ranges and volcanoes. These mountains play a crucial role in enhancing rainfall and species diversity and in providing spectacular scenery for us to enjoy.12

These are just ten of the billions of Valentine’s cards God has sent us through what he has created and designed in the realm of nature. How can we not see and be grateful for his surpassing love for us?

Original article: Happy Valentine’s Day from the Creator


King Leir & His Three Daughters

King Leir once ruled in this land
With princely power and peace,
And had all things with hearts content,
That might his joys increase.
Amongst those things that nature gave,
Three daughters fair had he,
So princely seeming beautiful,
As fairer could not be.

So on a time it pleas’d the king
A question thus to move,
Which of his daughters to his grace
Could shew the dearest love:
“For to my age you bring content,”
Quoth he, “then let me hear,
Which of you three in plighted troth
The kindest will appear.”

To whom the eldest thus began:
“Dear father, mind,” quoth she,
“Before your face, to do you good,
My blood shall render’d be.
And for your sake my bleeding heart
Shall here be cut in twain,
Ere that I see your reverend age
The smallest grief sustain.”

“And so will I,” the second said;
“Dear father, for your sake,
The worst of all extremities
I’ll gently undertake:
And serve your highness night and day
With diligence and love;
That sweet content and quietness
Discomforts may remove.”

“In doing so, you glad my soul,”
The aged king reply’d;
“But what sayst thou, my youngest girl,
How is thy love ally’d?”
“My love” (quoth young Cordelia then),
“Which to your grace I owe,
Shall be the duty of a child,
And that is all I’ll show.”

“And wilt thou shew no more,” quoth he,
“Than doth thy duty bind?
I well perceive thy love is small,
When as no more I find.
Henceforth I banish thee my court;
Thou art no child of mine;
Nor any part of this my realm
By favour shall be thine.

“Thy elder sisters’ loves are more
Than well I can demand;
To whom I equally bestow
My kingdome and my land,
My pompal state and all my goods,
That lovingly I may
With those thy sisters be maintain’d
Until my dying day.”

Thus flattering speeches won renown,
By these two sisters here;
The third had causeless banishment,
Yet was her love more dear.
For poor Cordelia patiently
Went wandring up and down,
Unhelp’d, unpity’d, gentle maid,
Through many an English town:

Untill at last in famous France
She gentler fortunes found;
Though poor and bare, yet she was deem’d
The fairest on the ground:
Where when the king her virtues heard,
And this fair lady seen,
With full consent of all his court
He made his wife and queen.

Her father, old King Leir, this while
With his two daughters staid;
Forgetful of their promis’d loves,
Full soon the same decay’d;
And living in Queen Ragan’s court,
The eldest of the twain,
She took from him his chiefest means,
And most of all his train.

For whereas twenty men were wont
To wait with bended knee,
She gave allowance but to ten,
And after scarce to three,
Nay, one she thought too much for him;
So took she all away,
In hope that in her court, good king,
He would no longer stay.

“Am I rewarded thus,” quoth he,
“In giving all I have
Unto my children, and to beg
For what I lately gave?
I’ll go unto my Gonorell:
My second child, I know,
Will be more kind and pitiful,
And will relieve my woe.”

Full fast he hies then to her court;
Where when she heard his moan,
Return’d him answer, that she griev’d
That all his means were gone,
But no way could relieve his wants;
Yet if that he would stay
Within her kitchen, he should have
What scullions gave away.

When he had heard, with bitter tears,
He made his answer then;
“In what I did, let me be made
Example to all men.
I will return again,” quoth he,
“Unto my Ragan’s court;
She will not use me thus, I hope,
But in a kinder sort.”

Where when he came, she gave command
To drive him thence away:
When he was well within her court,
(She said) he would not stay.
Then back again to Gonorel
The woeful king did hie,
That in her kitchen he might have
What scullion boys set by.

But there of that he was deny’d
Which she had promis’d late
For once refusing, he should not,
Come after to her gate.
Thus twixt his daughters for relief
He wandred up and down,
Being glad to feed on beggars’ food
That lately wore a crown.

And calling to remembrance then
His youngest daughters words,
That said, the duty of a child
Was all that love affords—
But doubting to repair to her,
Whom he had ban’sh’d so,
Grew frantic mad; for in his mind
He bore the wounds of woe.

Which made him rend his milk-white locks
And tresses from his head,
And all with blood bestain his cheeks,
With age and honour spread.
To hills and woods and watry founts,
He made his hourly moan,
Till hills and woods and senseless things
Did seem to sigh and groan.

Even thus possest with discontents,
He passed o’er to France,
In hopes from fair Cordelia there
To find some gentler chance.
Most virtuous dame! which, when she heard
Of this her father’s grief,
As duty bound, she quickly sent
Him comfort and relief.

And by a train of noble peers,
In brave and gallant sort,
She gave in charge he should be brought
To Aganippus’ court;
Whose royal king, with noble mind,
So freely gave consent
To muster up his knights at arms,
To fame and courage bent.

And so to England came with speed,
To repossesse King Leir,
And drive his daughters from their thrones
By his Cordelia dear.
Where she, true-hearted, noble queen,
Was in the battel stain;
Yet he, good king, in his old days,
Possest his crown again.

But when he heard Cordelia’s death,
Who died indeed for love
Of her dear father, in whose cause
She did this battle move,
He swooning fell upon her breast,
From whence he never parted;
But on her bosom left his life
That was so truly hearted.

The lords and nobles, when they saw
The end of these events,
The other sisters unto death
They doomed by consents;
And being dead, their crowns they left
Unto the next of kin:
Thus have you seen the fall of pride,
And disobedient sin.