God and the Dung Beetle

Dung Beetle

Dung Beetle

Your Curmudgeon has often expressed his fondness for the Dung beetle — a splendid example of an insect that has evolved to thrive in its environment. We’ve written about them several times — see Dung Beetles Navigate by the Stars. That post links to a few others, including one you shouldn’t miss: Intelligent Design: The Dung Beetle’s Tale.

It seems that the creation scientists at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) also appreciate the little critters, but not in the same way that we do. They just posted Dung Beetles: Promoters of Prairie Preservation.

It was written by James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D. He has two middle initials, which is very classy, and he not only has a law degree, but he’s also a Doctor of Theology. He’s described at the end as “Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Imagine the life of a dedicated dung beetle, collecting, moving, and hoarding dung — even raising its children on it. Talk about a lowly existence! Yet, from the dung beetle’s perspective, it’s completely normal; dung is what its life is all about.

It’s much the same with a creationist’s life. Then he says:

Consider the valuable ecological service the dung beetle provides as it mundanely moves manure morsels.

Yes, the dung beetle tidies up our world while benefiting itself. But that’s where the analogy to creationists breaks down, because a creationist only makes the world messier.

After that, Johnson asks and then answers a profound question:

Are these dung beetles being altruistic environmentalists, caring about their native ecosystem? No, dung beetles don’t study biome ecology; they don’t select seed-sowing sites to promote the nutrient dynamics of American prairies.

Then why do they do what they do? Johnson explains:

Rather, the mutualistic symbiosis we see exhibited in prairie habitats — where cattle provide resources to dung beetles, which help plant the next generation of grasses, which in turn feed the cattle — is a composite and interactive display of God’s preplanning genius and bioengineering.

Aha — it’s God’s plan! Let’s read on:

It is God who is multitasking on the great grassy plains, working above and below the surface to provide habitat for plants and animals while simultaneously providing for human needs.

The dung beetle is God’s agent! And now we come to the end:

This seemingly lowly insect is but one valuable gem of God’s handiwork in the plains of the Great West. We can see that even the dung beetle glorifies God, providentially promoting prairie preservation in plain view — if we look carefully at what’s happening in the grass beneath our feet.

This is a bit of a puzzle. We understand the dung beetle in the context of evolution, but it doesn’t make much sense as a product of creation. All that divine multitasking would be unnecessary if dung weren’t so ubiquitous. It looks like an example of bad planing to us.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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16 responses to “God and the Dung Beetle

  1. James J. S. Johnson notes

    dung beetles don’t study biome ecology

    Yet another parallel between dung beetles and Creationists…

  2. Mike Elzinga

    That picture reminds me of the Sisyphean efforts of the clowns at the Discovery Institution trying, and repeatedly failing, to roll their mammoth dung ball up to the pinnacle of scientific education.

    May that continue to be their fate.

  3. Despite the initials after his name he is basically saying I am stoopid as dung, so gawd did it

  4. “Rather, the mutualistic symbiosis we see exhibited in prairie habitats — where cattle provide resources to dung beetles, which help plant the next generation of grasses, which in turn feed the cattle — is a composite and interactive display of God’s preplanning genius and bioengineering.”

    Why dung beetles? Why not dung birds or dung frogs?

    Why need a symbiotic relationship at all? It would be much more elegant if the dung came out in balls and just rolled around, spreading seed on its own.

  5. michaelfugate

    Why not produce a gut which can digest everything eaten?

  6. Yes! And the grass can grow without seeds.

  7. Holding The Line In Florida

    Let me see if I understand this….
    plentiful food source: check!
    An organism around to utilize this food source: check!
    Niche in the environment occupied: check!
    Baby Dung Beetles have a good start in life: check!
    The Dung Beetle God did it: Check! Of course!
    Who am I, a mere mortal, to question the ways of the Great Dung Beetle!

  8. It is highly appropriate that the ICR creationists are writing stories about beetles and cow patties.

  9. Rather, the mutualistic symbiosis we see exhibited in prairie habitats — where cattle provide resources to dung beetles, which help plant the next generation of grasses, which in turn feed the cattle — is a composite and interactive display of God’s preplanning genius and bioengineering.

    Er–isn’t it supposed to be the whole point of “intelligent design” that while it insists on a Creator it is not, not, NOT based on the Bible, and that therefore ID’ers are not, not, NOT creationists?

  10. Eric Lipps, the dung beetle article doesn’t come from the Discoveroids.

  11. Charles Deetz ;)

    A true creator would have made XL sized dung beetles as Noah’s helpers, to keep the Ark clean and tidy. Why hasn’t Hambo thought *ahem* researched that?

  12. We can see that even the dung beetle glorifies God, providentially promoting prairie preservation in plain view.

    It would be nice if the creationists’ appreciation of the the natural world, based on their belief that it was created by God, would motivate them to advocate for protecting it.

  13. Ceteris Paribus

    SC notes of James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D. that “He has two middle initials, which is very classy, and he not only has a law degree, but he’s also a Doctor of Theology [emphasis added]. He’s described at the end as “Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.””

    I’m quite sure that “Th.D” does not mean “Doctor of Theology”. At least not in Kansas. Here, we know that the Th.D appellation is in reference to a “Doctor of Thinkology” diploma. Same as most living out here on the central plains of Kansas usually understand the term “Ph.D” to mean a diploma that is “Piled higher and Deeper”.

    But you can see the actual Wizard of Oz present a real Th.D diploma to Scarecrow.
    here [there is an obnoxious pop-up soon after the video starts, but you can click it off.]

  14. Pete Moulton

    Now that James J.S. Johnson has so cleverly described how the dung beetle fits into his deity’s plan, I’d like to read his exposition on filarial blindness. How is that part of the Plan, Jimmy John?

  15. How about the divine plan for mass extinctions of kinds?

  16. I’m a tad disturbed by the idea of a Great Dung Beetle in the sky. I mean, Thor and his hammer present a certain risk, but a GDB…