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The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ who is also Deaf and Dumb – IV

Enough of computer games! Now we take up the case of the honey-bee. How by the application of Darwinian principles could the internal mechanism of the honey-bee have been conceived without a designer with any specific purpose in mind? How genes could have fashioned and created the honey-bee with all its fantastic behavioural wonders is equally incomprehensible. Can any scientist explain how this internal mechanism gradually evolved with all its functional abilities? The way it sees, the way its eyes and vision are modelled in perfect unison with its outer world of flowers and fruits is, in itself, a grave challenge to the naturalists who deny design. What forces, if any, shape them and how could they have, slowly unfolded into existence by themselves? That is not all there is to it. The manner it builds its honeycomb and collects material for it also requires a lot of explaining on the part of the naturalists. Just to find material is common to all living animals but to create that material to suit a precise purpose is rare. This is exactly what the honey-bee does. ‘Flakes of wax are removed by the enlarged first tarsal joint of the hind leg from four paired glands on the underside of the abdomen and passed forward for construction manipulations by the front legs and mandibles … The wax 7Review of Religions – September 2002 The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ Who is also Deaf and Dumb – part IV This is an extract taken from the book Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Tr u t h, written by Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad. is mixed with saliva and kneaded to the proper consistency and degree of plasticity at which it can best be molded.’1 Why should an insect with a mind which cannot conceive the scientific intricacies of the material world suddenly begin to employ them to its own advantage? Thus a slow, gradual building of the honey-bee’s mind as well as its intuitive knowledge of how it should build its dwelling and what material has to be employed, must have been ciphered into it by someone who knew. But there is far more to this than meets the eye. The cells of which the honeycomb is constructed are all hexagonal with walls which meet at exactly 120 degrees. ‘The comb itself is one of the marvels of animal architecture. It consists of a regular back-to-back array of hexagonal cells, arranged in parallel series, each comb a precise distance from its neighbor.’2 Bees display fantastic engineering skills and their building gives the impression that they have been equipped with most sophisticated measuring instruments: ‘The precision and strength of the newly built comb is remarkable. For example, cell wall thickness is 0.073± 0.002 min, the angle between adjacent cell walls is an exact 120% and each comb is generally constructed 0.95 cm from its neighbor.’3 Born out of similar eggs, the offspring are divided into three different professional groups; the queens, the workers and the drones. The queen is capable of laying thousands of eggs in a day. ‘The aptly named queen reigns over the nest, surrounded by attendants and fed the rich food she requires to perform 8 The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ who is also Deaf and Dumb – Part IV Review of Religions – September 2002 her few but crucial tasks in the colony. Her slim lines hide the huge ovaries which make her an extraordinary egg- laying machine, capable of laying thousands of eggs a day, and her calm behaviour masks her powerful pheromones, chemical signals to recipient workers which control many of their behaviours and provide part of the social glue which holds honey bee life together.’4 The drones who are also specially fed by the worker bees have strong masculine bodies. They only perform one function – mating with the queen, after which they die. The main body of the colony consists of worker bees who collect pollen and make honey. They also array themselves around the rim, always watchful, always ready to defend the colony. Their functional ability to fly at an instant’s notice depends however on their body temperature which must be maintained at 35ºC. Temperature is no problem in the centre of the honeycomb which is protected from all sides but at the rim their temperature begins to fall because of the effects of the open air. They counter this problem by fanning their wings from time to time to build frictional energy. The bees’ nest, when built in the hollows of trees or in narrow caves, has a single entrance so air cannot ventilate it and the level of carbon dioxide and other gases in the air cannot be automatically maintained. Carbon dioxide tends to increase in proportion threatening the survival of the bees. To offset this danger, worker honey-bees keep moving, group by group, to the exit and sit there in a position with tails directed outwards. In that position they rapidly fan their wings so that fresh air wafts the stale air out. They do this for 10 seconds and are replaced by another batch of workers if needs be. They repeat the same feat when the temperature rises higher than 35ºC. The well- 9 The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ who is also Deaf and Dumb – Part IV Review of Religions – September 2002 maintained fanning at such times largely succeeds in controlling the temperature. They begin fanning simultaneously and stop simultaneously. In addition to fanning, they haul water instead of nectar into the honeycomb and deposit it around the cells which contain larvae sensitive to heat. The honey-bees’ choice of diet, the way each drop of honey is created from floral nectar, how the saliva must be mixed with it to provide it the viscosity it requires to become honey, is a marvel in itself. With every tiny spot of this mixture on their tongue, they have to stick it out repeatedly to finally mature it. For each drop of honey thus created, they have to make repeated sorties to the field in search of nectar. This goes on day in and day out until they fill the section of the honeycomb which is specifically reserved for this purpose. Somehow they know how to differentiate between ordinary honey and royal jelly which they manufacture entirely for the queen to be fed upon. Royal jelly has that special quality which provides the queen the reproductive energy for the rapid laying of eggs. Each day the queen can lay eggs equal to her body weight which is much more than the body weight of ordinary honey-bees. Again, royal jelly has the uncanny quality of increasing the age of the queen a hundred times longer than that of ordinary bees. The entire colony of some eighty thousand individuals are the queen’s subjects. No better discipline can ever be displayed by human monarchies. Apart from the tasks mentioned above there has to be a surveillance system, with competent workers, to find suitable new sites for the next colony to be built when the old colony is to be abandoned. The surveyor honey-bees who perform this task and the manner in which they do so are to be counted among the greatest wonders of life’s behaviour. They span out in search of suitable well-protected sites which should also be close to some rich fields of nectar. Such sites may be situated at different 10 The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ who is also Deaf and Dumb – Part IV Review of Religions – September 2002 distances from the floral fields and may be comparatively less or better suited for the new colony to be built. Comparing and analyzing all the information brought in by different surveyor bees has somehow to be done by the queen to judge the comparative merits of the site of her next colony. This information is conveyed to the queen by the surveyor bees in a manner which completely defeats comprehension. In fact the whole exercise is unique in the entire animal kingdom. It should have baffled the minds of the most advanced natural scientists as to how this strange communicative system could have come into existence without a designer and an executor. But do they ever ponder over these things, one wonders! Each surveyor when it returns to the colony performs a fantastic dance. Aligning itself in a precise direction it begins to dance and conveys all these messages through that dance and its directional posture to the queen. The information the dance communicates could not be conveyed better or more precisely in human language. It tells the queen what it has seen, where it has seen it, how far it is situated and how far from that site is an adequate floral field. It conveys the distance involved from the colony to the new site and from the new site to the floral field. It also describes the site itself in perfect detail, how well it is protected from natural interference, whether it is a hollow of a tree, a crevice in a rock or a spot on the stem of a tree well-surrounded by protective branches. Each surveyor takes its turn and the queen waits till all have finished. Only then does she decide what to do and takes flight in the exact direction of the site she has chosen. How the transfer is finalized and a new colony is finally built is another fantastic story. At the end we must mention how honey-bees and honeycombs are hygienically maintained in a manner which puts to shame modern hospitals and clinics. In sharp contrast to the mosquito, the notorious carrier of viruses and germs, the honey-bee was 11 The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ who is also Deaf and Dumb – Part IV Review of Religions – September 2002 discovered by researchers to carry no viruses or germs on its body. Having been utterly surprised they launched a new research programme to discover why this was so. This revealed an amazing story of how the bees manufacture their own disinfectant material by collecting it from certain resins of plants, now known as propolis. This material has the amazing quality of destroying all bacteria and viruses. The honey-bees having built their combs, paste this material on the rim of the entire comb. Each bee when it returns to the comb, steps first on that rim so that all viruses and bacteria which may have adhered to its tiny feet are destroyed by the propolis before it enters the colony. We have discussed the honey-bee in some detail here while in the reference to the eight fantastic animals mentioned earlier we did not enter into an elaborate discussion. We have done so mainly because the Holy Qur’an specifically mentions the honey- bee in a manner which should resolve the riddle of life for naturalists. We have selected the case of the honey-bee for them to ponder and search far and wide to identify the creative forces which modelled them. Of course, the naturalists who specialise in this subject know far more than we do about the honey-bee and its complex world. To be quite honest, we doubt if they could lightly dismiss the case of the honey-bee and the wonders related to it merely to chance. 12 The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ who is also Deaf and Dumb – Part IV Review of Religions – September 2002 OF ALL THE INSECTS WHICH PERVADE THE WORLD, GOD HAS PICKED JUST THIS ONE TO DEMONSTRATE THAT WHEN HE COMMUNICATES WITH AN ANIMAL BELONGING TO AN ORDINARY SPECIES, HOW ITS STATUS IS LIFTED BEYOND COMPARISON TO THAT OF THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE SAME SPECIES. WHAT IS A HONEYBEE AFTER ALL, BUT A FLY. YET WHAT A FLY! Let them lay down their arms and admit that there has to be a Creator. In the Holy Qur’an it is that Creator Who speaks and resolves the mysteries of life once and for all. With reference to the honey-bee the following is the Qur’anic statement: And thy Lord has inspired the bee, saying, ‘Make thou houses in the hills and in the trees and in the trellises which they build. ‘Then eat of every kind of fruit, and follow the ways of thy Lord that have been made easy for thee.’ There comes forth from their bellies a drink of varying hues. Therein is cure for men. Surely, in that is a Sign for a people who reflect.5 (Ch.16: v.69-70) Of all the insects which pervade the world, God has picked just this one to demonstrate that when He communicates with an animal belonging to an ordinary species, how its status is lifted beyond comparison to that of the other members of the same species. What is a honeybee after all, but a fly. Yet what a fly! It is only after the message is delivered to the honey-bee at the earliest stage of its creation and is imprinted in an intuitive language upon its genes that it begins to function as it does. It does not have to perform its functions consciously with a conscious control of its mind. The genes that teach it what to do have no mind of their own. But He who has created them has a mind and the genes simply function as slaves to His command. He has spoken Himself to demonstrate to the world that when He 13 The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ who is also Deaf and Dumb – Part IV Review of Religions – September 2002 specifically chooses even an insignificant insect, it becomes supreme in the entire world of insects. It becomes a source of healing and cure, unlike other insects which carry and spread disease. They are poles apart in their function of life. As far as the curative properties of honey are concerned, this is an ongoing research and the researchers who have already discovered some wonderful things about it are expecting far more yet to be revealed. Whatever medical science has identified so far is summed up in the following: ‘Currently, honey treatment is used for gastrointestinal, some cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, skin, and neural diseases of the oral cavity, ear, throat, nose inflammatory affection of female genitals, and of the cervix of the uterus.’6 One healing quality of honey which British scientists have discovered to their amazement is its ability to cure such eye sores as were otherwise considered incurable. Many a patient has been saved from total blindness by its application. ‘ Patients with ulcerous blepharitis and blepharoconjunctivitis, under the influence of honey experienced that the itch and a sensation of sand in the eye disappeared; reddening of conjunctivas reduced or disappeared, ulcers of eye-lids edges, epithelisation of erosions and ulcers reduced in the duration of the treatment. With patients suffering from ray dystrophic processes, as a result of honey treatment, comeal epithelisation improved, photophobia disappeared and sight improved.’7 Is there not a message in this for the naturalists to reflect upon? How we wonder, hoping against hope! 14 The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ who is also Deaf and Dumb – Part IV Review of Religions – September 2002 To conclude our discussion, we reaffirm that the naturalists’ denial of purpose in the design of the living is only because it would invariably lead to God. They would much rather prefer a deaf, dumb and blind agent to have created everything. They are purposefully deceitful because the blind principles of Darwinism are not creators. These principles only begin to operate when the creation is performed by other hands. They are powerful principles like the laws of physics. Yet all the laws of physics, chemistry and dynamics put together could not have created even a single poor man’s shack complete with plumbing, a small kitchen and a toilet. Of course these laws are employed for such construction, but the employer has to be a conscious person with a brain. The brain is the master which employs the laws of nature. REFERENCES 1. WINSTON, M.L., (1991) The Biology of the Honey Bee. Harvard University Press, London, p.83. 2. WINSTON, M.L., (1991) The Biology of the Honey Bee. Harvard University Press, London, p.81. 3. WINSTON, M.L., (1991) The Biology of the Honey Bee. Harvard University Press, London, p.83. 4. WINSTON, M.L., (1991) The Biology of the Honey Bee. Harvard University Press, London, p.1. 5. Translation of 16:69-70 by Maulawi Sher Ali. 6. MOMERENKOV, VY, SHUBINA, L.F. (1982) Use of Honey In Treating Eye Diseases – Translation of Russian Article: Feldsher Akush. 15 The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ who is also Deaf and Dumb – Part IV Review of Religions – September 2002