Science in Christian Perspectice



Bringing Blessings Out of Adversity: God's
Activity in the World of Nature


Department of Biology 
The King's College 
Briarcliff Manor, NY

From: PSCF 41 (March 1989): 2-9.

In this article, I propose that God's creative activity in the natural world follows the same pattern as His interaction with humankind. He allows adversity to occur, then brings blessings out of it, as dual aspects of His will. First, we remember the pervasive biblical theme that God brings blessings out of adversity, both in biblical history and in our spiritual growth. I then document that God has also brought blessings out of adversity throughout the history of life on earth, and continues to do so in biological processes today. I believe that this view shows that the Creator and Sustainer of nature has acted in the same manner as the Lord of human history.

The existence of pain and suffering in the human world has hindered many observers from believing in the Christian God of Love. God permits humans to inflict evils upon one another because of free will; but why does He permit, or cause, disease, privation, and disaster? Skeptical observers of Christianity are further disturbed when they see that, throughout the history of the earth, animals have also experienced disease, strife, and privation.

Evolution is a process that favors the most efficiently selfish organisms at the expense of other organisms. If we say that God has allowed the evolutionary process to play a prominent role in earth history, if He used it as one of His mechanisms of creation, we encounter a contradiction: God condemns selfishness in humans, but rewards it in plants and animals.1,2

We cannot dismiss this difficulty by saying that what happens to plants and animals does not matter, that their suffering is without spiritual significance. Jesus called attention to God feeding the birds as evidence of His faithfulness. What about the birds that God does not feed, and they die? Is this evidence against his lovingkindness? Christians are frequently forced into a position of weak apology on this point.

Jesus' miracles were blessings rather than the infliction of sufferings; He expects us to bless, not scourge, our neighbors. He will eventually eliminate suffering, whether traceable to sin or not, from the creation. God wants us to identify His activity with blessing, not with the sending of adversity. However, we cannot simply attribute adversity to Satan. Because God permits Satan to act, adversity is God's activity as well. This is demonstrated by the parallel accounts in 11 Samuel 24:1 and I Chronicles 21:1, in which adversity is identified as being God's activity and Satan's activity at one and the same time.

The Bible illustrates how adversity and blessing work together to accomplish God's will in the human world. God allows adverse circumstances to befall His people. Often He accomplishes this by the operation of natural law. People receive God's approval when they respond to adversity with positive creative activity based upon faith in Him. And it is this response that God desires. Frequently, God miraculously intervenes to rescue people from their adversity. God's creative mechanism, in human history and in the spiritual growth of each person, both with and without miraculous intervention, has been to bring blessings out of adversity. This point has been frequently made by Christian writers, and because of its importance it will be reviewed in this article.

However, the main purpose of this article is to demonstrate that God's creative mechanism in the natural world has been the same as His creative mechanism in human experience: to bring blessings out of adversity. Adversity in the natural world, such as privation, disease, and injury, results when God operates through the laws of nature. As a general rule, individual organisms and whole species respond creatively to and triumph over their circumstances.

A related theme is that in which prominence arises out of humility. It is related because it is frequently the humble people and the small individuals or rare species that experience adversity. Furthermore, this frequently entails the humiliation of the mighty, the bringing low of the lofty. These are the two sides of the same irony, in both the natural world and in human experience. In both we see the God who sends the rich away hungry but fills the poor with good things (Luke 1:51-53).

A Pervasive Biblical Theme

A. Biblical History

God has consistently brought blessings out of adversity in the biblical history of man. It not merely occurs, or occurs often, but is found in practically all of the major events of biblical history. I cite the following examples of important and sometimes extreme illustrations of this theme.

1. The theme is found in the first place in which it can be found: the creation of man. As Houston says, the Bible "out-Darwins Darwin."3 No, we did not arise from the apes; our primordial origin is even humbler. The lords of Creation were fashioned from the dust of the ground. Ancient mythologies depicted the ruling class as descendants of the gods, and the slaves as mere dust. In contrast, the Bible declares that blessings are exalted out of lowliness: lowliness, in that even kings are made from dust, and exaltation, in that even slaves are no longer merely dust.

2. Adversity and privation, as we generally understand them, were absent from the Garden, but there was never a time in which mankind had no struggle whatsoever. God let the serpent into the Garden. Adam was called upon to struggle with, what was for him, a difficult decision. After the Fall, adversity came in the form of agricultural toil and painful childbirth. But even in the midst of pronouncing the Curse, and subjecting man to adversity, God planted a seed of blessing: Adam would bruise the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15).

3. Cain was evil, but God counseled even Cain that blessing can arise from the struggle against adversity: " . . . sin crouches at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it" (Genesis 4:8).

4. The humble Noah was chosen by God to repopulate the earth, even though other people probably had more wealth, strength, and cleverness.

5. Abraham was a landless sojourner, yet became the father of a chosen people as numerous as the stars.

6. Joseph was the least son, was sold into slavery, but rose to prominence both in Egypt and in his family.

7. The Israelites were chosen by God to receive His  blessings even though they were least among the nations (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). Moses, cowardly at first (Exodus 2:14-15), is remembered as a great leader.

The Bible declares that blessings are exalted out of lowliness:
 lowliness, in that even kings are made from dust, 
and exaltation, in that even slaves are no longer merely dust.

8. The Israelites triumphed over enemies much stronger than they. In the case of Gideon (another least son who began as a coward), God deliberately contrived an ironic situation in which a small army gained victory (judges 7).

9. King David was a lowly shepherd, the youngest son, whom Jesse forgot to bring to the meeting with Samuel. Even after he was anointed king of Israel, he fled to join the Philistines (I Samuel 27-28). From this sorry material God formed a man after His own heart, both in strength and spirituality.

10. The wise King Solomon was born in folly, from a wedlock which was the most shameful chapter of his father's life.

11. God consistently elevated obscure men to be His prophets (e.g., Amos 7:14).

12. The New Testament church was formed from humble men shunned by the religious establishment (I Corinthians 1:26-29, 4:8-13; 11 Corinthians 11:2312:10). It hid in catacombs. All that Josephus could say was that the church was not yet extinct. But Christians number in the hundreds of millions today.

In each of the above cases, not only did the blessing come because God sent it, but a creative response on the part of the main characters was necessary. Certainly it was not the adversity itself that produced the triumph. Noah applied his resources, talents, and energy to boat-building, and Gideon bravely hacked down the grove. An unclaimed blessing is wasted, as in the case when Cain did not struggle to overcome sin.

The creative response must be undertaken in an optimistic spirit, a belief in the goodness of the God who is in ultimate control of all things. This is one way in which biblical accounts of blessing arising from adversity differ from the hero mythology of pagan cultures. Could there be any clearer example of triumph over adversity than that of Odysseus? Yet be had only a shadowy half-existence to look forward to in the realm of Hades. The Germanic heroes overcame monsters and rejection by men, yet nothing could forestall the eventual Gotterdgmmerung. How different is Jacob's wrestling all night with God. He received the name of Israel not merely because he struggled, or because be struggled with God, but because he did so with the absolute conviction that in he end God would bless him (Genesis 32:26).

This theme also permeates secular history. The humble, downtrodden people overcome the lazy rulers time and again. And frequently the peoples that have faced the greatest resource restrictions have striven the most to rise above their limitations. Rene Dubos' favorite example of creative response to adversity was the Netherlands, which gained worldwide power despite an almost total lack of natural resources.4 The inner human desire to respond creatively to adversity is assuredly a better paradigm for the interpretation of secular history than is either the "great-man" theory or Marxist economic theory. Biblical history illustrates this theme better than secular history because of God's direct involvement in the history of Israel and of the Church.

B. Spiritual Development

God places a higher value upon recovery from

suffering than upon a life of ease and luxury. The Lord is a shepherd who leads us through the valley of the shadow of death and into the presence of enemies. The "bones that you have broken will rejoice" (Psalms 51:8). Iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17), wounds lead to cleansing (Proverbs 20:30), and the Lord purifies hearts in the same way that the fiery crucible purifies precious metals (Proverbs 7:3, Isaiah 48: 10). He does not prevent us from being weary; instead He renews the strength of the weary (Isaiah 40:29-31). He does not prevent us from being born into poor circumstances, but He exalts the poor (Isaiah 40:4). Our hardships play an essential role in our spiritual maturation (Romans 5:3-5; II Corinthians 4:7-12, 12:9). "A life without obstacles to overcome would be almost as bad as a life with only obstacles that could not be overcome.5

C. Jesus Christ

The life of Jesus Christ seems to express the theme of blessing arising out of adversity in every possible way. He was prophesied to suffer physically and carry the burden of sin for all of us (Isaiah 53:4-6). A Davidic lineage did not shield Him from being born of humble parents, in a shed, during a time of political oppression. He grew up in Nazareth ("Can anything good come from Nazareth?" John 1:46). He submitted to the humility of baptism, to temptation while starving in the wilderness, to continual harassment by religious authorities, to privations, and finally to torture and death. The cross was an instrument of torture and a symbol of shame. Yet He was raised from the grave and now rules the universe. Despite the fact that He is all-powerful, He does not boast in it; instead He calls Himself "The Lamb." His worthiness for praise emerges not so much from His present power as from His sacrifice of Himself (Philippians 2:5-11, Revelation 5:9). The stone rejected by the builders became the cornerstone (I Peter 2:7). The Resurrection was the supreme instance of an ironic victory of blessing over hopelessness and death.

A Pervasive Natural Theme

The above references strongly suggest that the passage from adversity to blessing is a positively good thing in itself, something God intended from the outset in the situations referred to, rather than a patch-up of something that went awry. And if this theme pervades the Bible, if it is arguably the major mechanism of God's activity within human experience, then we would expect God to act in the natural world, as its Creator, in the same manner (II Corinthians 5:17). We should find, in the history and present operation of life on earth, a drawing forth of blessings out of adverse situations. And, as in biblical history, this may sometimes involve miraculous intervention.

The Bible itself instructs us to look for this pattern within the natural world. Samson's riddle (judges 14:14) said that sweetness comes forth from the lion, king of beasts, only after it is humbled in death. Ezekiel 17:24 explicitly identifies the elevation of the humble as a theme symbolized within the natural world.

This view of the natural world inclines us to reject two of the more common beliefs about the mechanism of God's creative activity. We would, first, reject that version of creationism that claims that God created the universe as quickly and efficiently as possible.6 We would also reject that version of theistic evolution that interprets natural law, in itself, as carrying out God's complete will. God neither creates us instantly into spiritual maturity nor does He leave our spiritual growth to the mercy of circumstances. In like manner, His creation activity in the natural world is neither maximally efficient nor need it occur solely by means of the vicissitudes of evolution.

Obviously, we face a problem with interpreting natural history in terms of blessing arising from adverse circumstances. "Blessing" suggests progress-greater complexity or diversification of organisms. But what do we mean by considering such things to be blessings? We are forced into subjective judgment, thrown into the realm of metaphor. This is why I have advocated a metaphorical approach to the Christian interpretation of the natural world.7

[God's] creation activity in the natural world is neither 
maximally efficient nor need it occur solely 
by means of the vicissitudes of evolution.

I believe, however, that there is no problem with imputing the concepts of blessing and adversity upon the nonhuman world. Natural disasters, for instance, seem bad to humans, while the persistence, diversification, I and proliferation of life all seem good. I suggest that God operated in the history of the natural world in such a way as to bring blessing out of adversity, as these concepts would later be understood by humans. He had the General Revelation to us in mind as He superintended the history of the cosmos.

If the theme is truly pervasive in the natural world, then it should be illustrated in both evolutionary and non-evolutionary areas of biology, in both the history and in the current operation of life processes. We must be suspicious of making an exception in our treatment of the natural world in order to accommodate evolution. Therefore, I will document the theme of blessing arising from adversity as it appears in the history of life on earth, and in the current operation of life of earth (physiology and ecology). Because many of the examples below are found in introductory biology texts and other readily accessible sources, I will only outline them here. As will become evident, the theme is reconcilable with either a progressive-creationist (although not a young-earth creationist) or a theistic evolutionist approach, and I have used terminology that is consistent with either.

A. The History of the Earth

1. The origin of life. Life itself is humble, no match for the raging elements. It is ironic that the first delicate bit of protoplasm on earth survived at all.8 Furthermore, some biochemists suggest that cyanogen (composed of two cyanide residues) was important in allowing the synthesis of complex molecules from simple molecules.9 If this is so, then life itself was created by means of a molecule that today is known for its poisonous properties.

2. The primordial poison. The first lifeforms, say most biologists, derived energy from the organic soup in which they lived. But a crisis arose when their populations outgrew the food supply. At just this moment, photosynthesis (the transformation of sunlight into food energy) originated and provided a food source.

owever, the by-product of the major form of photosynthesis is oxygen gas. This gas can readily remove electrons from water, forming peroxides, superoxides, and oxygen radicals.10 Therefore, oxygen is poisonous to anaerobic life forms, which do not possess enzymes to destroy the peroxides, superoxides, and oxygen radicals. Most modern life forms are aerobes, which do possess these enzymes and can thereby protect themselves from oxygen toxicity. Life has overcome the toxicity of oxygen, but it has done even better than this. Aerobic organisms do not merely protect themselves from oxygen but put oxygen to use. Their respiratory enzymes allow eighteen times as much energy to be released from foods in the presence of oxygen as in its absence. The efficient use of food energy was made possible by poisonous oxygen gas And it is the ability to take up low-energy electrons, the very property of oxygen that is most dangerous, that makes aerobic respiration possible.

3. The importance of anaerobes. Practically every organism we see around us is aerobic. However, it is incorrect to assume that anaerobes play no significant role in the world. It is the anaerobic methanogens that release methane into the atmosphere, playing a vital role in the ecosystem by regulating atmospheric oxygen levels.11 And there are other, partially anaerobic bacteria that can transform atmospheric nitrogen gas which is useless to most organisms-into nitrates. This process is the major pathway by which nitrogen atoms become available to all the plants and animals on the earth. The anaerobic bacteria have been driven into obscurity, but they make the continuation of life on earth possible.

4. The first symbioses. Symbiosis is the close association between two species to an extent that one requires the other for survival. The symbiosis called "parasitism" benefits only one of the species, while the symbiosis called "mutualism" benefits both. Most biologists believe that mitochondria (the organelles inside cells that carry out aerobic respiration) and chloroplasts (the organelles inside plant cells that carry out photosynthesis) were formerly free-living bacteria which parasitically invaded larger cells.12 The host cells, however, found a way to make the invaders useful, transforming the adversity of a parasitic relationship into the blessing of a mutualistic one.

Biological blessings both of structural complexity and of species 
diversity arose in response to the adversity Of life on dry land.

5. The invasion of the land. Dry land is hazardous to biological processes, which must take place under water. The movement of life out of the water onto the land required the development of structures and functions to obtain and conserve water, regulate temperature, provide skeletal support, and transport sperm. Simple life forms can live only in water. Most species of plants and animals live on dry land. Thus, the biological blessings both of structural complexity and of species diversity arose in response to the adversity of life on dry land.

6. Mammals. For the first time in 100 million years of their existence, mammals faced the adversity of being under the shadow of the dinosaurs. Today, the dinosaurs are gone and mammals have taken over many of their former roles in the economy of nature. Here is a reversal in which the humble were elevated and the proud were brought low-quite dramatically, say many scientists, by means of a worldwide disaster, perhaps an asteroid.13

7. Placental mammals. When the Panama land bridge allowed placental mammals from North America to enter South America, the placental mammals are believed to have driven many marsupial mammals to extinction. 14 In recent history, placental mammals introduced into Australia have driven many marsupials into extinction there. These conquests were not due toany inherent superiority of the placental reproductive system, but rather because placental mammals had experienced the northern conditions of environmental adversity and were stronger as a result.15

8. Arthropods. Insects and spiders are small and tend to go unnoticed when evolutionists use such terms as "The Age of Reptiles." Yet the humility of small size has allowed arthropods, in their own way, to rule the world. They utilize many niches unavailable to larger creatures, and are dominant both in number of species and of individuals on earth.

9. Life is fighting back. Despite our praise of life's resilience to adversity, we know that most species that have lived are now extinct. However, Raup and Sepkoski have found that the rate of extinction has declined during the hundreds of millions of years of life on earth. 16 It is ironic that life can fight back with a progressive degree of success against the disasters and reversals imposed on it.

10. Harsh environments. There is virtually no place on earth, however harsh its conditions, that is devoid of life. The blessing of life has flourished even in the driest and saltiest deserts. Life, like its Creator, is everywhere (Psalms 139:7-12).

11. The value of small populations. Small, isolated populations within a species, with the double disadvantage of small size and peripheral status, are believed to have contributed greatly to the evolution of the whole species in many instances.17

12. Altruism. Among animals, acts of altruism (selfsacrifice for the apparent benefit of another individual) are observed. The origin and persistence of these superficially unselfish behavior patterns have generally been explained by the selfish terms of natural selection.18 To many observers this means that altruism is Shyness in disguise; that life forms, after all, labor under the adversity of enslavement to selfishness. We can turn the statement around, however, and note that, among animals, the blessings of altruism have in fact arisen despite the selfishness of natural selection.

13. Mutualism from parasitism. The example mentioned in #4 above of mutualistic mitochondria and chloroplasts arising from parasitic ancestors is apparently not an isolated instance. Parasitic diseases in which the parasite and host have influenced one another's evolution for a long time tend to be less deadly to the host than incipient disease associations.19 Even the partners in the most advanced mutualistic associations, such as the algae and fungi that form the bodies of lichens, can behave parasitically toward one another under some circumstances, suggesting that the mutualistic association had a parasitic origin.20 Symbiotic relationships in general appear to develop from parasitism toward mutualism.

If the panda's thumb is indeed an improvisation, it merely reveals our Creator as one who values the ironic cleverness of making serviceable systems out of humble leftover parts.

14. Improvisation. Gould was criticized by antievolutionists when he said that the panda's thumb (not really a thumb) was an improvised contraption, "juryrigged" from leftover parts, and was not worthy of a Creator who made everything perfect.21, 22 He and his critics agreed that the thumb, although inelegant from a human engineer's viewpoint, served the panda's purposes adequately. If the panda's thumb is indeed an improvisation, it merely reveals our Creator as one who values the ironic cleverness of making serviceable systems out of humble leftover parts.

B. Non-historical Biological Processes

1. Acclimation. just as species can make evolutionary responses to environmental challenges, individual organisms are not passive when confronted with environmental adversity. Instead, they make chemical and structural adjustments to the adverse situations. Shade, drought, strong wind, and grazing are clearly detrimental to plants, but when exposed to these conditions the plants develop striking structural adjustments which enable the plants to withstand such adversity more readily in the future.23 Animals adjust body heat production and blood salt levels in response to environmental fluctuations. Creative responses, rather than passive submission, to adversity, which strengthens as a result of exposure to challenges, is perhaps the primary pervasive theme of physiology.

2. Succession. Places which have experienced the adversity of flood, fire, landslide, or human activity do not long remain barren. Plants reclaim the barrenness by the process of succession. For example, sand dunes deposited by the waves of Lake Michigan are very inhospitable to plant life. But a few plants survive there, and their roots stabilize the sand, and soil begins to form as dead foliage decays to humus. Eventually, an oak forest grows on what was once a dune. The blessings of high moisture and rich nutrient conditions replace the dry sterility of sand. The most basic characteristics of succession, a nearly universal ecological phenomenon, is environmental amelioration: relatively harsh conditions are moderated into relatively goou conditions. The growth of trees in formerly barren regions is something for which God requests our thanksgiving (Isaiah 41:18-20).

 adversity and blessing representing contradictory aspects
Of God's activity, the adversity should not be viewed apart from 
the blessing to which it gives birth.

Small disturbances such as treefalls and lightning bolts continue to occur in the forest even after succession appears completed. Succession never reaches an endpoint of heavenly stasis. The adversity of small disturbances serves an important function. If they did not occur, the forest might become clogged with dead wood and crowded with pale saplings. Small disturbances make the environment healthier than it would be in the absence of disturbance, because they allow forest trees to regenerates,24 and allow a forest to have both optimum species diversity25 and maximum efficiency of nutrient conservations.26


The sixteen examples presented above are some of the major events of life's history and major characteristics of its current operation. The theme of "blessings arising out of adversity" pervades life, as it pervades the history of God's interaction with mankind. Instead of adversity and blessing representing contradictory aspects of God's activity, the adversity should not be viewed apart from the blessing to which it gives birth. As Hugh Macmillan wrote in 1874:

... the All-Wise brings order out of confusion, and life out of death ... the summer beauty of our hills, and the autumn fertility of our valleys, have been caused by the cold embrace of the glacier; and so by the chill of trial and sorrow are the outlines of the Christian character moulded and beautified. And we who recognize the loving-kindness as well as the power of God in what may seem the harsher and more forbidding agencies of nature, ought not to weary or faint in our minds, if over our own warm human life the same kind ... hand should sometimes cause His snow of disappointment to fall ... knowing that by these unlikely means shall ultimately be given to us too, as to nature, the beauty of Sharon and the excellency of Carmel.27

The Lord of history has acted in the same manner as the Creator and Sustainer of nature. There is, therefore, a thematic unity of nature and history when viewed from a Christian perspective. I believe this contributes greatly to the credibility of Christianity.


1Rice, S.A., 1987. "On the Problem of Apparent Evil in the Natural World." Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 39:150-157.

2Van Dyke, F., 1986. "Theological Problems of Theistic Evolution." Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation  34:1-5.

3 Houston, H. M.

4Dubos, R., 1980. Celebration of Life. New York: McGraw-Hill.

5Birch, C. and J. B. Cobb, 198i. The Liberation of Life. New York: Cambridge University Press.

6Moffis, H.M., 1972. "Theistic Evolution." Creation Research Society Quarterly 8:269-272.

7Rice, op. cit.

8Birch and Cobb, op. cit. "With electrical storms raging above and volcanic eruptions below, who would have predicted that a tiny delicate jelly-like blob... could have endured. . . " (P. 108).

9Dickerson, R.E., 1978. "Chemical Evolution and the Origin of Life," in: Evolution, a Scientific American Book. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, pp. 30-47.

10Hydrogen peroxide, and an iodide peroxidase, are essential for the oxidation of iodide in the thyroid; oxygen radicals and hydrogen peroxide are important in the killing of microbes by leukocytes. The  examples also show that ". . . agents of adversity have been put to constructive use." Fridovich, I., 1976. "Oxygen Radicals, Hydrogen Peroxide, and Oxygen Toxicity," in: Pryor, W. A., ed., Free Radicals in Biology. New York: Academic Press, pp. 239-Z4.

11Lovelock. J., 1979. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. New York: Oxford University Press.

12margulis, L., 1973. S in Cell Evolution. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman; Gillham, N.W., 1978. Organelle Heredity. New York: Raven Press; Sager, R., 1972. Cytoplasmic Genes and Organelles. New York: Academic Press.

13Alvarez, L.W., et al., 1980. "Extraterrestrial Cause for the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction." Science 208:1095-1108; Alvarez, L.W., 1982. "Experimental Evidence That an Asteroid Impact Led to the Extinction of Many Species 65 Million Years Ago." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 80: 627-643.

14Gould, S. J., 1980. "Sticking Up For Marsupials" ch. 28 of The Panda's Thumb. New York: Norton. In a later article, Gould called this interpretation into question: Gould, S.J., 1983. "O Grave, Where is Thy Victory?" ch. 27 of Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes. New York: Norton. Marsupial mammals, unlike placental nammels nurse their young in pouches.

15Gould, op. cit.

16Raup, D.M. and J.J. Sepkoski, 1982. "Man Extinctions in the Marine Fossil Record." Science 215:1501-1502.

17Gould, S.J., 1980. "The Episodic Nature of Evolutionary Change," ch. 17 of The Panda's Thumb. New York: Norton.

18Rice, op. cit.; Maynard Smith, J., 1978. "The Evolution of Behavior," in: Evolution, a Scientific American Book, pp. 92-103, see note 10; Trivers, R.L., 1971. "The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism." Quarterly Review of Biology 46:7; Hamilton, W.D., 1972. "Altruism and Related Phenomena, Mainly in Social Insects." Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 3:193-232.

19Singh, B.N., 1975. "Aerobic Free-living Amoebae as Animal and Human Pathogens," ch. 4 of Pathogenic and Non-pathogenic Amoebae. New York: Wiley-Halsted Press; Cheng, T.C., 1970. Symbosis: Organisms Living Together. New York: Pegasus, pp. 40-42.

20Ahmadjian, V. and E. Hendriksson, 1959. "Parasitic Relationship Between Two Culturally Isolated and Unrelated Lichen Components." Science 130:1251; Ahmadiian, V. and J.B. Jacobs, 1981. "Relationship Between Fungus and Alga in the Lichen Cladonia cristatella Tuck." Nature 289:169-172.

21Gould, S.J., 1980. "The Panda's Thumb," ch. 1 of The Panda's Thumb. New York: Norton.

22Gordon, P., 1984. "The Panda's Thumb Revisited." Origins Research 7:1214; R. Bohlin and K. Anderson, 1983. "The Straw God of Stephen Gould." Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 35;42-44.

23Acclimation to light conditions: references in Rice, S.A., 1987. "Environmental Variability and Phenotypic Flexibility in Plants," Ph.D. thesis, University of Illinois. Acclimation to drought: Turner, N.C. and P.J. Kramer, eds., 1980. Adaptation of Plants to Water and High Temperature Stress. Somerset, N.J.: Wiley-Interscience; Paleg, L.G. and D. Aspinall, 1982. The Physiology and Biochemistry of Drought Resistance In Plants. New York: Academic Press. Acclimation to wind: Jaffe, M.J. and R. Biro, 1979, in Mussell, H. and R.C. Staples, eds., Stress Physiology in Crop Plants. Somerset, NJ: Wiley-Interscience. Acclimation to grazing by animals: McNaughton, S.J., 1979. "Grazing as an Optimization Process: Relationships in the Serengeti." American Naturalist 113:691-703. Acclimation in animals: Hill, R.W., 1973. Comparative Ecology of Aninwis. New York: Harper and Row; Hochachka, P. W. and G.N. Somero, 1984. Biochemical Adaptation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

24Runkle, J.R., 1981. "Gap Regeneration in Some Old-Growth Forests of the Eastern United States." Ecology 62:1041-1051; Veblen, T.T. and G.H. Stewart, 1982. "On the Conifer Regeneration Gap in New Zealand: The Dynamics of Libocedrus Bidwillii Stands on South Island," Journal of Ecology 70:413-436.

25White, P.S., 1979. "Pattern, Process, and Natural Disturbance in Vegetation." Botanical Review 45:229-299; Denslow, J.S., 1980. "Pattern of Plant Species Diversity During Succession Under Different Disturbance Regimes." Oceologia 446:18-21; Pickett, S.T.A. and P.S. White, 1985. The Ecology of Natural Disturbances and Patch Dynamics, New York: Academic Press.

26Vitousek, P.M. and W.A. Reiners, 1975. "Ecosystem Succession and Nutrient Retention: A Hypothesis." BioScience 25:376-381.

27Macmillan, H., 1874. Bible Teachings in Nature. London: Macmillan.

Stanley Rice teaches biology at The King's College in Briarcliff Manor, NY. He completed his Ph.D. in plant ecology at the University of Illinois at Urbana in 1987. He studied plant responses to variability of light conditions. His undergraduate degree, in environmental biology, was from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has been an NSF Graduate Fellow and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He currently serves as secretary of the New York Metropolitan Section Of the ASA. He continues joint research in plant ecology with a faculty member of Harvard University.

Happy the man whom God rebukes! therefore do not reject the discipline of the Almighty.

For, though he wounds, he will bind up the hands that smite will heal.

You may meet disaster six times, and he will save you; seven times, and no harm shall touch you. In time of famine he will save you from death, in battle from the sword.

You will be shielded from the lash of slander, and when violence comes you need not fear.

You will laugh at -violence and starvation and have no need to fear wild beasts; for you have a covenant with the stones to spare your fields, and the weeds have been constrained to leave you at peace.

You will know that all is well with your household, you will look round your home and find nothing amiss; you will know, too, that your descendants will be many and your offspring like grass, thick upon the earth.

You will come in sturdy old age to the grave as sheaves come in due season to the threshing floor.