King Solomon and Science: Consider the Ant
May 28, 2023
I love love love the Bible!
There are so many passages where I sit back and go 'WOW! How did the writer know that?'
It's truly an amazing book. Not only does it have scientific info in there, but quite often the Bible will 'show off' God's creation, inviting us to look deeper at certain animals or facets of nature so that we can fully appreciate just how amazing creation is. An example of this is the time King Solomon talked about ants.
Ants: Who knew they could be so fascinating?
Here are Solomon's words:
Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.
(Proverbs 6:6-9, NKJV)
King Solomon had a special gift: he was given knowledge about nature and science by God and people would come from far and wide to hear him speak on things like this. But was he right?
First of all, the use of the Hebrew in the ancient text refers to ants as female, a fact that scientists in Solomon's time could never have ascertained; and subsequent translations of the Bible continued to translate that verse in the female. So, are ants female?
Yes, scientists these days have confirmed that ants consist of large communities of sterile females, with a few fertile males and one or more queens. The males die as soon as they've mated, leaving the community primarily female.
So the Bible was right there: Ants can be described using 'she' and 'her.'
Second, ants don't have a leader, as Solomon said. They have no captain, overseer or ruler. The queens are breeders but are not responsible for directing the ants. Instead, the ants process information as a group, and work as a group. And this is where it gets fascinating. Because it's not just that they have no leader, it's that they carry out such a startling degree of work with no leader. How do they do it? That's what the Bible is pointing out here: It's pointing out that this is amazing.
Here's why I say that:
I have a little newspaper clipping tucked away in my Bible by a journalist called Jamie Merrill (2014) who wrote an article called 'Ants more efficient than Google, say scientists'. Merrill wrote:
Research shows that ants flourish not only because they work hard and will slavishly sacrifice themselves for the collective. Their success is also due to their group ability to process information 'far more efficiently than Google' in the daily search for food, according to scientists.
A major behavioural mathematics study ... used complex computer modelling to reveal how ants bring order to chaos by creating "highly complex networks" to govern their actions.
It found that not only are ants 'surprisingly efficient', but they are also able to deploy ingenious navigation strategies to divide themselves between 'scout' and 'gathering' ants during 'complex feed-search movements'.
According Merrill, the author of the above study concluded that "The learning strategy involved (by ants) is more accurate and complex than a Google search in processing information about their surroundings."
Isn't that amazing!
It's not only amazing that God created the ants to have this capability, but it's also amazing that Solomon identified that: That they work without a leader, and that if we consider her ways we would become wise.
There's more. In his article, Merrill also said:
The study comes a week after a team from Georgia Institute of Technology revealed that ants' skills at building stable tunnels in loose sand could aid in the design of a new generation of search-and-rescue robots. The team used high-speed cameras to observe how fire ants can use their antennae as extra limbs to catch themselves when they fall, in a development that can be reproduced in the development of fledgling rescue technologies.
God's creation is genius. So genius, in fact, that us humans can study it and become wise ourselves. Just like Solomon said.
Have you got a favorite thing about the Bible that shows off to you God's majesty?