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The Butterfly and The Atheist

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 NIV)

During my atheist years I kept an open mind, although my default opinion was that, based on all I saw in the world around me, there could not possibly be an almighty God who created this universe. Then one February, I took my kids to Natural Bridges Park in Santa Cruz, where the Monarch butterflies stop on their way to Canada.

The docent who led our tour explained that the Monarch life cycle begins on a mountain in Mexico. The caterpillar goes into its chrysalis on the mountain, then ten days later it emerges as a fully formed butterfly. Those beautiful wings didn’t exist ten days earlier. Then that generation of Monarchs heads north. They fly north about seven hundred miles, then they mate, lay eggs, and die. The next generation hatches, then the caterpillar grows, shedding its skin between three and five times, depending on whose research you accept. After the final time molting, it forms its chrysalis. The new butterfly comes out ten days after that, and that generation heads further north. It takes three generations to get to Canada. Every time the new one comes out of its chrysalis, it knows exactly which direction to go. It never gets mixed up and heads south or east or west. All this really blew my mind, because the butterfly brain is probably smaller than the head of a pin, yet they seem to be smarter than some people I know. The third generation arrives in Canada, mates, lays eggs, then dies. The next generation which comes out goes back down south, but they go all the way without dying or laying eggs. It’s a two thousand mile journey to that mountain in Mexico, the same mountain every time, just an eight mile by eight mile area where they mate, lay eggs, and die before winter sets in. In the springtime, the cycle begins all over again.

They only weigh 1/5 of an ounce and their wingspan is less than four inches. They are one of the most fragile beings on the planet, but they do this incredible migration every year, to places they have never seen before. They know exactly where to go and how to get there.

Scientists tried an experiment at one point. They picked the generation which makes the two thousand mile journey to the south, taking some of the Monarch chrysalides to the east coast of the U.S. When the butterflies hatched, they flew directly south like all generations before them. Then “somehow” they realized their mistake and turned, flying west until they were on the ancient migration route over the American midwest, then turned south and went directly to that same Mexican mountain where their ancestors had started. Later, I saw a PBS television show about it and they kept saying “scientists can’t explain any of this”.

All of this really rocked my world. I kept thinking about it and finally came to the conclusion that there had to be a Creator of some kind. I still didn’t believe in the God of the Christian Bible, but obviously, Monarchs, with their sophisticated directional engineering which I saw as scientific, and their transformation from caterpillar, which I saw as supernatural, didn’t happen by a random roll of any cosmic dice. I was looking at the fingerprint of an intelligent Creator.

So, what now?

Two years later, after much thought and examination of the evidence, I moved forward in light of all I had learned and dedicated my life to Jesus. After crossing from life to death, as Jesus described in John 5:24 (NIV), I wished I had chosen life decades earlier.

© 2017 Darvis McCoy

(Excerpted from my soon to be published book. Details to come.)

About the Picture: The butterfly landed on my hand while I was touring an ancient temple complex in Cambodia.

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

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