“Ladybird, Ladybird fly away home…”
(English Nursery Rhyme)
As one of the so-called ‘baby-boomer’ generation, one of the things I grew up with after World War II was Ladybird Books. This was a series of small books for children, covering many subjects. A small drawing of the ladybird insect was always shown on the cover.
Fast-forward to 2017 and some Japanese scientists.
The scientists investigated how the ladybird managed to fold up its long wings to fit under its small wing-cases. They wanted to see what was happening underneath. So part of one wing case was cut away and replaced by a ‘window’ of clear resin. Then they filmed the tiny insect as it opened and closed its wings. They saw a complex pattern of folding which they compared with ‘origami’.
“Origami’ is the Japanese art of paper-folding. Paper is folded in lots of clever ways to form different objects, like a boat or a swan. But this ‘paper engineering’ won’t work if the paper isn’t strong enough and stiff enough.
The ladybird’s wing is quite different. It can quickly change its properties. One moment the wings are stiff and strong so the ladybird can fly. Then, when it lands, the wings becomes soft and flexible, so they can be folded away.
The lack of a target!
Origami models don’t happen by chance. Folders must follow instructions and have a ‘target’. They must know what’s going to be made before starting to fold the paper.
Evolution doesn’t have targets. It doesn’t know how to fold the ladybird’s wings or why. If the ladybird had evolved then any wing-folding would have been purely accidental, the result of random ‘mutations’.
Every wing-fold has to have a a target. It has to help the ladybird carefully fold its wings. Most random folds will be harmful or fatal. The chance of two or three useful and unique folds happening randomly in the right order is almost impossible.
The ladybird’s wings need to be stiff so it can fly, then flexible so the wings can be folded away. And they need very clever folding instructions.
Cleverly protected Ladybird wings
But folded and unprotected wings are easily damaged.
So the wing-case had to evolve at the same time!
The case needs to be strong enough to protect the wings but light and smooth enough so the ladybird can still fly. The case also needs to be hinged, opening and ready to take the wings at the exact moment that they fold up.
The logical conclusion
If all this ‘engineering’ came together by accident it would have been a miracle!
Which is exactly what it was – a miracle. It was a purposeful piece of superb engineering by the great divine Engineer and Creation.
Helped by those Japanese scientists we can now see God’s wisdom, his power and his glory.
What ‘excuse’ do we have to say that the ladybird simply evolved? As the Bible points out:
“For (God’s) invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” (Romans 1.20 ESV)