Saturday, September 4, 2010

Scripture, Frost, and Ecology

Recently, in my studies, I am beginning to recognize the power of Scripture. That sounds kinda crazy, but isn't it unique how some passages from the Bible speak to you over and over, no matter how many times you read them? For me, one of these passages is Isaiah 6, when Isaiah sees the LORD. Chapter 6 in itself is an unbelievable story, from the imagery of God, the description of the seraphim, and Isaiah's confession, healing, and commission. I personally cannot find any other passage in the Bible that, in the same amount of detail, describes the 'almightyness' of God.

In my human life I may never get to see what Isaiah did, but I get to see it in all different kinds of ways, especially in nature. Everyday we see miracles with our own eyes, but we take them for granted. Robert Frost dedicated most of his life and writings to capturing not only the beauty, but the 'almightyness' of God in creation. I love the first stanza of the following poem, but I pray that sometimes I can keep less "promises" than the storyteller.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

In my ecology class I am taking this semester, we have been talking a good deal about how animals carry out normal biological processes under crazy conditions. One of these unbelievable animals is the rainbow trout, who truly proves the 'almightyness' of God to me. Literally the whole time I was in class as we talked about the concept, I was just thinking..."this is crazy/unbelievable/something only God could think of!" If you aren't a science person, please try to hang in there as I attempt to explain this, because I have to try.

Biology is based off of the concept that DNA is converted into protein through two processes known as transcription and translation. Proteins form 3-D structures and then come together to make enzymes. Enzymes are what fuel biological processes...basically, they take what the animal has and converts it to what the animal needs. Temperature plays a huge role in the effectiveness of enzymes, therefore each one has what scientists call an optimal temperature. Well, this poses as a problem for rainbow trout because they live out in the ocean, say near Alaska, and then travel inland and upstream to spawn into much more shallow, warmer waters. Therefore, the enzymes that they used while they were in the ocean become useless once they move into the warmer waters. To survive and reproduce they alter their biological processes to produce an isoform, or a new enzyme the has its optimal temperature that matches the warmer streams. This happens from the same DNA as alternative processes occur between transcription and translation that change the enzyme to what the trout need to survive. The craziness of it all, is that it happens automatically and the trout have done it for years to be able to travel upstream to reproduce. But why would they go through all the biological trouble? I mean, they aren't really "fit" for the warmth of the streams...and how did they learn how to do it? Only God knows...

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