New Article: Let the Ants Teach Us

What can ants teach us about how to be a better Christian community in the time of a pandemic?

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Great article. A brief one that gets to the point quickly, though I was hopping for more in depth biology lessons lol.

When teaching kids about wildlife and respecting it every time I bring up ants. I like telling the tale , Dream of Akinosuke, to them. In Alabama there is a Harvard graduate, Edward Wilson, who has really focused on ants and has several journals and books out on them. He recently coauthored a book with Ben Raine on the mobile delta , “ Saving America’s Amazon” that I preordered coming out next week.

But with ants they are very interesting indeed. One of the oddest things I’ve read about them though is how they have ants whose purpose is to carry the dead ants and bury them in a special chamber and that scientists did experiments where they got living ants and doused them with whatever chemical/hormone is released by dead ants. Despite being alive, the “undertaker” ants would keep hunting them down and dragging them back to the grave. That’s how single minded they are.

I was thinking about that while reading the article and relating it to something similar. How we as Christians have a job to find the “dead” among us and bring them into the kingdom through the gospel. That we should actively seek them out and show them Christ.

The Bible says that we are the body of Christ. The eye of the body is no less important than the tongue of the body. It’s all needed with out specialities. It even ties right into the specialists we see in pollinators. Some of us are better at one thing and God uses it and some of us another.

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This is great! You should turn this comment into its own article and submit it to BioLogos!

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We can become “that ant and God website.”

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I use “Go to the ant, you sluggard, consider its ways, and be wise” as an illustration of the ethical limitations of science. What do you know about ants? Eventually, the class will come up with a few things. Now, are all of those good ideas for people? No. Some things ants do are good examples, some are bad, some are ridiculous, and some are impossible for us to imitate. The sluggard should not conclude that he should raid picnics, nor kidnap someone’s kids and raise them to serve him, nor live in a hole in the ground, nor crawl around with all limbs and carry stuff with his mouth. We need a standard of right and wrong by which we can assess what we do. The science is great for telling us likely consequences of our actions, but not whether those consequences are ethically desirable.

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It provides a great comparison on the power of communication: chemical versus linguistic.

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I would say to be careful for what you wish. A highly structured, uniform society where those who get out of line are punished does not allow for individual beliefs, including belief in God. The community and its rulers are the gods. The ant-like society is a humanist, communist (little “c”) utopian dream, but there is nothing Christ-like about it. Jesus never once forced anyone to take care of their community, but that is what the ant-people would do.

You are right, I wouldn’t wish for anything like that at all.

But this sounds like a lot of Xtian communities to me.

Of course, secularism has done a lot to improve this.

Many strict, regimented societies have been built around religious ideals, and many of those have called themselves Christian (Reverend Jones or David Koresh, anyone?) but there’s nothing Christ-like about them. The Jesus I know insists on personal choice, and the choice to be made concerns accepting a personal relationship with Jesus, not doing social work for the disadvantaged. Good works will follow faith in Jesus, but faith and salvation do not follow good works. Work done for Jesus is not work that is regimented or forced by society.

“The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”

Sorry, I just do not see anything commendable, or Christ-like about ant society.

As a Christian who believes in personal choice I would LOVE for you to show us all the quotes of Jesus speaking on this in order to demonstrate your claim that Jesus insists on personal choice. The word “insists” implies that you have a lot of such quotes from the Bible. The only one I have doesn’t mention Jesus’ name because it is from the OT, “I set before you life and death, therefore choose life” Deut 30:15-19.

Oh… and I was not speaking of cults but of repressive historical communities which the vast majority of people in world call Xtian. I can demonstrate this with a list if you like. I have my doubts whether behavior really comes from Jesus, but many people have been far from shy about attributing their behavior to Jesus whether it comes from Him or not. But to top that list would be Puritan communities in the Massachusetts Bay colony.

America’s True History of Religious Tolerance.

I am a Christian not because I whitewash things or deny the truth taught in my highly liberal upbringing critical of the Xtian establishment, but because I see value in Christianity despite all the awful things in Christian history and see just as much which is awful (arguably even worse) in the non-Xtian portions of human history. However, it also means that I value the contributions to religious liberty from non-Xtian sources, such as the secular societies of Britain fighting for women’s rights.

It’s actually a little bit hard to find a quote from Jesus that is not about personal choice, and it’s hard to find anything written about Him that is not about choice. I hardly know where to begin.

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

It started with John the Baptist, when Jesus said, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near* The choice offered is clear–you must change what you are doing, your mind, everything, but it’s your choice.

It continued with the Disciples. Come, follow me and I will send you out to fish for people.

It continued in his preaching. For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.

Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find.

It’s up to you to ask. No one does it for you.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it."

But it’s their choice.

…so that the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life."

Everyone who believes. It’s a choice, not an imperative.

When Jesus saw the disabled person at the pool of Bethesda, the first thing he asked him was, "Do you want to get well?’

It was his choice. Jesus needed him to choose, to ask.

I have to stop somewhere, but let me say that nearly every parable taught by Jesus was about personal choice. The parables explained the kingdom’s characteristics, and that some would get there and some would not–but it was their choice.

“Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. Very truly truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

In other words… if you believe there is such a thing as choice then these are all situations where you would think there is a choice. But if you don’t believe in choices then you don’t think there is choice in these situations.

Unless by choice you just mean doing or saying something when someone else might do or say something completely different.

Romans 6:15-22 comes close… slave of sin or slave of righteousness. Romans 10 also comes close… righteousness based on law or righteousness based on faith. But… these are Paul and it doesn’t actually say it is a choice. According to some it is just a change that God makes in us.

I guess I have to believe in choice or free will. If not, that means that God decided that some will be saved and some will be condemned. Some will love Him and live with Him eternally, and some will not and will die, (or experience whatever hell is). That doesn’t make sense to me. Of course, life and the universe itself doesn’t make sense, but God creating life just to condemn it makes even less sense. What would be the purpose in that?

Me neither!

For me that describes a book written by an author in which the characters cannot be either alive or conscious. Thus I would take our experience of consciousness as evidence that this is not so.

Exactly!

I can see only one good reason for the creation of life and that is for a relationship. Life and free will adds nothing to the creation of good tools, which should simply do what you want them to do. Robots and machines would be superior in every way if that is all you want. With modern AI, we now know they can be smarter than we are, so I don’t think that (intelligence and learning) justifies giving tools life.

I think we’re on the same wavelength. God wants a relationship with us. He wants to love us and us to love Him. I didn’t always realize that or believe it, but the conclusion seems inescapable now. He also wants the relationship to be freely entered–a personal choice–although I don’t know how one could choose not to.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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