Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better
by Alan Allegra
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Ahhh, the comics section of the Sunday paper! Besides the New York Times crossword puzzle, it’s one of my favorite parts of the paper. I learn so much about life from those little two-dimensional characters. Of course, the ones that reflect real life experiences are the most engaging.
A recent kid’s feature illustrated how birds fly. It showed them soaring, hovering, gliding, and flapping. Along with each winsome drawing was a brief explanation of the bird’s flight activity: hummingbirds hover “like a helicopter,” birds glide “like an airplane,” their wings are shaped “like an airplane,” and flapping wings change shape. You may have noticed that certain phrases caught my attention.
It’s interesting that all but one description compared the flight of a bird to a humanly-designed machine. I know that the writer was trying to make a comparison so that children could understand, but it almost sounds as if the birds were imitating the machines. Of course, the machines were designed to imitate the birds. It’s as if man designed something based on something else in nature that was designed!
When we need to build something, we look to creation for help. Aeronautical engineers copy flying creatures, nautical engineers look to the swimming creatures, building designers take hints from nests and hives and dams and shells and webs, chemical engineers examine saliva, sap, glands—there seems to be a pattern here.
King David expressed his wonder about creation in Psalm 8: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (vv. 3, 4). When David considered the vastness and might and glory of creation, he wondered how God could care for puny little man.
Yet, in Psalm 139, when David considers how God put us together, and how he cares for us, he exclaimed, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (v. 14). David knew that man was not a speck in the universe to God, but was formed to display his majesty. In all of creation, there is nothing as marvelous in design as the human being.
For some reason, many refuse to see the hand of God in creation. Yet, we have no problem using what he made for our own ends. We try to imitate his work and even try to improve upon it. Cloning, designer children, embryonic stem cell research, religion without Christ, our own definitions of truth and ethics—these are all efforts to improve on God’s designs. Yet, if you’ll look back a few paragraphs, you’ll notice that one of the comparisons was not a comparison: there was no man-made reproduction of the flapping, shape-changing wings. It seems as if, at least in that area, man hasn’t caught up with God yet!
Man’s efforts, marvelous as they are, pale in comparison to God’s. If someone could invent a flying machine that is fueled by birdseed, or a submarine that runs on worms, or steel as strong as what comes out of a spider’s rear end, he’d be a gazillionaire.
Of course, there are things that man has invented that don’t exist in the animal world: lies, weapons of mass destruction, pollution, racism, envy—things not so good.
The point is that God has designed many marvelous creatures and worlds to display his glory. Man’s attempts at glory are poor imitations at best. It was Lucifer who first said, in essence, “Anything you can do, I can do better!” (Isaiah 14:12–14). He tried to imitate God himself, to his doom. The antichrist will “oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
In all areas of life, we find that God’s ways are the best. Whether it’s raising children, running a corporation or church or country, building a marriage, worshiping, exploring the past, the future, the depths of the earth or the heights of heaven, we can only discover what God has already said or done, and we find that he always does better than we do (Ecclesiastes 1:9). From archaeological discoveries proving the history of the Bible to finding out how bumblebees—whose flight scientists found aerodynamically impossible—move their wings, we see how God likes to hide things for man to discover (Proverbs 25:2). And God is glorified and man satisfied when God is acknowledged.
Perhaps the peak of God’s wisdom and knowledge was demonstrated in his eternal design of salvation. Who but a loving, all-wise God would have sent his son to die the death that we all deserve in order to pay the penalty for sin and bring new life to man. Since the dawn of time, many have tried, but no one has ever, nor ever will, improve upon the gospel.
Anything God can do . . . is good enough for me!
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