Marvel Of God’s Creation #1: The Bombardier Beetle

If there is any creature on earth that could not possibly have evolved, that creature is the Bombardier Beetle. It needed God to create it with all its systems fully functional. The study of this incredible insect has been going on for many years. In 1928, authors C. L. Metcalf and R. L. Flint wrote: “The bombardier beetle, Brachinus, ejects an acrid fluid which is discharged with a distinct popping sound and a small cloud of vapor that looks like the smoke from a miniature cannon.”5 More recently, Time Magazine reports:

...the bombardier (beetle) does appear to be unique in the animal kingdom. Its defense system is extraordinarily intricate, a cross between tear gas and a tommy gun. When the beetle senses danger, it internally mixes enzymes contained in one body chamber with concentrated solutions of some rather harmless compounds, hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinones, confined to a second chamber. This generates a noxious spray of caustic benzoquinones, which explodes from its body at a boiling 212°F. What is more, the fluid is pumped through twin rear nozzles, which can be rotated, like a B-17’s gun turret, to hit a hungry ant or frog with bull’s eye accuracy.6

You might wonder how an evolutionist might explain this marvelous insect. Evolutionist Mark Isaak writes:

Do bombardier beetles look designed? Yes; they look like they were designed by evolution. Their features, behaviors, and distribution nicely fit the kinds of patterns that evolution creates. Nobody has yet found anything about any bombardier beetle which is incompatible with evolution.7

How does evolution, a mindless, undirected, purposeless, random chance process “create?” As Jewish scholar, Dr. Lee Spetner, writes:

Randomness is an essential feature of NDT [neo-Darwinian theory]. There is no known physical or chemical mechanism to generate heritable variations that will improve adaptivity or increase the complexity of living organisms. The neo-Darwinians, therefore, had to choose randomness to produce the variations they needed. In this way they hoped that, through the direction afforded by natural selection, they could describe an evolutionary process that could account for a natural origin and development of life.

The neo-Darwinians have rejected nonrandomness as the major feature of variation.8

Evolutionary theory has big problems when attempting to explain the existence and complexity of the bombardier beetle by means of random, chance happenings. Each stage in the evolution of its special chemicals would have led to its destruction. This one-half inch insect mixes chemicals that violently react to produce something similar to an explosion. How could the bombardier beetle have evolved such a complex means of defense without killing itself in the process? This problem has the members of the evolutionary establishment scratching their heads. Evolutionary theory says that you lose it if you don’t use it. But, how do you use it unless you have it in completed and in fully functional form?

We have two options then. One is to believe that a mindless, random, chance process brought into existence exactly what would be essential for the creature to maintain life and defend itself. The other option is that God, in his sovereign wisdom, designed and created precisely what was needed for the welfare of the creature and encoded the information in its genes. With godless evolution, a new enzyme or chemical or organ or fin or beak or bone will have to randomly, mindlessly, unexplainably evolve until the creature gains its new improvement. As creationists, we would say that God created it just like it is, a discreet, fully functional little bug with an incredibly complex defense mechanism.

The bombardier beetle is irreducibly complex. Remember back in fourth grade when we reduced fractions down until they could be reduced no farther? This beetle cannot be reduced! If it doesn’t have all its parts, it can’t defend itself or, even worse, it could blow itself up. Naturally, it could not evolve after it blew itself up and was dead, so how did it get here? The evolutionists might say, “Mother nature, beneficial mutations, natural selection and time did it.” Creationists would say, “God did it.” (By the way, what or who is “Mother Nature” who does all these miraculous things?)

To prevent its own destruction, the little bug manufactures a chemical, called an inhibitor, and mixes it in with the reactive chemicals. But with the inhibitor, it would not be able to use the expulsion of hot, burning liquid and gases to discourage its enemies. A spider would eat it because the beetle has no solution to exploit to protect itself. Again, we have a dead beetle. Dead bugs cannot evolve the next chemical needed to release the protective reaction. That chemical turns out to be an anti-inhibitor.9 When the anti-inhibitor is added to the other chemicals, an explosive reaction does occur and the beetle is able to defend itself.

There is still another problem, however. The beetle must have an especially tough “combustion chamber.” That chamber must have an outlet for the violent reaction to release its energy or once again, we have a dead bug. Problem solved: this unique creature has the necessary equipment, including twin-tail tubes to “exhaust” its defensive reaction. These tubes can be aimed at enemies in a 180° arc from straight to the rear, to directly toward the front. Amazingly, it does not shoot friendly creatures but only its enemies! How does a one-half inch long insect know how to aim at and shoot potential enemies?

When the little bug shoots its cannons (and it can shoot either side individually or both sides together) all we hear with our human ears is a “pop.” But it is not just a single pop. It is a series of sequential pops that sequence so fast we only hear one “pop.” If it was just one big POP, it would be like lighting the after-burners on a jet engine and the diminutive creature would blow itself out of the picture. But with a sequential pop it can hang on with its little legs and remain in place! Incredible!

How did its incredibly complex nervous system and advanced chemical system evolve? There is nothing exactly like bombardier beetles in the entire animal kingdom. Is this an example of the “impersonal, plus time, plus chance” or is it an example of a special, intricate creation by a God who is intimately involved with His creatures? Which system of belief can best explain the marvelous bombardier beetle: Evolution or Creation?10

5 C. L. Metcalf and W. P. Flint, Destructive and Useful Insects, 4th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962), p. 24.

6 Natalie Angier reported by Rick Thompson/San Francisco, Time Magazine (February 25, 1985), p. 70.

7 “Bombardier Beetles and the Argument of Design,” by Mark Isaak @www.talkorigins.org/faqs/bombardier.html.

8 Lee Spetner, Not By Chance! (Brooklyn: Judaica Press, 1998), p. 209.

9 Duane T. Gish, Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics (El Cajon: Institute for Creation Research, 1993), pp.101-104.

10 Duane Gish, Ph.D., Dinosaurs Those Terrible Lizards (San Diego: Creation Life Publishers), pp. 50-55. These pages describe the Bombardier Beetle. This children’s book is primarily about dinosaurs. Also see Duane Gish, Ph.D., Dinosaurs by Design (Colorado Springs: Master Books, 1992), p. 83.