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Cyanobacteria

According to what WordPress tells me, someone recently found this blog by Googling “Are cyanobacteria from God?”

Google directed them here because of this post and because of many posts mentioning God. But I have no actual post relevant to those search terms. I felt bad because whoever they were, they did not receive an answer for their question.

So, as far as I can, I will answer it now.

Are cyanobacteria from God?

There’s two ways to begin this inquiry. First is the possibility that cyanobacteria specifically are from God. That is: is most of creation theologically neutral or even negative, but cyanobacteria are a specific agent of God’s will, a means, like Jesus, by which the Holy One wrought a definite work upon reality?

Now cyanobacteria were, by general scientific consensus, the source of earth’s oxygen atmosphere. Several billions years ago, cynaobacteria metabolized the carbon dioxide then blanketing the world on such a scale, and for so long, that it produced an oxygen-heavy environment. So we could say that the relative barrenness of the world prior to the creation of that oxygen was an aspect of the world’s fallenness. In that scenario, oxygen was necessary so that organisms capable of redemption might evolve. This makes the creation of the oxygen atmosphere the first step in salvation history, and therefore cyanobacteria are most definitely from God.

I must admit, I am not inclined toward that idea.

I would consider the holiness or lack thereof of cyanobacteria in the larger context of the holiness or lack thereof of nature in general. I wrote a post on another blog about that once. Put simply, I’ve always had a strong sense that nature was from God, but the picture of nature developed via science over the past five hundred years or so shows it to be amoral—that is, in effect, evil.

In that scheme, cyanobacteria are no more or less good or evil or amoral than any other organism. They simply are, just like any other organism. Though they had a special and interesting role in natural history, there is nothing to distinguish them from their fellow organisms.

Therefore, if there is God, cyanobacteria are as much from God as anything else. Like all other organisms, they are fallen—they are not entirely as God intended. God’s will is that the lion will lie down with the lamb. What that means in terms of cyanobacteria is unclear. Perhaps it means that, after Judgment Day, when the universe is restored, they will cease to emit toxins fatal to many other animals. We can’t know.

So to give you a firm answer, unknown searcher: Yes, cyanobacteria are from God. All the plankton and protists are from God. All creatures and all things are from God. Not to remain as they are. Not to remain fallen. But all to be redeemed, to be remade as they were made, to go back to God. And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

It’s time to pause for a moment and honor the greatest accomplishment of any life form on this planet: the creation of the oxygen atmosphere by cyanobacteria. It took a billion years. For untold millennia, tiny blue-green algae woke up, punched the time clock, and spent the day busily churning out oxygen. They knew they wouldn’t live to see the end goal, but they never faltered, because they had a dream and they believed in that dream. Humanity’s most majestic achievement, global climate change, is a mere modification of the work done by those pioneers. Cyanobacteria: the first and still the best.