WorldviewU Blog

Cardinals Rule!

I love spring.  Plants are growing, grass is greening and flowers are blooming.  There’s a flurry of animal activity in the yard.  Birds herald the warmer weather and longer days.  To my delight, a pair of cardinals has built a nest in a bush outside my kitchen window.  As I've watched their progress on a daily basis, it amazes me how smart these cardinals are. 

I first noticed the male cardinal sitting in the crotch of several branches before the nest was built.  At first I thought he was injured or ill, because he sat motionless for quite a while.  I later concluded it was his way of attending an open house to see if the residence was ideal for a growing family.  Or, he was a squatter that lives by the maxim that the early bird gets the best nesting location.

Within a few days the female started building a nest.  Nest-building is an intricate, time-consuming process.  Hundreds of twigs are gathered and appropriately positioned so they don’t fall out of the bush and so the nest forms a sturdy and large enough resting area.  What intellect and skill these birds have to construct a stable and properly-fitted dwelling.

After the nest was built the female cardinal began camping out in it, despite the fact that the bush still has very few leaves.  Until the bush puts on its full spring apparel, the female is vulnerable to rain, wind and other feathery neighbors.  The couple somehow knows that the growing bush will soon hide their future prized possession from nosy onlookers.

As a former project manager, I learned the necessity of planning ahead and knowing the steps in the project’s lifecycle.  The expectant parents have demonstrated what good project managers they are.  Long before the hatching of their little one, they anticipated their need to scope out potential nest locations, test the preferred option and build the nest according to their specifications, all in plenty of time before delivery.  These are additional examples of their bright intellect.

The cardinals’ nest-building project would, of course, be immaterial without first going through their mating ritual, which must have been done when they knew I wasn’t looking.  So I wondered – How does a cardinal know to mate with another cardinal and not with that robin with the red breast next door?

And then there’s the singing.  Although they have a limited repertoire, cardinals have a beautiful song.  This song, which all cardinals know by heart, is passed down from one generation to the next.  Through their song, cardinals inform us of their presence. Could it be that they’re trying to tell us something in the only way they know how? 

As I’ve watched this nesting process, I’ve wondered how our feathered friends became so smart.  Where did this intellect come from?  And how did their smarts get packed into such a tiny brain?  It’s hard to fathom how the unguided, naturalistic process of evolution can result in the intangibles of knowledge and singing.  I understand that their behavior is genetically based, but from where does this knowledge originate?  To my knowledge, knowledge is passed on from a source that already has the knowledge and the means to convey it.  It seems to me that there must be a Mind behind these marvels of nature - a Designer and Composer that uses cardinals as just one of many means to speak of His existence.

I’ll be regularly watching from my window as I anxiously await the arrival of the new baby girl or boy.  Cardinals rule! 

Falling Apart

In last night’s Nightly News broadcast, anchor Brian Williams of NBC referred to Americans enjoying the Labor Day weekend, while having “the sensation right about now that our world is falling apart.”  He stated “The number of hotspots around the world right now is bracing.  A lot of them (but not all) in the Middle East.  A lot of them (but not all) have to do with radical Islam.”  A map showing the world’s current hotspots included Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Ukraine.  Russian-supported separatists have invaded Ukraine with heavy military weapons.  There has been intense fighting between Israel and Gaza.  And, the Ebola virus outbreak is one of the largest in history, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  The world indeed is in turmoil. 

At the root of much of the turmoil are worldviews.  Vladimir Putin has an imperialistic worldview.  Radical Islam, which is embraced by groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, Hamas, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and al-Shabab, is a worldview bent on violence. 

With worldviews in the news every day, it is essential to understand them.  A worldview is way of looking at and explaining reality.  It is an ideology that influences what a person thinks about himself, others, morals, our purpose in life, life after death, and the existence of a supreme being.

Not only is it important to learn about worldviews held by other people, but also to examine your own worldview.  What is it you believe and why do you believe it?  What factors have influenced the development of your worldview? 

A worldview has the potential to contribute positively to your life, to others and to society.  However, a worldview also has the potential to be destructive – either to yourself or to others.  Or even to entire groups of people (such as the 500 Yazidis recently killed in Iraq by ISIS).  Therefore, your worldview is of vital importance.