Bioluminescence: Light without Heat

Bioluminescence: Light without Heat

I was walking at night recently and observed the flashing of fireflies. This set my mind thinking about bio-luminescence and culminated in this article.  Bioluminescence is one of the most interesting facets of the world around us and creates a problem for the evolutionist.

Before I go any further, let me explain exactly what bio-luminescence is and how it works.  Bioluminescence is defined as “the production of light by living organisms.” per dictionary.com. Essentially it is any light source produced by any living organism.  How is it produced then? Most bioluminescent reactions take place using two chemicals, luciferin and luciferase. Luciferase is an enzyme.  In any chemical reaction, an enzyme functions as a catalyst. It increases the speed of the reaction exponentially.  The Luciferin is the chemical that, when it reacts with luciferase, produces the light.  In some reactions, the luciferase is replaced by a compound called a photoprotein.  These reactions require an outside element, such as calcium, to complete.  The color of the bioluminescence is dependent on how the luciferin molecules form together.  The chemical reactions for this process are pictured in the image below, which I borrowed from the photobiology.info webpage.  The Luc is for Luciferase and the L is Luciferin.

Bioluminecence reaction

Now that you hopefully have a basic understanding of what bioluminescence is and how it works, let’s talk it’s uses. Obviously it produces light, but how does this benefit the organism producing it? Different organisms use bioluminescence differently, as might be expected. Some organisms, such as fireflies, use it to attract a mate. Fireflies are special because, unlike most other organisms that use bioluminescence, flash their light in colors varying from yellow to red.  Most bioluminescence is a bluish-green tone.  However, attracting a mate is far from the only use.  Many species use bioluminescence to hunt.  In some cases, such as the deep sea anglers, they flash a lure which attracts their prey to them. Others use bioluminescence to illuminate their prey.   Some organisms use the flashes of light to communicate their counterparts or to warn off predators. The uses are as varied as the creatures that use it.

Why is bioluminescence important? The answer is that it is light, without excessive heat. Man can produce light, via a fire or a light bulb. However fires can be dangerous and are not something that is suitable for all circumstances. Light bulbs are great, but eventually need replaced and produce large amounts of heat.  Bioluminescence produces light, but does not produce the excessive heat of a light bulb or fire. Scientists are unsure exactly how the various creatures performing bioluminescence do this but the fact that they can do it is not in dispute.  If a beetle such as a firefly produced as much heat as a light bulb the same size, it would cook itself to death.  If a deep sea angler fish produced as much heat as a equivalent size light bulb, it would boil the water around it.

Bioluminescence demands an explanation. Evolutionists claim bioluminescence evolved multiple times, separately, across multiple, unrelated genera, despite the fact that the reaction works essentially the same in most organisms.  The claim is luciferin originally functioned as an anti-oxidant and was re-purposed to produce light. Now this brings up a number of questions. There are hundreds, if not thousands of species that perform bioluminescence yet, evolutionists tell us that the process evolved separately, across multiple genera. If this were the case, the process should differ widely among the different genera, since evolution is undirected and works off blind, random chance. And yet, the process  is essentially identical across all the genera, with minor alterations.  How does evolution explain that? It would seem to conflict with their own statements on the subject. However, evolutionist’s problem do not end there.  They have to explain why bioluminescence exists in the first place. Why would an animal evolve the ability to produce light? What benefit could it be, except if the tools to use it already existed? And herein is the issue for the evolutionist. The hypothetical first firefly to develop it’s light could not have used it for attracting a mate. None of the other fireflies would have recognized it, nor would they have been attracted to it.  The hypothetical first deep sea angler to develop bioluminescence could not have used it as a lure unless the “rod” it uses  had already developed or developed simultaneously.  This problem is repeated across all the genera capable of bioluminescence.

Creationists have no such issue. If God made everything at the beginning very good, which is what the Bible claims, then bioluminescence was designed by God in a perfect manner at the beginning. Its original use could have been to attract a mate, as in fireflies, or communication as in some other organisms.   However,  it’s origin is not a problem at all. An omniscient God, such as the God of the Bible, could easily have created the process of bioluminescence the same across the multiple genera that have it.  Evolutionists cannot rely on an omniscient god to solve their problem with bioluminescence, nor can they rely on science.  Instead, they must rely on fanciful speculation about the role of luciferin and no clear idea of how multiple genera ended up using the same or very similar processes to reach the same end.

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