What's In A Shell?

As I spend time outdoors, the unique design of our universe never ceases to amaze me. The littered seashore, particularly after a storm, would suggest a chaotic force at work. However, a closer look reveals much beauty and diversity of design in the natural deposits.

Consider the seashells, for example. Most shells are the former homes of marine molluscs. The soft mollusc has a mantle which absorbs salt and chemicals from the sea water to produce calcium carbonate. Layers of calcium carbonate are secreted throughout the lifetime of the mollusc to form the shell and when it dies, the shell is discarded. The colour of the shell varies depending on the temperature of the water and the type of food in the environment.

Collecting seashells, St Raphael Beach


In the 1980s theoretical biologist, Dr Hans Meinhardt, began to wonder how the beautiful shell patterns were formed. As he researched, he discovered that the rules which govern the formation of the patterns in nature such as leaf arrangements, sand dunes and snowflakes were the same for shell patterns.


This inbuilt mechanism, which produces such beautiful, intricate formations, points to intelligent design, namely God the Creator. If this world is a product of 'mindless unguided natural processes', as Richard Dawkins claims, we would not expect to find laws of nature which demonstrate order and regularity in the universe.

The Bible reminds us that God has revealed Himself in creation and that reasons to doubt His existence are unfounded:


For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Romans 1:20


Lockdown has given me ample opportunity to marvel at God's handiwork on the St Raphael beach, where I am permitted to exercise daily. I am reminded by the empty seashells that the end product of a mollusc's life is an object of aesthetic design.


While the mollusc acts under created instinct, we as Christians are called to create something beautiful for God in our lives with eternal value. May we build on the foundation with gold, silver and precious stones to ensure our years of service will withstand fiery judgment on that Day (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

... whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31