The process of molting and MM is an absolutely amazing miracle and MM is also called a miracle by many secular writers. We will use the butterfly as the example. 80% of all insects go through some form of MM, however the process of molting ALL insects go through. Some have the shortest cycle which is three cycles of molting and others have way over 10 cycles. Now although many people know what I am about to write in the next sentence, there are plenty of people that don’t know it and it will be an absolute shock to them. Here it is: Caterpillars turn into beautiful, delicate flying Butterflies and moths!! If you DIDN’T know this, then you should be so amazed to the point that you should be thinking that I am either joking or lying. I don’t blame you for thinking so. However, even those who knew of this are now going to learn many new aspects of this miraculous change that you DIDN’T know. Unfortunately, I can only go through this briefly.

yellow and black butterfly
Photo by Miriam Fischer on

We must first start off with the miraculous molting process. This is a process that very few people are aware of. Here’s what happens and then we will delve into the actual miraculous process in some detail. All insects, without any exception have their skeleton on the outside of their body called an exoskeleton. There’s close to a million known species of insects. They all have that outer hard shell that protects them. Now, there’s a great question as to how any single specie of insect could have developed by accident. You see most exoskeleton (EX) are like metal armor. Imagine a small child is stuck in this protective armor. As the child grows, eventually it will be busting out of the armor. If the armor isn’t taken off [and replaced with a bigger armor] the child will suffocate to death. The same will happen to the insect. In fact, certain insecticides work by stopping the chemical process of molting, thereby causing the insect to die of suffocation when it gets too big for its current EX. So, here’s a huge problem for those who think this is all an accident. You see for ANY insect to be able to be mature enough to reproduce they must go through a minimum of three molts. However, to get even one working molt is miraculous, so how it could ever get to three molts so that it could reproduce? Without reproduction, obviously no specie can continue. But, according to them, it takes MANY, MANY, MANY years for these accidents to happen. And molting is a VERY complex chemical process, so it would have taken years and years for it to develop by accident. NOT A SINGLE GENERATION could ever have survived!! So that’s the unanswerable question that we have.

Now, here, in brief is the process of molting that needed to accidently come about for there to have been the process of molting. Molting means the EX is removed and a new larger one (the larger armor for the growing child) comes in its place. Now there’s a bunch of layers to the EX. It starts on bottom with the “basement membrane”. That separates the EX from the rest of the insect’s body. Right on top of that is the one celled epidermis. It’s the epidermis that is involved with many of the processes that we will soon discuss. It’s just one cell thick, but “it” accomplishes a lot. (“IT” doesn’t do ANYTHING. Hashem programmed “IT” with all “knowledge” and ability to carry out their many important functions.) On top of the epidermis is the endocuticle and on top of that is the exocuticle. Combined they are called the cuticle. On top if the cuticle is a thin layer called the epicuticle. It has a thin layer of “cement”, and on top of that it has wax (sent up by the epidermis through the cuticle by special wax glands that somehow accidently developed) which together keeps in the moisture of the insect so that it doesn’t dry out. So how does the process start? At some point, the brain, based on receiving certain signals, sends out the Hormone PTTH to stimulate the prothoracic glands to secrete a small amount of ecdysone. (Where did all these special hormones and enzymes come from?) This ecdysone is then (somehow) changed into 20-hydroxyecdysone. This 20-hydroxyecdysone then signals the epidermal cells to produce special enzymes that will digest the old endocuticle. These special enzymes are called the molting fluid. But first, somehow, [it’s not clear how this happens], the bottom of the endocuticle that was attached to the epidermal cells detach. THEN the molting fluid fills the space made by this detachment. At first the fluid just lies there inactive. During that period a new endocuticle starts to grow out of the epidermis, BELOW the inactive molting fluid. After enough has grown, then, and only then does the molting fluid become activated and it starts to digest the old endocuticle that’s on top of it. Amazingly, while digesting it, these digesting enzymes somehow “know” not to digest the many nerve and muscle cells that are still attached to the old epicuticle (the top layer of the whole cuticle). Now, from “knowing” to doing is a huge step. These are fluids that break down live cells. Somehow, and it isn’t clear exactly how this works, they avoid digesting the muscle and nerve cells. Finally, after the old endocuticle is digested enough (oh, wait, I forgot to tell you that the broken-down cells get redigested into the insects’ system. 90% is reused!! That’s quite an efficient recycling program!) new signals are sent and soon the outer cuticle is now ready to be cracked open. Then the insect will be able to crawl out of its old armor and the new one that was recently formed from the epidermis is now ready to be used. It comes with many folds so that the insect can expand into its new currently soft armor by inducing various pressures in its system which expands its body which will straighten out those folds and become the larger armor until the next molt. Then, after a short while the soft armor begins to harden and in a short time it’s a solid armor until the next molt.

So, there’s a lot of planning and signaling with all types of hormones and enzymes being “created” along the way that are perfect for what has to happen for the molting process to successfully take place. According to “them” it would need a huge amount of time to have been able to come about by accident. If so, how could there have ever been a single insect to survive this very long wait? It can’t reproduce before a minimum of 3 molts. It’s like an immature baby/ young child until after the third molt. It can’t yet reproduce. There’s no acceptable answer to this dilemma.

Of course, this is a very simplified description of what really happens, but I hope the point was properly made.


Now we move on to the even greater, much greater miracle. The miracle of metamorphosis (MM). This is a process that no scientist can explain how it’s possible to have happened. We start off with a caterpillar that will turn into a butterfly in 12 days. What happens? So, the caterpillar starts off by eating almost nonstop for quite a while. It will get bigger and bigger and molt several times. Over an average of a two-week period, it will gain 3,000 times its original weight. (A 6-pound baby would be 18,000 pounds in 2 weeks!!) Then at some point, the level of the special hormone called Juvenile Hormone will be lowered and that signals the stopping of regular molting and that a new stage should begin. It’s called the chrysalis/pupa stage. The caterpillar (CP) attaches itself to anything from which it can hang. After special muscle contractions the CP sheds its skin and it turns into the chrysalis / pupa.  In order for the change from a caterpillar to a butterfly to take place within the pupa, the caterpillar begins by releasing special enzymes that literally dissolves nearly all of its own body. What’s left inside after about five days in the chrysalis is mostly just a very nutrient rich soup [it’s actually more like gook] from which the butterfly will begin to form. However, these are smart enzymes and they “know” the few parts of the CP that they should leave untouched. How can an accident know what parts of the CP it should digest into a real mush, and what parts to be careful with and leave untouched?? 

Now back when it was first a caterpillar it seems that SOMEONE was already planning to have the CP soon turn into a butterfly (BF). You see, found in the CP are special packets of cells called imaginal discs. While in the CP stage they are basically inactive. Who put them there to just sit around and wait for a later stage? Then during the pupa period, the dissolving enzymes “know” not to touch these imaginal discs. Then amazingly enough, the imaginal disks use the nutrients from the digested body of the caterpillar to form into different parts of the butterfly’s body, with different disks forming into different tissues. For instance, there are imaginal disks that will form the legs, antennae, four amazing beautiful wings with its intricate arrangement of veins, to be used by this aerodynamic BF, and other specific organs of the butterfly. These different body parts made from the separate individual imaginal discs will all SOMEHOW come together to form a perfectly working BF!! The amazing planning and the amazing construction out of CP “gook” is a true miracle. (I once punctured a chrysalis and sure enough, out came live wiggling gook.) The short stumpy legs dissolve and turn into long slender legs. The leaf-munching jaws dissolve and in its place is the new wound-up nectar sucking straw (the proboscis). Simple eyes somehow transform into compound eyes. There’s a huge difference in the efficiency of the compound eyes. This new flying machine needs a whole new and much more efficient breathing mechanism for the strong muscles to be able to move the wings up and down. It’s amazing to learn that each species of butterfly creates its own unique color patterns by making myriads of minute scales of different colors in unique beautiful arrangements. How can an accident know how to have colors overlapping each other in a perfect pattern? [Like on the feathers of a peacock. How is it even remotely possible in a quadrillion years to have such perfect symmetric coloring and beauty by accident????? It’s total insanity.] The digestive system is renewed since now it’s doesn’t eat anymore, it just sips nectar. And there are much more amazing changes as well. ALL THESE MECHANISMS HAD TO WORK THE FIRST TIME OR THE SPECIE WOULD NEVER HAVE COME ABOUT. This is clearly on open miracle and scientist have no viable explanation as to how this was ever possible to happen. This remodeling can be loosely compared to a major home remodeling. During this “quiet” pupal stage, much of the caterpillar’s digestive tract, muscles, and nervous system are demolished like a house being gutted down to the studs. Meanwhile, new adult counterparts are made. The old nervous system undergoes drastic reorganization (the nerve cells that aren’t destroyed are rearranged) resulting in a very different nervous system. This would correspond to the rewiring of the house, etc. However, the comparison to a remodel, really fails to paint the full picture. After the typical demolition of a house, all the debris is hauled to the dump, and new building materials must be brought in from the outside. Not so in the pupa. The pupa is closed up and it doesn’t eat, so all new parts must come from the old materials accumulated during the caterpillar stages (the imaginal discs) and from the liquefied caterpillar parts dissolved during the pupal stage which provide the “in-house” building materials for the new adult parts. Amazingly, the debris is used and “refurbished” into the new house.

All this takes place in about 12 days. The first six days is mostly for demolition and the last 6 days are for rebuilding and reassembling. WHAT A MIRACLE!!  Of course, this is not even the tip of the iceberg. The complication of all these processes is mind boggling. Absolutely impossible to happen by accident in any way, shape, or form.

There’s no end to such examples in nature. G-d put them in nature on purpose so that we can recognize Him and His Greatness. This is necessary so that we have the proper respect and awe of Him, which will help us grow in our service of G-d.

This article was created by Rabbi Shmuel Waldman. For more information about him, visit his website.

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