Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

October 13, 2002


The intriguing, awesome power of the tiny spider


          I tried not to do it. I did not want to do it. I can’t believe I am doing it. But, yielding to temptation, here I am writing about spiders again.

            Responding to my first article about spiders and things which make me cringe, several readers dubbed me “Spider Man.” It is not a title which I relish, but I suppose I earned it by revealing my dislike for the little creatures.

             Everyone shares my disgust with spider webs. All of us, of course, are awed by the intricate beauty of the webs, and the speed with which they spun. Such masterful work by so tiny a creature is intriguing, to say the least.

            A good friend in Ohio, Greg Lotz, wrote that the day he read my article he had walked into a large spider web in his back yard. I winced when he said, “From now on when I see a spider web I will think of you.” What a way to be remembered! 

            No one took me to task for disliking spiders, not even my old friend, Dr. Bob Mount. I am still waiting, with baited breath, to learn about the great contribution that spiders make to the human race.

            I would be the last person to suggest that our loving God does not have a purpose for spiders. Surely everything God creates has a reason for being. So far I simply cannot, with my puny brain, figure out why spiders are here.

            Any day now I expect to be informed that scientists have discovered that the spider’s poison can be used to cure some dread disease. Actually I have been reading the stories about the latest Nobel Prize winners, wondering if some German scientist might be recognized for his spider poison research. Alas, no luck so far.

            Excuse me just a moment. A little black spider has just emerged from under my desk. Instinctively my size 14 shoe dropped on the scurrying rascal, sending him (or her) on an unexpected ride into eternity.

 Now I am fighting guilt. Albert Schweitzer would not have been proud of me. The great missionary to Africa had reverence for all living things. Was he right? I don’t know. I do know that every time I kill a roach, a mosquito, or a spider, I have to admit that I disagree with dear Albert.

Spiders obviously have awesome power. Consider, for example, that it may have been a tiny spider that caused the Atlanta Braves to lose the recent play-off series with the San Francisco Giants.

            The press reported that star outfielder Chipper Jones was bitten on the top of his head by a spider. Though it was not a lethal bite, the spider’s sting did create some distressing moments for Jones. I bet he never puts on another baseball cap without shaking it as he looks for spiders.

            Had it not been for the spider bite, Chipper might have driven in some runs to help the Braves win the final game in the series. So perhaps, just perhaps, it was not Barry Bonds but a tiny spider that denied Atlanta another chance to play in the World Series.

            I suppose spiders have been around pretty much since the Big Bang. That makes me wonder why spiders have not “evolved” into some other creatures. If a little fish walked out of the sea, became a bird, and finally a man, what on earth have spiders been doing all this time? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

            For whatever reason I find it difficult to shed any tears when I hear about some plants, animals, and insects that are threatened with extinction. The dinosaurs and the Dodo bird are with us no more.

            Recently we lost the freshwater gastropod mollusk. Now there is a great loss for you. Think about it. Next time you eat at Cock of the Walk, you won’t be able to order some fried gastropod mollusks. Shame, shame.

            We are told that there are now 11,167 plants and animals threatened with extinction. Now, please, don’t become overly alarmed.  Somehow, by the grace of God, we will find a way to do without them, and life will go on.

But, why, I must ask, could not most of these creepy little spiders have been on the list. I know, I know, we can never understand everything. But I guess it doesn’t hurt to wonder.

If, for example, we must share the world with 90 million dogs, why can’t we teach the dogs to eat spiders?