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Bioluminescent dinoflagellates (Lingulodinium polyedrum) lighting a breaking wave at midnight. The blue light is a result of a luciferase enzyme.

Bioluminescence is an extraordinary capability utilized by many insects, plants, bacteria, and underwater creatures. Their luminescence can function as a form of communication or aid in functions such as hunting or mating. Bioluminescence occurs as result of a chemical process including two molecules, luciferin and luciferase. These two components can be represented differently in different luminescent creatures; i.e. marine animals versus insects. Due to its unique abilities, bioluminescence has been widely recognized by the scientific community. Scientists have now found ways to treat infections, bacteria, and even cancer. This miraculous process, which many evolutionists would claim to be a masterful result of evolution, in fact strongly supports the concept of a creator. There is no conceivable how or why bioluminescence would occur spontaneously or through a long drawn-out process over millions of years. Therefore, it strongly supports the words of the Bible, describing how a powerful God created the universe and all creatures, plants, etc. therein.[1]

Bioluminescence Displayed in Nature

The Jack O'Lantern Mushroom is difficult to capture a picture of because it only glows at certain intervals during its lifecycle.

There are many plants and animals on earth that produce their own light for various purposes. The vast majority of these organisms are aquatic deep sea creatures, but also includes numerous bacteria, insects, and fungi. The following is a list of some of the more well-known bioluminescent creatures on earth. It is important to remember that this includes only a small percentage of such creatures and that there are most likely still many more creatures that have bioluminescent characteristics that have not yet been discovered.

  • Eukaryotes: bacteria (i.e. Shewanella hanedai and Shewanella woodyi)
    • Fungi: mushrooms (i.e. ghost fungus and the jack o’lantern mushroom)
    • Aquatic creatures:
      • Fish: anglerfish, cookie cutter shark, flashlight fish, gulper eel, lantern fish, midshipman fish, and viperfish
    • Invertebrates: sea pens, coral, jellyfish, octopus, sea starts, sea cucumbers, krill, clams, nudibranchs, and squid
    • Arthropods (bugs): glow worms, fireflies, click beetles, centipedes, millipedes, and mycetophilid flies
    • Mollusks: land snails (i.e. Quantula striata)[2][3]

These intriguing creatures utilize their bioluminescence for a variety of purposes. Some creatures, such as fireflies, use their vibrancy to attract a mate. Others, like the cuttlefish, use their illuminating abilities to communicate with one another through a series of light flashing patterns and colors. Starfish, nudibranchs, and other types of aquatic creatures use their bioluminescence to blend in with their surroundings or the moon light from above them. The intimidating lantern fish lures its prey in with its overhanging light before snatching up its meal with razor sharp jaws. It is suggested that some forms of fungi, among other organisms, ward away predators or warn of dangerous poisons with their glow.[4][1]

How Bioluminescence is Produced

Bioluminescence is different than the typical light that people think of in their homes. When a person thinks of light, he or she thinks of a lamp or flashlight, or perhaps of a flame. All of these forms of light are called incandescence and include the production of heat. Bioluminescence is unique in that the light is not produced from extreme heat, but rather from the combining of two chemicals in a process called luminescence. Luminescence, unlike incandescence, produces no heat while still emitting a vibrant glow, much like a glow stick.[4]

Bioluminescence in plants and animals, as aforementioned, occurs through the process of two chemicals combining, which ultimately produces light in addition to other byproducts. The reaction begins with the two molecules, luciferin and luciferase. The luciferin is a type of light producing substance that is affected by a catalyst. The catalyst, a type of luciferase, sometimes a protein called photoprotein, initiates the reaction in coordination with a crucial charged ion. Different luciferins and luciferases are employed in different types of bioluminescent creatures. Coelenterazine is the luciferin used in marine bioluminescence, while photosynthetic dinoflagellates use a luciferin that resembles chlorophyll. Sometimes, other substances are also necessary for this reaction to occur, including oxygen or ATP (adenosine triphosphate). After the chemical reaction occurs, products remain such as light, oxyluciferin, and water.[4]

Bioluminescence and Science

These medical drip bags are filled with bioluminescent algae that will glow when disturbed.

Like all animal characteristics, bioluminescence originates in DNA. This fact has become extremely useful for scientists in the medical field. They are now able to attach bioluminescence characteristics to the DNA of bacteria and other infectious substances. Some scientists have used this process to trace the progression of bacteria in lab mice. Because of the bioluminescence connected to the bacteria, such as salmonella, they were able to track the progress of the infection and, by the reaction of the bacteria, determine what antibiotic will be most effective in its removal. They have attempted this same process with AIDS DNA but it is more difficult due to the small size of the bacteria. Some scientists hope to be able to trace alterations and effectiveness of gene therapy with the help of bioluminescent effects. One of the most effective ways that firefly bioluminescence is aiding scientists in the medical field is by identifying the quantity of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) in bacteria cells. This innovative process is extremely helpful because the amount of ATP in bacteria is directly proportional to the amount of bacteria present. Jellyfish’s bioluminescent characteristics are utilized in the same way to identify amounts of calcium present in a substance.[5]

Potentially the most important way that scientists are employing the bioluminescence of organisms in the medical field is in the treatment of cancer. Scientists utilized plasmids with bioluminescent DNA as vectors to transfer the aforementioned genes into targeted cells, giving them the ability to produce the luciferase enzyme which gives fireflies their ability to glow. Patients are then administered an injection of a photosensitizing agent which makes all of the cells in the body sensitive to light. Eventually, the effects of the injection will wear off but linger longer in the cancer cells. While only the cancer cells possess the sensitivity, the patient is treated with laser lights causing a chemical reaction which releases luciferin toxins to kill the cancer. This new approach to treating cancer is extremely favorable because it does not include the negative effects of chemotherapy. However, these light lasers are only able to penetrate through up to three centimeters of tissue, meaning that cancer deep inside of the body cannot be treated with this method. This new form of photodynamic therapy has been affectionately titled BLADe, which stands for BioLuminescence Activated Destruction (of cancer). Unfortunately, humans have not yet been able to be treated with this method because scientists have not been able to find a way to deliver only to the cancer cells and not harm other essential cells in the process. With this in mind, two other vectors are being tested, a targeted liposome and an adenovirus vector, to safely treat humans specifically.[6] [7]


Like any topic in the scientific community, or any topic in modern society for that matter, evolutionists attempt to push their concepts of evolution onto people. However, it is evident to see through creation that a divine creator was responsible for all of the magnificent creatures, organisms, and systems in the universe today. Most of these examples can be found in animals and creatures, such as the organisms responsible for the phenomenon of bioluminescence. The process of producing bioluminescence is extremely involved and complicated. Creation scientists have explored this process and intelligently concluded that there is no way that the process of bioluminescence could have evolved. It is essential to many creatures for the purposes of hunting, mating, increasing vision, communication, etc. There is no use for a partially developed bioluminescent system; if anything, it would prove to be a hindrance to a functioning organism. There is no way that bioluminescence could have evolved spontaneously through a long time period or spontaneously at a random instance. For such a complicated system to occur spontaneously is inconceivable, especially considering that the majority of colors that are produced, specifically for undersea creatures, are the essential color for traveling the optimum distance through water. These facts are solid reinforcements for the theory of an ultimate creator god. Thankfully, this creator is not an aloof mystery to his creation, but rather reveals himself through the evidences of creation, the works of His spirit, and His word, the Bible. [8] [9]

Michelangelo's interpretation of the creation of man from Genesis as depicted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

The Bible itself reveals the miracle of creation in Genesis, chapter one, “20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. 24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. 31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”[10]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 Bioluminescence Steven Haddock, last edited 25 February 2011.
  2. Interesting Orgonisms Biological Sciences – University of California Santa Barbara, 2010.
  3. Bioluminescence Wikimedia Foundation Inc., last edited 16 May 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 How Bioluminescence Works Tracy V. Wilson, April 2011.
  5. Uses of Bioluminescence Tracy Klug, last edited 17 July 2002.
  6. Fireflies and Cancer The Osgood File last edited 31 December 2006.
  7. Firefly Light Helps Destroy Cancer Cells; Researchers Find That The Bioluminescence Effects Of Fireflies May Kill Cancer Cells From Within Science Daily, last edited 21 April 2003.
  8. The Matrix- Life’s Support System Dr. Joe Francis, last edited 15 May 2008.
  9. Octopus suckers: glowing in the dark Jonathan Sarfati, last accessed 20 May 2011.
  10. Genesis 1:21-31 The Bible, New International Version (2011).

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