Nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the woods before sunrise, said revolutionary botanist George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver led an extraordinary life from the time of his infancy to that of his death, but then one would not expect normality from someone often called the "peanut man" and the "plant doctor".
The American botanist and inventor, recognized as one of the most prominent scientists of his time, is known for concocting more than 300 products using peanuts including dyes, plastics, and gasoline.
A brief bio
The unexpected compatibility of science and God
Faith and science are often said to clash, but George was one of the people who tried to marry the two— in fact, he believed them inseparable. He once wrote, "I am not interested in science or anything else that leaves God out of it."
One of his famous quotes reads: "I love to think of Nature as wireless telegraph stations through which God speaks to us every day, every hour, and every moment of our lives."
He found happiness in being helpfulGeorge became a Christian when he was 10 years old, as he describes in a 1931 letter.
"A dear little white boy, one of our neighbors, about my age came by one Saturday morning, and in talking and playing he told me he was going to Sunday school tomorrow morning. He said they sang hymns and prayed. I asked him what prayer was and what they said.
"I do not remember what he said; only remember that as soon as he left I knelt down by the barrel of corn and prayed as best I could. I do not remember what I said. I only recall that I felt so good I prayed several times before I quit.
"That was my simple conversion, and I have tried to keep the faith."
His faith turned out to feed into many aspects of his life. George led a Bible class on Sundays for several of his students at Tuskegee. He regularly portrayed stories by acting them out.
"When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world," he explained.
His relationship with God was even key to his development of the many peanut products that brought him fame.
"Why, I just took a handful of peanuts and looked at them," he recalled. "'Great Creator,' I said, 'why did you make the peanut? Why?'" From which he describes how he picked the peanut apart and reconstructed it countless ways, under different conditions of temperature and pressure, and marvelled at what he was able to create.
"Why, then, should we who believe in [Jesus] Christ be so surprised at what God can do with a willing man in a laboratory?" he said.
As captivated as he was with nature, George was always more captivated with the One who created it all, in all its perfect complexity.
"How I thank God every day that I can walk and talk with Him," he once wrote.
The peanut man belonged to that rare breed who are at once intelligent, humble, selfless, and seemingly devoid of greed. His child-like appreciation of God's creation was not only inspiring; it appears it was what fuelled his success. •