Why Colors?

There’s a lot of color happening in this picture of a zinnia from my flower garden! The bright petals have varying shades of bright pink, the stigmas are bright yellow, and the flower is framed by a backdrop of greens and browns. But what if the picture looked like this?

Zinnia in black and white Would it still be beautiful? Would we enjoy the view nearly as much? I dare say that we would not. We can see the parts of the flower, but its beauty is lost to us without the color.

We were created with cones in our eyes–specialized photoreceptor cells that respond to different wavelengths of light. Almost two-thirds of these cones respond most to red light, another third to green, and a tiny two percent respond to blue light. I say a “tiny two percent,” but most of us have six to seven million cones! Two percent of that would be…calculating…calculating…130,000 left to fire off when encountering blue light. That’s still a lot!! Remember, when we say something is a particular color, what we actually see is that color of light reflected off the object. The light bounces off whatever it is,  and hits the cones in the back of our eyes. The cones that fire off send a message through the optic nerve in the brain, and that’s where the color message is deciphered.

There’s the how, but not the why. Why were we created to see color?

One reason I can think of is to see when our fruits and vegetables are ripe. Adam and Eve were created to tend a beautiful garden, so I’m sure they had to know when the fruit was ready to eat! Check out these cute cherry tomatoes from our garden today. Don’t they look tasty?


Oh, wait, which one should I pick to put in my salad?? I can’t tell!! I suppose over time I would get better at discriminating among different shades of gray, but I’m not sure how many green tomatoes I would have to eat before then. Look how much easier this task is with color:


Of course the tomato connoisseur would say neither is ready for my salad. But if I couldn’t see the difference between shades of red, or even between reds and greens, how would I know that? Gardening could be quite the difficult chore!


What other important functions do colors play in our lives, without which we would have a hard time getting along on the gray scale? I’m having a hard time thinking of any others. If you can think of something, add it to my comments below and set me straight!

There are so many things in nature where color has no real reason for being, and yet there it is. Take tree bark, for instance. Whites, browns, grays…no one color has any benefit over another. They could all be purple, and we would think that was normal! Have you ever looked into the many different colors and designs of beetles? What purpose is there for that? Not attracting mates, that’s done chemically. So why??

Now think of a beautiful sunset, or your favorite breed of dog or cat Maybe birds are more your cup of tea. Whatever you chose to imagine, do you see it in color? Now try to imagine it in shades of gray. I’m pretty sure you prefer the color version. Just visit the paint store and scan the color chips, and you’ll see that we love color in all of its variations!

I have a hunch that God created us to enjoy the world He made for us to live in, and color was one of the means to that end.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. ~Genesis 1:31

The next time you’re outside, look around. Try to imagine your world in gray scale tones, and then thank God for the colors you’re able to enjoy. Some of you can’t see as many colors as others, but you can be thankful for the ones you do see. Enjoy what He’s made!


Do you have a nature photo showcasing God’s colorful creativity? Share it in the comments below!

*There are roughly 1/33,000 people who see no color at all, and can only see different shades of gray.


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