Something to Smell About

It is amazing how smells can instantly prompt emotional reactions and memories, and we often physically respond. Walking in this neighborhood in the spring, then I suddenly smell flowers and look around in an effort to find the source. Yep, that tree is blossoming.

Even descriptions of aromas can prompt an association in another person. Was your own memory stirred a little by the above paragraph? My prospector friend Stormie Waters took me to the store and wanted me to get a whiff of a cologne to wear around her fiancée, and was none too pleased when I said it made me think of old church ladies from my youth.

Blooming Trees, RGBStock / Michal Zacharzewski
Aromatherapy is popular among New Age folks, but it may actually have some benefit, mostly psychological, it seems. Some fragrances may be naturally soothing or stimulating. I did some of my own self-conditioning by having incense and quiet music, and those smells would help me relax. On the other hand, extremely bad smells can serve as warnings that things are not right.

Wet dog.

Did you get a response?

Peeled orange.

Something is burning that shouldn't be. (When that one happens, it will wake you up in the night!)

Freshly-mowed grass.

Okay, you get the point.

When I was watching those "reality" shows where people tried to detect spirits, they would record video and audio phenomena. Occasionally, they would mention smells. They could play the audio and video, but not "record" odors. The first two are based on wavelengths, and odors come from molecules and our olfactory sensors.

Since the sense of smell is so intricate, it is also reasonable to think that we may detect smells, and even respond to them, when we are not consciously aware of them.

It turns out that the entire process of reception, identification, response and more is extremely complex, even down to the genetic level! Researchers are beginning to get a handle on it. There is no way that they can tell how it evolved. Biblical creationists can easily believe that the sense of smell is another gift of our Creator to help us survive and thrive in our environments. Since he has given us visual and auditory beauty, it is reasonable to believe that he also gave us fragrances for pleasure.
Olfaction is detecting odors by means of smell and is rapidly becoming a field of fascinating discoveries. The human nose is designed to detect a trillion smells,1 which is significantly more than previous estimates. . . .

The basic anatomy of the process of smelling has been determined.

You can read the article in its entirety at "The Sweet Smell of Creation." You may also be interested in "Evolution and the Human Sense of Smell." I wonder if, since the senses of taste and smell are also closely related, researchers will have interesting information on that aspect as well.