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Aug 06 2012

Plants vs. the Gospel

Via PZ Myers at Pharyngula comes this delicious tidbit from veteran creationist Henry M. Morris.

Obviously, animal and human life are different from plant life. In fact, the Bible uses the Hebrew word chay (life) and its derivatives 763 times in the Old Testament, never applying that term to plants or vegetation. No place in Scripture attributes chay to plants; only living creatures possess life.

Plants are indeed marvelous, beautiful, complex, and able to reproduce “after their kind,” but they are designed by the Creator to be a source of energy to maintain life. Plants are food—they are not alive.

Now, let’s all turn in our Bibles to the Epistle of Saint Paul unto the Corinthians, chapter 15, verses 35 through 38.

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.

So to understand the resurrection of Jesus, we need first of all to understand that plants are not alive, and therefore can never be said to “come to life.” Therefore what Saint Paul is telling us here is that when the dead are “raised,” they are raised in bodies that are not alive.

Wow, that explains a lot. Creationism sure makes the Bible a lot clearer. Thanks, Dr. Morris! But wait, it gets better.

Why do creationists try to deny that plants are alive?

If we do indeed “kill” (take the life of) plants as we consume them, then God Himself authorized that killing… If God authorized the “killing” of plants, then God designed death into the very essence of the creation—and pronounced it all “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Here’s the heresy: If God designed death into creation, then death is as “good” as all other factors—and the atheistic evolutionary doctrine is right. Death is the “good” force that brings about the ultimate “fittest” in our universe. Death, therefore, is not “the wages of sin,” and our Lord Jesus’ death was not necessary for salvation—it was just the wasted effort of a deluded martyr.

Dr. Morris, meet theodicy. Theodicy, Dr. Morris. If God is good, and if Creation is good, and if God has all power and is sovereign over all Creation, and “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (as Eph. 1:11 says), then why do we have sin and suffering and evil and death? The standard Christian answer is that this is all part of God’s good and perfect plan—sin and suffering and evil and death are things God uses to bring about the ultimate salvation and redemption of creation, achieving some essential blessing that He could not have achieved without them.

“Here’s the heresy: If God designed death into creation, then death is as ‘good’ as all the other factors.” In other words, death (and related evils like sin and suffering) cannot be part of any good design or plan or creation of God’s, because that’s heresy. That means that God’s plan for Creation cannot depend on sin and suffering and evil and death, and still be a good plan, in the moral sense. Yet the Gospel teaches that sin and suffering and death are not only an essential part of God’s plan, they’re the whole focus of it, culminating in the death of Jesus on the cross as atonement for sin. In other words, it’s not evolution that’s the heresy here, it’s the Gospel itself!

Dr. Morris is right, there’s a huge theological problem inherent in admitting that plants are alive, because it exposes one of the major self-contradictions in the Bible. In the conflict between Scripture and living plants, though, it’s the plants that are the truth—not the Bible.

These teachings cannot be harmonized. Either the Bible is Truth (capitalization intended) or it is Error. The choice is clear. The message is clear.

Amen.

20 comments

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  1. 1
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    I’ll just leave this picture here.

    1. 1.1
      Deacon Duncan

      Awesome :)

  2. 2
    peterwhite

    Henry Morris is absolutely correct. I bought my wife some flowers a few years ago and they are still there, in the vase, just as dead as when they were manufactured. They never wilt, never need watering, and look as good now as they did when they were new.

  3. 3
    redpanda

    If I were still religious, I would simply attempt to make a distinction between God’s original plan, and God’s post-fall plan.

    So God didn’t initially ‘design death’ into creation (I’ve heard this used as an excuse to be fruitarians: it’s one of the only ways you can eat plants without killing them, so God must have originally designed us to subsist on fruits), because pre-fall there would have been no need for the plan of salvation.

    Yet the Gospel teaches that sin and suffering and death are not only an essential part of God’s plan, they’re the whole focus of it, culminating in the death of Jesus on the cross as atonement for sin. In other words, it’s not evolution that’s the heresy here, it’s the Gospel itself!

    God’s new plan involving death, then, was a response to Human sin and was not the original ideal plan that he had mapped out in the Garden of Eden. Can I be a theologian now?

    1. 3.1
      Gregory in Seattle

      To which I respond:

      “So the Eternal and Never Changing Divine Plan is not eternal. Are we sure it has changed only once? Are we sure it will not change again tomorrow? And if God’s Divine Plan can change, why do you assume that God’s Holy And Never Changing Word didn’t mean something else yesterday and will mean the same thing tomorrow?”

      Once you concede that things can change, the whole thing falls apart again. In short, Christianity is a poorly built house of cards.

      1. redpanda

        “So the Eternal and Never Changing Divine Plan is not eternal. Are we sure it has changed only once? Are we sure it will not change again tomorrow? And if God’s Divine Plan can change, why do you assume that God’s Holy And Never Changing Word didn’t mean something else yesterday and will mean the same thing tomorrow?”

        Once you concede that things can change, the whole thing falls apart again. In short, Christianity is a poorly built house of cards.

        I have a hard time imagining that this line of reasoning is going to have a meaningful impact on just about anyone.

        Just because a plan includes contingencies based upon the actions of others doesn’t mean that the plan ‘changed.’ There are clearly some philosophical complications to this when we start talking about omniscience, but that conflict is nothing new and is casually dismissed by almost everyone.

      2. Nick Gotts

        The very idea that an omnipotent (and hence omniscient, since omnipotence implies the ability to know anything one desires) being needs a plan is absurd. It could just bring about the desired state of affairs instantly.

      3. Brian M

        I doubt that “it” is casually dismissed. It is either ignored (the vast majority of times) or confused via lengthy airy fairy structures of spun “theology” that are breathtaking in their complexity and ridiculousness.

      4. Len

        Need a new plan? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plan_9_from_outer_space

    2. 3.2
      Len

      Fruitarians? But surely the fruit has the everything in it – it has the potential – to become a fully-fledged fruit tree. You’re aborting the fruit (and then eating it!). If that’s part of god’s plan, then I guess he has no problems with abortions. Glad that’s finally sorted out.

  4. 4
    Jer

    Jeebus these guys have no imagination. redpanda @3 has the “right” way to interpret the whole “death and dying as part of creation” angle – the plant death, like all death, is caused by The Fall. In God’s original plan man and woman were supposed to exist entirely on fruit – which can be eaten without killing the plant. Heck even the text supports this – the only things that Adam and Eve eat in Eden is fruit. After The Fall plants could die just like animals, but before the fall the animals only ate fruits.

    I’m not even really trying here and I can overcome THAT piece of theodicy. That isn’t hard. Explaining why God’s creation is so damn brutal to dumb animals every single day of their lives? That’s hard. If they can’t even get over the simple logic of their own myth of The Fall, how the hell do they rationalize the very world they see around them>

    1. 4.1
      Deacon Duncan

      Of course, you still have to explain the deaths of all the plants that were eaten before the Fall. ;)

      1. =8)-DX

        He explained it just there! Plants didn’t die before the fall, because animals only ate the fruit (presumably seedless).

      2. Deacon Duncan

        That’s not what the Bible says, though. Genesis does mention seeds and trees bearing fruit, but it also says God gave “every plant” to both man and beast as food.

  5. 5
    dailydouq

    In God’s original plan man and woman were supposed to exist entirely on fruit – which can be eaten without killing the plant.

    Interesting, isn’t that what most of our ancestors were doing when they still mostly lived in the forest canopy? god must have watched us as we evolved from frugivores and so had to explain it to us. Who says there is no science in the religious myths?

    1. 5.1
      mikmik

      LOL! You nailed it exactly. I had a pastor friend recently use the instructions(?) given about circumcision being done on the eighth day, which he pointed out actually turns out to be the safest time to do it, therefore, the Bible has science.
      These people give new meaning to the saying “grasping at straws.”

      1. redpanda

        When science/history/archaeology/etc. supports the Bible, it’s evidence for the Bible. When they fail to support it, or worse, provide evidence against the Bible…

        Well, we’ve all been down this road before. Why do people not see this as a double standard?

  6. 6
    iknklast

    “Plants are food—they are not alive.”

    This should please all those vegetarians who got into arguments with me (a botanist) because they told me they don’t eat living things. They now have an official source to cite back at me – one that I will totally respect, of course (snark).

    Also, if plants are food, does that mean all plants are food? Is Henry Morris III planning to eat Conium maculatum? Toxicodendron radicans? I suppose he could, but I don’t recommend it. Many plants aren’t food; how does he deal with the thousands of plants that are poisonous? I once had a student in class who was totally confused; he couldn’t understand why god made poison ivy if it wasn’t useful to humans. I told him poison ivy isn’t there for us, but he could never comprehend that.

  7. 7
    The Phytophactor

    The idea that plants aren’t alive and don’t move would greatly amuse a recent graduate student. She studied dodder, a parasitic “morning glory”. After seeing them in action she got very wary of standing still around them in the greenhouse (for the host plants). Actually she seldom had time to stand still, but that’s another story.

  8. 8
    Paul Murray

    Any attempt by people to unravel the real meaning of stuff written in a foreign language, in a foreign culture, thousands of years ago is doomed from the beginning. We can’t even picture what they meant – the canvas of our minds has wrinkles in it that theirs did not.

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