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How Did Trees Come Into Existence?

Archive photo by Ozan Hatipoglu, flickr.com

How did trees come into existence and what is their origin? We do know that they are an important part of the terrestrial ecosystem, and provide a habitat for a community of arboreal animals and plants. Leaves, flowers and fruits are seasonally available. On the ground underneath trees there is shade, shelter, undergrowth, leaf litter, fallen branches and decaying wood. Trees stabilise the soil, prevent rapid run-off of rain water, help prevent desertification, have a role in climate control and help in the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem balance. (Adapted from Wikepedia)

Tom Hennigan, Georgetown, New York, and Jerry Bergman, Northwest State College, Archbold, Ohio, wrote a noteworthy and fascinating document called ‘The Origin of Trees’, published  March 8, 2011. Here are some excerpts taken from the publication:

The Origin of Trees

According to Genesis, trees were created on the third day of the Creation Week. Within a Biblical worldview, this suggests that they are discontinuous with other plant forms. Naturalists posit that trees arose by random processes from simpler photosynthetic organisms. Fossil evidence for tree evolution from putative non-tree precursors is evaluated. It is concluded that the fossil record does not support an evolutionary origin for trees from non-tree plant forms. The earliest trees found in the fossil record were well developed, and no plausible explanation exists to overcome the enormous odds against their evolu- tionary origins from single-celled ancestors. It is concluded that when the fossil record, tree ecology, global Flood, and complex biochemical systems are analyzed within a Biblical worldview, the data are consistent with the Genesis account that God directly created trees.

Introduction

Trees have been powerful life symbols throughout history and across cultures. For example, Tu B’Shevat is Jewish Arbor Day and takes place on the fif- teenth of Shevat, sometime between mid-January and mid-February. Shevat is the name of the Jewish month when spring begins in Israel and trees come to life again after the winter. According to Jewish tradition, Tu B’Shevat celebrates trees because they symbolize the Torah and represent beauty and vitality. The psalmist paints the analogy that those who trust and live by God’s precepts are likened to solidly rooted trees that have steadfast, fruitful, and vital lives because

they are tapped into the source of life. The word “tree” [Heb. ēts; Gr. déndron (xýlon)], also “timber” or “wood,” is referenced nearly 300 times in Scripture and is a major feature of God’s creation (Tenney, 1967, p 869). The Bible specifically names at least 30 species of trees. (See Table I for a sampling of these tree species.) Linguistic difficulties, such as translating Hebrew and Greek words that are more like local common names, and a lack of direct one-to-one correspondence between species and Bible words, make it difficult to iden- tify exactly what tree species is being discussed (Oberpriller, 2011, personal communication). For example, because of the above linguistic challenges, trees identified as pine, juniper, cypress, and cedar often preclude a precise identifi- cation. The Genesis account suggests that trees are discontinuous from other vegetational growth forms and did not originate from simpler precursors. Trees were created on Day 3 according to their kinds, or baramin (Gen. 1:11–12; 1:29; 2:9; 2:16), and Genesis chapters 6–9 revealed a historic worldwide Flood that helps explain the world’s massive graveyards. It is upon this foundation that creationists can develop scientific models of the origin of trees and fossil strata.

Alternatively, neo-Darwinian evolutionists assume that trees arose by random, natural processes through descent with modification. When discussing the term “evolution,” it is important that it be carefully defined because it can be a slippery and confusing word. For example, processes such as natural selection, mutation, genetic drift, speciation, and changing allelic frequencies have each been termed evolution. Though the details and magnitudes of importance of these processes may differ in the minds of creationists and evolutionary naturalists, all agree that each of them has been observed. For the purposes of this paper, neo-Darwinian evolution is defined as the random and undirected natural process in which mutation and natural selection are thought to have produced trees from non-tree photosynthetic precursors over billions of years.

Relatively little has been published in creation publications about the evolution of trees. Most creation articles on trees have been related to the issue of chronology (see Lammerts, 1975; 1983; Kreiss, 1985; Bergman and Doolan, 1987; Aardsma, 1993; Beasley, 1993; Lorey, 1994; Bates, 2003; Williams, 2004, and Woodmorappe, 2003). Coppedge (2003) covered the intelligent design of the tree fluid-pumping system. Howe (1987b) argued the importance of creationist explanations for plant biogeography from the perspective of Flood and post-Flood geological influences on mountain formation. It is well known that mountains are a big factor in determining weather patterns that influence plant and animal associations all over the world. Because both creation and evolution begin with differing presuppositions, we examine which presuppositional worldview is most consistent with the data (…)

Read the full PDF document here

Tom Hennigan, Georgetown, New York, tdhennigan@citlink.net Jerry Bergman, Northwest State College, Archbold, Ohio, jerrybergman30@yahoo.com
Accepted for publication March 8, 2011

Archive photo by Ozan Hatipoglu, flickr.com

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