Intelligent Trees?

Intelligent Trees?

Something struck me the other day about the theory of evolution… something I had never really thought much about before.  For me it was one of those “Aha!” moments.  It came about while I was reading a copy of the Australian Geographic.

To explain what happened I need to digress a moment and say something about adaptation.  I’m not a scientist and I understand that sometimes terms are used by scientists with fine shades of meaning and some research indicated that this is true too of the term “adaptation”.  Adaptation is an important concept for evolutionists.  Broadly speaking it’s about how living organisms adapt to their surroundings in order to survive.

The Australian Geographic had an article about the different kinds of seeds one finds on native Australian trees.  But notice how the article speaks about adaptation in relation to the trees.

“To its plants Australia can be harsh and unforgiving: competition for water, light and nutrients is fierce, and extremes of weather can be devastating.

“To survive, trees and shrubs have developed ingenious ways to release and spread the seeds that are their species’ life-force.  Whether the size of a grain of sand or a ping-pong ball, a seed carries a plant’s genetic material and, to give it the best possible chance of taking root many plants use clever mechanics and careful timing strategies.”

As I read this article it suddenly struck me that here intelligence is being attributed to trees.  Vegetation has “developed ingenious ways” to release and spread their seeds; and plants “use clever mechanics and careful timing strategies.”

Living creatures have different degrees of intelligence.  Our family once had a Border Collie dog which we all knew was very intelligent.  I could tell you stories to demonstrate that dog’s intelligence.  It is generally claimed that dolphins are very intelligent.  There have been stories of dolphins shepherding divers away from sharks.  But Border Collies have brains, gum trees don’t.  Dolphins have brains, Banksias don’t.  Why then ascribe intelligence to vegetation?  If trees don’t have brains how can they take responsibility (or the credit) for “developing ingenious ways to release and spread the seed”?  If vegetation is not an intelligent form of life how can it use “clever mechanics and careful timing strategies”?

This is where I suddenly realised that there is a problem with that part of the theory of evolution that deals with adaptation.  If by adaptation we mean that as the environment changed certain species died out because they couldn’t survive in a harsh climate but others that had a different make up survived and even thrived – then I have no problem with adaptation.  However this article implied that vegetation has intelligence and that over time (millions of years?) this vegetation was consciously able to make incremental changes to adapt to the harsh Australian climate.

The problem is that the creature has taken the place of the Creator.  As Christians we know that Gum trees and Banksias are simply doing what God designed them to do.  They grow and follow patterns according to the information coded into their DNA from the very beginning.

My “Aha!” moment the other day was that the evolutionist does not want to acknowledge the intelligent design of a Creator God… but he’s more than happy to ascribe intelligence to a tree.  That not only sounds very illogical but it also sounds very much like idolatry to me.