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Devotional Biology

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  1. Introduction & Preface
    4 Steps
  2. Chapter 1: Biology for the Believer
    15 Steps
  3. Chapter 2: The Living God: Biological Life
    14 Steps
  4. Chapter 3: God’s Glory: Biological Beauty
    6 Steps
  5. Chapter 4: God is Distinct: Biological Discontinuity
    9 Steps
  6. Chapter 5: God is Good: Mutualism & Biological Evil
    10 Steps
  7. Chapter 6: God is Person: Animal Behavior & Personality
    17 Steps
  8. Chapter 7: The Provider God: The Anthropic Principle
    12 Steps
  9. Chapter 8: The Sustaining God: The Biomatrix
    8 Steps
  10. Chapter 9: God is One: Monomers, Biosimilarity, and Biosystems
    8 Steps
  11. Chapter 10: God is Three: Biodiversity
    11 Steps
  12. Chapter 11: God of Hierarchy: Biological Hierarchy
    13 Steps
  13. Chapter 12: The Almighty God: Metabolism
    8 Steps
  14. Chapter 13: God the Word: Animal Communication & Language of Life
    8 Steps
  15. Chapter 14: God’s Fullness: Reproduction, Diversification, and Biogeography
    10 Steps
  16. Chapter 15: The History of Life
    9 Steps
  17. Appendix
    4 Steps
Lesson Progress
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The following transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors in spelling and/or grammar. It is provided for assistance in note-taking and review.

We’ve discussed different types of life. We’ve discussed God, and angels, and humans, and animals. Wait a minute, haven’t we forgotten something? What about plants? This is a very interesting topic. What does the Bible say about plants and life? Are plants alive? And what kind of life do they have? Well, it’s interesting that in Genesis 1, we’ve already referred to the fact that it’s referred to the animals of the air, the land, the sea, and Genesis 2, the humans as being living. But it speaks about the plants. It talks about the plants being created, It doesn’t refer to them as living in Genesis chapter 1. What about the rest of the Bible? It turns out it’s not there either. Now the plants are given as food to the animals at the end of Genesis chapter 1. At the end of 1, when we’ve created all of the animals, it says, “To every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creeps upon the earth, wherein there is life, I’ve given every green herb for me.” Now, this kind of implies or suggests that plants aren’t one of these “everything we’re in there is life.” That plants are something that isn’t living. We have the same kind of implication in the Flood account. God says to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and every living thing of all flesh, of fowls, of cattle, of every creeping thing of the earth. And in addition to all those living things, I want you to take food into the ark as well. And it shall be food for you and for them. Again, the implication is that we bring all the living things into the ark, and then we bring the plants and his food, as if the plants aren’t living. And in fact, if you go through the Bible from one end to the other, Nowhere in the Bible are plants described as alive, or living, or even dead or dying.

Well, we’ll talk about dead or dying. Now, what is interesting is there’s a bunch of Hebrew words and Greek words that are used to refer to plants. Many of those words, both the Greek words and the Hebrew words, are derived from root words which mean green. So technically, the Bible doesn’t refer to plants as living things. The Bible describes the plants as green things. Which kind of makes sense. I mean, they’re green things. But this is really significant if you refer to animals as living things, but plants as green things. And green is, we understand to be a consequence of photosynthesis. Green is a consequence of what plants do. They take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, light from the sun, water from the soil, and they make food. Basically, plants are food makers. And they do that because they’re green. So it’s implied in the words that the Bible used to refer to plants. It’s the fact that plants are food makers. Plants are described by what they do, not what they are. It’s interesting that animals are referred to as living things. That’s what they are, not what they do. Living life isn’t something you do. Life is something you are. So humans and animals are referred to by their ontology, by what they are. Plants are referred to by what they do. That’s a very big difference between the two. You add also the fact that we don’t find the plants anywhere listed in the Bible as being alive or living. Again, we have further evidence that maybe the Bible doesn’t consider them living. What about dead or dying? Well, biblical references to plants dying doesn’t very often use that word “dying”. Plants can wither. They can be cut down. They can be hewn down. They can be plucked, burned, dried up, broken, faded. I’ve got more. They can be cut off. They can be smitten. They can be felled. Trees can be felled. They can be choked out. They can fall. They can be pulled up. Ah, finally we get they can die. They can languish. They can fail. They can wax old. They can perish. And what? They can be twice dead. Interesting. Okay, there’s a lot of references to the demise of plants, but only a few of them use the words “death” or “dying” or “dead.” Let’s look at those, actually. If you use the same phrases used on plants, On animals, most of the time it’s the demise of the animal. I mean, you cut down a tree. If you cut down an animal or cut down a human, that means you killed the human. But when the Bible refers to a tree being cut down, it says in Job, “There is hope in a tree when it is cut down, that it will sprout again.” As if cutting it down doesn’t necessarily kill it. And in Isaiah, we have an example of a tree that sprouts after being cut down. We have another such example in Daniel chapter 4. So whereas if you use those verbs with an animal, you cut down an animal, it is not going to get back up again. But a plant could get up according to Scripture. It can grow again. You break a plant, it can repair itself. you cut off a portion of a plant, it can usually repair itself. These are instances where, although it would be really bad if you applied that to a human, plants can survive these things. Others, like withering, drying up, fading, languishing. Well, it’s like that plant that you forgot to water last week, and it’s kind of wilted. If you put some water in there, it straightens back up again. So even these words might be things that aren’t fatal to plants, and might not refer to the actual demise of plants. Well, what about though these verbs used, or these descriptions used, where plants can die? They can wax old. They can perish. They could be twice dead. Here’s the wax old passage. Though the root thereof, is referring actually in this case to grapes. “Though the root thereof wax old, and the stalk,” that’s the main root, “die in the ground, yet through the scent of water it will bud and bring forth bows.” But man dies. It’s in that passage that contrasts humans with grapevines. You can kill a grapevine, according to the word, they can die. They can wax old and die and then come back again. Whereas humans, when they wax old and die, don’t come back. They can’t come back from the dead. Another passage in John 12. Jesus says, and this is an interesting one, “Verily, verily, truly, truly, I say to you, “Except a corn of wheat,” an individual seed of wheat plant, “fall into the ground, and die, it abides alone; but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.” What in the world’s going on here? Jesus is saying unless a seed is buried, you know, you bury a human and that’s the end. Humans die with burial. You bury an animal and they’ll die with the burial. But if you bury a seed, the seed will actually be encouraged by that. It’ll actually germinate and grow into a plant. So Jesus is using the word “die” to refer to burial. Which again, for humans, that really is death. It’s going to be death of the human. But in the case of plants, dying doesn’t mean that the plant is actually dead. So grapevines can perish in Psalm 80, 16. But the heavens and the earth also perish. That seems to be something a little different than with living things. The stars perish. The earth perishes. What does that mean? That means probably that it stops fulfilling its function. Remember, the purpose of plants is to produce food. So if a plant stops producing food, the Bible refers to it as being dead. And that leads us to the last example. What does it mean to be twice dead? Trees whose fruit withers without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots. What does this mean? When a tree stops producing fruit, a tree is a plant. A plant’s purpose is to produce food. If it stops producing food, it’s dead. As far as the Bible is concerned, it’s no longer fulfilling its function. It’s now dead. You pull it up by its roots, it’s dead a second time. It’s dead in a different sense. And so there are two types of death for plants. And one of them, the most significant one, when it no longer produces its food. So it appears that plants don’t die in a biblical sense. And any word “death” applied to plants really means it’s when the plant stops being productive. When the plant stops producing food. So what we can deduce from this is is that nowhere in the Bible are plants described as alive. Nowhere are we convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they can really die in the Bible. The end of plants seems to come with the end of its fruitfulness. We deduce from this that the Bible just doesn’t refer to plants as living things. Well, at the very least, let’s say they don’t possess nephesh life. Animals possess nephesh life. Humans possess nephesh life, and that’s very clear, including insects. But plants do not. Very possibly, biblically, plants don’t possess biblical life at all. The Bible does talk about plants. The Bible doesn’t refer to fungi, or algae, or protists, or bacteria. So an interesting question is, The Bible doesn’t refer to plants as having nephesh life. What about these other things? Because in biology, we are interested in not just plants and animals, but fungi, algae, and protists. And the Bible doesn’t really refer to these things. So I’m going to suggest, or at least I’m going to postulate, that the Bible refers to these groups of organisms in the same way that it refers to plants. That it doesn’t refer to them as having nephesh life either. So, I’m going to suggest that there is something I’m going to call biblical life that refers to things that the Bible refers to as living. They would include God. The Bible clearly refers to God as a living thing. It refers to the cherubs among the spirit creatures as living things. So I think probably all the spirit creatures possess biblical life. Humans are referred to as living. so they possess biblical life. And animals are referred to as living in the Bible, so they possess biblical life. But biblical life, I’m going to say is not possessed by plants. Whatever plants have, it’s not biblical life. And I’m going to throw in there along with them, the fungi, the algae, the protists, the bacteria. These are all things, all of the last things here listed, plants, fungi, algae, protists, and bacteria. They might have life. and in fact in biology we refer to them as having life, but they don’t have biblical life as the Bible describes it. So we’ve got biblical life for the organisms on the top there. And I would suggest maybe we create another term called biological life for the organisms that possess life, but not necessarily biblical life. In other words, in biology we consider a bacteria alive, But it doesn’t have biblical life. So I’m going to say it’s got biological life. Bacteria has biological life. Algae, protists, fungi, plants, animals, and humans. All of those things have physical bodies, and they have biological life. So in this classification, we’ve got some organisms that possess only biblical life and not biological life. That would be God and spirit creatures. Other organisms that have only biological life, but not biblical life. That’s plants, fungi, algae, protists, and bacteria. And then another group, humans and animals, that possess both. They possess biblical life and biological life. I know this is a little bit confusing, but partly I hope I can clarify this. There’s a lab you’re going to be doing, where you’re going to be told to go out and look for organisms or evidence of organisms out in the creation. And you’re going to classify them. I’m going to ask you in the lab to find or describe several examples of organisms that have biological life, but not biblical life. In other words, you’re going to be looking for things that are either plants, or fungi, or algae, or protists, or maybe even bacteria, but not humans or animals.

I’m going to ask you for some other examples of organisms We have biblical life and biological life. And therefore, I’m asking you for examples of humans and animals. I hope that in the course of that particular lab, as you become practiced at determining what has biblical life, what has nephesh life, what has a biological life, that you’ll get used to these enough that they won’t be terribly confusing. So what we have is a classification of different types of life. We have divine life separate from all other types of life, creature life. And then among the creature life categories, we have spirit creature life and biological life. Biological life is a big category that includes both nephesh life, which is humans and animals, and plants, fungi, algae, bacteria, biological life that are not nephesh life.

So another way to look at this, we’ve got some organisms, God, angels, humans, and animals that have biblical life. A subset of that has nephesh life. That would be humans and animals. There’s another group that have creature life. That’s everything but God. Another group that has biological life. That’s basically everything but God and spirit being. There’s a number of different types of life evidenced in Scripture. And perhaps, given that there’s all these, And given that we can’t see life, maybe there’s more. These are the only ones we know about. Perhaps there’s much more variety out there. My suspicion is that there really is. And if we had the insight necessary to look at living things, at life itself, which cannot be seen, then perhaps we would see that there’s much more variety than this.