Re: Parasitic plants, death, and the fall

Bill Hamilton (
Tue, 23 Jul 1996 09:47:57 -0400

Robert Joel Duff wrote:

> "What did parasitic plants do before the fall!?"
>The question clearly implied that the holoparasitic plants
>that I study (plants that are totally incapable of
>photosynthesizing and rely totally on a host plant from
>which they derive both water, minerals, and metabolites)
>could not have existed with the life-history characteristics
>they now possess before the fall when all of creation was

I have read the remainder of your post, but it did occur to me at this
point to ask what might be bad or even evil about a parasitic plant. Could
not parasitic plants be a part of God's control mechanisms that 1) prevent
the host plants from overpopulating an area; 2) Stimulate host plants to
develop root systems with greater capacity, thereby perhaps making the host
plant better able to withstand drought conditions; 3) (Over time) might not
the combination of 2) and natural selection result in a hardier host plant?
Finally, the parasite itself might have value in the ecology either as
food or, at death, as fertilizer.

>The question caught me off guard and I realized
>that I was ill prepared to defend any answer that I might
>be tempted to give. Thus the renewed interest into
>delving more heavily into the recent literature, discussions
>at church, this group, etc...

>What is raised in my mind is a question that I
>should think would trouble the YEC: that no easy
>distinction can be made between the plant and animal
>world that would allow one to say that death is all right in
>one situation but not alright in another.

I'm not convinced that Scripture rules out animal death prior to the fall.
Human death -- within the garden of Eden -- seems definitely ruled out, but
I'm not convinced by claims about no animal death.
>2: EC Perspective
>Parasitic plants are the result of evolution.
>This would seem to the most obvious choice and is
>certainly attractive to me but does raise one hairy point
>regarding this theme of "death" with me I would appreciate
>enlightenment on. With respect to mans mortality there
>would be two options:
> A: Man created immortal
> Reading archived material with respect to the
>origins of man it seems that some are willing to allow for
>the immortality of man upon his creation (by whatever
>means) and at the same time say animals could die and
>that then sin brought "death" to Adam. I think that to be
>consistent one would have to say that going from a state
>of immortality, while at the same time having a fleshly
>body and then entering into a condition allowing death
>constitutes a fundamental biological change which is so
>profound it must be one of the real "mysteries" that we
>cannot understand.

Also called a miracle. I believe that when we investigate origins we need
to keep Deut 29:29 in mind. We ought to diligently search for whatever we
can learn, but we need to remember that there are some secret things that
the Lord may not let us discover in this life.

>Why if sin can enact such a
>fundamental change in the way matter and energy works
>cannot it be used to say that all of nature could have
>been fundamentally changed in the same way.

Is it sin itself that brought about the change, or was it God's action? If
it was God's action, then we are getting on shakey ground when we ask "if
A, why not B?"

>Given this
>argument the following argument (of YEC connection)
>seems valid: that we cannot extrapolate back before the
>fall because everything in our experience has been
>changed in such a way that we cannot even imagine what
>it was like before.

Now this I have to agree to. My Presbyterian theology tells me that men
are totally depraved, meaning that every part of us has been corrupted by
sin: mind, heart, body...

>There have been numerous reasons
>discussed in this newsgroup why the last statement isn't
>terrible desirable from both a "natural" and theological
> B: Man created mortal
> If man was created mortal (either uniquely or by
>evolution or variations thereof) then there doesn't seem to
>be the problem presented in A except of course possible
>theological problems which I would like to have some
>discussion of because it is here that I think some real
>analysis it still needed for progress to be made in my
>mind. I would be interested in anyone who could point me
>to passages that are significant to this question. Much of the
>discussion of late would place many under this catagory but I am
>interested in what the potential pitfalls may be that I have not
>thought of and what needs further discussion.

Some TE's and EC's argue that God developed men through a process like
evolution. These creatures would have been mortal. But if this scenario
is true, there is a fundamental act of new creation that takes place in Gen
2:7: God turns a creature (mortal and still essentially the dust of the
earth) into man by breathing his spirit into one of these creatures.
_This_ was a new creation: man. And Scripture teaches that he was
immortal -- as long as he didn't sin and get evicted from the garden.

Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Robert

Bill Hamilton | Chassis & Vehicle Systems
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