For many non-believers out there, if you ever want to get them riled up when they ask you for why you believe God exists, just bring up trees. I’ve heard many non-believers get to the point that I start do wonder if they might pop a blood vessel when someone uses an argument for God because of trees.
The standard argument from trees seems to be derived from two different arguments. One is the design argument, or the teleological argument. This argument is used to show how the universe and everything in it is so complex and shows such “obvious” signs of design that it is almost self-evident that there must have been a designer.
The other argument that the tree thing comes from is the argument from beauty. This, it could probably be argued, also may stem from the design argument. Nonetheless, I have heard many a Christian use the beauty of nature and the universe as evidence for the existence of God.
While I’m more or less ok with the design argument, in general, I’m not sure I would find the argument from beauty all that convincing, to be honest. It’s from that standpoint that I’d have to say that I don’t find the argument for trees all that convincing, either. At least, not as I have heard it employed thusfar (as I briefly described, above).
There is, however, something about trees that I do find somewhat compelling as a sign of thoughtful design. That is, dormancy.
As most people probably know, every winter most trees (oak, maple, fruit trees, etc.) go into a dormant state until the spring when they “wake up” and begin to produce once again. Now, from an evolutionary point of view, this just seems a little strange.
I mean, how would the first several generations of trees have survived the winters and “known” how to go dormant and then “wake up” at the appropriate time? Did they start off by just taking a quick nap some time in December? Maybe a day or two? How did they know when it was time to “wake up?” I’m not sure alarm clocks have been around long enough to make that a plausible explanation.
Of course, the evolutionist will argue using natural selection. They will talk about small changes over long periods of time. The problem is, I don’t think winters evolved over a period of time. So, how could plants have survived even the very first winter? Never mind developed this ability to go temporarily dormant over “millions of years?” These are the things that, given the definitions of natural selection and random mutation, just are not adequately explained, to my thinking.
I suppose some will accuse me of making an argument from ignorance. (“I can’t think of how it could happen that way, so it must not have.”) To be fair, I can’t completely discount that possibility. It may be possible that a plausible explanation exists, but it just seems to me that the mechanisms of natural selection and random mutation would simply be inherently inadequate.
Along with that, I think one mistake that many people make is that they won’t accept a proposition until it has been proven decisively. That is not true. All you need to decide on a belief is that one option must be simply more plausible than it’s opposite. When it comes to God versus evolution, I am convinced that the former has much better explanatory scope and power in this and many other areas.
So, I’ll use the argument from trees. But not because of their beauty or the intricacy of their leaves or any of that. To me, they are evidence of design because they would have never survived long enough to develop the ability to go dormant in the winter and bloom again in the spring.
Grace, love and peace.