Tree Evolution and Genesis 1
Many Christians who claim to believe in evolution and the Bible have never seriously considered whether evolutionary theory and Genesis 1 are compatible. It is easy to say, “I believe in both evolution and the Bible,” but proving the belief is based on a reasonable interpretation of Scripture has repeatedly shown itself to be impossible. Evolution teaches that the Sun evolved millions of years prior to the Earth; Genesis teaches that God created the Earth first (Genesis 1:1-2), and the Sun three days later (Genesis 1:14-19). Evolution says that rocks and dirt formed millions of years prior to the appearance of water on land; Genesis testifies that God made a watery Earth (Genesis 1:1-2), and then, two days later, He made “the dry land appear” (Genesis 1:9).
Consider another frequently disregarded discrepancy between evolutionary theory and the Bible. According to a recent New Scientist article titled “A Forest is Born,” “[p]lants first colonised land in the Ordovician period, around 465 million years ago” (O’Donoghue, 2007, 196:38). Allegedly, “it wasn’t until the evolution of trees 80 million years later that vegetation could spread around the globe” (p. 40, emp. added). What’s more, trees with roots, seeds, and leaves supposedly evolved nearly 100 million years after the first land plants (p. 40). There were fish in the seas (see Evolution, 1994, p. 30) and “tiny creatures such as insects” on land (O’Donoghue, p. 38), but according to evolution, seed-producing, fruit-bearing trees bloomed millions of years later.
What does the Bible teach about the origin of vegetation? On day three of Creation, the omnipotent God Who created everything with “the breath of His mouth” (Psalm 33:6), said: “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth” (Genesis 1:11). The Bible then reveals, “and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day” (Genesis 1:11-13).
It is really very simple. God made grass, herb, and tree, seed, spore, and fruit on the same day of Creation. There were no epoch-long, time-laden processes that turned plants into shrubs and shrubs into trees over many millions of years. God said He did it in one day, “and it was so.” Furthermore, He did it prior to His creation of any animal life. Although evolution says that fish and insects were around before fruit bearing trees, the Bible teaches otherwise (Genesis 1:20-25).
In truth, the chronology of Creation as revealed in Genesis 1 contradicts evolution theory. One cannot reasonably hold to a theory that claims fruit-bearing trees evolved millions of years after the “first plants,” or that certain animals were around millions of years before trees. The sooner that Christians who are sympathetic to the evolutionary timetable acknowledge the differences between evolution and God’s Creation account, the better. If evolution theory is true, the Bible is wrong. If the Bible is true, the evolutionary theory is a lie. “How long will you falter between two opinions?” (1 Kings 18:21).
Evolution: Change Over Time (1994), (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall).
O’Donoghue, James (2007), “A Forest is Born,” New Scientist, 196:38-41, November.