The Mystery of Carnivorous Plants

There’s a thrilling new article from one of the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else.

The title is Carnivorous Plants, written by Harry F. Sanders, III, about whom we know nothing. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Often overlooked because they cannot move from place to place, plants display some very unique, bizarre traits which are found in no other organisms. Carnivorous plants are one such example. Unlike other members of the plant community, carnivorous plants eat other organisms, usually insects.

Does AIG have a problem with carnivorous plants? Harry says:

This method of life presents an interesting challenge to creationists: how can this be reconciled with the biblical account of Genesis? [Yeah, there was no death before Adam & Eve ate that fruit.] There are a couple of different answers to the question, but we can be certain none of them impinge on the biblical account.

How can we be sure of that? Harry doesn’t give us an answer right away. Instead he tells us:

Darwin himself wrote about carnivorous plants in 1875. Darwin’s contribution to the study of carnivorous plants was indeed useful as he was the first to document carnivory in several genera of plants. Carnivorous plants are classified as several different taxonomic orders, having a variety of trapping mechanisms. There are, however, a few principles that are broadly true across the groupings.

Harry then spends several paragraphs describing various kinds of carnivorous plants. There are better sources of information, so we’ll skip all that to see what comes afterwards. Ah, here we go:

Biblically we know that there was no death prior to Adam’s fall in Genesis. [Yeah, we know that.] Yet carnivorous plants seem well equipped to capture prey. Can this be squared with God calling creation “very good” in Genesis 1?

Good question! It’ll be fun seeing the answer. Actually, Harry has three answers, starting here:

The first possible answer looks at how the Bible defines life. It is possible that insects are not alive according to the Bible’s definition of having the “breath of life.” [Two links to AIG articles omitted.] This would allow for these plants to eat insects in a pre-fall world and not violate God’s “very good” statement by introducing death before sin (Romans 8:19–23). In this view, these plants were designed to eat insects from the beginning and could have been designed to keep pre-fall insect populations from exploding. This view does face the issue that some larger carnivorous plants consume animals that are biblically alive. But God could have designed a way [There’s always a way!] to keep animals from getting trapped by such plants.

Harry continues with the next answer:

An alternative explanation is that carnivorous plants had a different function in a pre-fall world.

Yeah, who knows what the Venus flytraps were doing before the sin of Adam & Eve? Maybe they were playing baseball. Let’s read on:

A third possibility is that God redesigned carnivorous plants to perform their current function as part of the curse. We know that some plants, at least, were redesigned during the pronouncement of the curse since thorns and thistles arose during this time (Genesis 3:18). It is possible that other design changes took place at the same time, though this is not explicitly stated, making it unwise to be dogmatic on this point. All three arguments have merit. Whichever view is correct, carnivorous plants are not a problem for a creationist worldview.

There’s never a problem for the creationist worldview. Yahweh always has a solution. Here’s another excerpt from Harry’s brilliant essay:

Evolutionists must explain the origin of carnivory in plants. [Yeah, it’s not a creationist’s problem.]

That was the start of Harry’s final paragraph. It’s a big one, showing that evolutionists have nothing but problems. We’re left to conclude that the creationists have no problem at all — and of course they don’t. They have the answer to every question: God-did-it! Or, if you like Wikipedia articles, the answer is God of the gaps.

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18 responses to “The Mystery of Carnivorous Plants

  1. Richard Staller

    Whichever view is correct, carnivorous plants are not a problem for a creationist worldview.

    Actually, nothing is a problem or challenge for creationist when you can just make crap up as you go along.

  2. Paul Braterman

    Since, according to the article (wish I trust on this since it is cutting and pasting from real science) carnivory evolved independently up to six separate times, it is obvious that no evolutionary explanation is possible. andAlmost as bad as the leglessness. Besides, it means that plant organs had to be repurposed, and we know that that’s impossible because of irreducible complexity. And it even means (the article really does make this final argument) that regulatory genes would have had to change how they regulate, which is obviously impossible

  3. There is no Biblical explanation for
    carnivorous plants. So, whatever they have to say is, by their standards, worthless. How do they know, where they there?

  4. chris schilling

    From Dr. Seuss’ classic Harry Was a Creationist:

    Harry: Where you there?
    Furball the Fantastic: Where I where?
    Harry: Were you aware?
    Furball the Fantastic: Whirr your wares?

  5. Michael Fugate

    Harry clearly has no scientific background; if he did, then Ken would be trumpeting on the AiG site.

  6. Hey Harry !! A fourth possibility is that the pre fall carnivorous plants were really apple trees and that they changed to talking donkeys after the fall.
    A fifth possibility is that pre fall plants which HAD to be non carnivorous were overtaken with a plague of locusts at the fall and instead turned into burning bushes.. A sixth possibility Is that blah, blah, blah, etc , of course, yada,yada
    WOW. Being a creationist opens up LOTS of opportunities to nail two things together that have never been nailed together before in magical ways…

  7. @ochwill
    Well put!

  8. “often overlooked because they cannot move from place to place”.

    Harry, mate.Triffidus celestus.

  9. [Harry F. Sanders, III:] “Evolutionists must explain the origin of carnivory in plants.”

    Why, Harry, are you not happy with the story you just made-up?

    If you can withstand science, try this article: DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.11.036 . It’s titled “Carnivorous plants”, the author (Rainer Hedrich) seems to be a real researcher, who knows a lot about this subject. And the text is not too long.

  10. Well, what feeble attempts to evade the point have we here?

    “Insects are not alive according to the Bible’s definition of having the “breath of life.” “. That won’t fly. It clashes with Genesis 1:24: “God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures, according to their various kinds: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals, all according to their various kinds”. (emphasis mine.) Insects are included among “creeping things”, and they are clearly included by Genesis among “living creatures”, with other “kinds” that definitely do have “breath of life”. (Of course insects breathe. It’s actually quite remarkable that the iron age scribes who wrote this stuff were apparently aware of that. Perhaps they had observed that insects can drown.)

    “God redesigned carnivorous plants to perform their current function as part of the curse.” That’s out, too. It conflicts with Genesis 2:1-3: “Thus the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed. On the sixth day God brought to an end all the work he had been doing; on the seventh day, having finished all His work, God blessed the day and made it holy, because it was the day He finished all His work of creation.”

    So God completed all the work of creation on the sixth day, before Adam and Eve disobeyed, and before the curses on the earth and on them. There is no justification for saying that God “redesigned”, that is, created anew, anything after that, in the face of the repeated statement that he had “completed” and “finished all His work”. As usual with fundamentalists, if the text does not yield the words required, Harry just makes them up.

    We also have: “carnivorous plants had a different function in a pre-fall world”. That suggestion is completely void. Not only doesn’t it provide an explanation, it’s actually nonsensical. What function could be served by a snap-shut baited trap, or a piece of living flypaper, or a drowning well with a lid and impossible-to-climb downward-facing slick filaments, if not to trap insects? How would they not? Harry is asking the faithful to believe that God created something that was manifestly purposeless, unless He intended the Fall and the Curse from the beginning. Well, maybe He did, at that. But it’s hardly a testimony to divine providence, or even good faith. And the same objection as above applies: to come up with even that non-explanation, Harry has to go outside and beyond the text. Tut, Harry.

    Look, I know this is semantically void to anybody who’s used to the idea that knowledge is gained by observation. The people who are actually reading this guff think that Scripture is in itself evidence. You can’t reach them by telling them that it isn’t. But you can point out that Scripture doesn’t say what these clowns say it says; that they are actually making stuff up and passing it off as Holy Writ, and are thus blaspheming the Word of God. That might not get you any further, but it at least it engages them on their level. Maybe it’s not a good idea to descend to their level, but you sure won’t get anywhere by not.

  11. If the ‘breath of life’ is needed for things to be alive, then what does that do for the idea that human life begins at conception?

  12. You guys.
    You are assuming that reading the Bible has something to do with what is written.
    No.
    It is about what i believe being Biblical truth. I know that it is God’s truth, because I read the Bible.

  13. “some very unique, bizarre traits which are found in no other organisms. Carnivorous plants are one such example.”
    Yes, because there are no carnivorous animals and bacteria known. And never mind that Wikipedia lists about 750 species of carnivorous plants.

    “This would allow for these plants …..”
    Because of course they first needed divine permission, after a threefold request.

    “All three arguments have merit.”
    The most important one being not testable.

    “Evolutionists must explain the origin of carnivory in plants.”
    Because of course creacrappers lack the imagination to see how eating flesh can give plants an evolutionary advantage in terms of procreation.

  14. I’m not sure, but why is plant carnivory any more of a creationist problem than animal carnivory? Despite the name “Answers in Genesis” it seems you end up with more “Questions in Genesis” with a lot of inelegant answers to a lot of non-problems.

  15. Even more intriguing, plants are not alive, according to Morris. Imagine a non-living thing nomming a living creature!

  16. @Draken
    If plants are not alive, then there is the parable of the “Grain of Wheat” (see Wikipedia) Gospel of John 12:24-26. If a grain of corn dies …

  17. Michael Fugate

    Wasn’t Morris claiming God is too dumb to realize that the plants God created are actually alive? That God didn’t know they were made with the same basic cell structure as animals and fungi? Not to mention Jesus was smart enough to realize that seeds are alive? Doesn’t say much for divinity, does it? Unless of course, they were metaphors – something lost on creationists…..

  18. Perhaps – I don’t actually know, because damned if I’m going to read Henry Morris – but perhaps Morris was cack-handedly referring to a distinction that actually exists in Genesis, which has its roots in a Hebrew descriptive compound that sounds like “nephesh chayya” (forgive me, I can’t write the Hebrew). The usual translation is “living”, but it actually means something more like “possessed of a spirit”, expressed as breathing. The iron age scribes who wrote Genesis down, compounding it from earlier material, were apparently aware that fish and even insects breathed, but were not aware that plants do, too. Plants, therefore, are not possessed of “nephesh chayya”. Along comes Henry Morris who wouldn’t know Hebrew from Braid Scots, and says, “Aha, plants aren’t alive! The Bible says so!”

    Or maybe not. Who cares what Henry Morris thinks, for whatever value of “thinks” we apply to him?