Observations on life; particularly spiritual

Endless weeding

Onion weeds are the bane of many gardeners. They are very tough to get rid of. The reason they are so hard to get rid of lies in their bulbs. If you attempt to remove the weed by digging it up and shaking off the excess dirt, you have just shaken the numerous bulbletts attached to the larger bulbs at the root of the weed and you have just multiplied your weed problem instead of eradicating it.

On Monday mornings I do gardening with Easy Care Gardening. Sometimes this involves controlling onion weed in garden beds by weeding or mulching.  If you try to pull onion weed out of the ground, the stalk will break off and leave the bulbs in the ground. This means that before too long, the weeds will return. To eliminate the weed, you have to take a small trowel and dig the whole plant out of the ground, bulb, soil and all. If the parent bulbs release tiny bulbs (bulbils) from the base of the main bulb, these grow into mature plants, and all the digging has achieved is multiplication of the problem.

To get rid of onion weed without using herbicides, you have to prevent the bulbs storing food for growth. Onion weed can also produce seed. Cutting off the foliage at ground level will prevent the plants making carbohydrates in their leaves, and also prevent seed forming. You can then cover the area with black plastic or with thick mulch (>7cm). Deprived of moisture and the sunlight that enables it to store carbon dioxide as carbohydrates (photosynthesis), the bulbs will weaken and die. You may have to cut back foliage several times as soon as it appears. If you do this consistently, bulb growth will become progressively weaker, and you will eliminate the problem without disturbing the soil and stimulating the growth of more bulbs.

Life thrives on earth

God seeded our planet earth with life. Have you ever tried to remove weeds only to find them growing again in a few months time? Besides onion weed in gardens, I have seen lantana in the Australia bush, bitou bush on coastal sand dunes, gorse in Tasmania, and blackberry in European forests. These and other weeds (Appendix A) all propagate and spread relentlessly over time. The ground is full of seeds. So weeding seems to be endless.

Even denuded areas are re-seeded rapidly. For example, more than 500 square km (over 200 square miles) was covered by ash and debris by a volcanic eruption of Mount St Helens in May 1980. Gradually, plants and insects colonized these areas, providing food for small animals, which came next and in turn were a food source for larger animals. Ecosystems gradually gained momentum as more and more species were added and ecological spots were filled in. Within 30 years most species that were wiped out by the eruption have returned to the Mount St. Helens area. Nobody expected that plant life would so quickly reappear in the blast zone of St. Helens.

And the island of Surtsey was formed by a huge undersea volcanic eruption off Iceland in 1963. The eruptions stopped in 1967. In 1965 researchers found the green shoots and pretty white flower of a sea rocket, its roots sunk into the ash and in full bloom. Lyme grass, sea sandwort, cotton grass and ferns soon followed (Appendix B).

According to the Smithsonian Institution, life exists in the following inhospitable locations:
– Yellowstone’s hot springs, which are near the boiling point of water and acidic enough to dissolve nails.
– In environments below freezing, and in bodies below freezing.
– A species of bacteria, lives underground at about 60 degrees C (140 degrees F), in complete isolation as it fixes its own nitrogen, and eats sulfate.
– Mine drainage as acidic as battery acid and full of heavy metals such as arsenic.
– In darkness and under intense pressure, in deep sea vents at depths of 5 km (3 miles).
– The Arctic and Antarctic.
– The stratosphere up to 18 km (11 miles) high.

So, life thrives on earth. We can’t image a life-less earth. It would be barren like the moon.

The miracles of life

The theory of evolution proposes that life arose spontaneously out of the inert chemicals of planet Earth perhaps 4 billion years ago. The first living cells had to possess:

  1. A cell wall.
  2. The ability to grow – to maintain and expand the cell wall.
  3. The ability to process “food” (other molecules floating outside the cell) to create energy.
  4. The ability to split itself to reproduce.

All these four steps had to happen at the same time if the cell is to survive and reproduce. This would require multiple miracles occurring at the same time! A single cell is too complex to be produced by naturalistic means, although evolutionists believe that this is what happened. I call this an evolutionary miracle.

Life can only have come from one of two possible places:

  • Spontaneous creation – Random chemical processes created the first living cell. But it’s doubtful that such complexity can come from random processes.
  • Supernatural creation – God or some other supernatural power created the first living cell. A complex creation requires an intelligent Creator.

The miracle of reproduction

In order to have life on earth by naturalistic means, two miracles are required in a short period of time. First the creation of living cells (already mentioned). Second the creation of a means for living cells to reproduce. For plants this can be by sexual or asexual reproduction. This is another huge hurdle for evolutionists. Here’s how they explain it, “Many scientists think that life on Earth first began about four billion years ago when amino acids developed into RNA, a larger molecule made out of amino acids that has the ability to reproduce itself, and also to make proteins. RNA was very unstable though – it often broke apart or changed the order of its atoms. After a while, some RNA evolved into DNA, which was a more stable, though more complicated, version of the same idea”. They have great faith that natural processes which can’t produce life today, could do it billions of years ago.

The parable of the spiritual seed

In the parable of the sower, the seed planted in ground that was infested with thorns sprouted, but growth was impossible because of the thorns (Mt. 13:3-9; 18-23). Jesus explained that the seed was the message about the kingdom of God. And “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Mt. 13:22NIV). And Luke adds life’s pleasures to this list (Lk. 8:14). The thorn-infested ground represents those whose spiritual interest is choked out by the worries of this world and by their delight in pleasure or wealth. They make a promising start and appear to be believers, but lose interest in spiritual things. The Word of God becomes crowed out in this situation. It’s easy to let the details of life crowd out what is most important. Thorns represent love of the world over Jesus. It’s easy to allow things to clutter our lives. Bearing fruit is the test of whether someone is a true believer.

Lessons for us

Weeding is an ongoing task for gardeners. The fact that life thrives on earth demands an explanation. A complex creation requires an intelligent Creator and the God of the Bible is the most likely candidate.

Jesus said that anxiety, worry, and striving for pleasure and wealth can choke our spiritual lives. So like onion weed, these need to be weeded to stop them taking over our lives. Because these are powerful influences, we need to seek God’s help to keep them in check.

Appendix A: Weeds of national significance in Australia

African boxthorn
Alligator weed
Asparagus fern
Athel pine
Bitou bush
Blackberry
Bridal Veil creeper
Broom
Cabomba
Cat’s claw vine
Chilean needle grass
Cotton-laved Physic-nut
Delta arrowhead
Fireweed
Gamba grass
Gorse
Hymenachne
Lantana
Madeira vine
Mesquite
Mimosa
Parkinsonia
Parthenuim
Pond apple
Prickly acacia
Prickly pears
Rubber vine
Salvinia
Serrated tussock
Silver nightshade
Water hyacinth
Willows (not all)

Appendix B: Plant life on Surtsey Island

In the spring of 1965, the first vascular plant was found growing on the northern shore of Surtsey, mosses became visible in 1967, and lichens were first found on the Surtsey lava in 1970. Plant colonisation on Surtsey has been closely studied, the vascular plants in particular as they have been of far greater significance than mosses, lichens and fungi in the development of vegetation.

Mosses and lichens now cover much of the island. During the island’s first 20 years, 20 species of plants were observed at one time or another, but only 10 became established in the nutrient-poor sandy soil. As birds began nesting on the island, soil conditions improved, and more vascular plant species were able to survive. In 1998, the first bush was found on the island—a tea-leaved willow (Salix phylicifolia), which can grow to heights of up to 4 metres (13 feet). By 2008, 69 species of plant had been found on Surtsey, of which about 30 had become established. This compares to the approximately 490 species found on mainland Iceland. More species continue to arrive, at a typical rate of roughly 2–5 new species per year.

(From Wikipedia)

In 2019 it was reported, “Vegetation is growing at a relatively rapid rate on volcanic island Surtsey.”

Written, September 2019

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