(This post would be a lot easier to write if I had a textbook or two with me, but I’m on my honeymoon, so we’ll see how this goes!)
Saturday, Stephen and I went on a sea kayaking tour of Kloya Bay and Denise Inlet on the BC northwest coast. It was beautiful! Check out Skeena Kayaking for photos that’ll give you an idea of where we were. We paddled for about 15km total, in the coastal wilderness, fighting the wind and incoming tide on the way out, and enjoying the slack tide on the way back. We are soooo sore, but it was an incredible afternoon.
We went out with two guides, women who live and work in the port at Prince Rupert, and enjoyed their stories of the wildlife. One of them grew up on the BC west coast, but had spent a lot of time in eastern Canada, studying forestry and natural resource management, and working as a forester. A lot of the things I study are closely related to that, so we had a lot to talk about. We talked about the incoming oil pipelines, edible plants, and stewardship. We moved on to the design of plant tissue systems (yes, plant nerd over here…). I mentioned something about the incredible adaptations of aquatic plants. and she replied, saying that seeing all the adaptations really makes it difficult to believe anything she heard in church as a child. When the other guide agreed, I think I just muttered something about how I felt it was the opposite, and went back to studying the old growth forest we were resting by.
This conversation weighed on my mind all day, and later when we were getting ready to walk downtown to find supper, Stephen brought it up. He’s listened to enough lectures about how everything I study in the sciences points me to God, that he knew I had a lot more to say in that conversation. We spent some time praying about it, asking for grace for myself when I fail to speak up in these situations, and more opportunities to share how God is in science. As a practice run, here’s what I should’ve explained to my kayaking guide:
There are two general categories of vascular plants: angiosperms (or flowering plants), and gymnosperms (or seed producing plants, mostly conifers). They are called vascular, because they have a system of tubes that allows for water and nutrient transport within the plant. Xylem and phloem are the tissues forming these tubes, and use water pressure to move things up from the roots and down from the photosynthesizing leaves (the sources), to the growing parts of the plant and storage areas (the sinks).
Our kayaking guide was saying that the fact plants have developed xylem and phloem to transport the things they need, makes it hard to believe in anything but chance evolution. I believe the opposite.
Within the angiosperms, there are two more categories: monocots and eudicots (or dicots as they can be called). In the diagram below, you can see some of the basic differences between the two. There are nearly 60 000 known species of monocots, including grains, bananas and lilies. There are about 250 000 known species of eudicots, including buttercups, mangoes and mint.
Each category of plant covers tens or hundreds of thousands of different kinds of plant. These plants will serve different purposes, have different coloured flowers and fruits, be able to survive in hugely different kinds of environments, and have different shapes. Yet, if you made microscope slides of every plant’s stem and root, you could (most of the time) easily distinguish between the monocots and eudicots, because of the way their xylem and phloem are arranged.
In eudicots, the vascular bundles (consisting of xylem and phloem) are arranged in a star shape in the roots, and a ring in the stem. Monocots have a ring of vascular bundles in the roots and evenly scattered ones in the stem. All plants within each category will follow this design.
God made xylem and phloem and saw that they were good, efficient ways of satisfying plants’ needs. Though in different environments plants need other adaptations to survive, even if they have evolved over and over and their DNA has been altered and mutated time and time again, they have not lost this key design element, because it is good.
Putting aside arguments of young earth creationism and theistic evolution, I love studying science and being in nature because I see God’s hand in everything. Next time someone brings it up, I hope I recognize the opportunity, and share with them the incredible creativity of the Lord of All the Earth.