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Saturday, November 22, 2014


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The Vegetable In The Witness Box
By Islip Collyer, 1922



It is one of the first postulates of the development theory that there is no altruism in Nature. Each plant and each animal is supposed to develop qualities solely for its own benefit, or for its offspring. It is indeed quite obvious that if natural selection is the "ever watchful force" that it is supposed to be, it would most effectively nip in the bud any altruistic effort. Darwin plainly stated that if it could be established that any plant or animal possessed any _quality solely for the benefit of another species, it would be fatal to his theory.

It would obviously be a difficult task to prove such a case. We need to possess a knowledge which, if it were once ours, would render the argument superfluous, Clearly no plant or animal can survive if it has qualities which are destructive to itself, and so long as it continues to survive, the Evolutionist will remain satisfied that all its qualities have been developed solely for the benefit of the species.


Find. a plant with a hard, indigestible seed, and there you have art illustration of Nature's selfishness. Neither men nor animals can eat such a seed. It exists solely for the propagation of the species. Find another plant bearing a luscious and attractive-looking fruit, with an indigestible seed in the middle; there you have another illustration of selfishness. The edible part of the fruit is simply to attract an animal to perform service. The indigestible seed will be carried to a remote part, and thus spread the species. Find a third plant bearing a seed which is itself digestible, and containing just the elements needed to sustain animal life, and you have -- what? The Evolutionist will never admit that the conditions are for the sake of this nourishment. It is difficult, therefore, to see how it would be possible to prove to his satisfaction that anything in Nature was designed for the benefit of another species. We are asked to believe that the hard stone with luscious fruit covering, has been evolved by a, very careful selection of conditions favourable to the development of the plant. No explanation is either offered or permitted as to the seed which is, in itself, a perfect food.

Surely there is something very narrow and unsatisfactory in such a theory. If the "ever watchful" force of natural selection could produce such wonderful devices for the preservation of a species as we are asked to believe that it has done, surely it could in every case guard against the seed becoming such a perfect food for animals that it would be devoured by the bushel.


When the Evolutionist is explaining, the development of any of Nature's wonderful products, he asks us to think of millions of years, of growth, during which each variation which would be of the slightest advantage to the species is the subject of natural selection. He regards this force as so potent that all, the marvellous adjustments of animal bodies can be explained by it. Even the development of the eye did not appear to Darwin as a difficulty. He thought that the first slight sensitiveness to light would be of sufficient advantage to secure the preservation of those creatures possessing it, while others would perish in, the struggle. So with each successive stage in the evolution of the lens, and all the muscular adjustments of the eye. We are asked to believe that there were only chance variations, subject through millions of years to this potent force of the survival of the fittest.

So with plants. Even when the most elaborate contrivance only gives a very slight advantage in the struggle, natural selection is supposed to be all sufficient to account for it. We are reminded of the millions of years during which it is supposed to have operated. Well, we think of those millions of years in connection with those plants whose seed is food for man and beast -- wheat, barley, oats, rice, and all kinds of nuts. What has natural selection been doing to allow the seed to be a food? Surely if this force can evolve the human eye, it should be powerful enough to protect the seed of plants from giving sustenance to a crowd of enemies.


We may note in passing that this inconsistency of Evolutionists is not confined to the phase of the subject we are at present discussing. It is, perhaps, even more obvious in connection with some of the phenomena of the animal world. Thus it has been very freely affirmed that the appendix in man, which has been troublesome to many people during recent years, is a perfectly useless appendage. Some have even gone so far as to call it a "death-trap." For how many millions of years have our ancestors carried this useless or even harmful part? It has always seemed to me an amazing case of inconsistency that men who accept the theory of Darwin can express such convictions. At one moment they claim that natural selection has such power that it can produce the human eye with all its adjustments. At another moment they regard it as so weak that it cannot remove a useless or harmful part in all the millions of years required to evolve the most complex of all creatures.

A little reflection will show that in the struggle for existence the supreme power should be on the side of the vegetable. Vegetables -- using the word in its widest sense -- have a monopoly of the power to transform raw chemicals into living substance. Animals and insects feed on these vegetable products. The vegetable world has the capacity to produce poisons which quickly put an end to the molestation. If, therefore, Nature had no force behind her but this soulless struggle for existence, and if natural selection


had a tenth of the power that has been attributed to it, we should expect every seed to be equipped with poison to guard it against its numerous enemies.

Take a survey of Nature and observe the actual facts. There are many vegetable poisons, but they constitute a very small part of the vegetable world. They do not multiply rapidly, they are of rare occurrence, suggesting that there is a guiding hand upon them to prevent them front taking possession of the world. The dangerous drugs are comparatively rare in Nature. The most prolific growth is just of those plants which are of most service to the herbiverous animals. If garden land is uncultivated it reverts to a rough kind of grass. The stupid ox will get on all right with it. Man, more particular as to his diet, has to seek out other foods requiring cultivation, but both are able to live.

If the Evolution theory were true, if there were no altruism in the scheme of things, surely the vegetable world would poison all the creatures that presume to feed upon it. Instead of such selfishness, the vegetable world says to the ox, "Here is food in abundance for you, and your wit need only be exercised to avoid the rare herbs which would poison you if taken in quantity, but which may serve as medicine in the small proportion I give of them." To man she says, "Here is food for you, too, choicer and better food, but you must use your wits constantly and toil to grow it."

We are so used to the situation that we may grow


to accept it as a matter of course. Surely it is reasonable to ask sometimes why it is that poisons are rare? Why the seed of some plants should provide us with nourishment? Why there should be such a balance in Nature that the vegetable world, with supreme power to slay, should not only let us live but minister to us with. her own vital forces? A man is blind as well as unthankful to claim that we owe nothing to any power outside ourselves, and that Nature is always selfish however well she serves us.

The truth is the other way. Man is selfish and by his folly brings curse upon himself. We can see so many evils wrought by the sin and selfishness of humanity that it should not require much effort to accept the Bible assurance that when traced back to the first cause, all the ills must be placed in this category. Nature, on the other hand, is bountiful. There is ample provision for our needs and this provision must have a Provider.

A closer investigation of the nutritious seeds strengthens this view. Man has shown repeatedly that his tastes will often lead him astray. He is not satisfied with bread as Nature has provided it and desires to make it finer and more palatable. Wheat is passed through many processes to make it finer and whiter. Yet the wheat in itself is a balanced food, containing the elements required by the human body in just about the proportion necessary. The fine flour is not balanced and if men tried to use it exclusively for food they would die. In the same


way rice has been polished to give it a gloss attractive to the eye. In this process some vital elements are, removed, and the food value is reduced.

If the Evolution theory were true, if natural selection were the terrible potent force that has been represented, we should not have the vegetable world ministering to our needs and providing us with such a variety of food. If natural selection were so rigorous as to be able to evolve the fruits which carry an indigestible seed in an alluring covering -- strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, plums and peaches, surely it would be sufficiently strong to guard other plants against the production of a seed providing a perfectly balanced diet for animal life.

The man who accepts all that Nature can give, taking it just as a matter of course and refusing to recognise altruism in any of her processes, is like the selfish, thoughtless child, who accepts all that the parents provide as part of the natural order of things, requiring no thought and calling for no gratitude.

More thoughtful beings, both young and old, recognise that in all the variety of life there is a deep design to make human life possible. In any one of a thousand different ways, the race might have been blotted out years ago but for this controlling, unseen hand. Children may often be denied what they would like to have. Sometimes the food is not just in the form they would best appreciate. Real food is provided, however, and wise children know that there is a Provider.