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Discovery Magazine 9/1/2002

Let the Earth Bring Forth...-Plants

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

The Bible tells us that God created everything in the Universe in six days (Exodus 20:11). On day three, He made plants—vegetables, grasses, trees, herbs, etc. (Genesis 1:11-12). Plants are unique, but do share some features common to other living things. For example, they consume nutrients and produce energy. Most plants use “photosynthesis” to change carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight into energy-rich compounds and oxygen. [A few plants don’t use photosynthesis, but instead survive as parasites or off organic matter.] Think about it. You inhale air, and exhale carbon dioxide, which is absorbed by plants. Light from the Sun hits those plants, and is used in photosynthesis. Plants then release more oxygen (which you breathe) and store glucose, so that when you eat plants, your body uses that sugar to make energy to help you read this article in Discovery! Amazing, eh?!

Plants also pass on their genetic information to their offspring by producing seeds, which can be inside pods, at the center of a delicious fruit, or in a form that allows them to be carried by wind through the air. The way seeds are produced, stored, and distributed helps them survive, which is important to animals and humans that need plants for food, oxygen, and other essential items.

But plants also are different from animals and humans. Plants contain cellulose, which makes their cell walls rigid. Animals and human do not have cellulose. Plants do not have sensory or nervous systems, which means they cannot “understand” or “feel.” Animals and humans possess both systems. Plants do not have organs (like legs or wings) for locomotion, which means that they usually stay in one place. Most animals and humans move around (although there are exceptions in the animal kingdom, like sponges).

Plants range in size from the very tiny (like duckweeds, only a few millimeters long) to the very large (like the giant sequoias of California, which reach heights of 300 feet). Scientists believe there are about 300,000 species of plants, and new ones are being discovered all the time. Plants provide food, oxygen, and even medicine for animals and humans. Some of the other articles in this issue of Discovery tell you about those things.

Plants exhibit impressive design. But you don’t get such design without a designer. That “Designer” is God, which is what the apostle Paul said when he wrote in Romans 1:20-21 that God can be “understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power.” Things created by God (like plants) help us know He exists.

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*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

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