The Plant’s Photocell

Genesis 1:11-12
“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”

Green plants are green, mostly because of a green pigment called chlorophyll. Many of us learned in high school that this green pigment is what causes photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis is that key process by which a plant can manufacture useful high energy molecules such as sugars. In the photosynthetic process, the plant absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water transpiring from its roots to create sugar molecules. The byproduct, oxygen, is released into the atmosphere. At first sight, this seems pretty straightforward. But there is, of course, a lot more to it. The process becomes especially difficult to understand if one wants to assume that this is a process which came into existence by evolution.

Our first problem is that the reaction requires an input of energy – chemists call this an endothermic reaction. Such reactions are not unusual, though reactions requiring the input of light energy are less common than those inputting heat energy. However, if you fill a jar with water and carbon dioxide, and shine a light into it, you will not make sugar molecules. Therefore, chlorophyll is not just a catalyst for the reaction – it is an essential intermediary without which the reaction cannot happen.

In fact, a whole book can be written on the complexity of this whole process, and the inter- dependability of every step. And then we go further to see how animals get their energy from plants, so every energy chain comes back to photosynthesis. It is a process that looks like it was designed by God for a purpose – which is exactly what the Bible says.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for Your wise provision, in creating life, and making all the processes that give us the resources we need to live. Amen.

Ref: Swindell, R., Shining light on the evolution of photosynthesis, Journal of Creation 17(3):74–84 December 2003.

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