On the Origin of Thorns

In a recent article in Quanta Magazine, science writer and evolutionist Christie Wilcox discusses the evolution of thorns. She discusses a number of things, particularly the work of Swiss scientist Rupesh Kariyat, an ecologist working out of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. I’m going to give a brief summary of the article and the thinking behind it, then explain where thorns really came from.

The long-held evolutionary belief has been that thorns evolved to protect plants from herbivorous animals. However, evolutionists are beginning to dispute this.  Mr. Kariyat and others with him performed an experiment with caterpillars and a type of thorny plants. The article goes into detail regarding the method of the experiment. It was well thought out and designed. If you would like to read more about it, I’ve linked the article below.  The experiment showed that, if thorns are removed from the plant, caterpillars find it much easier to reach the leaves from the ground and thus consume more of the plant in a given timeframe. The studies authors, careful not to contradict the prevailing evolutionary theory, instead suggest that evolution “co-opted the plants’ spines for a new defensive purpose”.  Even so, evolutionists reacted poorly to this challenge to their prevailing theory.

However, even some evolutionists are beginning to recognize that they have no way to track how evolution progressed in the past.  The article quotes Professor Mick Hanley, of Plymouth University in the UK as follows. “It’s impossible to track why a defense that works now might have evolved millions of years ago… those spines could have evolved for a completely different reason that has nothing to do with herbivory.”  The professor, while an evolutionist, has touched on the great limitation of science with regard to origins.  There is no crystal ball into the past. We cannot look at the past and perform science on it.  There is no way to test things that happened in the past.  There is no way to observe things that happened in the past.  It is not possible.  This is why studies attempting to prove evolutionary history are a waste of everyone’s time and money. Even if evolution were factual, there is no way to scientifically prove things that happened in the past, something Professor Hanley seems to understand.

So how did thorns end up on plants? Did they evolve as a response to herbivorous animals and caterpillars munching on juicy plant leaves?  According to the Bible, thorns are the result of sin. After Adam’s sin, the ground was cursed because of the sin. Part of that curse, were thorns and thistles. Genesis 3:18 says “Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;” Essentially the Bible says that the thorns only exist because of man’s sin. If man had not sinned, there would be no thorns.

This is not opposed to science at all.  In the Garden of Eden, there would have been a perfect balance between herbivores and insects eating plants, and the plants regrowing. However, after the fall, this balance was shattered. This could have resulted in the immediate defoliation of plants as insects completely overpopulated before their new predators could reproduce in sufficient numbers to bring down the population. Our all-knowing God foresaw this possibility. In cursing the ground for man, He made sure to take care of the plants to ensure that they survived. Thus He gave some plants the ability to produce thorns as a defense against anything that would eat it. The exact mechanism of these newfound thorns is not made clear by Scripture. The information for the thorns could have already been present in the DNA of plants, or, alternatively, when God said that plants would bring forth thorns, He could have placed the information there at that time. Whichever one happened is completely immaterial.  Scripture makes it very clear that God is the one Who made thorns, and that man is responsible for Him doing so.



Thorn Evolution article


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