The World of Botany
November 18th, 1956 @ 8:15 AM
THE WORLD OF BOTANY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-18-56 8:15 a.m.
In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, today we enter The World of Botany. The third day, God said: "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear": and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters – mayim, plural – called He Seas" – yammim, plural [Genesis 1:9-10]. They have one bed: "Let the waters of the heaven be gathered together into one bed" [Genesis 1:9], but there are several oceans.
And the first sermon was on the waters of the sea, and the second sermon was on the land of geology; now, The World of Botany:
And God said –
wayyōmer Elōhim –
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 –
wayhi ken: that’s it –
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. –
And it was –
and it was –
That’s what the Book says. And a remarkable thing is this that we enter into today The World of Botany – the teeming creatures of God that are everywhere in this earth: in the air, in the water, in the moisture, exuding from your body – everywhere.
And we are just now on the threshold of the creation of life, and in about three or four more of these morning services, we’re going to begin on this thing of evolution. And we’ll be in that thing of evolution for several mornings. We’re going to look at this thing as it is in the Bible, and as it is out here in the world, the world that God has made.
Now, we stand on the threshold of life, the creation of life, for heretofore, all that God had made was inorganic, mineral. And there’s no mutation. There’s no reproduction. There are no little ones being added. For example, the granite rocks: they may decompose subject to the laws of decomposition. They may break down into gravel and stone. Water may erode them. They may become soil and dirt, but there are no little granites being born.
I never saw an ancient rock give birth to a baby granite, to an infant granite. I never saw anything like that. The inorganic mineral world is as God created it from the beginning except as it decomposes.
But when we enter the world of botany, we are entering the world of life. It can reproduce itself. It can give birth to itself. It can procreate itself. It can extend itself. It becomes immortal.
How did that life come about? This is the great step. If you could create a little life, you might create great life. If you could create one cell, you might be able to create a 500 million multiplied billion cells. This great enormous step, the greatest step here in the creation story, is this one: stepping into life.
How’d that come about? The Bible says that God made it. God created it. "In the beginning God created . . ." [Genesis 1:1] all of these things that we see, and in this recreation, the seed of the earth was in the earth, and the sprouts were there, and the roots were there. And upon this third day, God said to His seed, "Germinate," and to His roots, "Start growing," and to His sprouts, "Start sprouting" [from Genesis 1:11]. And the whole earth came to life [Genesis 1:11-12].
The Bible says God created it. The materialist says that this thing came to pass by virtue of the inherent proclivities and affinities of the elements of the earth to combine and that it was created of itself. Well, that’s a very unusual thing – very unusual. There’s only one thing wrong with it, just one thing, and that is it ain’t so. Other than that, the theory is very fine, very nice.
Yet that’s the theory that is taught in all the science books, in all the chairs of science. Practically the universal explanation of life in this world is that. It just came about because all of these particles of life, all of these particles in the inorganic world, they all have a tendency to combine, they say. And of itself, it just got together. It combined, and it gave birth, brought forth, this marvelous thing that we see called life.
Now, I’d say that’s a fine theory, marvelous hypothesis, except that it isn’t so for there’s no such thing as that that I can observe in this world. I don’t ever see that nor does anybody else see that!
For example, let’s take all of the elements of a meal and put it on the dining room table. Here is a little potassium. There is a little nitrogen. Here’s a little oxygen. Here’s a little phosphorous. There’s a little potash. All of the elements that are in that dinner, put them there on the table and wait for them to combine. Just wait. Just sit there and wait.
Brother, if you could live 500 million trillion years, you’ll still starve. They’ll never combine – never in this earth! You’ll sit there forever and forever! The only way those elements will combine is for somebody to combine them. And then you eat them, and then they become flesh and blood.
You know, I told you about milk. A scientist can make milk. He can take every element in milk – water, H2O, all the other elements in milk – color it, make it, put it in a bottle, sell it to you. The only thing is, you will starve to death if you were to drink five thousand gallons of it. There’s no such a thing in nature as having those inherent characteristics to combine, to bring forth these marvelous, marvelous things. It just isn’t there. It’s nowhere. It never has been! It isn’t now.
A botanical piece of life, whatever it is – a leaf, a root, a tree, a plant – whatever it is, it is a marvelous laboratory. It is a marvelous chemical machine – no thing like it in the earth. And we’re going to look at it in a minute. And wherever you find the machine, somebody had to invent it. Wherever you find a marvelous chemical ability to manufacture – to make, to produce – somebody created it.
There’s no such a thing as a machine without an inventor, and there’s no such a thing as the combination of these elements except somebody makes them combine. Somebody has to do it, and it’s done under force, and under guidance, and under intelligence, and under direction. And that’s exactly what we see in this vast botanical world: the beginning of life. God’s getting ready for His animals. God’s getting ready for His man. God’s getting ready to furnish this earth, and the basis of all life is botanical – all of it.
Now let’s go on with that. There are three great categories of this world, the one we look at: one, mineral – all of the inorganic matter around you, rocks and dirt and stone and everything, mineral; second, vegetable; and third, animal.
Now, they say that this is the difference between an animal and a vegetable – three things they say.
The first thing they say, the difference between an animal and a vegetable, is the type of food that it eats. Plant life, botanical life, manufactures its food. An animal cannot do that. An animal has to eat food already manufactured. It eats a plant or it eats other animals. And a little later on we’re going to find God never intended for animals to eat animals. That was after the fall, after the catastrophe.
But God created His world for His men, His human family, and the animals to eat the vegetable world. The difference then, first, is in the type of food. An animal has to eat another animal or to eat a vegetable. It has to have protoplasm. It has to have carbohydrates. It has to have food already made. An animal cannot manufacture its own food.
The second is locomotion. A plant is not supposed to be able to move any of its parts or to move itself, but an animal is supposed to.
The third difference between a vegetable and an animal is sentient life. An animal is supposed to be able to have volitionary faculties. It can will. It can choose to move. It can choose to do something else. Those are the three things.
But when you enter that botanical world – – and we’re going to do it right now – – when you walk into that botanical world, sir, you are overwhelmed. You are amazed at the inconceivable, unimaginable intelligence – God’s intelligence – of this botanical world.
For example, did you ever think of the engineering skill of a little watermelon seed – just what that little thing can do? Why, there’s nobody in this earth – there’s no man, there’s no combination of men, there are no kingdoms in this earth – that can do what a little watermelon seed can do. Its engineering skill is fabulous and indescribable.
If you don’t believe that, put it in the ground. Stick it in the ground. Let the warm sunshine bathe it. Let a gentle shower fall upon it and look at that little old thing go to work. Why, it’ll create a thing that big around, beautiful on the outside, polished and shiny and green and maybe stripes over it and all kinds. And then on the inside, it’ll construct a rind; on the inside of that, the sweetest meat; and on the inside of that, a thousand times, other seeds just like itself that can do the same thing. Why, the engineering skill, the know-how, of that watermelon seed beats anything any man ever produced in all this world – just that little seed.
Did you ever think of the sense that roots have – roots way down there in the ground somewhere? There may be a great tangled mass of roots. All kinds of plants got roots down there in that rich soil, and they’re all messed up together down there.
Up there in the air, standing up there waving in the breeze, standing up there moving with the wind, up there somewhere, one of those plants sends down a little word and says, "I need some potassium." Then this other plant over here says, "I need a little nitrogen." And another one up there say, "I need a little phosphorous." Another one says, "I need just a touch of iron."
And did you know those roots down there, all massed together, this little root will go over here and get a little potassium and send it up? This little root over here’ll get a little phosphate, send it up. This little root will go over here and get a little nitrogen, send it up. This little root over here get a little iron, send it up.
Who taught those roots?! Oh, the Department of Agriculture taught those roots! Yeah, yeah! We got a commission of the United States government: "Take care of the roots of all these plants." That’s where they got the know-how! Or some little boy who didn’t know any different, think his principal know everything: "Well Mr. M. M. Meyers, he taught those roots. He taught them. Yeah, the professor taught those roots."
God taught those roots! And the chemical know-how of roots is a miracle. It’s inexplicable. It’s indescribable.
Did you know the greatest miracle in this world and the foundation of all life in this world is a secret that a little leaf has and nobody has it? No man in this world can enter into that mystery. It’s the mystery of what science calls "photosynthesis" – the manufacture of food. I told you a while ago, you can put potash, and phosphate, and nitrogen, oxygen, sodium, copper, iron – all of the elements – on a table and watch it forever and ever, and it’ll never combine.
But did you know a little leaf, a little leaf can take carbon dioxide out of the air? You breathe it into the air. The little leaf can take carbon dioxide out of the air. It can take water with a few minerals dissolved in it out of the ground and into the presence of a little thing on the inside of that leaf called chlorophyll.
You see, you just call these things; nobody knows what they are.
The secret lies in the leaf. In the presence of a little thing called chlorophyll, that leaf will take carbon dioxide out of the air. It’ll take water and a few minerals out of the ground, and it will pour on the inside of a little created thing – a little speck, a little cell – it’ll pour on the inside of that the energy of the sun. It’ll take it out of the sunlight.
That’s why you call it "photosynthesis": "synthesis," putting it together; "photo," light. And it will take the light – the energy, the invisible power – out of that sun and pack it into a little cell. And you can eat it, and the energy of that sun is liberated out of that cell, and I can holler like I’m hollering now, or I can move my hand, or I can walk around. I can turn it into energy. That’s the miracle in the leaf, and nobody knows how that comes to pass. And that’s the only way food is made, and there’s no other way to manufacture food in this earth – only by the combination found in that leaf in the presence of that little green thing called chlorophyll.
My teacher of botany in school is now the president of Texas Tech [Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas], Dr. Ian Jones. And he was a marvelous Christian, a great Christian. He’s a deacon, and a Sunday School teacher, and one of God’s servants. And we got our microscopes down and we took a leaf – – and this is just one out of a thousand things that we looked at. And I looked at that little old leaf, and that little old leaf is made up of little cells. And on the inside of those tiny little microscopic cells were little green things. And those little green things are called chlorophyll.
And as I looked at it, the little green things in those cells were going around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around until I got dizzy looking at them. And the little old green things on the inside of that cell, those little old green things, they were manufacturing food. They were going around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around manufacturing food.
Sometimes those little old things can take that glucose they manufacture, plant sugar they manufacture, and convert it into starch, send it down to the root, and say, "Keep this here for me." And the root will go down there, and it’ll bulge out and get big. And the cells there’ll just be packed and jammed and packed with little old things called starch pieces down there, little old infinitesimal pieces of starch, and they just packed full of that starch. Plant does that, and it’s a miracle. Nobody knows how that comes to pass. It’s the greatest miracle you can observe, and it’s everywhere in this earth.
And it is inconceivable. It is inexplicable. It is unfathomable. Nobody knows. But that leaf knows. It can do what nothing else in this earth can do. An animal can’t do it. A man can’t do it. No thing can manufacture food but a leaf: take the energy out of that sun and pack it with water and minerals and convert it into food that we are able to digest and convert back into energy. Isn’t that a marvelous thing?
Another thing about these plants that’s amazing, wonderful: did you ever consider their wonderful, beautiful flowers? I got to go on, just have a few minutes, and I’ve got an hour’s of things here to describe. But those incomparable flowers – and I haven’t got time – all of the things about those flowers: how they’re made and how they have a genius inside of them for reproduction – how God did it. Jesus called attention to them. Why He said Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these [Matthew 6:28-29].
You can take the finest purple linen in this earth and look at it under a microscope, and it looks like coarse rope with blotches of color here and there. But you take a rose petal, or you take that lily of the field that Jesus referred to [Matthew 6:28], and put that under a microscope, and it is more beautiful under a microscope than it is out here under God’s sunlight as you see it with your naked eye.
And did you ever think about God’s seeds – these seed He’s talking about? [Genesis 1:11-12] Did you ever think about God’s seed? Why, it is a miracle. I read about a week or two ago that one corn seed, one corn seed: plant it this year, plant it next year, plant it the third year, and you got enough corn to sow down the entire United States of America in three years. I read that.
So at the banquet last Friday night down here at the church, why they had some corn on the table. So while they were making big speeches and I was supposed to be listening, you know, why I got me that ear of corn, and I counted the seed on it. Now, I don’t mean that they weren’t making fine speeches. I tell you they just all make fine speeches, but I was just thinking about that corn seed.
Well, I counted the grains on that corn. There were 540 grains on that corn. So, I got me a little piece of paper. And while somebody’s making a marvelous speech – and it was a great speech – – while somebody’s making a marvelous speech, I was figuring out. Don’t you do this when I’m making the speech. I got me a little piece of paper, and I figured out. You see, I plant those seed this year, and then I plant them the next year, and then I plant them the third year. And did you know, the third year there are more than 1,250,000,000 seed from that one seed of corn just in three years: 1,250,000,000. I don’t even know how much $800,000 is, Dr. Irving, much less 1,250,000,000. That’s God’s seed.
And did you ever think about the sense that those seed have? Did you ever think about that? Let’s take the lowly cockelbur. Did you ever see a cockelbur? Did you ever see a horse? Always, always the horse’s tail got a cockelbur in it.
All right, let me show you what marvelous sense a cockelbur hath. On the inside of that cockelbur are two seed, two of them – always got two seed. And the cockelbur falls out of the horse’s tail, and it falls in the ground. Now, that little cockelbur’s got this much sense. The first year, the first seed will sprout. The second year, the second seed will sprout. But suppose something comes along and burns up the first sprout, or somebody cuts it down, or somebody steps on it, or it dies. Then the second seed sprouts. It doesn’t wait until the second year; it just sprouts immediately.
Who tells that second seed to sprout? That’s what I’d like to know. Well again, the Department of Agriculture does that, or Mr. Meyers does that. God told the second seed it’s time to sprout.
God cursed the earth [Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:20-22]. And you know, sometimes I think about those things – these plants that are now accursed like the thorn and the thistle and the cockelbur. You know, I think about that. And some of these days when Jesus comes and the millennium [Revelation 20:1-6] is here again, did you know some of these days I think all of those’ll go back to their pristine glory and wonder? And maybe the cockelbur will be used of God to make the perfumes of Arabia. Instead of being a nuisance and a cocklebur, why, it’ll be the most, the plant that more than any other plant will be used to make beautiful perfumes and things like that when God remakes His earth.
Let’s take one other just real fast. Did you ever think about the coconut? The coconut lives on the shore where the waves of the sea, the briny deep – that’s where the coconut groves grow. Now, way up there in the top of the tree, waving in the sun, way up there are coconuts. Now this coconut has to be taught of God how to live. So a great hurricane comes along, and a wind comes along, and it blows that coconut out of the tree, and it falls in the ocean.
Now God knew that, and that’s the way He made the coconut. It’s got a big husk around it that is varnished and watertight and sealproof; and it’ll float. And so the coconut falls on the briny deep, and it floats; and maybe a thousand miles over there, it washes up by the high tide on the shore of a South Sea island. And it’s left there, high up there on the shore.
Well, the little old thing after a while, that little – that coconut will be about two-thirds buried in the sand, and the little old thing in there starts to grow. But it can’t grow in salt water, and that’s the water that’s coming up there on the beach is salt water. So God put on the inside of that coconut, God put on the inside of it just about a half a pint of pure, fresh water. And that little old coconut will take that pure, fresh water, and it’ll start going down in the ground this way and start coming up out of the ground this way. And that little old half a pint of water on the inside of that coconut seed is enough to get the thing started until the rains can come, and it can start growing of itself by the rain that falls upon it. God did that. God did that. That’s His world of botany.
And this world of botany, when you walk into it and look at its amazing forms, there are animals that hibernate. Most of our trees are deciduous. They hibernate. In the wintertime, they go to sleep. They lose their leaves. They quit their growing, and they hibernate. They rest.
And there are – there are plants that the flowers and the leaves curl up and go to sleep at night. And if you turn on an artificial light and they don’t have an opportunity to go to sleep at night, they lose their health and vigor just like you do. And there are plants, species of the mimosa, called "the sensitive plant." You touch them, and they’re very sensitive. Fact is, science is always debating where a certain thing is a plant or an animal. They finally, after centuries of discussion, have finally said that a sponge is an animal. They call a sea anemone an animal. They’re just so close together – God’s botanical world.
Could I conclude? And I have to stop, ought to stop. Could I say that our whole life is dependent upon botany? I’ve just said all the food that we eat is botany, all of it – no exception. Every piece of food that man or animal eats, all of it is botany. The lumber that makes the desk and the table and this church and our houses, all of it’s botany. The linens that you use, the cottons that you use – all of it is botany. The rubber tires that come from trees, or even the rubber that’s synthetic, it used to be botanical. It’s carbohydrate; it’s carbon.
All of this world that we live in is a botanical world, and God made it. God prepared it just for us. And in the Garden of Eden, the Lord placed there a tree, and He called it the Tree of Life [Genesis 2:9]. And upon a day, in a hill called Calvary [Luke 22:33], they lifted up a tree, the branches of a tree, a tree cut down; and they nailed on that botanical tree the Son of God [Acts 5:30].
And some of these days, God says, when the vistas of heaven open and the great clouds are rolled back like a scroll [Revelation 6:14], and we look into the glories of the world to come, there by the river of the water of life is the tree that grew in the Garden of Eden [Revelation 22:1-2]. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. And it bears twelve manner of fruits, a fruit each month. And we shall eat of the Tree of Life and live forever:
And God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb . . . the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, whose seed is in itself . . . and it was so.
And the earth brought forth grass, and the herb yielding seed . . . and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself after its kind: and God saw that it was good.
The miracle of the work of Almighty God: God did it! By special creation, He made those little roots and their know-how; and the leaf and its know-how; and the flowers and their know-how; and the seed and its know-how, and all of that thing that is so marvelous and inexplicable in the commonest plant that you walk on under your feet, God made it by special creation and taught it how to do and gave it that infinite intelligence that makes it a miracle to us.
Now let’s sing this song. And while we sing it, while we sing it, somebody you, give your heart to the Lord or put your life with us in the church, into this aisle and down here to the front and stand by my side. Would you come? Would you come? On the first stanza of this song, and then we’ll have our benediction and prepare for our Sunday school hour. But is there somebody here this morning to give his heart to the Lord or to put his life with us in the fellowship of the church? While we sing, would you come while we stand and sing?