Why aren’t plants black?

If you get right down to it, the vast majority of energy on Earth comes from our sun or another like it.  This is obviously true with solar power and plant-derived fuels such as corn ethanol or algae diesel, but what is less obvious is that other energy sources such as petroleum fuels, hydroelectric, wind, and even nuclear power also come from solar physics.

Hydroelectric power comes from water falling from a high location to a lower one.  Well, how did it get up there in the first place?  To put it simply, the sun beat down on the ocean, which caused evaporation of water, which then formed clouds in the sky which then precipitated back down to the Earth’s surface at a higher location than where it started.

Wind power comes from the motion of large air currents, caused by differences in temperature.  What causes those differences in temperature?  Predominantly the sun.

Nuclear energy arises from heavy elements such as Uranium which, when manipulated, become very unstable and release energy.  How did those elements get so heavy that they would become unstable when enriched and give off energy?  Heavy elements are created in stellar reactions such as supernovae where intense amounts of energy are released in incredibly short periods of time, which smashes atoms together so hard that they combine and form other heavier elements.

In short, the computer screen on which you are currently viewing this text is powered by the sun in some way or another.

Now, all this being the case, it would seem self-evident that nature would want to harness the tremendous power of the sun, and given millions of years, it could probably figure out a way to get all of it, right?

To understand the next point, it’s essential to understand light and color.  Our sun emits light that is roughly white to our eyes.  White as given of by our sun is our brain’s perception of all visible colors together, and when one range of color disappears from that spectrum, what we see changes.  If you are seeing an apple as red, that means that all visible light other than red has been absorbed.  If only the red light is being reflected off the apple’s surface, naturally that is all you will see.  If all colors are absorbed and nothing is reflected, you won’t see anything, and the object will appear black.

Plants are green because there is green light being reflected to your eyes.  So, why can’t the plants absorb all the green light?  If evolution happened as scientists say, wouldn’t plants have figured out how to soak up all the sun’s light?

At this point I feel it appropriate to state that I do not necessarily disbelieve the theory of evolution.  In fact, I think that scientists have discovered many valuable and convincing evidences that show that evolution may have been the means of creating many of the organisms we see around us.  I also feel it important to state that the scriptural accounts of the creation are vague as to the details of how the creation was performed.  In fact, they say only that God spoke and the worlds were created.  But how?  Consistent with the ideas of Henry Eyring (father of Henry B. Eyring), I feel that both science and religion provide an incomplete story of how the Earth was created.  Why is it so?  Because this is not vital to our salvation.  This being the case, I see no reason why the theory of a God-guided evolution could not be true, especially since observable modern-day adaptation is an evidence of evolution.  I do, however, assert that a godless, left-to-chance evolution is unlikely if not impossible.  In any case, it is important to recognize that men and women are children of God.  In any theory of creationism or evolution, we must not forget this essential doctrine.  So, to summarize, I think a God-guided evolution is possible but not the only possible explanation of the creation of life on Earth.  I also think it could be possible for all non-human life to have been created through one means and mankind to have been created by another means.  Remember that in the Genesis record, mankind was created on a completely separate day than were plants and animals.

Now, let’s consider what else evolution has done, according to theory.  Consider for a moment the human body, in particular the brain.  A complex network of trillions of microscopic cells forms within nine months of pregnancy.  These trillions of cells are then automatically weeded out over the next several years as they are not used.  The vital cells are retained and undergo intricate and highly-calculated electrical transmissions from one cell to another which produce thoughts, conscious actions, and unconscious corporal maintenance.  I love the human brain and feel that it is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind, especially being that it helps us to shape who we are.

If nature and/or God can evolve a human or animal brain, why can it not evolve a plant compound that absorbs all solar light? Plants have been around much longer than animals with brains, and developing a chlorophyll or other pigment that absorbs all the green light seems a pretty basic task considering the other accomplishments of the creation.

So why can’t plants absorb all the green light?  If they did, then they would be black.  If plants were black, what would that do to the beautiful world around us?  Remember that only in recent years, maybe the last 100-200, has man been appreciably separated from ubiquitous foliage by the urban sprawl of industrialism.  My belief is that plants are green because God wanted us to have vibrant color in the world around us.  Plant life plays a major role in the beauty of this world.  In fact, many of Earth’s most beautiful destinations are hailed for their greenery.  I fear it would be less so if all they had was blackery.

Would God really change the biology of plants just to give us color?  It has worked out hasn’t it?  Our world is not lacking in oxygen, which is graciously provided by green algae and plants, and the trees and foods the Earth produces have sustained man for millenia.  Don’t forget that this planet was created for man, for a place for us to come and live and learn and grow.  Would a loving God who wants His children to be happy and enjoy every second of life do anything less than provide a beautiful place to sweat out our mortal existence?  I believe that plants are green because they are more beautiful that way, and God wants to provide us with beauty to make our mortal existence more joyous.

So why aren’t plants black?  Because God loves His children.


2 thoughts on “Why aren’t plants black?

  1. Systems Thinker

    Concerning the idea of evolution. There are two theories which need not be forced into the same test tube so to speak. It requires certain axioms that randomness is the most probable explanation. Admittedly my formal training is pure mathematics so I will apply some logic to this dichotomy. Evolution and natural selection need not be equivalent. We can observe cellular mutations which could lead to positive changes which are maintained by a species but we have zero evidence about what causes those “random” mutations.

    There is no possible way science can, or ever will, provide any evidence for the cause of these mutations. To call them random is based on faith of how the mutations occur without any scientific basis. A set of belief axioms is the only way to justify that position. It is an insult to logic to claim that what you believe is science, even if that is the predominant view of scientists. Believers often make this travesty on science also. Don’t force what you believe into the same realm of what is observable if it doesn’t fit. There is no need to do that. Randomness can never be justified by observation. Science was not designed to answer that type of questions.

    • divinescientist

      Interesting thought. I had not thought that the God could possibly guide genetic mutations.

      You bring up a very good point about natural selection. It is not the same as evolution, however it seems to be the generally-accepted mechanism through which evolution occurs. In any case, your comment makes me realize that I should be less opinionated in future posts and more focused on what is obviously truth. I spoke with a co-worker about the subject of this blog, and he said that it’s very difficult to talk about science and faith together. I am beginning to realize that I have taken on a greater challenge than anticipated and need to be careful with speculations and stick to observed truth, not just interesting thoughts. In fact, I think I will go back into this post and re-word it to be a little less opinion-based and to serve the purpose for which I originally included it: to state that God-guided evolution is a possibility but that a godless evolution is highly unlikely.

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