Thursday, April 14, 2016

A New Tree of Life

On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
  Revelation 22:2

The tree of life is an important theme in scripture and our Christian bible ends with the image of such a tree, as a symbol of hope. The tree of life shows up in other spiritual and religious traditions as well. In the movie Avatar there are the massive hometrees and the Tree of Souls, which is, essentially, the tree of life.  There is a film called The Tree of Life which was both praised and despised, depending on the viewer or critic.

The tree of life was also a concept embraced by Charles Darwin. Nearly two hundred years ago he used the metaphor to describe the relationships between organisms. While scientists now view his tree as inadequate in MANYpects, it was the inspiration for subsequent visualizations.

The latest version has been offered by a team of researchers from Berkeley University. It shows that bacteria make up a significant portion of this tree, and we are still becoming aware of the great diversity of that bacterial world.

As a Christian who reconciles trust in a Creator with the processes of the natural world included in what we term evolution I find this fascinating. Such a vast, complex world we live in! When I read Genesis it's not the notion of a six-day creation which I take to heart. It is the caution that as we come to the tree of good and evil we must be humble and realize that we make lousy gods. If we hope to heal the planet a sense of wonder and a commitment to humility are essential.


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