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Plants could have survived the Flood (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Plants could have survived the Flood (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CH542:

All existing kinds of plants could have survived Noah's Flood.

Source: Woodmorappe, John, 1996. Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study. Santee, CA: Institute for Creation Research, pp. 153-162.

CreationWiki response:

In wording this claim Talk Origins has reduced an entire chapter to one sentence. In addition Talk Origins is ignoring the effects of post-Flood adaptation indicating that many plants may be more sensitive than their pre-Flood ancestors. (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Not all plants could survive the Flood.
  • Many plants (seeds and all) would be killed if soaked for several months in water, especially salt water.

Woodmorappe deals with this by indicating that some seeds have protective covers (like pine cones) before being released from the plant that would keep the seeds from getting soaked. Floating on or in any number of types of floating debris would also protect them.

Furthermore, such sensitivity could be the result of post-Flood adaptation.

* Some plants don't produce seeds; they would have been killed when the Flood either uprooted or covered them.
  • Not all seeds could survive a year before germinating [Garwood 1989; Benzing 1990; Densmore and Zasada 1983].

Both of these problems are most likely the the result of post-Flood adaptation. It is possible that these seedless plants had ancestors that could have survived being uprooted or reproduced by vegetative propagation. The same could be said for plants whose seed would not survive a full year before germinating. Furthermore, such a limited seed life could have degenerated from a longer seed life that could have survived the Flood.

2. The Flood was an ecological catastrophe. Creationists credit it with eroding and redepositing sediments miles thick, raising mountains, carving immense canyons, and even repositioning continents. This alone would doom many plants to extinction, even if they or their seeds survived the Flood.

Some may have gone extinct for just this reason.

* Most of the world's seeds would have been buried under many feet -- even miles -- of sediments. This would keep them from sprouting.

This is a straw man argument since by definition those seeds and plants buried too deep would not survive.

* Many plants require particular soil conditions to grow. The Flood eroded away all the topsoil, which provides the optimum conditions for most plants.

Such special requirements are most likely the result of post-Flood adaptation and as such it is not relevant.

  • Some seeds will germinate only after being exposed to fire. After the Flood, there was nothing to burn.

Besides the possibility of these being post-Flood adaptations, the Flood would have left wood and other material that could have burned when it dried out.

  • Most flowering plants are germinated by insects, but the only insects around after the Flood were those Noah carried aboard the Ark. The surviving seeds would have had to find the proper conditions of soil type and burial depth in a small area around where the Ark landed.

It can be shown that it would be possible for insects to survive outside the Ark. But even if they were all on the Ark, some insects are prolific and can fly great distances. So some insects could have spread around the world quickly after the Flood, particularly if encouraged to do so by God.

  • Plants live not as individuals, but as communities. If you cut down the redwoods, you kill not only the redwoods but also dozens of other plants that depend on the community structure. After the Flood, there were no ecological communities, only bare land. Any plant that depends on a mature community (for shade, shelter, humidity, or support, for example) could not survive until such a community matures, which usually takes years to decades.

These communities are almost definitely post-Flood adaptations, making this point moot.

  • Woodmorappe (throughout his book, not just regarding plants) makes two fundamental errors:

a. He notes that "many" could survive the flood conditions, disregarding the significant number which could not, and which are alive anyway.

This a misrepresentation of Woodmorappe's work. In the areas where "'He notes that 'many' could survive the flood conditions," he is not ignoring those modern varieties that could not, but simply providing a list of traits that would have aided survival.

Woodmorappe spends the last five chapters of the book dealing with post-Flood adaptation, a factor ironically ignored by the evolutionists at Talk Origins. The fact is that those modern varieties that could not have survived the Flood are descended from parents that could and did survive, but have lost some degree of flexibility though adaptation to post-Flood environments.

b. He assumes that plants and animals can live in isolation, ignoring that life lives in, and depends upon, ecologies. Simply preserving plants and animals would keep them alive for a very short time. Noah would have had to rebuild many entire ecologies to maintain the life we see today.

Besides the fact that Talk Origins is ignoring post-Flood adaptation, they are ignoring the most important piece to the puzzle, God. It is not Noah who would have rebuilt ecologies, but God Himself.

3. Evolution predicts the geographical distribution of plant kinds that we observe, with many species occurring on one continent and not others. Flood geology predicts that this pattern would not occur. Flood theory fails.

WRONG! Flood geology predicts no such thing, so this is just another straw man argument. Talk Origins is confusing species and kind. The Biblical term kind is broader than species and most often refers to genus, but can be as broad as family. The genera of most species that are limited to one continent are found all over the world. The individual species are post-Flood varieties that have adapted to the habitat they are found in. Even if a particular genus, or even family, is found on only one continent, it means only that that particular kind was unsuccessful any place else.