Friday, December 19, 2008

Why do leaves change their color? Is it science, God, or both?

Let me start off by saying I am not trying to start a discussion, arguement, or dialogue about the difference between evolution and creationism. I'm not trying to reconcile the two, or make an arguement one way or the other. I'm not that smart.

What you believe is specific to you and I respect that. I'm not one to ever say your wrong. I'm one to try and understand what and why you believe something.

While I did take a couple of years of biology and chemistry, I don't have enough education in either science or theology to make an arguement that leaves turning color is the result of one, or the other. It's just something that I enjoy watching. It makes me feel good and think that everything in life is a little science, a little magic, and a little bit of faith.

Directly in front of the patio of my apartment there are two beautiful crape myrtles. It’s the time of year in Houston that we get to enjoy a moment of fall and the brilliant colors. As I sit on my patio and watch the leaves change, I wonder how much of that change is related to science, how much is related to faith.

Why leaves change colors at a particular time of the year seems to be a fairly well understood chemical phenomenon in the scientific world. In very general terms, the scientific community believes that the reason leaves change color is because of shorter days and cooler temperatures.

Broadly speaking a theory is some kind of belief or claim that explains, asserts, or consolidates some class of claims. A fact however, has an objective reality that can be verified according to an established standard of evaluation.

OK, so, if science has proven by fact and theory why leaves change colors, why do some tree leaves change color and others don’t. If a theory or fact is implicit and definite, why don’t all of the leaves turn the same color at the same time and drop off the tree at the same time? Or why does an elm tree loose it’s leaves when a pine tree doesn’t?

Faith allows me to believe that things exist or happen for no apparent scientific reason, for example Heaven. Know one can prove or disprove that Heaven exists, I just accept it through faith that it does in fact exist.

Through science I know that at a certain time of the year the leaves will change color. Through my faith I enjoy this uncontrollable change and give thanks.

Leaves changing colors is a great example of where science and faith meet as I can all see it happen. Part of the change in the color is due to science, the randomness of it however I believe is God’s way of giving us all a little visual treat before advent. I find it interesting that the liturgical color lent is purple, as are many of the Autumn colors.

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