Is the Tree of Life Dead?

by Ken Ham

What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “tree of life?” Some of us will think of the tree mentioned in the Books of Genesis and Revelation. Others will immediately recall Darwin’s evolutionary ideas about the origin and descent of life.

Evolution Timeline

A recent article discusses why Darwin may have chosen to label his famous branching diagram the Tree of Life. The author notes, “Darwin’s appropriation of the tree of life was no mistake. He had grown up in a devout Unitarian family and knew his Bible well.” It seems likely that Darwin intentionally named his idea of an evolutionary origin of all life after the Bible’s tree of life—after all, he did train to be a clergyman, so he knew the Bible.

Now why did he do this?

Secularizing the Tree of Life?

Well, the author goes on to say, “Darwin had made his genealogical tree more compelling by associating it to religious themes of unity and continuity.” Now this next part is especially interesting: “Secularization may have undermined our hopes of eternal life in heaven, yet evolutionary theory has enabled us to see a genetic continuation in our descendants, whether humans or not. The tree of life is dead; long live the tree of life.”

This writer is saying that Darwin took the idea of the biblical tree of life—and its connotations of eternal life—and was able to secularize it so that now people think of the “genetic continuation in our descendants” rather than the promises of God’s Word as the hope for eternal life. And this writer directly associates Darwin’s work with the increasing secularization of the West and the replacement of God’s Word with evolutionary ideas. Generations have been replacing the true God of creation with the false god of self.

God’s Word Has Been Replaced with Darwin’s Ideas

Sadly, God’s Word has largely been thrown away as outdated and archaic in favor of Darwin’s ideas about the past. Even if Darwin was unintentional about the biblical association of the tree of life, he essentially replaced the biblical tree of life and deceived many people with his false ideas about the past. These individuals are putting their hope in a lie about the past and the future—a lie that has devastating eternal consequences!

Our only hope is the grace and peace with God, offered by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Tragically, the tree of life has been distorted to the point that most people think of the evolutionary tree, not the biblical tree.

The Tree of Life Should Remind Us of God’s Promise

When we think of the tree of life, we should be reminded of God’s promise of eternal life for all believers (John 3:16). We were originally designed to never die, but sin changed everything (Genesis 2:17). Because of sin, we all die (Romans 5:12). But Jesus came to earth as the God-man, died on the Cross to take our penalty (2 Corinthians 5:21), and now offers eternal life to all who will repent and believe (Romans 10:9; Acts 3:19). And in the new heavens and the new earth, we will again see the tree of life (Revelation 22:2) when we dwell with Christ for all eternity. Now that is a true message of hope and life!

Because of our sin in Adam, we were denied access to the tree of life after Adam and Eve were sent out of the Garden of Eden. But we can gain access back to the tree of life through Jesus Christ:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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