Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | July 14, 2021

Genius Dandelions

(4 Minute Read. 14Jul2021)

In the preceding article, I Love Dandelions!, I explained some reasons why I’m particularly fond of the bright yellow flowers most people consider weeds.

Dandelions do a lot of beneficial work for people that is often taken for granted.

Dandelions at Work

Dandelion leaves are highly complex little energy-conversion factories that work very hard on sunny days. Each cell in a dandelion leaf has hundreds of component parts and subsystems for nutrient and waste transportation, for information storage and transfer, for reproduction, and for manufacturing essentials for its life.

In millions of dandelion leaf cells at incomprehensible speeds, thousands of chemical reactions occur every second in an organized, integrated way. Via photosynthesis, dandelion leaves make carbohydrates and release oxygen.

Photosynthesis (photo=light, synthesize=put together) takes carbon from carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air and builds the carbon into the matter of the dandelion. It is the process by which dandelion leaves turn light plus CO2 and water into glucose sugar plus oxygen. Photosynthesis converts light energy into chemical energy. Plants fix CO2 into carbohydrates which are used in forming other organic compounds like cellulose, fats, and amino acids (building blocks for proteins). Carbohydrates fuel humans and animals who convert plant-stored energy for their use.

By the Great Creator‘s design, almost all energy for life and technology derives from the sun. From towering trees to wildflowers to microscopic algae, plants — including dandelions — continuously convert light energy to chemical energy. All life depends on the photosynthetic work plants do: storing sunlight as chemical energy and producing oxygen to breathe.

Even now biologists do not fully understand photosynthesis, the process whereby plants convert sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water into sugars, starches, fats, and oxygen. This provides food for people and animals along with renewed air, as the oxygen is released into the atmosphere. Without photosynthesis, the sun’s energy would be useless and life could not exist.

Photosynthesis is the primary supply source for the oxygen we breathe. It also produces all the organic (carbon-based) compounds and most of the energy needed for plant and animal life. God’s provision of food, energy, and oxygen through plants via photosynthesis is so abundant that we take it for granted and rarely think about it or thank Him for it.

Photosynthesis involves hundreds of chemical reactions among many different complex molecules occurring in the correct order at exactly the right times. It’s an extremely complicated process as perusal of the Wikipedia article on photosynthesis will show. Yet many scientists insist on proclaiming it all developed gradually by accident, instead of acknowledging the work of the intelligent Great Creator who designed the process for His own glory and for the benefit of plants, animals, and people.

Dandelion Solar Panels

Dandelion leaves are “solar panels” packed with photosynthetic cells. Chlorophyll is the green pigment in dandelion leaves which absorbs light for use in photosynthesis. It is contained inside cells in organelles called chloroplasts. A square millimeter can contain up to 800,000 chloroplasts. Animals do not have chloroplasts.

Chlorophyll is an essential part of photosynthesis. Sunlight hitting chlorophyll molecules causes them to vibrate and emit charged electrons that energize the sugar-making process in the leaf. Chlorophyll molecules absorb the red and blue parts of sunlight and reflect the green. That’s why dandelion leaves look green.

Model of chlorophyll molecule

Model of the chlorophyll a molecule
C-black, Mg-green, N-blue, O-red, H-white

Chlorophyll is a highly complex molecule comprised of carbon (C), magnesium (Mg), nitrogen (N), oxygen (O), and hydrogen (H) atoms. It exists in multiple forms in nature. The most common plant form is chlorophyll a with molecular formula C55H72O5N4Mg.

For a plant to make a chlorophyll molecule requires at least 17 different enzymes, each of which is itself a complex molecule. The complicated chlorophyll molecule did not arise by chance. It was designed by the benevolent Great Creator for the benefit of all His creatures — animals and people.

Photosynthesis is superbly efficient, capturing 95% of the light energy hitting a leaf! Today’s solar panels convert only 11-15% of the solar energy into usable electricity. (See Efficiency of Solar Panels) The Great Creator‘s dandelions far outperform the solar cells designed by human geniuses. Dandelion leaves are more than six times as efficient as man’s best solar cells. Doesn’t this put dandelions in the genius category?

Today researchers strive to understand photosynthesis better, hoping to improve solar cells. If efficient methods for storing sunlight energy falling on roofs could be developed, all domestic energy needs would be satisfied. Despite vaunted knowledge of physics and chemistry, man has not developed effective and economic methods of converting light energy to chemical energy. He depends almost entirely on plants to do this for food and fuel.

Genius Design

Chlorophyll and photosynthesis testify of a Designer and Creator, for they could not have arisen by chance accident. It is utterly impossible for chlorophyll to have developed by itself. It is utterly impossible for photosynthesis to have developed by itself. Such a staggeringly complicated molecule and process couldn’t have randomly gradually evolved by chance because there are too many interdependent complex component parts, subsystems, and processes. These must all be in place and work together to convert light to chemical energy.

There must have been an intelligent mind behind chlorophyll and photosynthesis. Both are testimony to the Great Creator‘s genius. If any single part were missing, the whole incredibly complex system would be useless.

Dandelion Deliberations

“If dandelions were rare and fragile, people would knock themselves out to pay $14.95 a plant, raise them by hand in greenhouses, and form dandelion societies and all that. But, they are everywhere and don’t need us and kind of do what they please. So we call them weeds and murder them at every opportunity.”
— Robert Fulghum

“Next time you see a yardful of sprouting dandelions, note that they look remarkably like things we call “flowers.” And later, when the flowers turn into fluff balls, look closely at one of those fluff balls and ask yourself whether it’s really so unattractive.”
— Robert Wright

“It gives one a sudden start in going down a barren, stoney street, to see upon a narrow strip of grass, just within the iron fence, the radiant dandelion, shining in the grass, like a spark dropped from the sun.”
— Henry Ward Beecher

“Beautiful as a dandelion-blossom golden in the green grass, this life can be.” — Edna St. Vincent Millay

“Killing Jesus was like trying to destroy a dandelion seed-head by blowing on it.”
— Walter Wink

Dandelions are a marvelous creation of the Almighty, full of beauty, nutrition, and practical benefits for mankind. Next time you see a dandelion, munch on a leaf and thank God for dandelions, chlorophyll, photosynthesis, oxygen, and carbon dioxide.

Questions to Ponder

1. How do dandelions reflect God’s glory? Do you think about this when you see them?
2. To what degree is your opinion of dandelions shaped by the prevailing cultural view of them as weeds? What other areas of your thinking are heavily influenced by the zeitgeist of the age?

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

For Christ and His Kingdom. Soli Deo Gloria. Alere Flammam Veritatis.

Read the prequel:
I Love Dandelions!

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday July 14, 2021 A.D.

“Ah Lord GOD! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee.” (Jeremiah 32:17)

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