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Ltryptophan's avatar

Are we designed more intelligently than plants?

Asked by Ltryptophan (9105 points ) March 24th, 2011

Plants use the sun to produce their own food. Arguably this use of an inorganic energy source is a better design than our own methods of consuming energy to support life.

Of course I would say that for this reason plants are designed superiorly to all other living things, and that the only possible exception would be humanity because of our advanced intelligence.

As the tenet of my argument I offer that it is almost impossible, if not actually impossible for us to continue to live without plants. But plants are not so dependent on us.

Please help me out here…Am I getting this wrong?

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22 Answers

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
crazydreams's avatar

I think they are, and the day they find their voices and legs, we are in big trouble!

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Nullo's avatar

That depends on what you want to do. Plants are quite efficient in the energy department, but you’ll notice that they don’t do anything else. People and animals are less efficient in terms of energy acquisition and usage, but they also have a much wider range of features like mobility, a proper sensorium, and the ability, however limited, to form relationships.
@RareDenver Oh, dry up.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Spreader's avatar

Yes, But we should be very glad that plant life in its myriad varieties appeared on the earth ahead of mankind, for it is essential to all animal and human life. The Bible describes vegetation as coming into existence prior to animals and depicts the Creator as indicating that he had a design in bringing forth vegetation first when he said to the first man and woman: “Here I have given to you all vegetation bearing seed which is on the surface of the whole earth and every tree on which there is the fruit of a tree bearing seed. To you let it serve as food. And to every wild beast of the earth and to every flying creature of the heavens and to everything moving upon the earth in which there is life as a soul I have given all green vegetation for food.”—Gen. 1:29, 30.
Plant life includes the vegetable phytoplankton of the sea, basic to sustaining fish and other marine creatures. Vegetation, from grasses to trees, is the foundation of the “food chain” on the land. This is because no animal can manufacture its own food. But plants do this work. By the complex process of photosynthesis, not yet fully understood or duplicated by man, plants convert carbon dioxide, water and sunlight energy into carbohydrates and oxygen. Absorbing sun energy, the plant also utilizes minerals from the soil to make fat, protein, starch, vitamins and other products that provide foodstuffs for animal life. Animals and humans breathe oxygen that “fuels” the conversion of the carbohydrates to produce water and chemical energy, by which the other plant products are assimilated into their bodies. For plants to serve their indispensable purpose as the foundation of all animal life, they, or their fruit, must be eaten. Accordingly, plants must have a means of propagation in order to continue as a food source. They must die, decay and be renewed, reproducing their kind regularly and indefinitely. Do you find design in this arrangement? If so, it cannot be mere coincidence.

AdamF's avatar

The answer depends entirely on what you are seeing as the goal. You also have to be clear with respect to how you understand species to arise. If you start with by taking it for granted that species were designed, then you’re going to end up with a very different answer than if you start with where the scientific evidence is, which is that species are not designed, but evolve.

That said, I think you are correct to highlight the importance that plants play with supporting much of life on earth. But I would also point out that many plants do depend on other non-plant species for survival, via pollination, protection, dispersal, and regeneration. So it’s no longer a one-way street. I’d also point out that the first life on Earth didn’t photosynthesize, that came later.

niki's avatar

Wow..so,..time for humans to learn from the plants? (instead of continuing their foolish & destructive ways of living)

LuckyGuy's avatar

I always thought the Euglena was pretty neat. It has a flagellum for locomotion. It has chloroplasts so it can make its own food when it has sunlight, water and nutrients. When those resources are not available it becomes carnivorous and eats other bits and critters that fit.
If I were the design engineer in charge, I’d give humans chloroplasts in the form of spirogyra instead of useless hair.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Neither plants or humans were designed.

Each species exploits a unique source of sustenance. Plants exploit the nutrients in the ground and sunlight, herbivores exploit the plants growing all around them, and carnivores exploit the herbivores growing around them. None is ‘better’ than the other. Plants do their thing, and we do ours. Sure we depend on plants, but some plants are better off because of us. For example, how many flowers grow in the wild, compared to the number in garden beds? Humans have vastly increased the populations of domesticated vertebrates simply by farming – I imagine the same is true for many thousands of plant species.

mattbrowne's avatar

Unlike plants we can be active day or night, eat day or night and move day or night.

marinelife's avatar

Plants also take nutrition from the soil.

Plants are designed to be fodder for us and for animals.

They are designed to work together with animals and humans to form an ecosystem.

They are not designed more intelligently that people.

LostInParadise's avatar

How do you measure the success of a design? Ants can be found on all continents except the Antarctic and have adapted to a wide range of environments. Some species have mastered certain skills, like farming and weaving. They have a greater collective biomass than we do and are not in danger of obliterating themselves.

crisw's avatar

No, because neither animals nor humans are intelligently designed- our unintelligent design is one of the proofs for evolution.

Evolution has no goals and works toward no ends. It is, in the words of Richard Dawkins, a blind watchmaker. It cannot look forward and see where it should go.

And, of course, plants do need animals to live (all ecosystems are intertwined.) Animals provide their fertilizer, spread their seeds, prune their growth, etc.

bolwerk's avatar

Neither are designed, except arguably by human breeding initiatives (which only existed for several thousand years now). Plants evolved to survive, and so did we. Plants have one major advantage over us too: we need them more than they need us.

flutherother's avatar

We depend on plants to live and plants depend upon minerals and soil. If the only purpose to existence is survival the rocks can do that better than us. Life is always going to die and evolve.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I agree with @FireMadeFlesh and @crisw, duh. There is more diversity in plants than in humans, there are incredible mechanisms for their diverse environments. They’re ‘designed’ well, yes but it has nothing to do with us.

Plucky's avatar

I agree with @Simone_De_Beauvoir who agrees with @FireMadeFlesh and @crisw :P

GA’s :)

PhiNotPi's avatar

Plants do have advantages over us, such as photosynthesis. But humans also have advantages over plants. We can actively search for food and water, for example. If there is a drought, the plants can’t do anything about it, but humans can just move. In modern times, we have developed ways to distribute water, so that it has become, in many places, an “on-demand” resource. Doen’t talk about how unlucky we are before you relise how lucky we are.

Nullo's avatar

@PhiNotPi Perhaps the greatest deciding factor: people can eat plants, but plants can’t eat people.

johndoe88882222's avatar

yes. but if i lose my job to a plant one day, i’ll change my mind.

darkpyre1's avatar

Plants cant avoid forest fires or logging companies. People can. While some plants can easily outlast humans they cant avoid fatality as well as we can :D

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