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Meditation 176
Mustard Seeds and Sycamore Trees

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I saw an advertisement for a Christian church which stated "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore, be uprooted and transplanted into the sea, and it would obey you."

I found this to be a rather strange claim, as I have heard nothing about any of the faithful achieving this feat. Ever! But the quotation is biblically based on Luke 17:6. In the King James version, we find:

"And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you."

A sycamine tree is not a sycamore, but a black mulberry, and mulberry tree can be found as a translation in some newer versions, as can fig tree in others. No doubt, there are also translations referring to a sycamore, most likely a fig sycamore.. But really, the type of tree is irrelevant.

The implication is that if you had just a little bit of faith, the mustard seed being considered by the bible to be the smallest seed, you could tell a large tree to move into the ocean, and it would do so on its own volition...

And yet...

We see no trees heading down the highway en route to the ocean in response to requests from the faithful. Nor are there any reports of just one of these miraculous events occurring at any time over the past 2000 years.

Perhaps Shakespeare's Birnam Wood moved, but that was only branches and leaves used as camouflage, not the trees uprooting themselves. The trees of Tolkien's Fangorn Forest may have been more mobile than those in Birnham Wood, but there is no claim that the author was writing about an actual event. In neither case were these tree movements were generated by faith. And in the real world, we do not see trees voluntarily removing their roots from the ground and either marching off to battle or heading down to the ocean for a dip.

There is a similar passage at Matthew 17:20 which is probably more familiar:

"If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove."

And yet...

We see no mountains moving in response to requests from the faithful. Even Mohammed ended up by going to the mountain when it would not come to him.

Given the numbers of the true believers, it would be remarkable if none of them had tried to move a tree or a mountain by faith alone. And yet, there have been absolutely no successful attempts. This total failure says a lot about the value of faith.

And verily I say unto you:[1]

If you had faith as large as this sycamine tree, or even as great as that mountain, you could say to this mustard seed, fly into the ocean, and it would ignore you.[2]


  1. If anyone is looking for psychic predictions for 2004 as a follow up to Meditation 6, this particular forecast will have to suffice.
  2. Unless, of course, the breeze happens to be blowing in that direction.



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