Tree Hugging Revival | The Institute for Creation Research
Tree Hugging Revival
If you’ve ever taken a hike, then you’ve enjoyed the beauty of trees. They are blessings we should thank God for.1 Trees are exhibits of God’s creation, corroborating Genesis history.1,2 They provide oxygen, homes for creatures, and many other benefits. But nowadays there is a renewed promotion of their huggability—thanks to social distancing customs catalyzed by COVID-19 contagion.3 Should we hug trees for therapeutic benefit?

The Icelandic Forestry Service is encouraging people to hug trees while social distancing measures prevent them from hugging other people …. Forest rangers in Hallormsstaður National Forest in East Iceland have been diligently clearing snow-covered paths to ensure that locals can enjoy the great outdoors without coming in too close a contact with other guests, but can also get up close and personal with their forest friends. “When you hug [a tree], you feel it first in your toes and then up your legs and into your chest and then up into your head,” enthuses forest ranger Þór Þorfinnsson. “It’s such a wonderful feeling of relaxation and then you’re ready for a new day and new challenges…. People should take their time, Þór says, to reap the full benefits of their tree-hugging. “Five minutes is really good, if you can give yourself five minutes of your day to hug [a tree], that’s definitely enough,” he says.”3

It seems that Ranger Þór is promoting tree-hugging for some kind of emotional-therapeutic benefit. Egocentric show-offs might try tree-hugging just to gain attention (for acting silly in public). However, Ranger Þór is endorsing tree-hugging to “feel good”— perhaps to distract some from their feelings of disorientation or worry, as the world changes threateningly in perilous times.

This seems goofy, yet not as extreme as tree-hugging done by those who venerate and embrace “ancient trees.” Those people act as if ancient trees are mystical-spiritual “grandmothers” whose wisdom and love somehow emanates upon those humans who reverently embrace them.4 But for nature-worshippers, religious tree-hugging is for absorbing “ancient wisdom”, an animistic substitute for seeking wisdom from God.5 Substituting nature for God, of course, is idolatry.6 Actually, nature worship, whether pantheistic or polytheistic, is nothing new—yet nature worship has not gone extinct either.4,7 It is idolatry to gratefully “adore” them, as if they deserve credit and thanks for blessing us with air, fruit, nuts, and wood; it is equally looney to confess one’s sins to potted plants, an inane and idolatrous misplacement of moral accountability.7

But the folly of nature-worshippers should not distract us from appreciating the value of trees—and thanking God for making trees.1

So, go ahead and take a nature hike—with family or by yourself—and appreciate God’s Creatorship as you look at His many marvels of creation, including the trees.8 But reserve your hugs for your family and friends.

References
1. Johnson, J. J. S. Arbor Day: Planting Trees in April. Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org April 24, 2020, accessed May 4, 2020.
2. Critics of Genesis have tried to use so-called “annual growth rings” to discredit the Bible’s accuracy, suggesting that tree rings require more post-Flood time than the Bible reports—but this notion fails when real science refutes the supposedly annual character of tree growth rings. Dr. John Morris notes: “But how valid is the assumption of one ring per year in a climate where tree-growing conditions are variable? … Scientists have observed that numerous ‘normal’ conditions can produce an extra ring or no ring at all. Weather was fingered as the most ‘guilty’ culprit. Unusual storms with abundant rainfall interspersed with dry periods can produce multiple rings, essentially one per major storm. Thus, the basic assumption of tree ring dating is demonstrably in error.” Morris, J. 2012. Tree Ring Dating. Acts & Facts. 41(10): 15.
3. Kyzer, L. 2020. Forest Service Recommends Hugging Trees While You Can’t Hug Others. Iceland Review. Posted on IcelandReview.com April 10, 2020, accessed May 4, 2020.
4. In years past, this author has served as onboard lecturer (ecology, geography, and history) for four different cruise ships touring Southeast Alaska, visiting coastal areas previously dominated by Alaskan Native tribes (including Tlingits, Haidas, and Tsimshians). Even now animistic tribal religions are sometimes expressed by tribesfolk who adoringly hug ancient trees (called “grandmothers”) in efforts to gain arboreal wisdom and ancestral “love.”
5. James 1:5-7.
6. Romans 1:21-25.
7. Compare Johnson, J. J. S. 2016. Norse and Germanic Mythology. In World Religions and Cults: Moralistic, Mythical and Mysticism Religions, vol. 2. B. Hodge, R. Patterson, eds. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 271-288. Also see Johnson, J. J. S. New York Seminarians Worship Plants. Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org January 7, 2020, accessed May 4, 2020.
8. Not all Icelanders are promoting tree-hugging; some simply recommend taking nature hikes in accordance with whatever opportunities you may have, in light of present circumstances. See Ćirić, J. 2020. Iceland’s National Parks Prepare to Welcome Local Tourists This Summer. Iceland Review. Posted on IcelandReview.com April 29, 2020, accessed May 4, 2020.

*Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.
The Latest
CREATION PODCAST
Are Dinosaurs in the Bible? | The Creation Podcast: Episode 26
If the Bible is true, wouldn't it mention dinosaurs? If God made dinosaurs, when did He make them? Did they live with humans? What ultimately happened...

NEWS
Roe v. Wade Overturned
On Friday, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, overruled its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that purported to recognize a constitutional right to...

NEWS
Anthropologist Wows Scientists
Jeremy DeSilva of Dartmouth College gave an evening presentation at the end of this year’s week-long American Society of Mass Spectrometry conference....

NEWS
Plesiosaurs: Designed for Swimming in the Beginning
Plesiosaurs (“near lizards”) were an amazing group of aquatic reptiles. Their clear design includes unique flippers and streamlined bodies...

CREATION.LIVE PODCAST
Natural Selection Part 3: A Seductive Swindle | Creation.Live...
Darwin’s idea of natural selection involves long ages of trial and error, making it a fundamentally death-driven concept. Could such a process...

CREATION.LIVE PODCAST
Natural Selection Part 2: A Poor Personification | Creation.Live...
Charles Darwin compared natural selection to a human breeder, but the analogy has faced substantial criticism, even from within Darwinian camps. What...

CREATION.LIVE PODCAST
Natural Selection Part 1: A Darwinian Deception | Creation.Live...
In his book On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin outlined the theory of evolution by means of natural selection. But what was Darwin’s purpose...

NEWS
Imaginary Dinosaur Science Runs Wild in Jurassic World: Dominion
Wild imagination abounds in the new Jurassic World: Dominion movie. Even a fully-feathered dinosaur is shown swimming below the ice at one point. But this...

ANNOUNCEMENTS
Bring Your Family to the ICR Discovery Center and Celebrate the...
The ICR Discovery Center Anniversary Celebration on September 3, 2022, will unveil new science exhibits, hands-on activities for the whole family, the...

CREATION PODCAST
Where Did Our Sun Come From? | The Creation Podcast: Episode...
What makes our sun so unique? Where does the sun get its power? Looking at the evidence, how old is our sun? On this episode of The Creation Podcast,...