Printed from http://tektonics.org/seeddie.php
John 12:24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (cf. 1 Cor. 15:36)
Critics say Jesus offers here (and Paul in 1 Cor.) a fiction that seeds literally die, which is scientifically false.
Even on the surface this objection moves too fast -- the word used for "die" (apothnesko) carries both a literal and a figurative meaning, usually with reference to death in sin (cf. Rom. 5:15). Critics assume that apothnesko equates with our modern idea of clinical death -- but how can this be so, since such a concept did not yet exist, with medical textbooks thousands of years in the future?
For this objection to work, Skeptics must show that apothnesko means only the total extinguishing of life signs and of living matter in a given organism, and that this concept applies not only to animal matter, but to plant matter as well. As it is, that Jesus draws a parallel here to his resurrection -- a case in which his body did not get to decay to any real extent -- suggests rather a view in which seeds retained the spark of life in them even as their outer shells perished.
A seed which bears fruit is no longer a seed at all -- it is something else, and for all intents and purposes, the seed is dead. Likewise a person who has died becomes a different creature upon resurrection (as Paul indicates).