The poster outside a church in my neighbourhood informs all who pass by that ‘the Earth is the Lord’s and everything that is in it’ (Psalm 24.1). Christians seem to think it’s important that their deity is the one who made the universe and life in this particular small part of it. Some even go so far as to say their God (though being Jewish he wasn’t their God back then, of course) made the world and all of its occupants including ourselves, literally within 6 days, about 6,000 years ago. I suppose that’s where you end up if your premise is that mythical beings, like ol’ Jehovah, actually exist. A third of Americans believe in Creation, innumerable web-sites insist an Intelligent Designer is responsible for life on Earth and street preachers are happy to tell you that evolution is a lie. ‘Were you there?’ asks Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, as if this clinches the deal.
But let’s be generous. Let’s concede that we don’t know how life started on this planet – because we don’t – and let’s jump to the conclusion that therefore it must’ve been the Christian God. It’s not a very convincing line of reasoning, I know, but I’m being generous as I say. So let’s acknowledge that the Lord did indeed make hummingbirds and butterflies, roses and angel fish, lambs and tygers and all other bright and beautiful things, more or less in their present form.
But that means we’ll also have to concede that he made mosquitoes, flies, lice, ring-worms, parasites of all descriptions, E-Coli, pneumacoccus, all manner of harmful bacteria, viruses, AIDs, cancer – and on and on. The naturalist David Attenborough points out that Creationists are quick to give credit to their God for hummingbirds but that he himself sees ‘a little child in east Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator.’
How do Christian creationists square their loving God with such harmful creatures?
There are only four possible ‘explanations’ available to them:
1. Harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites were ‘good’ when God first made them (Genesis 1.31). Then, like everything else, they become perverted when Adam and Eve ate some forbidden fruit.
But this creates more questions than it answers. What were these creatures like in their original forms? How did they live, when their ‘life-cycle’ depends on them infecting other forms? How did they change from being ‘good’ into the creatures they are today? It can’t have been by the process we know as evolution because, of course, evolution is a lie.
2. The Devil made them to plague mankind. He even made sure they survived Noah’s flood – no doubt in the bodies of Noah’s family and the animals supposedly on the Ark.
But if Satan did create them, doesn’t that make him as clever as God in his own way? (I know, I know, the devil doesn’t exist either but I’m trying to think like a Christian here). In any case, why would God let him? Ultimately, he’s responsible for his creation.
3. God made them because, even from the beginning, infections, infestations and disease were all part of what he considered ‘good’.
If this is the case, what an evil bastard he is, indistinguishable from Satan himself.
4. God, the Intelligent Designer just set things in motion at the beginning before leaving evolution to do his work for him.
But, as Darwin pointed out, evolution is a mindless, haphazard, wasteful process that relies heavily on sex and death. What is a supposedly loving, intelligent designer doing using it to bring about his creation? Did he forget that evolution is lie?
Which leaves us with the fact that if God designed and created all life intelligently, as many Christians want to believe, then much of his creation shows little sign of either his love or his intelligence. It does, however, show every sign of having come about as the result of a mindless, haphazard, wasteful process, in which all life-forms occupy their own particular niche to which they have adapted and have evolved, through an infinite amount of sex and death, into the life-forms we see today – hummingbirds and eye-burrowing worms included.