The cruelty of nature

A topic not addressed frequently enough by Christians is the cruelty of nature. Not only does the earth quake and bleed like a diseased man, killing those unlucky enough to get in the way, but it visits real disease and plague on us. Flesh-eating bacteria and HIV. Genetic disorders and parasites.

And we share this suffering with our fellow animals. Prey eaten alive, sometimes from the inside. Nervous systems co-opted by parasites into committing suicide. The routine decimation of offspring (sometimes by their own parents) as they emerge from eggs and nests.

How can believers in a beneficent God not be bothered by this? How can they accept the facile biblical description of God’s creation as a beautiful, harmonious garden made for our pleasure?

Ironically, one of the reasons religious people eschew evolution by natural selection is that it strikes them as cruel and barbaric. Yet natural cruelty and barbarism lie all around them, ready for them to see if only they cared to look. Instead, many believers seem to maintain a fairy-tale view of nature, perhaps instilled in them as children, that has almost no basis in reality. Humans, they believe, are the single dirty smudge of imperfection on the grand design of nature.

This simply isn’t the case. Nature is beautiful, yes (or at least, we’ve evolved to experience it as beautiful). But nature is also mercilessly cruel and staggeringly wasteful. Is that really what a kind, loving God would create?

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9 Responses to The cruelty of nature

  1. Er..

    God appears to be “mercilessly cruel and staggeringly wasteful” in some of His actions within the OT, if you think about it. There are an awful lot of deaths. Take Noah and the Ark for one… the whole world was wiped out, including all the animals.

    I don’t think believers are under any illusions about God, like you think they are. We have a very healthy respect of Him.

  2. Keith says:

    Since when should merciless cruelty and staggering waste command our respect? What an odd idea.

  3. I think this is better known as “the fear of God” or words fron the Bush admin. “shock & awe”… I dont always understand God’s methods nor even approve but I do trust His judgment nevertheless. It would appear tho that God can be harsh just as nature can be.He is evidently not to be messed with and a healthy respect of Him seems wise to me.

  4. Keith says:

    You make him sound a bit like a wild animal! Dangerous and unpredictable. And this is supposed to be the God of love? OK…

  5. I DO think God is a god of love and is capable of loving us more than we can even fathom but He is holy and just as well; it’s complex. I don’t think we can begin to understand the entire nature of God, thus people try and simplify Him and often appear to want to make Him into what He isn’t.The bible will show you who and what God is, Keith. It will show you all sides of Him. Youll learn more thru the sacrifice Christ made.There is so much to know.

  6. Keith says:

    You are quite right that the Bible shows us who and what God is.

    And as I read the Bible, I get a strong impression that God is very obviously the creation of the people who wrote it. Indeed, God seems to have precisely the type of character, replete with anachronisms and inconsistencies, that we would expect to be generated by authors from diverse cultures spanning many centuries. When the culture was violently inclined, so also was their God. When the culture became more pacific, so also did their God, and so on.

  7. I won’t argue with you about your present point of view on who God is. What I’m suggesting is that you simply read the bible, beginning with the NT, cover to cover, slowly. I’m also asking that you consider praying, despite your unbelief, FIRST. Have an open mind. Give this a chance. Approach God, despite your unbelief and ask Him to show you who He is through the bible, beginning with the New Testament first. Then read the OT. When you’ve finished, I would very much like to know how it went….

    Do a post on it.

    I think that in order to be fair to what I’m suggesting, you really must be open-minded enough to attempt prayer, despite not believing in He in whom you are praying to. Give God a chance an open-minded, fair & square opportunity to make Himself known to you.

    What do you say?

  8. Keith says:

    Warrioress: As I said under my other post, I’ve spent more than enough time of my life praying and reading the Bible. I know what it’s like to be a believing Christian.

  9. there is no offense intended, Keith, but the evidence presented suggests otherwise. I thought you might try again but of course this is your call. I do hope to read about your Christian experience at some point as this would help to fill in the missing pieces of the story of how you arrived where you are today, spiritually speaking. I didnt forget your Christian experiences; it’s that I have no clue of how involved or devout you were within them; this is why I suggest a reread of the bible with God as your guide.

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