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?