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Is God a cruel Creator?

We are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20)

Published: 11 August 2018 (GMT+10)
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Ralph D. submitted the following email to our site.

The creation of life on earth might have begun when inorganics melded to form organics, and a creator was not involved.

The origin of life might be another source, such as a creator. The nature of animals on earth is, for the most part, carnivorous. The most common principle among animals in water and on land is they eat other animals. Humankind is the biggest offender. Some wild animals go days and weeks without food. We humans normally eat three times a day. The thought of a loving god, with kindness and mercy forethoughts, would create living systems which kill and eat each other, is disturbing. Nature films and videos often show us birds, reptiles, mammals, fish, etc. hunting, killing, and sometimes, eating their prey. The commentators impart a light, sporting, spirit, to the death. The event was pleasant for the diner, but the dinner didn't enjoy the meal. Some predators kill their prey before eating it. Some, like the hyena, eat their prey while it is still alive, screaming in pain. Some animals can kill and eat their prey without the prey's knowledge. God's kindness and mercy are not reflected in this creation. If there is an infinite number of inhabitable planets in the universe, are their life systems like ours, where animals live by eating other animals? Considering a universe occupied by animals whose religion is kill and eat, or be killed and be eaten, it makes me wonder about the character and merit of the whole system. Considering earth's kill-eat-live nature it makes me wonder about the character and merit of a creator who developed such a bestial system. How often has god seen hyenas eat living animals? The major mystery is how humans developed senses like talking, writing, and reasoning, which empowered them to rule the earth.

Gary Bates, CEO of CMI-US, responds:

I can understand where you are coming from. For many years, as a young man, the world being full of death and cruelty kept me from believing in God, because why would a loving God create a world of suffering? But this view was based upon ignorance about who God is and the true history of the world. This is information that is readily available from the Bible. And also, creation.com has a plethora of articles to answer some of your ideas. I will link you to some of them as we go along and encourage you to take the time to read them. (BTW before submitting a question to our site there is a check box that says you searched it before commenting.)

You are referring to a process of chemical evolution or completely unguided naturalism. If you think that inorganic chemicals can somehow spontaneously meld to form complex organic life, then a little research will reveal that it flies in the face of everything we actually do know about the very processes of science you appeal to. See this comprehensive explanation of what is needed for abiogenesis (or biopoiesis).

Our whole ministry ultimately deals with peoples’ different views of history. You are assuming that God created a world like the one we live in today. But the world we live in today is radically changed from how God created it. All too often people are quick to judge God for all the wrongs that we see in the world! In short, let’s blame Him for it all, while ignoring the fact that He has already provided information that explains why these things exist. We get this information from the Bible, which we also call God’s Word for very good reasons. See How did we get our Bible? But if one is even unwilling to consider this as a possible valid source of information from a supernatural creator, then it reflects a one-sided summary judgment of the facts. It’s a good job our legal system doesn’t work that way, because it actually works and is based upon biblical principles such as seen in Proverbs 18:17 which says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” One should at least consider a reasonable ‘other’ explanation for understanding why the world is the way it is.

For example, if you accept evolution and assume that is the method that God created, then I would have to agree with you that He is a cruel creator—one that has no problem with culling out the weak in some sort of cosmic lottery where only the strongest survive. See (10 dangers of theistic evolution). But this process is completely incompatible with the nature of God and what He said He did in history. We find this history confirmed by science. For instance, you are wrong when you state that most animals are carnivorous. In fact, God created all animals to be vegetarian; most animals are still vegetarian; and even among creatures assumed to be ultra-carnivorous like theropod dinosaurs, sharks, and lions, there are animals that actually ate or eat plant diets.

Moreover, without a Creator to guide us, and if unguided naturalistic processes brought us to this point in history, on what basis do you define wrong or right? I believe our whole concept of morality (e.g. Love your neighbor as yourself) actually comes from the teachings of the Bible. It really has no place under an evolutionary scenario which is all about reproduction to outdo the competition. In a sense, you are using the principles of Christian morality to judge God.

Something is wrong with this world

The very fact that you care and can understand about the suffering of animals is a tacit recognition that something is wrong. This is one example where such a process of evolution, which requires lots of death to ‘create’, is in contrast with what God has revealed to us in His Word when He ultimately proclaimed it all “Very Good.” Bad things in the world and the recognition that ultimately we will all die someday, whether suddenly as a result of an accident or the actions of other people, or whether through illness or aging, should cause one to question our mortality and ask “What happens at the end of it all? Is there life after death?”. If evolution is true, then somehow you were lucky enough to be born, live a few years and then die, with nothing at the end of it all, and there’s not much hope in that. But understanding history from a biblical perspective does supply us with hope.

The Bible’s history reveals God created the world ‘very good’ with no death, suffering, or sin. Creation fell when Adam, thinking he knew better than His Creator, rebelled against Him (sound familiar?), as noted in this article, The Fall was a cosmic catastrophe. As a result, God brought upon a curse of death to all creation (Genesis 3). Now again it would be all too easy to make a summary judgment and blame God for the introduction of death. But again, one needs to understand the big picture at work to understand why. The moment that mankind sinned, he separated himself not only relationally but spiritually from God for all eternity. I.e. because mankind and the original creation was destined to be eternal, we (that’s both you and I) would have been eternally separated from God, and there was nothing we could do of ourselves to be reconciled back to Him. As such, we/you “… were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world” (Ephesians 1:1–2). So, I believe that death and bad things are allowed to continue to help us recognize something is wrong—just as you have done, and it should cause us to look to our Creator for answers. And the good news is the God did do something about it. The solution is Jesus. God in the flesh (Hebrews 1:3) came to this earth and paid the penalty that was ultimately due for our rebellion against God (that’s what sin is). Think of it like a rescue mission from the bondage of an eternal death. A wonderful passage in Ephesians 2:8–9 explains the free gift of salvation that is offered by God:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

This passage reveals that even though we messed up God’s creation (let’s not forget that it ultimately belongs to Him), He loves us so much that He made a way for us to be reconciled back to Him and to be forgiven all of our sins.

Moreover, if God is the Creator described in Genesis then He is more than capable of fulfilling his promise of eternal life in a restored/new Heavens and Earth. This is not going to be some sort of ethereal otherworld without a tangible ‘real’ existence, but a fully restored physical creation where there will be no more death and suffering, including for the new animals that God will create also. See The New Earth.

There are two contrasting histories of death of how death came into this world. One view provides no hope now or in the future. The other provides a correct understanding how death actually came into this world, and it also provides a future hope. I hope you take the time to read some of the links provided and listen to what God’s Word has to say about these issues.

Helpful Resources

Christianity for Skeptics
by Drs Steve Kumar, Jonathan D Sarfati
From
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Readers’ comments

Roseanne A.
Thank u CMI... U all don't know how your ministries were the ones that kept me from believing in evolution and all its frauds... I had lost hope it was like I read some Christian websites to keep me from this but it never answered my questions... I don't know how and when I landed upon your website but at the right time God gave me help.. I'm am a young girl and I was completely given this evolution dose all the time... But at the hardest times.. at the hardest questions on its topics I came up because of you... I argued with my Tr who was experienced for soo many years and I found out he had that kinda bait and switch game in his mind I explained him and at the end he said that I was right... It is all because of you... Though I dont know much abt the age of the earth... But the real challenge and frustration of my Christian journey in Christ is evolution which u have answered I will always support you all and encourage you.. Nd as a youth I will certainly plan to hve the privelege of working with u guys..... Love you all in Christ
Frank S.
Thank you for that clear explanation of why there is suffering and death. God has explained enough to show that he is pure goodness! Questions still remain - Satan tempted, and had previously rebelled, and this is not explained in depth, but enough for us to trust God where there are gaps in our knowledge.
Gina T.
Another approach to Ralph D's comments on the character of God would be to look at a statement in the first chapter of Genesis in verse 29 - "Then God said, 'Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food." The original diet designed by God for humanity, is a plant based diet. Over time, people have moved further and further from God's original ideal for the human diet, until meat eating has became the norm. God in His great wisdom sees fit to grant humanity the freedom of choice. When men demand a flesh diet, God allows this even though it is deleterious in so many ways, as Ralph D has clearly pointed out. Regarding diet, humanity has moved far, far away from the original intent of the Creator. How much better it would be for people's health, for the animals that suffer and die, for the extra pressure meat eating puts on the environment it would be, if humanity would simply follow God's original, superior instruction.
Gary Bates
The subject of diet is rather off topic per the feedback box you agreed to before submitting this comment. But given you raised it, we would, however, disagree with your view about meat eating even if it is a denominational perspective. Pressure on the environment etc. is not really a substantiated statement and an urban myth that has been perpetuated by more radical elements among the Green movement and has sadly been picked up by many. Moreover, if meat eating was so bad for us why did God specifically condone it after the Flood? Would he tell us to do something that was harmful for us? “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything (Genesis 9:3). The only restriction on the meat that God allowed Noah and his descendants to eat was that they were not to eat the blood: “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” (Genesis 9:4, see also Leviticus 17:14). Also Acts 10:10-15 states "And he (Peter became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: 'Rise, Peter; kill and eat.' But Peter said, 'By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.' And the voice came to him again a second time, 'What God has made clean, do not call common.'" So, respectfully, it is actually Scriptural to eat meat (both OT and NT). Of course, people are free to choose whether they do or not but to say that we are straying from some biblical mandate is not correct. Many forget that we are living in a post-Fall world. While vegetation was sufficient before the Fall (and there was also the Tree of Life), plants most likely provided the amino acids and proteins needed to build healthy cells and bodies. Many creationists believe that a lot of these plants could have been destroyed in the Flood. Remember there was no mandate to preserve plants or insects etc. as only two of every air breathing land animal was required on the Ark. Therefore after the Flood it is possible that God allowed Noah and his descendants to eat meat to ensure a healthy supply of proteins.
Ken C.
Your response is well stated… that being said, In creating man with a freewill did God not “tacitly” introduced pain, suffering and cruelty into the world? CS Lewis points out in his book “The Problem of Pain” that our definition of God as love may be true, but our understanding of what love means needs correction. He writes, “If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. And it appears, from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt. He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense”.
Gary Bates
I would prefer to think not of God that He was the author of suffering, but in essence that man got what he asked for. We see many times in Scripture where God warns us about consequences. In short "If you want to go that way, you can have plenty of it, but you won't like it!" I believe that when we see suffering it should remind us that something is wrong, as I reminded the original commenter.
Tracy T.
This is one of the best explanations of why things aren’t right in the world. Great examples of how to make a point by letting the other person use their own sense of right and wrong to recognize the “wrongness” in the world. I will certainly use this approach in my evangelism. Thank you.
Aiden B.
Death should be a reminder of sin. But with every negative situation there is a positive opportunity. For instance, if death never came into existence as a result of sin, then where is the need for the Saviour? Though the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) the opportunity is that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). We cannot blame God for the mess that we have made. Grace is something we do not deserve but has been given to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As for us Christians, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Hopefully while defending Genesis we do not forget the promise of a new heavens and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness (2 Peter 3:13).
Egil W.
Ralph D. writes "Some, like the hyena, eat their prey while it is still alive, screaming in pain." And this problem is one of many reasons why young earth creationism is important - and by far the best way of dealing with what Scriptures say about death, pain, suffering disease and bloodshed coming onto earth after, and only after, Adam and Eve had disobeyed God’s first command, and by that faling into what later became labelled as original sin, which put all of visible creation under a cursed state of being. Creation is to this day in a state of prisonhood to pain and death. Also Darwin and Attenborough has mentioned the pain of nature as elements of their disbelief in Christianity. Well, there’s some merrit to their confusion if they mix ‘paradise’ with prey being eaten alive while it screams in torment, trauma and pain. I will assure Ralph D. this idea (a paradise involving hyenas ripping apart living prey while their scream with bulging eyes of death-terror) is totally, utterly foreign to the Bible (which is a very logical and sound book - but one must read it) which teaches that pain and death came in as a result of sin, that is as consequence of the Fall and as effect of sin. Our sin. For in the first Adam we have all sinned. In the first Adam we keeps reality in this bloody state. Should anyone continue in sin and in disbelief? Particularly when disbelief (the disbelief of Adam and Eve in God’s warning that death would follow transgression) was what brought this endless bloodbath and pain into nature in the firstplace. The wages of sin is death. Death. Should we disbelieve in God’s word for a second longer, if we are offended at the bloodbath going on in nature? When it was disbelief that caused this bloodbath.
Terry D P.
A counterpoint to «/ …why would a loving [good] God create a world of suffering [evil]? /»
In the atheist belief system aka religion, the only alternative to a loving/good Creator/God who inspired men to write the Bible, is the mindless evil god/idol of evolution.
The reader will find in Genesis that the living Creator of the universe created life & death, and good & evil on earth. And that on day six, he thought everything he had just created was very good indeed:
«/ He [the LORD God] said, ‘The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; what if he now reaches out his hand and takes fruit from the tree of life also, eats it and lives for ever?’ So the LORD God drove him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he had been taken. He cast him out, and to the east of the garden of Eden he stationed the cherubim and a sword whirling and flashing to guard the way to the tree of life. /»
So, why do atheists believe that their lifeless/mindless/evil/creator idol/god they call evolution, would ever be capable of thinking that it could create atheists, who can both love and hate their fellow humans?
Lassi P.
Great article. I'd only want to add to it, if you please, that I'd rather take for time being a world with physical death, than a world with sin but no physical death. Just think of all the horrors we sinful fallen people could inflict upon each other if our victims could never die. Uh! That would be a real nightmare! It also wouldn't do for a just God to just kill all those who were "extra evil" in our eyes. If He on the other hand put an artificial (indeed artificial) limit above which people couldn't brake His law without dying, then most of us would probably disagree with Him and die without a chance to repent. So all the other ways of dealing with sin would make this earthly life even worse, than it is now. Of course this is just my opinion.
Gary Bates
Hi, I did write in the article that because of sin we would have been eternally separated from God, so that by introducing death we could be reconciled back to God we believe in Christ. An eternal world originally presupposed no sin. It will be like that again in the restored New Heavens and Earth. See The New Earth
Gert V.
With all respect to the responder's answer to the writer's queries, I am not convinced that he actually addressed the intrinsic question posed. Salient facts in this are: 1. When God created the universe and the earth in particular, He stated that it was all "very good" 2. The definition of "very good" does not allow for death and destruction. Therefore animals were not eating animals as we see now. 3. Upon the Fall the entire creation fell. 4. Animals are divided in a couple of main categories. Carnivores and Herbivores being one of the very distinctive ones, where most animals belong to either one of these groups. Black bears are an exception.The question then rises of what happened to the digestive tract of previously all those herbivoric animals (during the pre-fall period) who are now carnivores in the post fall era of some xxx thousands of years. If the answer to this has escaped me over the years, let anyone please feel free to enlighten me!
Gary Bates
Hi Gert, you could actually enlighten yourself by continuing to search our site on this issue. Remember the search engine is your friend and we have over 12,500 articles on this site. You have raised a number of issues that could not be address in the space allowed for comments. But, due to natural selection, and environmental pressures creatures with favourable traits can survive better in certain environments. All bears and, in facts, all animals (nepesh chayah types) were originally herbivores but look at polar bears today. Vegetation is not readily available to them so they hunt meat. It is an urban legend that carnivores cannot survive on vegetation alone and or have such specialized diets that they cannot survive without meat, for example. Plus there are many such other examples on our site. For example, The lion that wouldn't eat meat and the vegetarian shark. Also read How did bad things come about? as it will help explain how some traits might have become prominent in a post-Fall world. Also please read and understand how natural selection works. You are mistakenly classifying them as herbivores and carnivores in a pre-Fall sense. These categories only apply today because sin and death, environment, location and selection pressures have helped to modify the animal kingdom. Again please try entering a number of search terms into our site and you will find a plethora of articles, such as Animal carnivory began at the Fall.

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