The Lord God Made the Lot! (part 2)
In the previous post, I was countering the often espoused idea that the world is filled with a miraculously designed and beautiful environment, filled with beauty and wonder, designed for the delights and pleasure of the human race. Some creationist types like to believe that the world is all puppies and rainbows, all there for them to use and made by a benevolent creator who loves them dearly. Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that the world is not a beautiful place, I am constantly amazed by the sheer breadth of variation in organisms on earth, and I am in awe of the ingenious ways that nature has adapted creatures over millennia to specialise and adapt to changes in the enviroment. I think the world is a far more amazing place with the understanding of how things work rather than throwing up my hands and saying, “There are rainbows here to tantilise our senses, therefore there is a benevolent creator God.”
I used this as an example argument:
“Have you ever looked at a butterfly? Or a the colours on a tropical fish? Have you ever seen a baby being born, or watched as a child takes its first steps? Have you ever looked at a beautiful rose and smelled its perfume? Have you ever bitten into an apple and tasted the amazing sweetness in it? All these amazing things in the world, all the wonder and beauty, and all of it here with us to enjoy it. Doesn’t it prove the existence of God?”
The universe around us is not here for us, and I would argue, is not all beauty.
We see the beautiful butterfly in our gardens, but we rarely see the wasp that seeks to parasitise the larvae with its own eggs. The caterpillar the acts as a “womb” for the wasps, who will mature to the point of hatching and eat their way out of the caterpillar’s body, killing it. Watch this video to see the wasp larva in action.
Another rather gruesome example of parasites comes from Leucochloridium paradoxum, a banded flatworm that uses the bodies of living snails as an intermediary host as part of its life-cycle. The infection causes the snails, who would normally seek out darkness for safety, to seek out light, making the snail easy prey for birds. The parasite’s life-cycle then continues on inside the bird where it reproduces and lays eggs which are dispersed via the bird’s excretions.
The birth of a child is a wonderous and joyous occasion, but it doesn’t always go to plan. Most severe cases of birth defects result in the death of the child, but sometimes the child is well-formed enough to survive the birthing process. Obvious abnormalities include conjoined twins, spina bifida, a cleft palate or being born with internal organs on the outside, Harlequin type ichthyosis, or any number of other congenital disorders, and can be caused by numerous environmental factors or because of a chromosomal mismatch or a genetically inherited trait. Some of these children die early, and some live long and uncomfortable lives. But not all congenital disorders are this extreme. Many people have congenital disorders that don’t present themselves until much later in life, or may not even be a problem at all. There are minor mutations in us all from our conceptions, and as people grow older, other mutations may occur as our cells get worse at self replication. And in the extremes of mutation, cancers may occur.
The natural world around us has evolved in spite of us, not because of us, with the few exceptions of plants and animals we see a use for. We have forced evolution onto all the food plants and animals around us, changing them to better suit us. By selective breeding we have created our world, domesticated many plants and animals. In plants we have changed their colours and flavours, made them more adapted to the environments in which we would like to grow them. In animals we have made them larger, smaller, faster, more aggressive, less aggressive, fatter, leaner, stronger, more passive, all to suit the job we want them to do.
When someone uses the “look how beautiful it all is” defence when claiming God’s existence, remind them of all the things that aren’t so beautiful, remind them of all the things that go wrong, remind them that natural disasters kill good and pious people as well as heathens, that illness and poverty happens all over the world. If god created the butterfly, then he also created the rat, cockroach and the malaria mosquito.
I leave you with the words from a song by Monty Poythin which inspired these two blog pieces.
All Things Dull and Ugly
All things dull and ugly,
All creatures short and squat,
All things rude and nasty,
The Lord God made the lot.
Each little snake that poisons,
Each little wasp that stings,
He made their brutish venom,
He made their horrid wings.
All things sick and cancerous,
All evil great and small,
All things foul and dangerous,
The Lord God made them all.
Each nasty little hornet,
Each beastly little squid,
Who made the spikey urchin,
Who made the sharks, He did.
All things scabbed and ulcerous,
All pox both great and small,
Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
The Lord God made them all.