Evil in Nature and a Benevolent God
The idea of the existence of evil in nature many times creates arguments between creationists and scientists concerning not only the design of nature by a creator –God, but the actual benevolence of God. In Stephen Jay Gould’s essay “Nonmoral Nature” (1984), he explores this highly controversial issue by posing the question: “If God is good and if creation reveals his goodness, why are we surrounded with pain, suffering, and apparently senseless cruelty in the animal world?” He uses the life span of the parasitic ichneumon wasp to illustrate a scientific view that the concept of evil is limited to human beings and that the world of nature is unconcerned with it. To some degree Gould may be correct in his assumption that nature is unconcerned with evil, however, a Christian view and scriptural model does provide strong argument as to how the fall of man influenced evil in nature, and how nature points directly to the benevolence of God.
The Christian believes that God created the universe and its basic life forms. According to scripture, when God originally made life, He considered it “good” and perfect (Genesis 1:25). However, the Bible also shows that the perfect state God established on earth did not last long. Scripture recognizes the existence of evil and suffering in nature, and points the finger at God Himself as being responsible. Genesis chapter 3 reveals several curses God placed on the serpent, on Eve, and on nature.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed their creator’s command not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they rejected God and demonstrated they were no longer capable of living in their perfect world. They needed a place for their fallen weakened characters, and in Genesis 3:17-18, God revealed the kind of earth they would live in
from then on, “Cursed is the ground…in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life…thorns and thistles it shall bring forth; and you shall eat the plants of the field.” After their fall, Adam and Eve lived in a world quite different from the one they had known until then. Not only would growing food be more difficult, but the perfect balance of nature God created in every organism in order to complete its strand in the intricate web of life began to break down (Wheeler,Gerald).
Environmental conditions deteriorated as a reflection of man’s declining moral character and religious commitments. Chaos began to creep into their physical world. William Kirby (1835) wrote in one of the famous Bridgewater Treatises on natural theology that God created fleas, lice, and...