The ecosphere around us is complex, beautiful and in many way ingenious. It is also brutal, occasionally ugly and filled with extinction. All of these points have been brought home to me lately by cruising around Instagram. I have found nature posts that dazzle me with the complexity and beauty of living things. I have also found nature posts that show animals doing what animals must do, which is to kill and eat each other–sometimes alive. This brutality is also reflected in human beings. Our history is sorted one. Is the ugliness proof that we are merely evolved by a random and blind process? Would a Creator, especially an all-powerful and loving Creator, create something like this?
Recently, I started watching a debate between well known atheist Christopher Hitchens and Christian apologist, John Lennox. The first point that Hitchens makes is that a loving Creator is a bad explanation for a creation where, according to Hitchens, 99.9% of the species created have gone extinct. This would suggest incompetence, indifference or, as Hitchens prefers, the non-existence of a Creator.
Hitchens puts no weight to the truth of biblical revelation. But one should at least check the observed facts of the world against revelation. The Bible tells us that the world we live in is not as God created it. It retains parts of the original created genius, but it is definitely altered for the worse. This not only applies to humans. It applies to everything.
You may turn up your nose to the Genesis account of Creation as being mere myth, but this account describes a Creation that is not only extinction free, but it is death free.
“Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the Earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the Earth and to every bird of the heavens and everything that creeps on the Earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”Genesis 1:29-30
Would this work? There are cycles of life, death and decay that move energy through the biosphere. You may not like death but you have to have it, right? No. God is able to make other creative cycles. They are not that hard to imagine.
The message is that we live in an inferior plan B. Why? Human disobedience. Hitchens would call it human arrogance to think such a thing. It is God’s revelation that communicates this and God’s choice that would put us into such a lofty position.
Why would others creatures be impacted by us? Paul says this:
For the creation was subjected to frustration, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it (God), in hope that the creation itself will set free from the bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of GodRomans 8:20-21
It is the Creator’s choice to treat all created things as a whole, in a way. The time will come when people will be taken out of “plan B” and the same will happen for everything else. If you don’t feel that is fair, take it up the Creator. He makes the rules.
The narrative that biblical revelation gives still makes more sense than a narrative that explains the beauty, complexity and ingenuity of creation as the product of random processes. That narrative can’t even get started. There is no way to create the simplest living thing by chance.
Even Hitchen’s claim that 99.9% of species have gone extinct is a bit dubious. It is more the product of how we have decided to categorize things. The Bible talks about God creating things according to their “kinds”. “Kinds” is not the equivalent of “species”, but rather something higher in the taxonomic order. In other words, “kinds”, had some built in genetic variety, allowing them to change with world and to become a group of species. Rather than extinct, some are just changed. You could call this evolution at the species level, but more planned than random.
So did God create the world we see? Yes, with qualifications. He will bring about an unqualified, even more glorious creation in time. If we are in Christ, we will be a part of it.