God Must be Cruel – Or Not

God Must be Cruel – Or Not- Lions with Prey

Skeptics often argue against the existence of a compassionate God. They say that God must be cruel because there is so much cruelty in nature. Television documentaries give us gory videos of lions ripping apart a beautiful impala or wolves tearing apart a baby moose. There are countless examples of situations in the natural world where a predator violently eats a helpless animal. These images even affect human diets in which some people choose not to eat meat because it means someone killed a defenseless animal.

In the past several years, studies have shown that nature has a design that involves “keystone species.” These are animals essential to a local environment. That means without them the entire ecosystem would collapse. Here are some examples that scientific studies have documented:

Sea otters eat sea urchins. When fur hunters removed otters, the urchins reproduced in massive numbers and eventually ate all the ocean plants, so fish, clams, and squid died. The area became void of life.

Army ants eat leaf cutter ants. When army ants were removed from a jungle area, leaf cutter ants ate all the plants, and the jungle became a desert with bird and animal life gone.

When people have removed wolves from an area, deer reproduced in excessive numbers and ate all plant life within their reach. The result was that when old trees died, the forest ceased to exist and became a barren wasteland. In Yellowstone National Park, the introduction of wolves has resulted in the reduction of deer and elk populations. Then new trees and bushes came back, allowing all animal life to flourish.

When people fished largemouth bass out of a lake, minnows reproduced in massive numbers and ate all the plants and microscopic life. As a result, everything in the lake died, including the minnows.

Scientists refer to the elimination of keystone species as “downgrading.” Those who say God must be cruel are not seeing the whole picture. What humans might interpret as unnecessary cruelty is actually necessary for life to exist. We anthropomorphize living things by attaching human values to animals. The design built into creation allows life of all kinds to exist. Therefore, it is not cruel but a part of a wise God’s design for balance in living things.

— John N. Clayton E 2021

Reference: “Keystone Species” by PBS on July 22, 2021.