When I was a creationist, I thought life on the earth was “intelligently designed” by God. It was common sense — it looks designed, so it must be. I didn’t realize how quickly the argument degraded into a web of inconsistencies.
Consider a lion. A creationist looks at one and thinks, “What agility! What speed! What skills! This must be created by God.” It’s a common sense explanation, and people believed such things for thousands of years, because they didn’t have a better explanation. The best they could come up with was “magic man done it.”
Pullquote: Life is based on death. And that realization should make any honest creationist pause.
But after a while the thoughtful observer notices that these amazing creatures cause an immense amount of death and suffering. Indeed, they are very quick — the better to catch living things and snuff the life out of them. They have beautiful sharp teeth — the better to eat you with, my dear.
If lions were designed, they were designed to be killing machines. Life is based on death. And that realization should make any honest creationist pause.
I’m reminded of Mark Twain’s observation in The Diary of Adam:
[Eve] engages herself in many foolish things; among others; to study out why the animals called lions and tigers live on grass and flowers, when, as she says, the sort of teeth they wear would indicate that they were intended to eat each other. This is foolish, because to do that would be to kill each other, and that would introduce what, as I understand, is called “death”; and death, as I have been told, has not yet entered the Park. Which is a pity, on some accounts.
Once a creationist realizes life is designed to kill, they are faced with a theological problem: what kind of malevolent, sadistic designer would design this?
Pullquote: The myth of Adam & Eve was a noble attempt to explain death and suffering, but it is ultimately a theological nightmare and at odds with all our scientific evidence.This is where the common sense stops, and the superstition begins. If you ask most creationists why there is death in the world, they will tell you the ancient story of Adam and Eve. They believe there was no death before the forbidden fruit was munched on. You might find it a satisfying answer, as long as you don’t think about it too much and are the type to believe in stories with talking snakes.
But if you start getting specific, the mythic spell is broken and you’re left with absurdity. Before “The Fall,” how could carnivores have survived on only plants when they were biologically “designed” to eat meat? Why would they have sharp teeth designed to pierce skin if they were supposed to eat grass? And if they didn’t die or eat each other, wouldn’t the earth be overflowing with insects and animals within a few weeks? What did the venus flytrap eat if it couldn’t eat insects? How did mosquitoes suck on plants instead of blood? What about parasites? There are thousands of questions like this, all requiring a creationist to to perform amazing feats of logical gymnastics.
The myth of Adam & Eve was a noble attempt to explain death and suffering, but it is ultimately a theological nightmare and at odds with all our scientific evidence. It is, in other words, completely unconvincing to the modern rationalist.
Occam’s Razor says the simplest theory that answers all the problems is the best choice. Creationism requires jumping through so many theological and scientific hoops that it is anything but simple.
Use Science, Not Myths
The simpler answer, of course, is based on science, not common sense and ancient myths — the explanation that evolution did it without supernatural intervention. Then all the theological problems go away, and they become scientific and philosophical issues to discover or formulate.
So next time you see a mosquito sucking blood and spreading diseases, or a lion catching and devouring prey, be thankful we have a better explanation than that our ancestors ate some fruit.