Thursday, July 20, 2017

Life and Death in God's Good Creation

God created a world in which one creature consumes another to survive. We may wish it was otherwise; we may think it would have been a better world if God had made it so that we humans could synthesize energy from the sun, but that is not the world God created. Besides which, even grass which does photosynthesize its energy relies upon nutrients in soil. Many such nutrients are provided by the decay of dead creatures. Whether or not one sees life as created by God, we must admit that our planet can be a harsh and competitive place. For Christians, such observations must be part of how we understand ultimate questions about the manner in which God created life and death in the Garden of Eden. Our theology has not yet fully wrestled with some of the implications of the lion and lamb created prior to humans.

Recently it has been discovered that some species of Praying Mantis can kill and eat hummingbirds. They have been known to lie in wait at hummingbird feeders and grasp the unsuspecting bird out of the air. It is an ugly picture of life and death in God’s creation and yet it is perfectly natural and the way God intended the lifecycle of his creation. God also created parasitic wasps that lay their eggs in the living bodies of caterpillars. The lifecycle of these baby wasps is the stuff of movies like Alien in which the immature offspring of one creature bursts out of the living body of another. Our world can be a cruel place.

Such is the struggle of life and death in the good world God created. Did God create all of this before the Fall of Humans? How much of life and death is a result of the Fall?

In case you are still worried about hummingbirds, there is a built-in system for the control of the mantis population. Parasitic worms, that live mostly in water, are known to place their larvae in the gut of the mantis and other arthropods. These parasites affect the brain of the mantis in such a way that, at the right time, the mantis drowns itself in water, thus returning the parasitic worm to another familiar environment.

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