David Heddle provides a typical example of the mental gymnastics required to believe that God is all -knowing and all-powerful. He writes:
Many of you know I live in a small town in New Hampshire. In a month or so, the scenery will knock your socks off. Believers will marvel at God’s creation, while unbelievers will be left without excuse.
Presumably that means without excuse for rejecting the idea of a loving God.
But then the post takes a grim turn:
I was just be-bopping down the road in my orange Honda Element, listening to demonic classic rock, when I heard a strange ka-thunk. Looking in the mirror, I saw a sickening sight: a fawn struggling to get up, and then pitifully limping into the woods, accompanied by its mother.
I’m not sure what happened–the best I can tell is that the poor animal ran into the back of my car and probably got its foot caught under the wheel.
I’m just heart-broken. The life-long rural types that I meet with dismissed it as a routine life-in-the-country occurrence. But to this guy who grew up in the inner-city–it nearly brought me to tears–thinking about that wounded fawn and with virtually no chance of survival.
And of course it made me ask that impertinent question: Why God?
Or is it impertinent? Certainly it can be–when asked from the premise that you know better than God. But when asked out of unadulterated sorrow about how the things which God ordains somehow and necessarily involve suffering–well then I think “Why God?” can be a purely honest and very human question–one for which I hope God is sympathetic. (Emphasis in Original)
Charming. When you look at the beautiful side of nature you are without excuse for rejecting the existence of a loving God. But if you dare draw any conclusions from looking at the nasty side of nature, you risk being charged with impertinence, and of thinking you know better than God.
Sorry, but gratuitous baby animal torture does not make me think of a just and loving God. The usual Christian answer to the manifest awfulness of nature is to cite the harmful effect of human sin. This is little more than a desperation move offered in the hopes that it will make the question go away. It makes no sense to say that humans sinned, and therefore God tortures baby animals.
As usual, RIchard Dawkins hits the nail on the head:
The total amount of suffering in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eated alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there is ever a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. (River Out of Eden, p. 132.)
Exactly right. But I have yet to meet a Christian with any serious response to this simple fact.