Many of you have told me how much you enjoy the brief answers I post to the frequent questions I get on my Facebook and Twitter pages. But many of you have also asked if I could offer somewhat more complete answers that are still easy to share with others. Thus, my intent in my blog is to interleave the articles on new reasons to believe from emerging scientific discoveries with easy-to-share answers to the most frequently asked questions I get on social media. This post is the first of such answers.
Q: Dr. Ross, I have a question about animal violence after horrific stories in the news lately of alligators killing or harming humans. First, do you believe animal violence to be a result of the Fall and something that will be removed if animals exist in Heaven? And, lastly, is there any reason that God couldn't have just created animals to be nonviolent? I can't imagine why animals couldn't have been created to just eat vegetation or not need to eat and get their energy from the sun or something like that. Thank you for your thoughts.
A: Carnivores and parasites are essential for reducing death, disease, and loss of quality of life for the herbivores. That is, given the laws of physics God has chosen for the universe, herbivores (as many field studies affirm) are much worse off in environments where carnivores and parasites do not exist. In my article "Thank God for Whales," I explain how the restoration of the sperm whale population in the oceans increased the population, average body size, and health of giant squid for whom their only predator was the sperm whale. For ecosystems in general, I document and explain the essential benefits of carnivores and parasites in my book More Than a Theory.
Note, too, that carnivores kill their prey as quickly and efficiently as possible, which reduces the suffering experienced by their prey. Also, God designed the nonhuman predators so that they must be selective. They are not equipped to kill the robust and healthy members of their herbivore prey species. Out of necessity their prey are the sick, the injured, the aged, the unwary, and the young offspring of unwary parents. It is this selectivity that helps to enhance the health, robustness, and population of prey species.
For hundreds of millions of years, our planet has been packed with an exquisite balance of herbivores, carnivores, parasites, and detritivores. This abundant and delicate balance of diverse species has killed many animals and thus enriched Earth's crust with quadrillions of tons of valuable biodeposits—limestone, marble, coal, oil, natural gas, gypsum, etc. Thanks to this treasure chest of biodeposits, we humans have launched and sustained a global high-technology civilization. This civilization in turn has enabled a rapid fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18–20).
In the new creation, there will be no carnivores, parasites, death, disease, suffering, or decay as evil will no longer be possible. The impossibility of evil permits God to design the new creation with different dimensions and different laws of physics. It is those differences that will eliminate the possibility of death and decay. In my book Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, I explain why the laws of physics and the space-time dimensions must be exactly the way they are for God to rapidly and efficiently eliminate evil and suffering while at the same time enhancing human free will capability. Therefore, we have many reasons to thank God for creating carnivores in the present creation and for designing the carnivores to minimize the death and suffering of herbivores.
Many of you have also asked if I could feature some of the testimonies, kudos, and critiques we receive from people who have been encouraged by Reasons to Believe. Where the testimony, kudos, or critique is brief, I will simply add it to the bottom of a Q&A post, like I am doing here. Where it is longer, I will make it a stand-alone blog post.
Testimony: I recently came to Christianity because I saw one of your videos on YouTube and it gave me a whole new view of things. This was great! It gave answers to some more of my questions. Look forward to learning more from you!
Subjects: Animals, Animal Death, Carnivores