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The Most Provocative Things Ever Said About The Way God "Designed" The Cosmos

The Most Provocative Things Ever Said About The Way God "Designed" The Cosmos


  • "God ordained that the rattler who sleeps in the fallen pine must sink its stone fangs in the child's pale ankle, just as the boy's heart must clench at the first flush of venom - the cold climbing his shins."

    MARY KARR, "AGAINST NATURE," PARNASSUS 18:2 1993 & 19:1 1994, a one volume combined edition of that journal


  • "He creates a beautiful bird, then plants the instinct in the cat to tear it apart. He brings babies into the world and watches cancer devour them...He sends down no `manna' from heaven to feed the starving, not even if they are little children. [Maybe he ran out of manna, having given it all to the `stubborn hard hearted' Israelites in the desert? - ED.]."

    A. E. HILLERICH, LETTER PUBLISHED IN FREETHOUGHT TODAY, MAY 1994


  • "The noise of December wind banging against our insulated house is an admonition that this domestic coziness...is conditional stuff, and that the universe which surrounds it has a way of being brutal and unsparing...

    "Last week, on the same night our community opened an efficient and hospitable shelter, an area man froze to death...When your wife and children are nestled all snug in their beds, and you're alone with your thoughts in the kitchen and you hear that relentless wailing, you know how much of creation theology is bull...


    "In a high tech, antiseptic, hospital...I watched in helpless anguish as well-trained doctors and nurses rushed to save the lives of my wife and prematurely born son. Had nature been allowed to take its course, the Midwestern soil would have claimed what I love for fertilizer...

    "The earthquake in already bleeding Armenia didn't take place because of any systemic injustice. Nor did the hurricane that flattened the already hopeless villages of Nicaragua. Nor did the flood in Bangladesh.

    [Editor's note: The poorest people of the world suffer most from nature's "designedly" brutal ways. The earthquake in Armenia (in the 1980s) was less powerful than the earthquake in San Francisco, yet only a couple hundred people died in the U.S. quake while 25,000 died in the Armenian one. The roofs of the cheaply made houses and buildings in Armenia collapsed on their occupants, killing them, while the houses and buildings in our far wealthier nation were constructed better, with finer materials, and didn't collapse as easily. Neither is it easy for poor people to obtain all the medical assistance and proper housing and appropriate information they need to deal with nature's brutal ways. There's the weather and natural disasters as well as parasites, natural poisons, bacteria and/or viruses in their food water and air. If God designed nature to "punish" mankind He certainly must have known that such a plan would punish the poor people of the world most of all.]


    "When Mount St. Helens burst like a boil on the earth's skin, the gas suffocated a family or two. I remember a dead little boy in the back of his parents' pickup truck. The photographs of his corpse showed the eyes wide open and the mouth agape. A tiny and bewildered face stared into an empty sky...


    "Recently, when a green hickory branch broke and fell in Illinois, shattering the skull and mind and family and friends of a four-year-old boy, the problem was not human hardness of heart. When leukemia was diagnosed in a six-year-old girl, her parents learned something no liberation theologian has yet expressed about the nature of evil. None of these things is our fault.


    "There are those who have gazed unflinchingly at these things and said they are the will of God. Some unfathomable thing goes on, they seem to say, that makes sense out of our orphans, puts all our shattered children and demented and despairing parents into some context. It has to do with Jesus on the cross or multinational corporations or Our Lady of Fatima. Their assertions are duplicitous or insane.


    "No, A universe in which such things can happen is simply intolerable. And we have to tolerate it. The attempt to explain away such things is contemptible...The faith makes no attempt, but does enigmatically insist that God himself has entered and overcome the horrors of this plainly blighted project...That is no exhaustive reassurance to be sure..."


    MICHAEL O. GARVEY, "SOME OF THE MONSTERS ARE REAL: GOD ENTERED CREATION BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN GOD CLEANED UP THE MESS," IN THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER, FEB. 10, 1989


  • "Our quaint metaphysical opinions, in an hour of anguish, are like playthings by the bedside of a small child deathly sick."


    S. T. COLERIDGE


  • A CONVERSATION IN THE NOVEL, THE PLAGUE


    Scene: A small boy lay dying in agony from the plague. A priest and an atheist doctor are in attendance, both unable to help the child.


    Father Paneloux [the priest]: "This sort of thing is revolting because it passes our human understanding. But perhaps we should love what we cannot understand."


    Dr. Rieux [the doctor]: "No, Father, I've a very different idea of love. And until my dying day I shall refuse to love a scheme of things in which children are put to torture."


    ALBERT CAMUS



  • A CONVERSATION IN THE NOVEL, CATCH-22

    "Don't tell me God works in mysterious ways, there's nothing so mysterious about it. He's not working at all. He's playing. Or else He's forgotten all about us...How much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?"


    "Pain?" She pounced upon the word victoriously, "Pain is a useful symptom. Pain is a warning to us of bodily dangers."


    "And who created the dangers?" he demanded. "Oh, He was really being charitable to us when He gave us pain! Why couldn't He have used a doorbell instead to notify us, or one of his celestial choirs? Or a system of blue-and-red neon tubes right in the middle of each person's forehead. Any jukebox manufacturer worth his salt could have done that. Why couldn't He?"


    "People would look silly walking around with red neon tubes in the middle of their foreheads."


    "They certainly look beautiful now writhing in agony or stupefied with morphine, don't they? What a colossal, immortal blunderer! When you consider the opportunity and power He had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, ugly little mess He made of it instead, His sheer incompetence is almost staggering."


    JOSEPH HELLER


  • "It was no use feeling the pain of an inflamed appendix until modern surgical techniques were sufficiently advanced to remove it. And often the `warnings' appear ill-adjusted to the seriousness of the disease. Toothache kills few people, while sadly some forms of cancer give little pain in the early stages. So we are left with a large amount of pain that seems to serve no purpose and which is not far distant from torture."

    C. S. RODD "QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK: 4. THE PROBLEM OF EVIL AND SUFFERING" IN THE EXPOSITORY TIMES, VOL. 107, NO. 2, NOV. 1995


  • MURDER BY GOD (A 30-SECOND PLAY)

    Act 1, Scene 1 [Setting: Young pregnant woman found dead in a parking lot, struck by lightning.]


    Cop : Looks like lightning hit her on the head. Guess it was the will of God.


    Detective: It's the work of God all right, and I'm gonna make sure he goes up the river for this one.


    Detective's narration: Ever since I started this beat, God had been responsible for putting more people six feet under the ground than any other thug in the city. They had all been written off as natural causes, but I knew better. And now he was getting sloppy. The lightning was his personal trademark.


    WES ANDERSON


  • "I think that I shall never see

    A God so cruel

    he'd make a Flea!

    "A Flea whose hungry mouth is pressed

    Against my dog's

    hot itching breast.

    "A Flea that looks for dogs all day

    And jumps three feet

    to land its prey.

    "My dog (who may in summer wear

    ten nests of Fleas

    deep in his hairs)

    "Upon his bosom they have lain,

    He intimately lives

    with pain!

    "Brave doubts are born in fools like me:

    There is no god

    who'd make a Flea!"


    ROSEMARY E. MORGAN (1965)


  • "Oh Rose, thou art sick;

    The invisible worm,

    That flies in the night,

    In the howling storm,

    Hath found out thy bed

    Of crimson joy,

    And his dark, secret love,

    Doth thy life destroy."


    WILLIAM BLAKE


  • The poet, Robert Frost once wrote a little gem, titled, "Design," in which he described a "fat, dimpled spider" sitting on a flower, having just finished devouring a moth, "it's dead wings carried like a paper kite." Frost pointed out that this "snow-drop spider" was of the same white hue as the flower it sat upon, so it could lie in wait without being detected. The flower's sweet scent attracted moths to dine at the very place where the moths then became the dinner of the camouflaged spider. Frost asked:

    "What brought the kindred spider to that height,

    Then steered the white moth thither in the night?

    What but design of darkness to appall?--

    If design govern in a thing so small."


    ROBERT FROST


  • "Mr. Hollister says the wasps catch spiders and cram them down their nests in the ground - alive, mama! - and there they live and suffer days and days and days, and the hungry little wasps chewing the spider's legs and gnawing into their bellies all the time, to make them good and religious and praise God for His infinite mercies...Dear mama, have you fainted?"

    MARK TWAIN, "LITTLE BESSIE WOULD ASSIST PROVIDENCE"


  • "I recall one day in Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago around 1968, I came upon the Great Horned Owl. He or she was in a cage with a sign saying among other things that he or she was a `desirable' bird. The desirability of the Great Horned Owl was explained by the fact that he or she eats various critters that annoy farmers. This seems to me one of the silliest things I ever read outside of a Creationist journal. My own hunch is that the Great Horned Owl would consider itself desirable no matter what humans thought about the matter; and I also suspect that the critters eaten by the Great Horned Owl do not consider it a desirable bird at all, but probably regard it as actively nefarious.

    "An old Sufi teaching-story is apropos here. Somebody asked the divine Mullah Nasrudin, `Why do crickets make that annoying noise all night?' The mullah replied, `To give philosophers something to argue about all day.' He who has ears, let them hear."


    ROBERT ANTON WILSON


  • Back in the days when Christians were being fed to the lions, one Christian, who was being pursued by a lion, ran all around the arena looking for a safe place to hide but to no avail. Finally he fell to his knees and said, "Oh Lord, please hear my prayer and fill this lion with the spirit of Christianity." Looking over at the lion, he saw the lion fall to its knees, clasp its front paws together and say, "Oh Lord, I humbly thank you for the food I am about to receive."

    "A Mouse that prayed for Allah's aid

    Blasphemed when no such aid befell;

    A Cat, who feasted on the mouse,

    Thought Allah managed vastly well."


    SAKI, "FOR THE DURATION OF THE WAR" (1915)


  • An aunt of mine was teaching Sunday school. She was telling the youngsters about Daniel and the Lion's Den. She had a picture of Daniel standing brave and confident with a group of lions around him. One little eight-year-old started to cry.

    The teacher said, "Don't cry. The lions are not going to eat Daniel."


    The girl said, "That's not what I'm crying about. That little lion in the corner is not going to get any."


    SAUNDERS GUERRANT (ROANOKE, VIRGINIA) AS QUOTED IN THE PREACHER JOKE BOOK BY LOYAL JONES


  • "A small girl prayed to God to heal her of an increasingly pain-filled illness, but the TB germs continued to torture her for years, `honoring God's purposeful design' with every bite they took of the child's life, comfort, and sanity."


    E. T. BABINSKI


  • EXCERPTS FROM "THE LOST ENCYCLICAL AGAINST PENICILLIN" (A PARODY)

    "Beloved children, I write to you today to offer you loving guidance against the unnatural use of antibiotics...God created bacteria and viruses for the purpose of infecting organisms sometimes seriously, sometimes less seriously - and we must never presume to interfere with the right order of God's creation...Just as all forms of birth control go against the natural purpose of conjugal relations - namely, procreation - so the use of all forms of man-made antibiotics interfere with the God-given design of bacteria and viruses and how He intends them to interact with the human body...each and every bacteria-body interaction must remain open to the transmission of bacteria...It is immoral to impede development of a natural process. That is why we have so exhaustively spoken out against artificial birth control and now anti-biotics. We cannot impede a process that God has created. No impeding, no impeding! ...God created syphilis to infect sexually immoral people, and cause them suffering and eventual death. In no way should a man-made antibiotic interfere with this God-given process. Also, the fear of syphilis is a natural encouragement toward marital fidelity, which could not otherwise hold its own in a free market."


    CHRISTOPHER DURANG IN FREE INQUIRY, SPRING 1996


  • "Infectious disease is one of the great tragedies of living things - the struggle for existence between different forms of life. Man sees it from his own prejudiced point of view; but clams, oysters, insects, fish, flowers, tobacco, potatoes, tomatoes, fruit, shrubs, trees, have their own varieties of smallpox, measles, cancer, or tuberculosis. [I guess God had to work overtime at his biological warfare lab! - ED.] Incessantly, the pitiless war goes on...a nationalism of species against species [with human beings having attained numerous honors in the `war' effort, probably having obliterated more species - including many individuals of their own kind - than any other competitor on the planet. - ED.]...

    "Speaking of degrees of ferocity not yet attained by man...Husband eating is an accepted custom with female spiders, and among the Scorpions, it is quite fashionable for the mother to devour the father and then, in her turn, to be eaten by her `kiddies.' When male members of the larger cat families - that is, mountain lions - waylay and eat their own children, this is not truly an evidence of ferocity. It is an indirect crime of passion; the result of an impatient tenderness for the lioness who has become too exclusively tied up with the demands of motherhood...


    "Of course, there is probably as little conscious cruelty in the lion that devours a missionary as there is in the kind-hearted old gentleman who dines upon a chicken pie, or in the staphylococcus that is raising a boil on the old gentleman's neck. Broadly speaking, the lion is parasitic on the missionary, as the old gentleman is on the chicken pie, and the staphylococcus on the old gentleman...


    "Nature seems to have intended that her creatures feed upon one another. At any rate, she has so designed her cycles that the only forms of life that are parasitic directly upon Mother Earth herself are a proportion of the vegetable kingdom that dig their roots into the sod for its nitrogenous juices...But these - unless too unpalatable or poisonous - are devoured by the beasts and by man; and the latter, in their turn, by other beasts and bacteria...


    "Swords and lances, arrows, machine guns, and even high explosives have had far less power over the fates of nations than the typhus louse, the plague flea, and the yellow fever mosquito. Civilizations have retreated from the plasmodium of malaria, and armies have crumbled into rabbles under the onslaught of cholera spirilla, or of dysentery and typhoid bacilli. Huge areas have been devastated by the trypanosome that travels on the wings of the tsetse fly, and generations have been harassed by the syphilis of a courtier..."


    HANS ZINSSER, RATS, LICE AND HISTORY


  • "Parasitism is such an appealing way to earn a living that the majority of the earth's organisms have adopted it. A number of parasites, like ticks, are generalists, hopping readily from one warm-blooded creature to another. Many more are remarkably specific. There are mites that can survive only in the rectum of a giant tortoise, worms that fit snugly into the quills of a single species of bird, and mites that live exclusively and harmlessly at the base of human eyelashes. Most parasites are themselves burdened with parasites." [Fleas burdened with mites, which are burdened with protozoa, which are burdened by bacteria, which are burdened by viruses! - ED.]

    NATALIE ANGIER, "PARASITES AND SEX" IN THE BEAUTY OF THE BEASTLY


  • "So, naturalists observe, a flea hath smaller fleas that on him prey. And these have smaller still to bite `em; and so proceed ad infinitum."

    JONATHAN SWIFT, "ON POETRY" (1733)


  • "Although most parasitic diseases are now rare among those in developed nations, the majority of the world's people are hobbled by one or more types of parasite."

    NATALIE ANGIER, "PARASITES AND SEX" IN THE BEAUTY OF THE BEASTLY


  • "Until the discovery in the mid-1800s that dirt, germs, and disease all helped to kill people off, washing was not a popular activity. Before that time, the Ancient Romans were just about the only people who enjoyed it. They built large public baths with steam rooms...

    "Also up until the 1800s parasites were an accepted part of life. Almost everyone had fleas and lice. In the 1600s it was considered bad manners to take lice, fleas or other vermin from your body and crack them between your fingernails in company...


    "Lack of washing led to infestations of parasites such as fleas and lice, which in turn contributed to the spread of disease, particularly plagues. These were often carried by the fleas living on the rats which flourished in the garbage-filled streets."


    TIM WOODS & IAN DICKS, WHAT THEY DON'T TEACH YOU ABOUT HISTORY: HUNDREDS OF PECULIAR AND FASCINATING FACTS


  • "We can hardly suppose [that lice, ticks, fleas, intestinal worms, and such] were living on Adam and his lady...And yet as such creatures disdained to graze the fields or lick the dust for their food, where else could they have obtained it?"

    A WRITER IN THE GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE, 1746


  • "Supposedly Noah, his wife, and their sons and daughters-in-law on the ark, would have had to bear on their skin and in their veins and guts the many parasitical species found only in and on human beings today. Otherwise such nasty parasitical species would have troubled mankind no more, having died out with their `evil' human hosts who were wiped out by the Flood.


    "I certainly don't envy Noah, his wife, and his three sons and daughters-in-law, having to put up with such annoying and deadly passengers on and in their own bodies, like fleas, lice, ticks, bedbugs, hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, liver flukes, filarial worms (that cause elephantiasis), trypanosomes (that cause sleeping sickness, and, Chagas' disease), and other parasitical species peculiar to human beings (or most suited to survive on and in human beings).


    "Not to mention that Noah would have had to have taken aboard only those pairs of animals who were infested with parasitical organisms that afflict those animals today. What a boat full of parasites illnesses and diseases!"


    E. T. BABINSKI


  • "It is likely from evidence that, somewhere in the legendary past of the history of lice, an offspring of a free-living form not unlike our book louse found that life could be infinitely simplified if, instead of having to grub for food in straw, under tree barks, in moss or lichen, in decaying cereals and vegetables, it could attach itself to some food-supplying host, and sit tight. It is one of the few instances in which nature seems extremely logical in its processes. The louse sacrifices a liberty that signifies chiefly the necessity for hard work, the uncertainty of food and shelter, and exposure to dangers from birds, lizards, and frogs; loses the fun of having wings, perhaps; but achieves instead a secure and effortless existence on a living island of plenty. In a manner, therefore, by adapting itself to parasitism, the louse has attained the ideal of capitalist civilization, though its methods are more direct than those of business or banking, and its source of nourishment is not its own species.

    "Thus, at any rate, arose the parasitic lice, - first, perhaps, the biting ones, the Mallophaga: the chicken louse, the goose louse, the slender duck louse, the pigeon louse, the turkey louse, the biting guinea-pig louse, the horse louse, to mention only a few [species, which live on] a diet of feathers, fur, and dandruff.


    "[Another type of parasitic louse, not content with such a dry, bare diet, arose from the first type, or evolved separately, to take up residence] on thin-skinned, warm-blooded animals. These lice discovered by an incomprehensible cleverness (or perhaps by an accidental scratch and an occurrence not unlike the discovery of roast pig by the Chinese) that under their feet ran an infinite supply of rich red food. They developed boring and sucking structures, and thus arose: the hog louse, the dog louse, the rat louse, the foot louse of the sheep, the cat louse, the short-nosed ox louse, the monkey louse, and the head, body and crab lice of man.


    "Interestingly, the similarity between the various monkey lice and those of man is so close that they can interchangeably feed on one or the other host without harm. We have ourselves fed two hundred Arabian head lice on an East Indian monkey for weeks at a time, with relatively low mortality. Such interchange of hosts is not usually possible. A louse fed on a foreign host, in most cases, suffers a probably painful and fatal ingestion...


    "The lice that infest each species of monkey in South and Central America, so far as known, fall into distinct species according to the hosts they infest, thus indicating to a certain degree a parallel evolutionary descent for both the host and the parasites that evolved with them and upon them [emphasis added - ED.]."


    HANS ZINSSER, RATS, LICE AND HISTORY


  • "The horrid truth is that each of us has about as many bacteria and yeasts on the surface of his or her skin as there are people on earth; far from being `clean' after a bath the number of organisms released from the surface actually goes up as they emerge from the nooks and skinny crannies where they multiply. It is time to take a new look at the back of our hands and to realize that our skins are a habitat which supports a whole flora and fauna of creatures that have evolved with us through millennia [including creatures larger than yeast and bacteria but smaller than can be seen with the naked eye, like the mites on all of us - ED.]. However hard we may wish to retreat from our animal origins we will not be able to escape our fellow travellers. [Emphasis added - ED.] The huge majority, numerically, are harmless or beneficial. But then the huge majority are also invisible and earn our indifference...There are over two million species of animals and plants. We are just one of those species, at the mercy of the smallest virus or bacterium."

    MICHAEL ANDREWS, THE LIFE THAT LIVES ON MAN


  • "The need to evade parasites may have been the force driving some birds, fish, and mammals to become migratory or to spend part of every year in isolation from their potentially pest-ridden fellows...

    "The red spotted newt carries a parasite related to the agent of deadly African sleeping sickness in humans...However, at the time when the newt harboring a more virulent strain of the parasite might transmit it, the animals are spending months roaming alone through the woods, rather than congregating in ponds. Those newts carrying a malevolent parasite die off during their migrations, leaving only the newts with a mild strain of the parasite that return to the pond to mate...


    "Birds that fly each year from North to South America may be avoiding more than bad weather. During the nine months down south, the animals do not breed and are not particularly close to one another, limiting the chance for [tropical] pests to feather-hop...


    "When a female barn swallow has an adulterous encounter she invariably copulates with a male having a slightly longer and more symmetrical tail than that of her mate; the more sumptuous tail appears to be evidence that the male is resistant to parasites, a characteristic of broad appeal to the female. Not only may she help her young to gain the resistant trait, but, by avoiding infested partners, she limits her own exposure to bloodsucking parasites."


    NATALIE ANGIER, "PARASITES AND SEX" IN THE BEAUTY OF THE BEASTLY


  • "Some religionists delight in ascribing to God the credit for having made apple trees in fields of green, under a blue sky. But where was his desire for beauty when he made tapeworms? Is there any justice in praising him for the beautiful, but keeping silent about the hideous? I think I would be embarrassed to have to admit that I believed in an `all-wise God' who had made tapeworms."

    FRED WOODWORTH, "THERE IS NO GOD" (PRIVATELY PRINTED TRACT)


  • "Cupping my hand, I shoveled a bee-laden mass of water onto my pool deck. I assumed the bee would quickly dry and get airborne...but the bee hobbled and his left side appeared crippled...About this time I noticed a small black ant approaching at great speed, but in crazy, zigzagging ant-patterns, as though dodging gunfire. The ant ran past the bee, checked both flanks, then dashed headlong at the bee, grabbed an antenna, and pulled with such might that the vastly larger creature momentarily lost his footing...The bee yanked itself from the ant's grip and the ant ran away...Then two ants appeared and one charged the bee and flipped him...The bee quickly righted itself, but then a third ant appeared...a fourth, and then...entire platoons of ants loping madly across my deck, weaving in complex attack patterns. The bee went wild, twisting, rolling, bobbing, but he was besieged by dozens of creatures. They badgered his head, tugged at his wings, rocked him from side to side...They pulled and pushed him...toward a seam in the deck...and steered his head out over what must have seemed to them like a precipice, then shoved him off...the ants then dragged the bee back up the vertical wall, got him to the top, and pushed him back off a second time. It seemed like overkill, but that's how ants are - ruthless...By now the bee's tongue looked dried up. He stopped moving. The ants began the long haul home with the carcass...

    "Nature rewards behaviors (genes) that impede or destroy rivals. In other words, Nature isn't nice...


    "[On the other hand] It is not a profitable scheme to kill everything. Killers don't thrive. Adapters do."


    JOEL ACHENBACH IN THE "INTRODUCTION" AND FIRST CHAPTER, "BUGS," OF HIS BOOK, WHY THINGS ARE: ANSWERS TO EVERY ESSENTIAL QUESTION IN LIFE


  • "The evolutionary process is not at all a perfect one and many traits created by it are not even adaptive. It is precisely because of this that we suffer from such unadaptive traits as back pain, fallen arches, impacted wisdom teeth, varicose veins, appendicitis, cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia, Huntington's disease, schizophrenia, manic-depression, alcoholism, painful childbirth, and a host of other maladies which genetic evolution has created, but which natural selection has done nothing to eliminate.

    "Moreover, each evolutionary change tends to bring with it new forms of pain and suffering that had not existed before...


    "For example, sexuality is not absolutely superior to asexuality, and the evolution of the former has brought with it many forms of conflict and suffering that do not exist in organisms that reproduce without sex...


    "Sociality is not absolutely superior to solitary life, and its evolution has created new forms of competition and conflict that are less frequent, or even unknown among asocial animals...


    "Bipedalism [walking on two legs] is by no means absolutely superior to quadrupedalism [walking on four], and the evolution of a two-legged gait in Homo sapiens has brought with it countless adverse side effects...


    "Intelligence and behavioral flexibility are by no means absolutely superior to instinctive behavior, and their evolution had brought with it many forms of [intellectual angst and] emotional pain that are virtually unknown in the nonhuman world...


    "No animal has undergone more major changes during the course of its evolution than Homo Sapiens, and no animal has inherited a greater capacity for pain and suffering. With every evolutionary change we have sustained, we have discovered new ways to protect our genes and new ways to suffer for their benefit. With every passing generation, the aggregate price paid for their preservation has become dearer and dearer. And our genes - unlike us - remain blissfully ignorant of the staggering mass of suffering that has been endured for the sake of their perpetuation."


    TIMOTHY ANDERS IN "THE ROOTS OF EVIL," A SUB-SECTION IN THE EVOLUTION OF EVIL: AN INQUIRY INTO THE ULTIMATE ORIGINS OF HUMAN SUFFERING


  • "He remembered the sense of loss and disgust and horror when he saw it: it swam upward wriggling heavily in a flail of heavy dying protest, through a thickened murk of greenish water, and he saw that to its brain was fastened some blind horror of the sea, a foul snake-like shape a foot or more in length, a headless, brainless mouth, a blind suck and sea-crawl, a mindless abomination, glued implacably, fastened in fatal suck in one small rim of bloody foam against the brain-cage of the great dying fish."

    THOMAS WOLFE, OF TIME AND THE RIVER [DESCRIBING A LAMPREY?]


  • "What kind of God can one infer from [the study of nature]? The evolutionary process is rife with happenstance, contingency, incredible waste, death, pain and horror. Millions of sperm and ova are produced that never unite to form a zygote. Of the millions of zygotes that are produced, only a few ever reach maturity. On current estimates, 95 percent of the DNA that an organism contains has no function.

    "Certain organic systems are marvels of engineering; others are little more than contraptions. When the eggs that cuckoos lay in the nests of other birds hatch, the cuckoo chick proceeds to push the eggs of its foster parents out of the nest. The queens of a particular species of parasitic ant have only one remarkable adaptation, a serrated appendage which they use to saw off the head of the host queen.


    "Whatever the God of natural history may be like, He is not the Protestant God of waste not, want not. He is also not a loving God who cares about His productions. He is not even the awful God portrayed in the Book of Job. The God of the Galapagos is careless, wasteful, indifferent, almost diabolical. He is certainly not the sort of God to whom anyone would be inclined to pray."


    DAVID L. HULL, "THE GOD OF THE GALAPAGOS," REVIEW OF PHILLIP JOHNSON'S BOOK, DARWIN ON TRIAL IN NATURE, VOL. 352, AUG.8, 1991, PP. 485-86


  • "The same Institute for Creation Research publishing house that brought us Bomby the Bombardier Beetle has served (by one account) as distributor of another tract titled `God's Plan for Insects' - and for that matter another called `Unhappy Gays' - but I strongly doubt that either of those comes to grips with the phenomenon of `homosexual rape' among bedbugs. If X. maculipennis is another instance of God's wisdom made manifest in the works of creation, I suspect that the sort of god manifested is not the one that creation evangelists want."

    DAVID QUAMMEN, "NASTY HABITS: AN AFRICAN BEDBUG BUGGERS THE PROOF-BY-DESIGN" IN THE FLIGHT OF THE IGUANA


  • "I don't want to start any blasphemous rumors,

    But I think that God's got a sick sense of humor,

    And when I die I expect to find Him laughing."

    DEPECHE MODE, THEIR SONG, "BLASPHEMOUS RUMORS"


  • "Rachels [in his book, Created from Animals] presents brief and powerful arguments against natural theodicy [`natural theodicy' being the attempt to justify the ways of a good creator God in a world containing naturally painful and hideous aspects], rather discomfiting to those of us who have published articles on this subject (see Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 39:150-157)...

    "It was the amount, rather than the fact, of evil in the world that made Darwin reject God: `There seems to me too much misery in the world...' both human and nonhuman...(to what purpose all this suffering?)...


    "Rachels has done the best job I have seen of drawing Darwinian evolutionary principles to their ultimate moral conclusions. The results are objectionable to the Christian, but not as horrible as we might have feared. It does not lead, as some preachers warn, to totalitarianism and a complete devaluing of human life. Rachels' excellent book gives intelligent readers a chance to sharpen their minds and examine their beliefs."


    STANLEY RICE [A YOUNG-EARTH CREATIONIST WITH A MORE CRITICAL AND INQUISITIVE MIND THAN MANY OF HIS BRETHREN, PROVING THAT NOT ALL CREATIONISTS ARE CREATED ALIKE, SOME KEEP EVOLVING!] IN HIS REVIEW OF JAMES RACHELS' BOOK, CREATED FROM ANIMALS: THE MORAL IMPLICATIONS OF DARWINISM, PUBLISHED IN PERSPECTIVES ON SCIENCE AND CHRISTIAN FAITH, VOL. 46, NO. 3, SEPT. 1994


  • "I've heard many preachers counsel their congregations not to be too concerned about the mysteries of life. They warn that the misfortune of the just (or worse, the good fortune of the unjust) should be accepted in faith, even if the purpose isn't understood. The same principle should apply to the mysteries of nature. Not understanding why God created us through evolution is no reason to sink into a morass of delusions that futilely deny modern science."

    GRANT SMITH, LETTER IN THE MORNING ADVOCATE, BATON ROUGE, LA., TUES., MARCH 25, 1986


  • "If evolution were divinely guided, why didn't it take a lot less time? And why all the dog-eat-dog destruction along the way, the grim contest of the survival of the fittest?

    "Briefly, let me say that this is indeed a problem, but at least it is no new problem! Isn't it exactly the same challenge to faith when you look at the chaos of the world around you every day? If you say you believe God's in control, you have a lot of explaining to do! And yet we have come to feel we can live with that bafflement. The red randomness of evolution is simply more of the same. Get used to it."


    REV. ROBERT M. PRICE IN HIS SERMON, "MAN: APEX OR EX-APE?" [DR. PRICE IS ALSO THE AUTHOR OF BEYOND BORN AGAIN, WHICH IS AVAILABLE ON THE SKEPTIC'S WEB]


  • "Many `Design theorists' believe in a Designer who separately created each `kind' of animal and plant and plopped them down at different points in geologic history. But this means that a vast multitude of animals and plants were created only to suffer pain and death over periods of millions of years and then have their species become extinct. `Designing' creatures for pain suffering and extinction, and then having to `design' some more for that same `purpose,' was repeated again and again, all before man appeared on the scene.

    "At least evolution `utilizes' the pain suffering and extinction of countless generations of creatures which are not `separately created,' but interrelated. So, no animal or plant is specially created just for extinction, but so that it may play a part in the ever branching struggle to change and occupy new niches and continue the survival of life in general.


    "Thus, evolution exhibits more of a purpose than the world of the `Design theorists' because evolution `makes the best it can' out of seemingly purposeless pain, death, extinction and competition - even if evolution's `best' is just `jury-rigged design' in a world of survivors who temporarily beat death more frequently than some of their cousins.


    "And I might add, isn't the purpose of religion similar to the purpose of evolution? Both propose to `make some purposeful sense' out of the seemingly purposeless pain death and competition in the world around us."


    E. T. BABINSKI


  • "On Thy wonderful works I will meditate...The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works...Thou dost open Thy hand, and dost satisfy the desire of every living thing." [By giving them living things to prey upon? But then how is the desire of every living thing satisfied? - ED.]

    "He will also hear their cry and will save them." [But if He "saves" them from being eaten by some creature, then He's starving that other creature. - ED.]


    PSALM 145:5,9,16,19


  • "He gives to the beast its food, and to the young ravens which cry."

    PSALM 147:9


  • "If the psalmists' god is responsible for `hearing the cries of animals and satisfying their desire,' then their god isn't doing a very good job of it. I recently read in a science magazine (Discover? Scientific American? Nature? Science News? Science? sometime in August, 1996) that a recent study showed that nearly 50% of the dead birds they examined in one province in England had died of starvation! Which isn't surprising, since birds have to eat from one quarter to one half their body weight daily. (I picked up a bird in my backyard this fall that couldn't fly and was hopping about slowly, and gave it to some local Wildlife Rescue people, who informed us that the bird was `starving to death.' They held up its wings and showed us its rib cage was sticking out. The bird was already too far gone and did not survive, even after being fed and cared for by the kindly Rescue folks.)

    The psalmists' god certainly doesn't `hear the cries' of any of the baby birds that the baby cuckoo tosses out of their nest so that only the cuckoo chick remains in the nest and is fed by the other bird's parents. Nor does such a god `hear the cries' of the baby birds that I saw on the "Hunting and Escaping" video (in the Trials of Life series) which were dragged from their nests by sea birds of a rival predatory species in order to feed the predator's own hungry chicks. Nor does such a god `hear the cry' of baby birds tossed out of the nest by their own parents (because they aren't developing properly or swiftly enough). Or who fall out of their nest simply because the nest itself was poorly constructed. (After we'd found a small baby dove running on the ground outside our house [not the same animal as the starving adult bird, mentioned above] the Wildlife Rescue people informed me that the nests of doves are constructed more poorly than the nests of most other birds, hence, their chicks are liable to fall out of them more often.)"


    E. T. BABINSKI


  • "If an animal dies because its competitors have beaten it to the food, it is just as dead as if it had died in battle; and its demise is not less definitive for having been bloodless. Animal conflict, in sum, whether subtle or overt is virtually universal...And some amount of reproductive competition [for mates and/or territory] is known to occur in all animal societies (with the possible exceptions of asexual clones and eusocial sisters)."

    TIMOTHY ANDERS, THE EVOLUTION OF EVIL: AN INQUIRY INTO THE ULTIMATE ORIGINS OF HUMAN SUFFERING


  • "Sometimes several hundred species of cichlid (pronounced SICK-lid) fish co-exist in the same lake, and each has evolved its own hunting method...One cichlid resembles a rotting fish and spends a lot of time floating as though dead; but when another fish approaches, thinking it has happened on an easy meal, the corpse springs to life and attacks the would-be scavenger...

    "Another has its head bent permanently to the left (and yet another has its head bent permanently to the right), an adaptation that enables them to scrape, with their teeth, a meal of scales off the side of a passing fish's body...


    "Another eats only the eyes of other cichlids...


    "Another exclusively sucks baby cichlids out of the protective mouths of their parents."


    NATALIE ANGIER, "PLENTY OF FISH IN THE SEA" IN THE BEAUTY OF THE BEASTLY


  • "I call myself a reverent agnostic because I am overwhelmed by the beauty and the wonder and the majesty and the order and the loveliness and all the wonderful things there are in the world.

    "At the same time I am appalled and overwhelmed by the suffering and death that is a part of life. When I think that at this moment a million creatures are being killed, at this moment. And now that the moment has passed, another million creatures are being killed, all the way down to the tiniest ameba, all the way up to a jungle cat leaping onto a gazelle, or a slaughterhouse a mile and a half from here, where, in order to keep the city of Toronto going we kill something like fifty thousand cattle every night. Fifty thousand die every night, so that this city might live.


    "The entire world is built on death. Nothing can live unless something dies. [Editor's note: That `something' includes either a plant being chewed up and digested, or an animal. Thus every animal except carrion eaters must kill some other living thing in order to continue it's own life. Even carrion eaters live on the remains of animals usually killed by some other animal or disease organism. And speaking of plants, some kill other plants, while a few even eat animals in order to live. Even animals that live solely on plants engage in competition for mates, food, and territory. Sometimes the competition is just an innocuous ritual. But in some species the competition is brutal and fierce, males injuring other males, and sometimes mortally wounding them. Brutal herbivores? You bet.] And most of the deaths in nature are full of pain. If you look at animals, most of them aren't dead when they're eaten. Big fish eat little fish, and on and on.


    "And, you can not look at the tragedies caused by earthquakes in Armenia, Mexico, the Philippines, without being similarly appalled and overwhelmed. Man has nothing to do with that. Man can not control earthquakes. Man can not control typhoons that sweep across poor people's countries. Man can not control the fact of northern Africa, where the weather changes, the ground dries up and these people just all starve to death, not to speak of the malnutrition and illnesses that follow.


    "And the horror of it all is, people say, `Why don't they go somewhere else?' They can't. They have no money, no means of transportation, and nowhere to go. They're doomed from the moment they were born by where they were born, just as people are doomed in places of the world by their color; or the fact that they were born syphilitic because their mother was sold into prostitution when she was ten years old.


    "You cannot look at this world and then say, whoever started it, he being omniscient, and knowing the future and the past and the present as one, would know all of this anger and hatred and murder and killing and death, and beauty and majesty and wonder, all of it is going to happen - to believe that he could be described by the word, `Father,' is just impossible. I couldn't treat my children the way he's treated his."


    CHARLES TEMPLETON (IN A PHONE CONVERSATION, SHARING SOME IDEAS HE WAS PLANNING TO INCLUDE IN A BOOK THAT I HAVE NOT YET SEEN PUBLISHED. MR TEMPLETON'S LENGTHY AND DIVERSE CAREER HAS INCLUDED BEING A WELL KNOWN NORTH AMERICAN EVANGELIST WHO PREACHED TO STADIUMS PACKED WITH THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE, AND HOST OF HIS OWN RELIGIOUS TELEVISION PROGRAM IN AMERICA IN THE 1950s)


  • "I believe in Someone Out There - call Him God, since other names, like Festus or Darrin, do not seem to fit - but I am not entirely certain He is all that mindful of what goes on down here. Example: Recently a tornado destroyed a town in Texas and dropped a church roof on a batch of worshippers. One of the few things left standing were two plaster statues, one of Jesus, the other of Joseph. The townspeople, according to the news, `Looked at the statues' survival as a sign of God's love.'

    "Hold the phone. This sounds like the he-beats-me-because-he-loves-me line of thought. If the Lord in his infinite wisdom drops a concrete roof on the true believers but spares two hunks of modeling compound, it is time to question the big Fella's priorities. If I have to be made of plaster to command attention in this universe, something is amiss."


    JAMES LILEKS, NOTES OF A NERVOUS MAN


  • "There was a woman whom I'll call Mrs. Howard. She was a widow whose life revolved around her thirty-year-old son, Johnny Fred, who was physically deformed, his body twisted like a gnarled tree, he was mentally retarded and his speech was garbled. Every day Mrs. Howard parched and boiled peanuts and sacked them in brown paper bags. In turn, Johnny Fred would maneuver his convoluted body up and down Beulah Avenue, selling those peanuts to passersby.

    "One day she asked me, `Preacher, why did God let Johnny Fred be born the way he is?'


    "How could I say to this baffled mother, `God loves you. And this God of love has blessed you with a deformed, mentally deficient son who hobbles down Beulah Avenue selling peanuts while truck drivers frighten him by blasting their horns?'


    "I think I would have made some sense if I'd said, `Mrs. Howard, I don't know the answer to your question. Here you are a widow with a deformed son, living in a shack behind a gas station, supporting yourself and Johnny Fred on parched peanuts. Frankly, Mrs. Howard, I think you're eating chicken s---.' ("Eating chicken s---" is a Southern expression that means a person was experiencing undeserved and irrational troubles.)...


    "Repeatedly I met people who were hurting, experiencing a flood of irrational sorrow...As Tylertown's preacher I confronted a prevalence of pain among my people. My `coherence problem' has never gone away. I've never escaped from the shadowy side of life. I've seen children wasting away from leukemia. I've watched living bodies rot from lupus and cancer and cystic fibrosis. I've been with parents moments after a child has been killed by lightning. [Or, moments after a son or daughter has told their stunned fundamentalist Christian parents, "I'm gay!" - ED.] I've encountered people locked into deformed bodies, bodies twisted from birth - going through life in wheelchairs...And I've seen people existing into a senile and pointless old age, nature's final insult...Most of this human suffering - it seemed to me - was undeserved and served no purpose...


    "Sooner or later every person with eyes to see and ears to hear stumbles into what theologians call `the problem of evil.' If God is a heavenly father who loves his children, why does he give some of them chicken s--- to eat, sending them leukemia and twisted bodies and broken hearts and minds? Did not Jesus teach, `What man of you, if his son asks him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?'...


    "In the presence of such undeserved suffering I saw the point of Robert Frost's couplet:


    Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee,

    And I'll forget Thy great big one on me.


    "Why are some people brought into this world to hobble down Beulah Avenue in grotesquely-twisted bodies and to devote their life's energy to peddling peanuts? Christian thinkers tend to avoid questions like that. They leave the sad dimension of life to the Buddhas and Schopenhauers and Clarence Darrows and Mark Twains. But the tragic dimension of life will not go away. It causes us from a human viewpoint - the only viewpoint us humans have - to question the nature of God. So I was able, at least, to understand why a Tylertown Baptist said to me, `Preacher, the greatest fear I have is when I die and pass over to the other side I'll discover God is the bastard I've sometimes feared him to be.'"


    CLAYTON SULLIVAN, "FALLEN SPARROWS" IN CALLED TO PREACH, CONDEMNED TO SURVIVE: THE EDUCATION OF CLAYTON SULLIVAN (MERCER UNIV. PRESS, 1985)


  • "Somebody should have written a book in the Bible about boring, everyday life - the grind of routine. Like shopping, and the [cart or chariot - ED.] not working...Did [Jesus - ED.] ever have to stand in the `eight-items-or-less' line at the supermarket, watching a woman get out a check book and buy twenty-five items? [Did Jesus ever run out of toilet cloths with which to wipe his behind right after he had relieved himself? - ED.] It's the sheer trivialization of existence that drives out not merely religion, but all perception of the good and the beautiful and casts a kind of grey fog over life."

    A. N. WILSON AS QUOTED BY ROSEMARY HARTILL IN HER BOOK, WRITER'S REVEALED: EIGHT CONTEMPORARY NOVELISTS TALK ABOUT FAITH, RELIGION AND GOD


  • "Our forefathers (thanks to good King James)

    Talked funny, They had oddish names.

    They fell in love, succumbed to lust,

    And trampled strangers in the dust.

    They suffered flood and fire and drought.

    A few of them remained devout.

    Their lives were jolly, vapid, grim,

    According to Jehovah's whim.

    How little things have changed since then!

    Whose fault that is, God knows. Amen."

    JEANNE & WILLIAM STEIG, THE OLD TESTAMENT MADE EASY


  • "Let's take violence off TV, off the movie screen, and out of our schools...

    And leave it in nature and the Bible, where it belongs!"


    E. T. BABINSKI


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