Summary: This message attempts to answer the question of evil as it exists in creation, contrasting answers from both Naturalistic and Christian viewpoint.
Dear God, Why did You create ticks and other nasty things?
When we ask “why did God made ticks and other nasty things?” the only way we can really understand the answer to the “ticks and other nasty things” question, is to at least be aware of the differing positions on the matter as given by the two major world views. So let us begin by exploring the answer according to the Naturalistic world view – the philosophy of modern science. Then we will contrast it with an answer from the Christian world view. And finally we will look into the Bible itself to see if there are any hints that either is on the right track.
First, think about this: Our entire human experience of life is one of either cooperation or competition with all the other life forms on the planet.
Every single life form that exists, from the smallest virus to the largest whale, is trying just like us to “be fruitful and multiply.” And as we humans reflect on all this “being fruitful and multiplying” we tend to label to our competitors in this process as “bad” and our cooperators as “good.” We also see where some life forms have failed at this task and thus become extinct: such as dinosaurs and Dodo Birds. While others seem only too successful at the task even to the point of perhaps one day driving us from the scene: flu viruses, cock roaches, and starlings might be in this class. So what sense can we make out of this mess of cooperation or competition in all of life’s attempts at being fruitful and multiplying?
Naturalism, which holds that everything in the universe happens according to natural laws without any divine interference, tends to emphasize the competitive nature of life better known as the “survival of the fittest.”
They would say that all of life in its various forms – from the smallest virus to the largest whale is simply competing with all the rest to be the most successful life form in its slot within the food chain. And whatever any life form can do to get ahead at this task it will do. Thus every possible earthly niche, every imaginable food source, every conceivable way of being fruitful and multiplying will be explored and dominated by some life form without any consideration for the needs of others.
So, the “circle of life,” as some would romantically phrase it, is actually little more than a revolving supper buffet and the meek will inherit nothing.
• As a cold virus floats from nose to nose all it wants to do is be fruitful and multiply, planting as many colonies of its own kind as possible. It cares not whether any host is unaware of or sickened by its presence.
• As a tree reaches towards the sunlight, it is in competition with the kudzu that is using its own wooden branches against it to overgrow the tree and steal all the sunlight for itself. When the kudzu wins, the tree loses.
• And ticks, like mosquitoes, like lamprey eels, vampire bats, and various intestinal worms have all learned the knack of getting their supper directly from another’s bloodstream. That they might also pass along to their new host a deadly diseases acquired from a previous host is of no concern to them; should their current food ticket die they will simply find another.
This is the way of things, Naturalism will tell you. All of life is in a competition to survive; a sort of environmental “musical chairs” those that do it better can stay in the game, those that fail must leave the floor, and so all life forms will evolve through time as new competitors try their strength against the current victors.
And Naturalism will also be quick to tell you that since there is no guiding purpose, no driving force, behind all this competing and evolving, that it is quite artificial for us humans to assign labels of goodness or badness to the various competitors, because goodness or badness is completely relative to the species asking the question.
Thus Naturalism’s answer is that mosquitoes, ticks, and other nasty things are just life forms that have successfully evolved to dominate their particular niche in the planetary food cycle; they are successful competitors, nothing more.
And though we humans think that we are on the top of the heap, as all stock traders warn you: past success is no guarantee of future performance. In our turn, as individuals and possibly also as a species, we humans will one day contribute all that we have gained on to some other species (probably grass, bugs, and worms) in the great buffet of life as the unknowing, uncaring, universe moves on.