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Originally published in Creation 19, no 4 (September 1997): 33-36.
In our world today there are many bad things, and a lot of suffering and sadness. So, did God make the world like it is today, or did something happen to spoil His creation?
The Bible tells us that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, and that when He finished creating, ‘God looked at everything he had made, and it was very good’ (Genesis 1:31). Yet in our world today there are many bad things, and a lot of suffering and sadness. So, did God make the world like it is today, or did something happen to spoil His creation?
Evolutionists tell us life evolved over millions of years. As creatures fought and killed each other, the strong survived, and the weak perished. Some people believe that evolution was God’s method of creation. But there is no evidence for evolution from the fossils, and would God really have used this method anyway? The Bible tells us: ‘Everything the Lord does is right. With love he takes care of all he has made’ (Psalm 145:17). This doesn’t sound like the kind of God who would use a cruel, wasteful process like evolution!
So where did all the cruelty and suffering we now see in the world come from? See ‘Where the trouble began’.
The Bible tells us that in the very beginning people and animals were vegetarians. ‘God said: “I have given you all the plants … they will be food for you. I have given all the green plants to all the animals to eat. They will be food for every wild animal, every bird of the air and every small crawling animal”’ (Genesis 1:29–30). The first man, Adam, named all the animals, and in that perfect world everything lived together safely and happily.
People and animals were not afraid of one another. In the world before the great Flood, there was probably a very different climate with plenty of food for all.
Some plant-eating animals living now—including the fruit bat, silver langur monkey and panda— have sharp, strong teeth. Other animals, which now use their teeth to eat meat, may have needed them for eating plants in the beginning. We must also remember that God the Creator can see the future! He knew that Adam's sin would bring death into the world. He gave some of the animals the teeth and digestive equipment they would need to eat meat.
After the great Flood, which wiped out a lot of the plant species, God also allowed people to eat meat (Genesis 9:3).
Pandas have very sharp, strong teeth, and they are classed among the carnivores (meat-eaters). But do you know what they use those teeth for? To chew the tough stems of the bamboo plant! This proves that you cannot tell what an animal eats just by looking at its teeth.
It was a golden afternoon. Frosts had helped turn the trees to a blaze of colour. Jenny sat on the step with a sketch book trying to capture the scene—the low sun on the golden oak, green, yellow-orange horse chestnut, tan beech, deep yellow lime and paler silver-birch, with a cherry-tree flaming crimson on the lawn.
Now, a breeze was showering the leaves down, and her little cousins, Ben and Bess, raced about, trying to catch them. Then they began collecting the prettiest ones.
‘Let’s make a leaf picture,’ said Jenny. They arranged the brightest ones in a pattern on a large white card, sticking them with a dab of glue. Mum thought it was beautiful.
‘What a shame it won’t last,’ sighed Jenny.
‘Why do the leaves die?’ asked Ben.
‘To save the tree itself,’ replied Mum.
‘A real winter gale would damage that big oak—in fact, that’s why thousands of trees blew down in southern England in the great gale of October 1987. Heavy rain had made the ground soft, and the trees were in full leaf. The weight of snow would break leafy branches, too. Also, it is a waste of resources’
‘God must have made trees shed their leaves, because the trees couldn’t know the danger. Doesn’t losing their leaves hurt them?’
‘No. At the end of summer some cells at the bottom of the leaf stalk become separated. The dividing layer is called the abscission layer. Any food left in the leaf is passed back to the stem, and any waste substances pass out into the leaf. Then, a corky layer forms to protect the scar when the leaf falls.
‘In the axil of each leaf stalk is next year’s bud,’ Mum continued, ‘safely protected by thick bud scales until next spring.’
‘The chestnut sticky buds have cotton wool inside to wrap up the baby leaves,’ said Bess, who had watched some open last spring.
‘The evergreen trees, like the Scots Pine, have narrow leaves to allow snow to slide off, and bendy stems which don’t easily break,’ added Mum.
A glorious crimson sunset ended the day in such a blaze of colour that Jenny thought it must be like heaven.
‘That reminds me of Psalm 19 verse one,’ said Mum, standing behind her.
‘“The heavens tell the glory of God. And the skies announce what his hands have made”!’
Sometimes known as the Australian teddy bear, the koala is a cuddly-looking animal, with soft, thick fur and big ears. However, the koala is not really a bear at all, but a marsupial (pouched) mammal. It now lives only in Australia, and spends nearly all its life in trees. It mostly eats only the leaves of several species of eucalyptus trees.
Since they eat eucalyptus leaves, koalas smell rather like cough sweets (lollies). They hardly ever drink water. They don’t have to, because the leaves contain all the water their bodies need.
Koalas have been in danger because many of ‘their’ trees have been cut down to make farmland or highways. However, there are significant areas reserved for them today.
Eucalyptus leaves are very tough and hard to digest, so koalas have a very special kind of stomach to deal with them. Koalas do not eat all the leaves of the eucalyptus trees. During part of the year the older leaves, and some of the young leaves at the tips of the branches, contain poison, and these leaves are not eaten.
Koalas find it awkward to move along the ground, but are very well designed for life in the trees. They have grasping claws on all four feet, with three fingers facing two ‘thumbs’. These are perfect for clinging to the trees, where they spend up to 18 hours a day sleeping.
Like all marsupials, baby koalas are born only partly developed, about two centimetres (3/4 inch) long. Yet these tiny babies are able to find their way to the safety of their mother’s pouch, using their well-developed front claws. They stay there, feeding on their mother’s milk, until they are six months old, when they begin to venture out, clinging to their mother’s fur. At about eight months old, the young koala leaves the pouch altogether, and clings to its mother until it is about a year old.
After feeding only on milk, the young koala’s digestive system would not be able to cope with eucalyptus leaves. This problem is solved in a way that no other animal uses. The young koala eats partly digested food passed with its mother’s droppings—this food is called ‘pap’. This prepares its digestive system to deal with the tough leaves of the eucalyptus trees.
The koala is very well designed for its way of life. Did it evolve? Could it have learned gradually which leaves of the eucalyptus were poisonous? Did the baby koalas find out by accident how to prepare their digestive systems to eat the leaves? There are no fossils to show that koalas (or other marsupials) evolved from any other animal. We believe God created koalas in the beginning with all the equipment they needed ready made.
We see many beautiful things in our world which remind us of God’s goodness. But what about the things which are not good—like disease, suffering and death? Many people ask why a loving God created a world with such things in it. Those who believe that God used evolution don’t have an answer, but God has told us in the Bible that in the beginning He created a perfect world. It was when the first people on earth rejected God’s love, and broke the one rule He had asked them to keep, that everything went wrong, and death, cruelty and suffering entered the world (see Romans 5:12). So we cannot blame God for the bad things in the world. Neither can we just blame Adam and Eve, because ‘All people have sinned and are not good enough for God’s glory’ (Romans 3:23). That includes us!
Yet God will not allow sin to spoil His creation for ever. He came to earth in the person of Jesus, who took the penalty of death for sin, died on the Cross and rose again so that those who believe in Him can have their sins forgiven, conquer death and live for ever with God. Although Christians now have to live with the problems of the world, they look forward to the time when God will make creation perfect again. ‘We are waiting for what he promised—a new heaven and a new earth where goodness lives’ (2 Peter 3:13). Are you?