One of the most common questions asked of Christians is some version of: “If God is so loving, why are there bad things in the world?” The implication being that if God created this world in the state it is in, He can’t be ‘very good’ Himself. This is sometimes used as a reason to reject belief in God.
CMI’s Creation Answers Book devotes a whole section to explaining this in great detail, providing not only a philosophical answer but also addressing more detailed questions such as, ‘What about animals that have attack/defence structures that seem ‘designed’ to hunt and kill (or protect them from such activity)?’ Again, this is because skeptics of biblical creation have used the (reasonable) argument that a ‘good’ God surely wouldn’t have created creatures designed to tear other creatures to pieces etc.
Knowledgeable Christians will generally rush to point out (validly) that things capable of causing harm (or defending against it) were a result of the Fall, which brought sin, death, and bloodshed into the world. But the question of when these physical attributes came to be remains. We are talking now about real physical mechanisms, not abstract concepts such as ‘evil’, for example.
Creationists often argue that creatures may be using their ‘equipment’ (teeth, claws etc) in a different way post-Fall than they would have previously. This is reasonable for some instances, but falls short for many others. Claws, teeth and poisonous fangs exist (along with the predatory instincts to use them), and if God created all things then some would say they must have been here from the beginning. Some would say this defeats one of the most powerful biblical creationist arguments against millions of years, namely that there could not have been death before Adam sinned. This is because it means creatures must have been killing each other long before Adam came on the scene.
Exodus 20:11 is certainly one of the most oft quoted verses to counter a belief in ‘millions of years’ of supposed earth history, as it explicitly states God created everything (the heavens and earth and all that is in them) in 6 literal days. But the verse can cut both ways because that then means that claws and poison must also have been created within those 6 days and the Fall had not yet occurred. How then do we explain this, and is there any scientific backup for the biblical account?
The first thing we need to understand is that God wasn’t surprised by the Fall of Adam. God is all knowing1 and so knew that a punishment would have to be meted out following Adam’s (and his offspring’s) rebellion.
According to Scripture, at the time of the Fall the environment changed and there were changes in the physical construction of some things as well. For example thorns appeared where there were none before. Some might ask ‘Doesn’t that mean God must have created new genetic information for these things at that time where there was none before?’ Not necessarily, because ‘hidden’ genetic information can lie dormant within living things and be activated under certain environmental conditions.
For example, evolutionists were declaring proof of rapid, large-scale evolution when Italian Wall Lizards were transplanted from one island to another. They exhibited large-scale changes in behaviour (no longer territorial), food preference (went from predominantly carnivorous to vegetarian) and morphology (larger heads and even the production of cecal valves to assist digestion of plants) all in just over 30 years of living in their new environment2.
Astonishingly the DNA sequence of the newer lizards seemed identical to the parent population, which means that the genetic information for cecal valves (along with the other genetic information accounting for the other changes) was likely already present in these creatures (which means this gives no support for evolution, which requires new information that never existed before to arise through random processes).3 It was likely the environment itself which activated the needed information that caused the changes in subsequent populations.
As CMI’s Dr Don Batten commented; “It is significant that the cecal valve is present in other herbivorous lizards in this family (Lacertidae), so it is not surprising that this particular species has the ability to produce cecal valves under certain conditions.”4
This is equivalent to how your computer may have an anti-virus program which monitors for threats. You may not even realize it is there but it is constantly monitoring the environment and under certain conditions it activates and brings certain features ‘online’.
This humorous line was delivered by the fictional character Dr Bruce Banner in the 2008 movie ‘The Incredible Hulk’. The doctor is trying to tell some antagonists not to make him angry but as he attempts to speak Spanish he mistranslates ‘angry’ for ‘hungry’. The reason for his warning to them is that under duress the doctor transforms from mild mannered scientist into a rampaging green monster known as the Hulk, a metamorphosis he is desperate to avoid. Upon calming down he then transforms back to his former self.
Although ‘The Hulk’ is fictional, scientists have discovered creatures that can literally transform suddenly (and not with life-cycle programming such as butterflies or frogs) when they get hungry under certain environmental conditions.
For example up to the 1920’s, scientists used to classify grasshoppers as a separate species to locusts. However, researchers have since determined that they are actually the same creature. Under certain (laboratory reproducible) circumstances they exhibit a sort of Jekyll/Hyde transformation that is truly startling!
Behavioural differences happen immediately at the transformation, with physical changes appearing in subsequent generations. The difference in behaviour (grasshoppers are solitary, locusts swarm), and morphology (locusts have smaller legs, wings and bodies but have a 30% larger brain than grasshoppers5) is significant and changes neural, muscular and exo-skeletal expression. And the transformation from grasshopper to locust can also be reversed back6 again. Yet the DNA of the two creatures is identical.7
This ability for DNA to express different programming from the same source code under different environmental conditions is actually fairly common. The epigenetic code, a set of switches that turn genes on and off (e.g. in response to environmental stimuli) is a main contributor to this ability of the ‘finished product’ to vary despite the same DNA ‘instructions. This is known as ‘phenotypic plasticity’.8
A crude analogy of this phenomenon is a Swiss Army knife. A multitude of different tools are available for use, depending on the circumstance, from the same source. What is amazing scientists is how this latent genetic information can be ‘hidden’ within the DNA of a creature. The obvious question is, “What other information might be there that we haven’t seen yet?”
Not only is the discovery of latent genetic information an incredible challenge for evolution to account for, and a tremendous evidence of design (because it exhibits all of the characteristics of foresight and pre-planning in the genomes of creatures around the world), but it also helps answer the supposedly unanswerable question of how ‘bad things’ appeared after the Fall if God’s creation was completely finished by the end of the sixth day of creation.
Foreknowing the Fall of man,9 God created the features of a post-Fall world in latent form within His very good world. They only became activated when God cursed the creation as punishment for Adam’s transgression. And the entire creation groans because of that Curse and is evidence that something is desperately wrong with this world. If God had not caused our physical environment to change at the time of the Fall, we would be lost without Him, bound for Hell but still in a virtual paradise. How would we know there was anything wrong and that we were in need of our Saviour?
Thankfully, from the foundation of the world our Creator God, knowing what would happen, planned to save us. So God the Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, became flesh and dwelt among us, gave His life on the cross and paid the penalty for sin for those who put their faith and trust in Him.