Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Top Ten Creatures I Can't Buy A Good God Created, Part Two

The world isn't the way it's supposed to be. Let's look at childbirth by way of example. The first commandment God gave us, way back in Gen. 1:22 was to "be fruitful and multiply." We should remember that God's commandments are not arbitrary. That is to say, moral imperatives are not dictated down from on high for no reason. On the contrary, morality stems from Nature and Being itself. In other words, when Scripture tells us God has commanded us to do something, it is not because that's what God wants, it's because that's what God is, or because that's what we are.

It is of God's very essence (and therefore ours as well) to bring forth life. This is why doing so is an explicit commandment in Scripture. This idea is perfectly consonant with what modern science tells us. Procreation is the earliest and most fundamental aim of evolutionary development, the most basic reason for our existence. The pagan philosopher Aristotle said the same thing almost 2400 years ago when he named the propagation of the species as the ultimate telos (end, goal) toward which all life tends. All of this is to say that, if the world were the way it was supposed to be, childbirth would be the easiest, most natural thing in the world. Unfortunately, like so many other things, it's one of the biggest struggles in life: "in pain you shall bring forth children," (Gen. 3:16).

But it wasn't just humanity that was harmed by our sin: "cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life," (Gen. 3:17). For example:

the star-nosed mole,

this mutant dog thing,


and cat lady. Messed up as they are, as mammals (and marsupials), this group of horrifying creatures (along with those we saw in Part One) are actually the least horrifying of all.

After God finished his work of creation, he entrusted all of it to Man: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth," (Gen. 1:26).

Much has been made of the word "dominion." What the Hebrew writers of this passage would have meant, and what Western Christians would have understood it to mean until relatively recently, was not a "master/slave" relationship but something more like a "husband/wife" relationship. St. Paul explains Christian marriage in a similar fashion, saying, "Wives, be subject to your husbands," (Eph. 5:22). Of course, he balances this verse with the complementary commandment to husbands, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her," (Eph. 5:25). The relationship is one of self-gift, each living for the other. In the same way, Man is lord of creation in the same way Christ is Lord of us, by sacrificing himself for it. It is a lordship of love and self-gift, our "dominion" is that of the servant, the caretaker, the Lover.

As Man fell, so fell the World. Our sin could not help but affect our most intimate companion, Nature itself. Scripture confirms this when it prophesies that the New Creation will be quite different from the one we currently inhabit:
"The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord," (Isa. 11:6-9).
If the recreated order after the Parousia is perfect, and in it lions don't eat antelope, it must not be perfect for lions to eat antelope. We saw last post that all this ugliness can't have come from God. Where, then, did it come from? Us. By our sin, evil entered the world and corrupted the operation of Nature. Suddenly only the fittest can survive and things with fangs and claws and venom start popping up. But wait, the fossil record teaches us that fangs, claws, and venom predate Man. It turns out, then, that we just complicated matters and death and destruction entered into the world another way.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Part Three to be found here.


  1. Uh-oh...this sounds like my Genesis classes.

    You should be a catechist.


  2. Thanks! Yeah. Possums aren't particularly terrifying when it comes to looks; it's more a mind thing. I didn't know until I had to clear one out of a garage recently that the whole playing dead thing is really just a feat of downright stupidity and stubbornness.

  3. Around my house they're regarded as being a bit dear.

  4. I'll admit they have redeeming qualities. As Christ is the incarnation of God himself, he is the definition of beauty. He is Being itself, in matter. As such, all other beauty can be judged by gauging its level of similarity to him. Possums have quite a lot in common with Christ, but, as mammals go, I would put them near the bottom of the list (apes, monkeys, dogs, horses, and cats being at the top).


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