Does an “old earth” make God cruel?

Yet another common argument proposed by creationists is that the theory of evolution turns God into a cruel tyrant.  Some go even further and accuse “old earth creationism” of the same, even when it doesn’t include the theory of evolution.  For instance, Eric Kemp recently wrote:

How can God call His creation “very good” if there was billions of years of suffering and death in the animal kingdom before humans were created?  This notion also makes God into a bumbling, lying, cruel creator who lacks the power to prevent disease, natural disasters, and extinctions to mar His creative work, without any moral cause, but still calls it all “very good.”

How does this make God into a liar?  He said it was “very good”; who are we to judge Him?  How does this make God bumbling?  One could easily make the argument that God is a bumbling fool if He created in the “creationist” manner.  “Oops, this model of Archaeopteryx isn’t really working out for me…I’ll let them go extinct and then start over from scratch.” 

The argument of God being “cruel” or “impotent” applies regardless of how old the earth is or whether evolution is factual.  Indeed, this is one of many reasons why people choose not to believe in God.  People get sick.  People get injured.  People die.  God could stop that if He chose to, could He not?  He is all-powerful, according to Christianity. 

Even if one does view evolution as cruel, etc, does it really matter?  We aren’t God.  If He chose to create via evolution, it really doesn’t matter what we think about it.  God’s character is complex.  Let’s face it.  The bible teaches that He has thrown plagues against the earth (and shall again), He will eventually demolish the earth in judgment, and ultimately sentence nonbelievers to eternal torment.  And yet years of animal death, of all things, is what bothers us about God and His creation in light of these other biblical tidbits?

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6 Responses to “Does an “old earth” make God cruel?”

  1. thesoulofthecreator Says:

    It comes from the notion that man would have actually lived forever and that animals in the garden were peaceful. Well they are animals with instincts, when they kill for food some would say that is evil? Who are we to assume that?

  2. […] Does an “old earth” make God cruel? […]

  3. Airtightnoodle

    “He said it was “very good”; who are we to judge Him? How does this make God bumbling?”

    It just seems that you are reaching for something to hold on to here. Answer this question. Is death good?

    “One could easily make the argument that God is a bumbling fool if He created in the “creationist” manner. “Oops, this model of Archaeopteryx isn’t really working out for me…I’ll let them go extinct and then start over from scratch.””

    Whoa! Attack of the strawman! Since when did God “let” things go extinct and then “start over”? Since when is this what creationists believe? Do you have any evidence that God did this?

    “The argument of God being “cruel” or “impotent” applies regardless of how old the earth is or whether evolution is factual.”

    Surely. But what is the answer to this “problem of evil” question? That man is fallen and man has corrupted the world through it’s sin and it is sin that is destroying the world, right? How can the Earth be corrupted and dying through sin if it was ALREADY DYING before humanity sinned??

    You would literally have argue that God designed the world for death and suffering of life and then called it “very good”. Does this make sense to you?

    “bible teaches that He has thrown plagues against the earth (and shall again), He will eventually demolish the earth in judgment, and ultimately sentence nonbelievers to eternal torment.”

    Yes, but does He call any of these things “very good”? NO!

  4. “It just seems that you are reaching for something to hold on to here. Answer this question. Is death good?”

    Are we talking about physical or spiritual death? Spiritual death is certainly “bad”.

    “Whoa! Attack of the strawman! Since when did God “let” things go extinct and then “start over”? Since when is this what creationists believe? Do you have any evidence that God did this?”

    That was meant to be humorous, Eric, but since you’re asking, what other explanation do you have for why God would create so many organisms that seem to be so similar to each other, that in fact, seem to be related through common descent? What do you believe creationists believe on this issue?

    “Surely. But what is the answer to this “problem of evil” question? That man is fallen and man has corrupted the world through it’s sin and it is sin that is destroying the world, right? How can the Earth be corrupted and dying through sin if it was ALREADY DYING before humanity sinned??

    You would literally have argue that God designed the world for death and suffering of life and then called it “very good”. Does this make sense to you?”

    Again, I can see we have a fundamental disagreement in what kind of death is being referred to in the creation account.

  5. Airtightnoodle

    “Are we talking about physical or spiritual death? Spiritual death is certainly “bad”.”

    Oh c’mon. Honestly Airtight, it seems that you are deliberately attempting to ignore and confuse. The issue is very simple. God called His creation “very good”. This is blatantly false if evolution is true because God would be calling billions of years of suffering and death “very good”. In this case, He’s either lying or He’s evil. If you are attempting to reference Adam and Eve’s spiritual death (which isn’t what the text is necessarily saying, “mwuth-mwuth” remember?), that spiritual death took place after the fall, and after God uttered the words “very good”.

    “That was meant to be humorous, Eric, but since you’re asking, what other explanation do you have for why God would create so many organisms that seem to be so similar to each other, that in fact, seem to be related through common descent? What do you believe creationists believe on this issue?”

    My apologies, the humor was lost on me, it’s quite hard to hear tone through text. But even so, you were making a point through that humor, no?

    To answer your question: You hit the nail on the head. You are assuming that similarity = common descent. The creationist assumes no such thing. We know that similarity is really only evidence of similarity and to draw the conclusion of common descent is to put an evolutionary bias onto the evidence of similar fossils. The creationist prefers to leave absolute conclusions about the unobservable past to the only Person who was there, God.

    “Again, I can see we have a fundamental disagreement in what kind of death is being referred to in the creation account.”

    Death is not mentioned in the creation account, so I’m unsure of what your mean here. More accurately, you have a fundamental disagreement with the commonly accepted definitions of “good” and “death”. You have just ignored the question of how God can call billions of years of death and suffering “very good”.

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