For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. (Romans 8:22)
The ecological crises affecting our planet today should make every thinking Christian groan over the enormous burdens that have been placed on the world God made due to the devastating consequences of sin. The Bible reminds us that the natural world is groaning as it waits for the Creator to restore the earth to a fully redeemed condition.
But the Bible's explanation for how and, more importantly, why nature is "groaning" is aggressively rejected, or strategically ignored, by two major groups that disparage biblical creationism: evolutionists (either atheistic or theistic), and deists (often represented by Intelligent Design proponents).
Both camps misread our world, failing to comprehend the scientific importance of Adam's fall and the global curse that it triggered. As a result, explanations from both groups are fundamentally flawed when it comes to understanding real-world ecology.
Evolution's "Survival of the Fittest" Concept Contradicts Real-World Ecology
Evolutionists, of both the atheistic and theistic varieties, are quick to declare evolution's concepts of "survival of the fittest" and "might makes right" as natural law. With a fetish for such "selfish gene" behavior patterns, it is no wonder that Darwin's bulldog, Thomas Huxley, encouraged the unrestrained and irresponsible over-fishing practices that have abusively crushed the population dynamics of the North Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), which was once so plentiful.1, 2
How did evolutionist dogma doom future generations of codfish? Huxley, as chief cheerleader for "survival of the fittest" propaganda, argued to a British government commission that more aggressive fishing of cod would only cull out the "less fit" cod (i.e., the evolutionary "losers" that would be caught in the British fishing nets). This would keep their habitat's edible resources for the "better fit" cod, which then would reproduce so that future generations would descend from those "fittest" cod--a win-win result for both cod and mankind, it was argued. But the decimated cod population realities of the North Atlantic have actually falsified (i.e., proven as false) Huxley's irrational dream of nature as the ever-resilient and "evolving bigger and better" mythical phoenix rising from the ashes.
If codfish could speak, no doubt they would protest Thomas Huxley and his "survival of the fittest"' attitude toward God's creatures. Biblical respect for the Creator entails honoring Him in all aspects of life, including by our conduct as stewards of His now "groaning" earth. Yet ecological self restraint is a concept literally as old as Moses, and in fact as old as the human race.3
Intelligent Design's "Closed Bible Policy" Ignores Ecological Groaning
Similar to deists, proponents of Intelligent Design are, in essence, "secular creationists" who refuse to publicly acknowledge that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Creator. This is, of course, a strategy that they hope will allow them access to the secular-controlled scientific community. However, by intentionally keeping their Bibles closed, they ignore the fact and consequences of the events that occurred in the garden of Eden.
Failing to affirm the historicity of Genesis 3 (and its cause-effect truth), ID scientists, just like deists of prior centuries, ignore the only logical explanation for how a "very good" creation could somehow become degraded into a "not so very good" creation, where life is tainted, even cursed, by death and disease, parasites and predators, catastrophes and corruption, entropy and extinction.
This "closed Bible" approach to studying nature is routinely blended with evolution-based old-earth concepts, uniformitarian geoscience assumptions, and disdain for the historical occurrence of a global flood--betraying an accommodationist compromise with evolutionary mythology. The Genesis young-earth timeframe is routinely ignored and denied by "evangelical" ID proponents, even though Genesis (which some profess to be inerrant, understandable, and authoritative4) clearly teaches a short timeframe from Adam to Abraham, regardless of whether the Genesis genealogies are generationally "open" or "closed."5
Bypassing any big-picture understanding of real-world ecology, ID scientists downplay (or deny) how Adam's sin in Eden triggered divine judgment on all the earth (Romans 5:12). Their failure to acknowledge the biblical basis for entropy (i.e., the fallenness of man and nature that was begun in Eden) is paralleled by their pattern of denying the catastrophic impact of the global Flood (as chronicled in Genesis 6-9).
Benjamin Franklin's Misplaced Faith in Deistic Science
Deism had a similar problem with understanding how to explain the "very good" supernatural design universally displayed all throughout nature, with the equally obvious evidence of nature's fallenness.
For example, Benjamin Franklin, once an optimistic deist, rejected a Christian friend's advice to inoculate his four-year-old son Franky (Francis Folger Franklin) as a preemptive defense to a smallpox epidemic. Franky subsequently died in 1736. Bible-believing Christians knew well the world was fallen and its germs were hostile, so that an action plan was needed in human health matters:
In assessing the spiritual impact of Franky's death on his father, we should remember the earlier controversy over smallpox inoculation. The New England clergy [largely Calvinists like Franklin's parents] favored inoculation while the [deistic] scientific community opposed it. As believers in the [so-called] Enlightenment, young Franklin and his brothers sided with the scientists. But the clergy had been right, and the [deistic] scientists had been wrong--and Franklin's failure to inoculate his son may have contributed to young Franky's death. Did this shake Franklin's faith in science and [closed-Bible] reason, and increase his respect for the clergy and revelation?6
Maybe so. Fifty-one years later, at the historic Constitutional Convention in 1787, it was the skeptical Franklin, of all people, who called for prayer so that the seemingly derailed convention might be salvaged from political train wreck. Would a theologically consistent deist pray for God's personal blessing, while alluding to the Bible's teaching of God's care for sparrows as a reminder of God's personalized watch-care?7 Franklin did!8 And while he never became a biblical Christian, Franklin did learn (the hard way) to respect the fallenness of this "pretty good" world.
Ecology Involves a Fallen World
The world's ecology displays the indisputable fact that God is our glorious Creator, yet it also displays His "dying thou shalt die" judgment.
Attempting to explain the empirical evidence apart from Genesis 3 (or, similarly, Genesis 6-9) leaves this awkward imbalance: How can such an incomprehensibly good creation--one that points to an infinitely good and personal Creator--have traits that are imperfect, even ugly and cruel, such as dying?
The fact is that all earth's creatures are fallen, and not just a little. Drastic measures must be practiced to avoid death. Without a non-stop intake of air, water, and food, we die immediately, and so do the animals. Metabolism is biological entropy. Even with all of our ongoing metabolic support, our bodies are metabolic wastrels, as are all other life forms--and we all eventually die anyway. Without human sin as death's historic cause, death is senseless and meaningless and illogical. Certainly death is not "very good."
The focus of Intelligent Design is on how Someone intelligently and purposefully designed what we see, and on how this Someone is immeasurably superior to the best that mankind could ever achieve. Without the biblical context, it menaces the mind to contemplate the origin of and explanation for the ugliness and disharmony we see in creation.
To understand the big picture of earth's ecology--including how our world displays God's providential care and orchestrated wisdom, while simultaneously demonstrating its sin-cursed fallenness--we must use both sight and logic, with open eyes and open Bibles.
- The over-harvesting of North Atlantic cod even escalated into the "Cod Wars," a post-World War II conflict on the high seas, when the Icelandic coast guard forcibly fought off "poachers" from Germany and even Great Britain, its NATO ally.
- Thomas, B. Cod Still Recovering from Darwin Bulldog's Bite. ICR News, May 28, 2009, citing Kurlansky, M. 1998. Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World. London: Penguin Books Ltd., 121-122; and Thomas, B. 2009. Huxley Error Led to Cod Calamity. Acts & Facts. 38 (8): 17.
- Moses' law included restrictions on excessively hunting wildlife (Deuteronomy 22:6-7) and imprudent deforestation (Deuteronomy 20:19-20), yet environmental protection laws are always balanced to value human life over nonhuman life forms (Matthew 6:26-30; Psalm 8; Jonah 4:8-11). Even Adam was put into Eden "to dress it and to keep it" (Genesis 2:15), and Noah managed the greatest biodiversity protection project ever (Genesis 6-9).
- Genesis is inerrant history, not symbolic "poetry." The critical proof of this is well summarized in Jonathan Sarfati's interview of Dr. Robert McCabe in Sarfati, J. 2010. Theologian: Genesis Means What It Says! Creation. 32 (3):16-19.
- Johnson, J. J. S. 2008. How Young Is the Earth? Applying Simple Math to Data Provided in Genesis. Acts & Facts. 37 (10):4-5.
- Eidsmoe, J. 1987. Christianity and the Constitution. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 203.
- See Matthew 10:29 (Jesus teaching about God's watch-care over sparrows).
- Eidsmoe, 208 (with Ben Franklin quotation sources in footnote 70).
* Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics at the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Johnson, J. J. S. 2010. Misreading Earth's Groanings. Acts & Facts. 39 (8): 8-9.