An Apologetic for Gross Things
August 21, 2010
I study the worst of God’s creation as a hobby. It could be due to my own skepticism looking for chinks in nature to see if the world really is good or not. It’s easy to look at a beautiful tree and see the majesty of a great Mind but it would be cheating to only allow that evidence into the trial of general revelation. The gross creatures came from the mind of God and I find it enlightening as soon as I get off the first base of my skeptical culture.
Behold the glorious maggot, the ant and the great white shark, for they display an economy of life and death that rivals the works of Shakespeare. Up close animals are savage in their ruthlessness. There are wasps that lay their eggs in the living bodies of spiders, caterpillars and other helpless critters that only serve as hosts to disgusting offspring that devour their landlords in a grizzly living sacrifice. Earth’s economy of the living is a story of dealing with death, even using death, to create more life. Without the sacrifice of innocence there can be no life on earth. Likewise, we couldn’t even drive our cars without a few billion years of dead cool dinosaurs to create the fuel in the first place.
One can try to avoid killing animals by embracing the Vegan way, but you’ll still have to eat plants to survive. Our bodies use bacteria and enzymes that essentially process life to keep us from dying. Even the kindest Vegan is a life-eater. In fact, given I prefer eating plants that aren’t rotting with death, I’m even more of a life eater than your average maggot. Maggots eat death so we don’t have to deal with it.
My Scoutmaster served in Viet Nam and our favorite story of his was how the medics used “clean” disinfected maggots to eat out rotting flesh from war injuries. A soldier had an infected wound on his arm and the medical team scattered maggots on his arm and covered them with a bandage. The maggots ate only his dead flesh and wouldn’t touch the living skin cells. Maggot debridement therapy is still used today. But let the skeptic hold up the maggot as exhibit A against a cute, tree-making God and he’ll come up short for not only could the soldier die without such a therapy, so we all would die within months without the death eaters.
It is estimated that ants process death so well and are so plentiful, that if ants ceased to exist today, Earth could no longer sustain life within 3 months. We would literally rot to death. Even in the biological microcosm, if death is ignored it will wipe out all of life. Man’s great problem with death isn’t just physical, for the physical world follows the non-physical world too. Maggots don’t go to discredit God’s reputation as an amazing creator, they actually display His mastery over even death to serve his better purpose.
There is another simple truth that comes to mind when I think about parasites, ants and gross things, that death is a second thing that requires the first thing of life for it to exist. In short, life comes first. The positive case for the good comes before death can happen. God creates the world out of nothing and he made life first. You have to do something to get life. The natural degradation of things comes second. Earth is like a charged battery we find that demands a divine, non-physical Battery Charger. Or if you prefer, it’s like finding a hot cup of coffee sitting on the kitchen table. When we find such a cup, we don’t assume it got there by accident of its own accord. We know that a causative agent must have put it there, a finite amount of time ago, because life is not automatic, self-creating, or eternally existent in the past.
So here’s to the death eaters. Without some living things that process death, life in this earthly economy would be impossible. Death is a problem that doesn’t go away because we wish it away. It’s here and must be negotiated with or it will consume even the living and every living thing must pay a price for life. Life is not free. For life to exist some other form of life must die and that life form likely did nothing to deserve its death. Innocent life dies that others may live. Get it?