Table of Contents
Part III: The Problem of Evil
The Evils Resulting from the Curse:
B: On Animals and Mankind
Indeed the dominion
which man was to have over the beasts and cattle and creeping
things and the fowls of the air -- over the whole animal kingdom,
in fact (Genesis 1:28) -- was not properly exercised and nature
having no proper governor became wild, and the struggle for food
has resulted in much of the apparent cruelty among animals. But
it was not the original arrangement, nor will it be the final
This incidentally throws some light on
the reason why certain animals were "brought" to Noah
to preserve seed, while other animals were left to be destroyed
along with man at the time of the Flood. The sudden unnatural
reduction in animal population in one area would bring an imbalance
over a much wider area. This, when at the same moment the human
population was reduced to a mere handful of people, might have
put the entire natural system in grave danger. It must surely
be supposed therefore that God brought to Noah just such creatures
to be preserved which, in multiplying would restore the balance
and control it until the initial family had multiplied sufficiently
to be out of danger. The same principle forms the basis of God's
delayed action on behalf of Israel as revealed in Exodus 23:29
where the enemy forces occupying the land were not immediately
reduced lest predatory animals should multiply and endanger the
scattered settlements of the Israelites. Man is required in sufficient
numbers to keep in check those aspects of nature which can be
dangerous to him. Dr. Laura Thompson says wisely, "Man is
not only a major factor in the web of life; he is the only agent
whereby a conservation program for a local area may be actively
It is a
matter of common observation that animal nature may be modified
by diet. Cats fed on meat are often more savage than cats fed
on milk. On the other hand, domestic animals are tame because
suitably fed and properly governed, so that we may see in the
barnyard flesh-eating and herb-eating creatures living harmoniously
together. Adam was to dress and to keep the Garden and all in
it. That is to say, he was to attend to a regulation of the soil
and all that this involves, but he was also to govern the animal
world and guard its sensitive balance.
15. Thompson, L., "The Basic Conservation
Problem" in Scientific Monthly, February, 1949, p.130.
14 of 30
1956, Georges H. Westbeau published his record of the life of
Little Tyke, (16)
a lioness who was saved from death as a tiny cub and taken into
the Westbeau household to be treated as a pet. The story is a
fascinating one. What is particularly surprising is the demonstration
of the fact that the young cub showed no desire whatever for
meat when she reached an age at which in the wild she would have
accepted it as her normal diet. For days the Westbeaus tried
to train her to accept meat, since they had every intention of
fitting her for a return to nature in due time. Little Tyke resolutely
Subsequent conversations with authorities
revealed the fact that, in the wild, young lion cubs have to
be taught to eat meat by virtually starving them. It is evidently
not something they adopt by instinct. The
Westbeaus had tried all kinds of ruses and even offered $1,000
to anyone who could show them how to
succeed. By the time Little Tyke was four years old she had become
a permanent vegetarian and -- more important to the Westbeaus
-- the gentlest creature they had ever known. Little Tyke befriended
kittens, chickens, lambs, dogs, donkeys, indeed every kind and
species of waif or stray animal, healthy or sick, that she came
across. On one occasion, when the Westbeaus managed to introduce
a mouthful of solid food by guile, Little Tyke at once regurgitated
it. They never attempted it again.
The experts assured them that carnivorous
animals, such as lions, cannot live without meat. Little Tyke
could not live with it. Her extraordinary gentleness, even to
the extent of keeping her claws retracted, and her tidiness and
cleanliness made her a perfect companion and playmate for all
kinds of animals and all kinds of people, including infants barely
able to climb on her back. The front cover of Westbeau's book
shows a lamb lying between her paws, the former obviously almost
asleep. Isaiah 11:6 foresees just such a world when the Lord
returns to establish His rule over a creation that man has failed
to govern as he was commissioned to do:
The wolf also shall dwell with
the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the
calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little
child shall lead them.
were to live on herbs (Genesis 1:30), not on flesh. So they will
again in the Millennium, for as Isaiah 65:25 points out, "The
lion [the king of beasts] shall eat straw like the bull [the
king of cattle]." There
is a remarkable and perhaps unsuspected evidence today that man
also changed his diet. Claude A. Villee remarked: (17)
16. Westbeau, Georges H., Little Tyke,
Pacific Press, Mountain View, California, 1956.
17. Villee, Claude A., Biology, Saunders, Philadelphia,
2nd edition, 1954, p.580.
appendix is the remnant of the blind pouch, the cecum, which
is a large functional structure in the digestive tract of herbivorous
animals such as the rabbit. Foods rich in cellulose require a
long time for digestion, and the cecum provides a place where
the food may be stored while the gradual process of digestion,
mostly by intestinal bacteria, takes place. A long time ago .
. . our ancestors changed to a diet containing more meat and
less cellulose, and the cecum has gradually diminished to the
present useless vestige, the appendix.
John E. Pfeiffer
reinforces this conclusion by saying: (18)
Man bears the marks of
vegetarian origins in teeth not specialized for ripping and tearing
like those of true carnivores, and in the sort of long gut generally
associated with a diet of plant food. Furthermore, man still
seems to digest vegetable fats better than animal fats. Medical
research indicates that an important factor in hardening of the
arteries may be the formation of deposits of poorly digested
fatty products on inner blood vessel walls.
Reverting once more
to Isaiah 65:25, we see that the passage continues by saying
"at that time, they shall not harm nor destroy in all My
holy mountain, saith the Lord." So the true government then
to be established will obviate all the present "evils"
of the world which spring from disharmony in the natural order.
It is a challenge
to us, even as it stands, to do our part in governing the animal
world by wise use of the means which have been developed for
the maintenance of the requisite food supplies. In some way the
whole animal creation suffered, as the words "above the
rest" (Genesis 3:14) imply. Human government is not always
Where we have, as it were, "vital
statistics" for animals which are known both in a wild and
in a tame state, it is revealed that they may live longer when
tame. Thus, as Raymond Pearl points out, "All the available
evidence agrees that elephants under domestication, about which
India furnishes long and extensive experience, live on the average
longer than in the wild state." (19) And this in spite of the fact that they are made
to work hard!
Yet, in itself domestication may
not be an unmixed blessing for animals. It is sometimes pointed
out that predatory creatures are given instincts of "limitation"
which operate so long as other animals respond according to their
true nature. When the preyed-upon do not act according to nature,
the predatory instincts of the attacker are upset entirely. Thus
wolves in the presence of the "stupidity" of sheep,
and foxes in the presence of the "stupidity" of fowl,
will kill indiscriminately. William J. Long, a naturalist, made
this observation: "I must
18. Pfefffer, John E., The Emergence of
Man, Harper and Row, New York, 1969, p.108.
19. Pearl, Raymond, Man the Animal, Principia Press, Bloomington,
Indiana, 1946, p.47.
give the wolves this
credit, too, that though they crossed the well-worn paths of
a deer yard, they made no attempt to harry the game. They rarely
do so unless they are hungry, or unless (near settlements) they
run into a herd of foolish domestic animals that do not know
enough to scatter or be quiet when wolves appear." (20) If man had completed his
duty of domestication, this would not have come about, because
wolves and foxes would also have been tamed.
There appears on
the other hand to be sufficient evidence to show that the cruelty
of nature is apparent rather than real in many cases. The majority
of animals do not actually hurt their victims in spite of appearances
to the contrary. J. Crowther Hirst tells us that he wrote to
big game hunters and missionary doctors, securing the record
of some sixty men who had been pounced upon by bears, lions,
tigers, leopards, and panthers. Fifty-eight of them felt no pain
or terror. (21)
If this be true of man with his intense sensitivity, it should
be more true of animals.
There are numberless
examples of creatures which do not lose their appetite even after
the most extraordinary mutilations. Alexander Skutch relates
how he watched a mica serpent, mortally wounded by bullets, continue
to gorge upon the contents of some nests in a colony of Lawrence's
caciques. He concludes that a hungry snake is insensitive to
pain and almost insensible to danger. (22) On the other hand, human beings lose their appetite
almost immediately under very slight provocation -- though this
is not quite universally true. Some primitive people do not seem
to feel pain as we do and occasionally, for them, loss of appetite
occurs only as a sign of approaching death.
But the assumption
may be reasonably made that loss of appetite is some measure
of sensitivity to pain -- and that therefore many animals do
not have this sensitivity, since they do not lose their appetite.
Some domestic animals appear to be more sensitive. But on the
whole, the apparent "wildness" and ruthlessness of
animals in the wild is partially due to the fact that we project
ourselves into it and attribute to animals "human"
reactions, interpreting their reactive behaviour accordingly.
Animals do not
anticipate pain as we do, though they may anticipate danger.
We often confuse these two animal responses. There is a case
of a codfish which was apparently hooked in the eye, but succeeded
in tearing itself loose, leaving its eye on the hook. Subsequently
it was attracted to the hook once again by its own eye, which
it took for food! When it was taken out of the water, its own
eye was still on the hook in its own mouth.
20. Long, William J., Wood-Folk Comedies,
Harper, New York, 1920, p.247.
21. Hirst, J. Crowther, Is Nature Cruel? reviewed under
the heading "In the Jaws of the Lion" in The Spectator,
82, London, 3 June, 1899, p.782-83.
22. Skutch, Alexander, "The Parental Devotion of Birds"
in Scientific Monthly, April,1946, p.364.
23. See C. S. Coon, speaking of the Lower California Indians,
now extinct, in General Reader in Anthropology, Holt,
New York, 1948, p.76.
A moth cut in half continued to eat ravenously to
assuage an endless appetite, unaware that the food passed right
out of its open stomach onto a table, where it was removed by
the experimenter. Finally it died of starvation! Yet, if such
creatures are caught, the restriction of their movement starts
up a keen reflex that makes them struggle to be free -- and this
struggle gives us the impression that they are in intense pain.
It is not at all certain that the animal world suffers pain in
the ordinarily appointed experiences of their existence, except
insofar as it serves to teach them where danger lies. It may
only be evidence of a powerful instinct to resist all unnatural
restriction of free movement.
As Munro Fox has put it: (24)
One might think that pain could
be deduced from an animal's actions. If it struggles when wounded,
or if it attempts to get rid of the object which wounds it, then
one might conclude that the animal is in pain. But is this so?
If an earth-worm is cut in two, the back part wriggles most.
Does it therefore suffer most? The worm's "brain" is
scattered: there is a portion in each of the numerous segments
of the body. But the more complex part of the nervous system
is at the front end of the worm. Here, if anywhere, one would
expect pain to be felt, yet the hind end wriggles most. Rather
than a sign of pain, this struggling seems to be due to a release
from a normal inhibition to excessive movement. In the intact
worm the front "brain" imposes a restraint or inhibition
on excessive movements of the body. Released from inhibition
by the cut, the worm's hind end wriggles freely.
A frog can be anaesthetized and
its brain then destroyed. It soon recovers from the anesthetic
and lives on without the brain. If, now, a tiny piece of blotting
paper dipped in acid is put on the frog's back, the animal raises
its hind foot and wipes off the paper. Everything looks as if
the frog had been stung or hurt by the acid, as if it had felt
a painful sensation and had sought to free itself from pain.
But surely we cannot suppose that without a brain the frog could
feel pain. Rather we have here an automatic reflex action to
the acid stimulus, a reflex through the spinal cord, which can
involve no pain. Thus appearances of pain are deceptive.
In light of
such observations, Ronald Good points out the need for a change
of attitude toward nature on the part of the naturalists. He
The deepest reason for dissatisfaction
is our failure to abandon outmoded biological conceptions, and
this has two main aspects. More important because of its profound
significance to the world in general, is what may be called the
"Nature red in tooth and claw" fallacy. One would imagine
that the influence which such a belief has had on human affairs
in the past half-century would at least raise doubts about its
validity; but even more odd is the apparent continuing failure
to admit that the very existence of a science of "natural
communities" belies it, for if Nature was indeed as the
poet described it, its condition would be chaotic and in a perpetual
state of disequilibrium. If there were nothing else to thank
Dr. Dice for, there is the support his book gives to the view
that Nature is essentially a state of beautiful and delicate
balance to which each and every member makes its due, but only
24. Fox, Munro, The Personality of Animals,
Pelican, Gretna, Louisiana, 1952, pp.17-18.
25. Good, Ronald, reviewing Natural Communities by Lee
R. Dice (University of Michigan, 1952), in Nature, 11
July, 1953, p.46.
If this is true, then we are presented with an interesting
fact. The apparent suffering of these creatures in their normal
living conditions attracts our sympathetic attention, in spite
of ourselves, to the fact that nature is a system which can be
thrown out of adjustment and needs our oversight. Yet this lesson
is not taught us at the expense of the innocent creatures who
appear to need our care. Thus has God wisely appointed an effective
method whereby a constant challenge should be presented to us
without making the animals pay the cost of our education. We
are challenged to keep harmony, or to restore where necessary
what has been lost. We ideally support our societies for the
prevention of cruelty to animals, and the skeptics say it is
a waste of money because the animals do not really suffer anyway.
They may be quite right. But so is our idealism.
Animal lovers will still
maintain -- probably with justification -- that animals do feel
pain, especially domesticated ones. But this does not affect
the argument too seriously. Manifestly, pain is essential for
the protection of the organism. There are children born now and
then who feel no pain whatever. This is usually only discovered
when the child takes delight in cutting itself just to see the
blood bubbling out! This may sound absurd, but it is a fact.
Such children feel no pain whatever and will without hesitation
plunge their hands into water that will scald them, or drink
things far too hot for their throat and stomach to stand. They
have to be protected continually against themselves and their
This is well illustrated from a
news item appearing in The Fundamentals: (26)
A little girl, Beverly Smith,
born in Akron, Ohio, about six years ago, almost never cried.
She never cried when she fell down, she never cried when she
bumped her head. She didn't even cry when she burned her hand
on a hot stove. She cried only when angry or hungry.
The doctors who examined her soon
discovered that she had a rare condition, probably due to a defect
in the central nervous system, and for which no cure is known.
She cannot feel pain. The mother took the baby home with a great
deal of accompanying advice. . . . She must watch Beverly
constantly; the baby might break a bone and continue using it
until it could not be set properly; she might develop appendicitis
without nature's warning of pain. Spanking her to make her more
careful about hot stoves and knives would do no good. A life
without pain will be a perpetually dangerous life for Beverly.
26. July-August, 1954, p.96. Wycliffe Press,
similar instance was reported in the Montreal Gazette: (27)
Richard Mains, age 8, goes to
the hospital regularly to have his hair pulled. Each time doctors
watch for some indication that the boy feels the pulling. But
so far it has failed to give him any sense of pain.
Richard is the only little boy
in the country who never cries, because he has no sense of feeling
or touch. Officially, Richard's condition is diagnosed as a gangli-neuropathy,
a rare disorder that has baffled medical scientists for years.
A leading nerve specialist described Richard's case as "among
the most baffling in the world.". . . The boy takes
knocks, cuts and bruises without knowing they have happened.
His condition can be dangerous,
like the time when he rubbed his eye so hard he scratched the
retina. It took a leading surgeon to save the eye.
Recently, the door of a hot oven
was opened against Richard's knee. His leg was badly burned.
He knew nothing about it until someone noticed his reddening
leg. Now he wears special protective clothing. Each night and
morning he is carefully examined to see if he has been injured.
creature which has a highly organized nervous system -- that
is to say, which is a highly developed animal -- a sense of pain
is absolutely essential. It is a protective device. Presumably
some domesticated animals have become more sensitive to pain
because they are not so hardy as the wild variety of the species.
Now sweat also,
in the case of man, appears to be as much a consequence as
a punishment, though it is often assumed that, being part
of the curse, it is a penalty. In a sense it is a penalty, but
it is a merciful one. Although from an engineering point of view
the figure seems quite high, by actual measurement under a wide
range of work load and environmental temperature conditions,
we established in our own laboratories (using fit young men as
subjects) that the efficiency of the body as a thermodynamic
machine is anywhere from 15 percent to 35 percent. Some young
men were much less efficient, some were highly so: in part it
depends upon the type of work being done. On a bicycle we found
the highest levels of efficiency for all forms of exercise.
Now, the potential energy of the
oxidation of the food eaten in excess of these figures, the mean
of which is 25 percent, must be eliminated in the form of heat
if the temperature of the body is to be held at a safe level.
Whenever the temperature of the environment will not allow this
excess heat energy to be dissipated quickly by radiation, sweating
breaks out to provide a means of evaporative cooling, and it
is highly effective in man. (28) If for some reason sweating is suppressed -- as by
the administration of drugs, for example --
27. 4 May, 1955.
28. Custance, Arthur C., "Stress-Strain Relations of Man in the Heat"
in Medical Services Journal of Canada, vol. XXIII, no.5, 1967,
p.721-26. See also "The Meaning of Sweat as Part of the Curse,"
Part V in The Flood: Local
or Global?, vol. 9 of The Doorway papers Series, Zondervan
deep body temperature
begins to rise at once in quite precise proportion to drug dosage.
(29) Sweating is now therefore essential for man's survival under
the normal working conditions of his existence as a creature
whose disobedience in Eden ruined his body as it ruined his spirit.
It is a curious thing that as machines
have taken more and more labour off our hands, holidays have
steadily decreased. Centuries ago, a few days labour per week
was all that a man ever did. And this involved in many instances
only a few hours each day. . . except on special occasions and
during certain seasons. Most non-Western peoples, especially
primitive people, have much more free time; even in Europe, holidays
and feast days were so numerous that the idea of holidays would
have seemed absurd.
Unfortunately, someone has to make
and run the machines which are to reduce our hours of labor.
Certainly we can do more in less time. But these machines of
ours merely enlarge our appetite for gadgets and comforts for
which we must work longer and harder! Alfred Pearce Dennis remarked:
It is doubtful whether all the
labour saving machinery ever invented has lightened the toil
of a single human being. Modern inventions increase the capacity
for production and enable more people to live, but just as many
people as before live laboriously and painfully. The women who
work in the clothing sweat shops of New York or London, with
their improved sewing machines, have a production capacity tenfold
that of the old needle workers, yet I doubt if they labour one
whit less than the nameless needle woman in Thomas Hood's "Song
of the Shirt"!
Strangely enough, despite our dreams, hard
work is not only better for us at times, but is even more desirable!
There are areas of the world where hard work simply is not necessary:
nature is so bountiful. But the result is curiously far from
what we might suppose.
The Daily Commercial News of
Toronto carried the following editorial: (31)
29. Custance, Arthur C., "A Method of
Measuring the Effect of Drugs on Sweating as a Function of Time"
in Canadian Medical Association Journal, vol.95, 1966,
30. Dennis, Alfred Pearce, "The Land of Egypt," National
Geographic Magazine, March, 1926, p.291.
31. July, 1950.
are funny. Mention of a tropical South Sea island brings visions
of an idyllic life of happiness and ease, with complete freedom
from everyday cares and worries. But it doesn't work out that
Take the case in New Zealand
for instance. The Socialist government administers numerous islands
and island groups in tropical waters, and it has been found that
the more pleasant the surroundings appear to be, the unhappier
are the residents. There are lots of volunteers for service in
these Edens, but it has been noted that even with cooks and a
surplus of native servants to wait upon them, the men quarrel,
develop nervous troubles and are only too glad to leave when
the opportunity arises. Most of them never volunteer again.
This is not
an exceptional situation by any means. The Prairie Overcomer
had this little item on Sweden: (32)
With her "well-stocked
cellar" Sweden is described as the "Welfarest State"
according to Time (Dec. 31, 1952). "Sweden has not
been in a war since 1814, has spent most of her effort since
then on staying out." She has managed to escape war and
feather her nest to such an extent that she enjoys a heavenly
Utopia in the midst of chaotic Europe. After a few days in Stockholm
Time's editor found himself asking people "Isn't
there anything wrong with Sweden? There must be." Then the
government official replied: "In a country that has established
an orderly society, there comes a time when one begins to ask
oneself 'What next?'"
Here is a summary of that editor's
findings in the country which has had no war tragedies for about
140 years: "In Stockholm gangs of prostitutes, homosexuals
and assorted hoodlums make a practice of mixing it every Saturday
night, to the delight of onlookers. The divorce rate has almost
doubled in ten years. Sweden has one of the world's highest illegitimacy
rates and one of the highest alcohol rates. High juvenile delinquency
is blamed on easy jobs and easy money. The State Church admits
defeat: 'We do not seem to be able to interest the young, but
nobody else seems to be able to interest them either.' A deep
undercurrent of emotional unrest exists in Sweden in spite of
their paradise of plenty. 'Nothing will get the Swedes out of
their well-stocked cellar except a war on Sweden.'"
A. L. Kroeber pointed
out how the Yurok and Karok of California lived (33)
In a climate of no rigors, on
a river that gave them abundance of salmon, in a land full of
acorns that were their staple food, and for centuries no foreign
foes nor even pestilences invaded them. Yet all the members of
the society, whatever their congenital individual dispositions,
had fear and pessimism pounded into them from childhood on. They
were taught by all their elders that the world simply reeked
with evils and dangers, against which one sought to protect oneself
by an endless series of preventive taboos and magical practices.
32. March 1952. Organ of Prairie Bible
Institute, Three Hills, Alberta, Canada.
33. Kroeber, A. L., Anthropology, Harcourt Brace, New
York, 1948, p.309.
then is an environment that seems almost paradisaical and yet,
as Kroeber observed, "the culture had gone hypochondriac."
Another such district
is Kashmir in India. Here too, as Said K. Hak reported in The
Rotarian (April 1951), the inhabitants are unbelievably wretched,
poverty-stricken, and filthy. Roland
Dixon rightly concluded: (34)
The great cultures of the world's history, in the majority
of cases, attained their commanding station largely because a
gifted people had the chance to become numerous in a location
favorably placed to receive the benefits of diffusion. But something
more was needed, as a rule--a habitat where nature was not too
kind. For where environment supplies the ordinary human wants
with little labour, the urge of need does not seem enough to
lead to great achievement. A "Happy Valley" has rarely
bred an outstanding culture: in the Gardens of the Hesperides,
man drowsed away the centuries. Most of the great cultures of
the past had their rise in regions where, on the borders of a
harsh environment, keen and persistent effort insured a rich
So it seems that "sweat"
both physiologically and psychologically may in reality be a
great blessing. This is remarkably borne out in a book by George
P. Murdock in which a description will be found of a number of
primitive cultures. Those who live, like the Samoans, in an environment
which is bountiful indeed (35)
...live in a chronic state of war. Rarely is there a time
when neighboring villages somewhere in the islands are not in
arms, and great wars involving two or more districts are not
By extreme contrast
there are the Aranda--an Australian aboriginal people who live
in desert conditions where the possessions of any individual
can easily be carried in one hand, and where there are no houses
and no fixed or settled abode of any kind since the people must
be constantly on the move, either to keep warm or to obtain food
to live by. They are completely peaceful. As Murdock said: (36)
Relations between groups, even of different tribes, are almost
equally amicable. No such thing as a chronic state of hostility
exists. Couriers with messages or invitations travel with impunity
from group to group. Visiting between groups, even aside from
special ceremonial occasions, is common. Men may go alone, in
parties, or with their families. The presence of women and children
gives evidence of friendly intentions.
34. Dixon, Roland, The Building of Cultures,
Scribner, New York, 1928, p.278.
35. Murdock, George P., Our Primitive Contemporaries, Macmillan,
New York, 1951, p.45.
36. Ibid., p.63.
And among the Semang of the Malay Peninsula, living
in a dense, hot, humid tropical climate, surrounded everywhere
by thick forest, driven back by the advancing waves of more highly
civilized people on all sides (37)
. . .
war, or any other form of hostility, is absolutely unknown, not
only between different bands and tribes of the Semang themselves,
but also with the Sakai, and even with the Malays, by whom they
were not infrequently harassed. They never react to ill-treatment
with treachery, much less with open violence. They merely withdraw
and avoid their oppressors.
Here we find the strange
fact that utopias are not good for us at all, and that the sweetest
temperaments may be nurtured in the midst of hardship. What a
contrast this is to the accepted philosophy of our own culture!
No matter how we may strive to
eliminate "sweat," God will work to prevent our purposes;
for He knows better. This taxing of our strength, this challenge
to the will and the mind, is a necessary good if we are to maintain
any kind of energetic dominion over this world of ours. And even
from a purely physiological point of view, sweat is a blessing
in our fallen state. There are people born now and then who cannot
sweat. They have to be protected continually against being burnt
up due to the excess heat energy created by the food they eat
to satisfy their hunger. All kinds of precautions are necessary
for such folk who are constantly in danger of their lives.
One might suppose that by eating
less, the excess of available energy from the food eaten would
be reduced sufficiently to make sweating no longer important.
But this solution has the serious defect of leaving one everlastingly
hungry! The fact is, therefore, that somehow appetite for, and
the effective use of, the foods available have gotten out of
register. If our bodies had not been involved in the disastrous
man's first disobedience, it is to be supposed that our appetite
would be satisfied the moment we had eaten sufficient to provide
just enough fuel for energy to carry on. As soon as exercise
used up this energy, hunger would automatically induce its replacement
-- and no more. We ought therefore to have about four times as
much energy as we actually do have, if appetite for food is any
guide. Perhaps Adam did have.
Undoubtedly the far greater efficiency
of animal bodies (apart from man) is due to the perfect arrangement
whereby all the food eaten to satisfy the appetite is turned
into energy . . . or at least a very high percentage of it. The
feats of animals, from the point of view of muscular energy,
is truly amazing. One only has to realize what it means for a
bird to fly several thousand miles without food to appreciate
its body efficiency. Studies
37. Ibid.. p.95.
made of other animals,
particularly fish, show that they achieve prodigious energy out
of the small quantities of food they consume. The potential of
this food is made much more evident now that we can extract some
of the energy from a few ounces of matter in the creation of
an atom bomb.
It has been shown that fish may
have efficiencies as high as 80 percent. (38) In fact, some of the "wasted"
heat that is not obviously turned into useful work may not actually
be wasted at all, since heat is required simply to provide the
energy for normal metabolic activities. The fish's efficiency
may well be in excess of 80 percent! Comparatively speaking,
the best man-made machines seldom achieve an efficiency as high
as 50 percent. A good diesel engine may achieve 35 percent under
normal working conditions, a steam engine with a condenser 19
percent and without a condenser a lowly 7 percent. (39) So even in his fallen
estate, the athlete who achieves 35 percent is not doing too
badly perhaps -- though far from what the human body might have
achieved but for the Fall. It is apparent from some recent experiments
that animals have appetites adjusted quite precisely to their
specific energy requirements. (40)
So one wonders
whether it is really good for us that we strive for shorter and
shorter working periods, particularly if we have not found how
to spend the free time thus provided. Sometimes we are reminded
that we ought to do no work whatever on the Sabbath, but those
who insist on the letter here often overlook the fact that the
same commandment tells us we ought to work six days -- not five!
Although most of us feel that the
long weekend is a great boon, there is some evidence that it
does not contribute to the amount of work accomplished during
the other five days. DuPont de Nemours published a report showing
how production started very low on Monday and rose over Tuesday
till it reached capacity on Wednesday; Thursday maintained this
high level, but by Friday there was a slight falling off again,
as workers became both tired from a week's work and restless
as plans were made for the weekend. The slump on Monday is attributed
directly to the fact that two-days' holiday is too long, and
workers, instead of resting, tire themselves out with activity,
coming in on Monday not refreshed, but exhausted.
38. New Scientist, 25 June, 1970, p.629.
39. Brody, Samuel, Bioenergetics and Growth, Hafner, New
York, 1964, p.903.
40. Mayer and co-workers found, for example, that in man an increase
in the amount of physical activity beyond a normal level results
in no parallel increase in food intake. Man is therefore eating
more than he needs for his energy expenditure, but not necessarily
more than he needs to satisfy his appetite. The two are no longer
in balance (American Journal of Physiology, vol.177, 1960,
And apparently even sweat itself once had a value
of its own! Thus H. E. Jacob observed:
According to the Bible,
the sweat of the brow is not only an unavoidable consequence
of all human labour, but even a blessing. For ages, the sweat
of the baker mixed with the dough in the bakeries of men, and
apparently it did not harm the taste of the bread. Could it have
been that sodium chloride and uric acid, as well as lactic, formic,
entyric and caprylic acids, of which sweat is chemically composed,
have even helped the baking process?
out that the best bread in Roman times, the tastiest loaves,
were those in which sweat had intentionally been added to the
Now, this discourse
is no facile justification for permitting the continuance of
poverty where we have it in our power to alleviate the burden
it brings. But it is some help perhaps toward establishing the
principle that every evil will ultimately be justified in the
light of the good which an overruling God of love will bring
out of it. For most of us, as a matter of fact, wealth is as
dangerous as can be. We feel that we could do "so much more"
with wealth. But undoubtedly, if God gives us always what is
best for us, He would give us wealth if that were best. He can,
and does, trust a few of His saints with wealth -- but very few.
It too easily becomes a means of "security," and He
desires Himself to be our only security. Besides, poverty is
not always identical with misery. Emil Durkheim, the great French
social scientist, in his classic volume on the subject of suicide,
found that suicides occurred least among poor people and most
frequently among the upper classes. Many of the poorest people
are the happiest.
There was a time when the church
gave more honour to lack of wealth than to the possession of
it -- particularly for the Christian who was forthrightly so.
The change came about, strangely enough, when Protestantism began
to lay more emphasis on the value of time and thrift, so that
possession of some wealth became the hallmark of a proper sense
Missionaries and colonial administrators
brought up in this Christian tradition often make the mistake
of supposing that this aspect of our culture -- its emphasis
upon thrift and the value of time -- is essentially Christian
also. Our accepted ideas of what is desirable for most people
is under severe criticism in some quarters
41. Jacob, H. E., "Bread in the 20th
Century" in Ciba Symposia, December, 1946, p.492.
today, and there are
many who feel that it is a mistake, even in our own culture,
to educate a man to the "enjoyment" of things which
his natural level of intelligence would never allow him to be
able to afford. Archbishop Temple went even further and considered
it morally wrong to educate a man too far when it was evident
that that man was not going to be a law-abiding citizen. "If
a man is a fool, by all means let us refrain from making him
a clever one," he suggested. Whether this is justifiable
discrimination or not is a matter of dispute, but we have a tendency
to suppose that certain values are unquestionable (acquisitiveness,
wealth, energetic use of every minute of the day, saving for
security, competition, higher education, and so forth). It may
be that part of the "problem" of evil is that we have
assumed such things ought to be the right of everyone . . . and
correspondingly desirable. Since not everyone can have them,
this appears as one of the "evils" contributing to
the "problem." But in reality it is an appearance only.
People are by no means automatically happy with them nor automatically
unhappy without them. We are realizing that toil can be a blessing
and leisure a terrible curse when we do not know how to use it.
Dr. R. E. D. Clark remarked: (42)
On this question Haldane has
some interesting points to make. Down's syndrome victims and
other persons with very low intelligence are ideally suited for
many necessary jobs -- e.g., looking after cows,
sheep, etc. They prove reliable and their lives are exceedingly
happy. Often they dislike holidays. On the other hand, intelligent
persons employed in work of drudgery are unhappy, accident prone,
and do not work efficiently for any length of time. It is nearly
impossible to imagine a society in which all work of drudgery
has been eliminated.
many physical things which we have longed for and which are procurable
with one kind of wealth or another give us practically no satisfaction
when we do finally obtain them. This alone proves that the maldistribution
of wealth which limits our acquisitions may not be as serious
as it seems. It may even be far better that God made most of
us poor rather than rich. Certainly neither a man's poverty nor
his wealth ever made it impossible for God to accomplish His
purposes through men for the good of the world. But undoubtedly
wealth makes it more difficult for God to move in a man's heart
to do His will, and to this extent it may be a handicap.
42. C1ark, R. E. D., Scientific Rationalism
and Christian Faith, InterVarsity, London, 1945, p.70.
It has been
estimated by Adam Smith, I believe, that if all the wealth of
the rich were distributed evenly among all the rest of mankind,
the total wealth of the average individual would be raised by
only 2 percent. (43)
And the "cost" would be just that kind of complete
leveling off which has already robbed certain countries of their
means to promote the highest arts in the most effective atmosphere.
Quite possibly, the society that
encourages personal initiative -- even though it means that some
men labour harder and sweat more than others -- is probably the
best society for promoting general psychological well-being.
Hard work is good for man, and God will perhaps in His own way
always bring to naught every attempt to eliminate it. "By
the sweat of thy brow" was both a curse and a blessing:
and both literally and allegorically, "thorns and thistles"
arose to bear united testimony against every effort to take the
So much for the price man had to
pay. What about woman?
For woman, multiplied
conception and the pain of childbirth are appointed as immediate
consequences of disobedience. God's original purpose was to fill
the earth so that it might be governed and "dressed".
This means a certain steady increase in population until enough
hands exist to complete the task. It was not His intention merely
to crowd the earth with people; and childbearing for its own
sake does not appear to fulfill the purppose set forth in Genesis
1:28 if the children thus raised are to capable of doing their
part in achieving "dominion".
Nevertheless, God foresaw that
the life span of the individual would be reduced drastically
with the passing of the centuries. The consequence was that the
number of children possible in any one family was correspondingly
reduced. Indeed, only about nine more people per one thousand
are born each year than die in the same period. The "edge"
which life thus has over death is small, and so it has come about
that if it were not for multiplied conception, it is doubtful
if the population of the world would grow at all. As Dr. George
A. Dorsey has pointed out, one in every one hundred births is
a twin birth. (44). This is equal to ten in one thousand. Thus, for
every one thousand births, ten extra children are likely
to be born because of multiplied conception. This is just enough
to maintain the edge of life over death and to guarantee that
the earth will be filled. (45)
43. Smith, Adam, Wealth of Nations,
Ward, Lock & Co., London, 1812.
44. Dorsey, George A., Why We Behave Like Human Beings,
Blue Ribbon Books, New York, 1925. p.22.
45. Actual figures as of 1970 are as follows: 1 in every 88 births
is a twin, and 1 in every 300 an identical twin (C. R. Austin,
"The Egg and Fertilization" in Science Journal,
June, 1970, p.41). This amounts to an actual mean figure for
twin births of 14.7 (say 15) per 1,000 births. Raymond Pearl
gives the proportional rate of deaths as 9 per 1,000 births.
The edge is therefore 6 extra lives in every 1,000, a very small
margin of life over death. Triplets add another 1 in 8,000, or
2 per 1,000, and quadruplets, quintuplets, etc., raise this by
1 in 8 billion! So essentially the figure is 6 more births over
deaths in every 1,000 people born into the world.
Multiplied conception is apparently essential to keep
the race alive. When, at the beginning, man's expected life span
began to drop steadily, conception was multiplied more and more.
At one time twins were the exception, then triplets, and now
we are finding that even quadruplets are not too exceptional.
Since children are the gift of the Lord, His provision must be
as He has seen the world's need. It is not merely a punishment;
it is a necessary consequence of the reduction of a life span
from 900 or more years to an average somewhere in the neighbourhood
of 37 years! Moreover, it has sometimes been observed that more
male children are born in wartime than in peacetime. If this
is ever shown to be true, it would be as though God were balancing
of life in war, which presumably has tended to take a greater
toll of males than females.
And what of the pain of childbirth?
It was once widely thought that here was one experience that
should be circumvented at all costs by medical science. There
are still many people well qualified to speak who are persuaded
that this should be done. Nevertheless, there is some evidence
to the contrary. An article appeared once in a magazine, entitled
"The Benefit of Birth Pains," and it had this to say
At a recent congress of
gynecologists in Kansas City, the subject under discussion was,
"Is it necessary to have recourse to anaesthetics during
childbirth?" Certain gynecologists were violently opposed
to its use in obstetrics. Thus Dr. Gertrude Nielson, a physician
from Oklahoma, maintained in an interesting report that childbirth
is the normal function in the life of every woman and that any
intervention can only be harmful. Moreover, certain psychic disturbances
manifest themselves in the woman who is thus deprived of the
sensation of giving birth to her child.
Dick Read, speaking of a certain woman who during labour for
her first child received anaesthetic with chloroform and recovered
consciousness about three hours later, remarked that she did
not know how her baby had arrived. When she visited him before
the birth of her second child, her final request to Dr. Read
was, "I want a baby that I know to be my own. My child is
very sweet, but I have never felt that he is mine. Can you make
this baby part of me after it is born?" (47)
Moreover, there is not always great
pain without any compensation. What suffering there is may sometimes
be enervating. Dr. H. M. Denholm-Young has pointed out that although
we know that delivery often means the utmost agony and an anaesthetic
must surely be kept at hand, yet young mothers had more than
once told him that at the moment of delivery they felt no pain
or discomfort, but "a physical sensation of ecstatic pleasure."
46. Magazine Digest, September, 1936.
47. Read, Grantly Dick, Childbirth Without Fear, Harper,
New York, 1944, p.62-63.
48. Denholm-Young, H. M., British Medical Journal, 17
July, 1948, p.177.
Thus, while no one has the right to inflict upon anyone
severe suffering merely to justify a principle, there is some
evidence that where the alleviation of pain is too quickly demanded
or too readily proffered, there may be an adverse effect upon
the subsequent development of mother love. Part of the problem
here is of our own making, because our culture weakens us constitutionally
and introduces psychological factors which often do not arise
in other cultures.
And what are we to say of the second
part of this judgment: "And thy desire shall be toward thy
husband, and he shall rule over thee"? There is but little
light to be obtained from the rest of Scripture on the phrase
"thy desire". The root Hebrew word has the meaning
of "running after". It is as though the woman, having
herself been pursued and won, should in turn thereafter find
it necessary to pursue in order to hold the affection of her
husband. Is it altogether fanciful to see in this a certain poetic
justice? In a sense Eve had forced Adam to make a choice, to
forsake his first loyalty which was to God, and by disobedience
to God to remain true to herself. Henceforth he would continue
to be drawn away by other loyalties (in business, in research,
in sport) and she would have to pursue him to keep the ties secure.
And in the meantime, this very sense of dependence would make
him to some extent her ruler. But we cannot be sure, and there
is room for a wide measure of disagreement.
To sum up, we
may say that the judgments pronounced upon Adam and upon Eve
were prophetic. They were not the literary inventions of some
myth-maker. They were not such as are likely to have occurred
to a creative mind at work seeking to reconstruct out of the
imagination the kinds of things an indignant deity of like passions
with ourselves would pronounce on two erring creatures.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All
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These judgments have all the earmarks
of the mind of God as we have come to know it in Jesus Christ.
They were judgments indeed -- but merciful ones whose very quality
was to warn or to protect rather than to humiliate or to destroy
the accused. Adam was to labour for the preservation of his own
generation, Eve for the preservation of the generation to come.
With beautiful concordance, Scripture says of the Lord that He
would see the labour of His soul, but it would apply not only
for His own generation, nor for those who are to come, but for
all generations (Isaiah 53:8 and 11).