A famous atheist once pointed out why he was unwilling to believe in God – because nature is ‘red with tooth and claw’. Since the Bible says that God created all things good, why do we see cruelty in nature? Recently a reader asked why God created spiders with fangs and venom, piranha with teeth to devour, and other predatory skills we see in nature.
In Genesis 3, we see God declaring that He will not curse Adam to damnation for introducing sin into the world, but He would curse the creation all around man. While the Bible doesn't explicitly say why animals have certain skills, I have a few opinions based on what is observed in nature. There were many prehistoric non-carnivorous birds with teeth. In today’s modern world, we see many creatures with vicious looking teeth that are solely plant eaters. The parrotfish has large teeth and uses them for scraping algae from rocks.
Another good example of alternative uses for teeth is the piranha. Most species of piranha are herbivores. They prefer plants and nuts. Their sharp teeth easily break into hard nutshells and devour plants that are in or above the water surface. They are known for leaping out of the water to knock nuts off trees and use their sharp teeth to break through the hull. The fruit bat is another example. They have sharp piercing teeth, but only use it to get into the fruit to suck nectar and juice.
It’s likely that spiders are the same. Remember, God cursed the earth. Part of that curse is disease and death. The same venom that digested fruit may be the same venom that now digests insects. Or perhaps the venom was made worse after the fall. Keep in mind, venom is nothing more than digestive juices designed to make the prey easier to consume. It's not a hard shift from fruit to prey.
Even man didn't eat meat until after the flood. Think about man's ways. Things that were originally designed for good become evil once a military minded person sees a potential for a weapon. Radiation began as a miracle light that allowed hidden things to be transferred to film. X-rays were tools to help doctors see the bones of patients and make a better diagnosis. But when someone realized it could be used in a bomb for mass destruction, the tool became a weapon. Dynamite in the hand of a craftsman can carve out rock so structures can be built. In the hand of a militant, it destroys lives. I believe that when sin entered the world and death began to reign, our cursed creation began using tooth, claw, and venom for defense and attacking. What was once good in a sinless world can be a weapon for evil in a fallen world.
For the Christian, we have the hope of God’s promise. In our lives, Christ has reversed the curse of our fallen sinful nature, but in the world, God also promises to reverse the curse of fang, tooth, and claw. As the Bible states, all creation groans for the day when the promise of complete redemption will be a reality. Until then, the curse of sin drives us to look for a better hope outside of this fallen world.