Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Last week we discussed the challenge of correctly understanding the work of God, both His written word as well as how He has revealed Himself in nature. These challenges became more apparent as we examined the life history of the Brown-headed Cowbird, a species which seems to possess more than its fair share of undesirable qualities. A male was used to illustrate the subject, while the nondescript juvenile is pictured today. The question remains, how can we reconcile a God who created a perfect world with such contradictory evidence? First of all, let me suggest that it is beyond our scope of understanding to even imagine an edenic world, a world without the presence of death, for everything we know about the natural world today incorporates the factory of death and decay into its equation. As a result, it’s difficult, if not impossible for us to identify what remains as it was in Eden and what has been distorted by the introduction of sin.

What we can do is look at the human reaction to the conflicting evidence and learn something about ourselves. A portion of the following is based upon feedback provided by an on-line site that gave readers an opportunity to react to information offered about the cowbird. One person wrote, “Nature can be cruel…but the cowbirds only do what their DNA tells them to do…THEY ARE NOT EVIL and have a place in nature…” To which another writer responded, “While it may just be in the cowbird’s DNA to do this, it is in my DNA to shoot every single one I see at my feeder and in my yard.” Still a different writer defended the cowbird’s actions using the logic proposed by John Locke that society, in this case the nomadic bison, forced the cowbirds into a transient lifestyle which in turn prohibited nest building. Relativism was expressed by a writer who stated, “It’s wrong to demand that wild animals conform to your sense of morality.” Perhaps the most balanced comment is the following: “It is all too easy to vilify cowbirds. True, they have tipped nature’s balance to the detriment of native species. But let us not forget that we, through our use and abuse of the land, have allowed them to thrive and multiply. Without humans there would be no cowbird ‘problem’. The blame lies with us, not them.”

The preceding remarks give us an indication of the variety of attitudes toward the condition of man himself. The good news is that it isn’t our job to solve the problem of cruelty in animals or even the sinfulness in mankind. While it is true we do have a role to play, the real Problem Solver has already accomplished that long ago on the cross. It’s only then we will be able to see Eden as He wants us to see it.