Let me add some thoughts to the idea Fred Reed expressed in “Lost in Space Without a Clue.”
Nor is there support for the Christian notion of a loving God in the natural world. When a young giraffe is attacked by hyenas, disemboweled and bled until it collapses and the hyenas begin eating it while it is still alive, I for one cannot see much loving kindness in it. Just a giraffe, you say. It probably seems otherwise to giraffes, agreeable creatures who eat leaves.
But then, what choice do the hyenas have?
Question: What’s the alternative? Would it be better if the giraffe lived to a ripe old age and died of a heart attack? I’m sure that is unpleasant, too. Death is death.
It seems that Fred would prefer a world without death or pain.
In the first place, such a world, call it ND, would be so different from our own that it would be hard to pronounce a definite judgment which world — ND or ours — would be “better.”
For example, without death, there would probably be no births, else the world would become overcrowded rapidly.
There would be no balanced or evenly rotating complex “ecosystems.”
There would be no evolution, such as it is.
There might not be much of an interaction between our immortal and impassible animals. What could they possibly want from one another?
As I am writing these down, our ND comes more and more to resemble a paradise for herbivores. A vast variety of giraffes and antelopes and bisons walking around, grazing mindlessly. But that’s just crazy. Of what use is such a realm, this perfect zoo, to God?
Further, animals are of numerous uses to humans. “Heavenly” animals would probably be useless. Humans would then be hardly to blame for destroying these useless hordes to make space for cities, for example. Whatever is not valued is often an economic bad, like trash. We get rid of trash, and you can be sure as day we’d get rid of those “perfect animals,” as well.
Even if they could be useful, the fact that in this peculiar paradise they would not procreate would mean that they would be destroyed without a trace quickly.
Chickens are not an endangered species, precisely because we kill and eat them in billions and they do reproduce.
Another possibility would be for God not to create animals altogether.
First of all, it stands to reason that our giraffe enjoyed a chance to live, however briefly. In its mind, it may have given praises to God for this despite the suffering it underwent. It was worth being born even if death came so quickly and painfully.
Second, the universe is sort of without “gaps.” There is every manner of creature in it, from ants to angels, from prime matter to God. A world without animals would not be representative of God’s abundant creativity; it would be an unfitting creation.
Third, there may be salvation for animals who are pets! Some near-death experiences feature animals, for example. Animals would not attain the beatific vision but they are capable of enjoying natural happiness. Cats and dogs may go to heaven after all. At the same time, no wild animal could possibly be “saved” in this manner, no matter how immortal. Pet are humanized animals, members of people’s families. This is the only thing that might (I don’t really know) qualify them for real heaven.
Thus, a world without animals would be seriously impoverished.
Unless Fred then can come up with a full-featured description of a better world than ours, I don’t think his case against the existence of God from “animal suffering” can be sustained.