I could just as easily have alliterated “Peacocks, Panthers and Platypuses”. Some of these randomly chosen animals (two are in fact insects) are harmless, others are small but scary, some are tiny but a danger to health, one is big and dangerous, two of them are outstandingly colorful, and the last of them is about the weirdest animal mixture there is (then again, the platypus is, like me, Australian). All of them – like the rest of the animal kingdom, including us – force thinking people to ask . . . WHY ? Why do these critters exist ? We’re not asking here how they came into existence, which is mystery enough. Our question is teleological : what purpose do they serve ? Why did they come to exist ? (Non-atheists might ask why did God create them.) After all, 96% of animal species died out in the Permian mass extinction, the third of the “Big Five” extinctions (surely God, Intelligent Designer that he is supposed to be, didn’t deliberately intend them to happen !). All life on Earth today is descended from the 4% that survived.
Dogs and cats make good pets, horses supply horse-power and transportation, cattle, sheep and goats provide us with protein, rats and mice are the unfortunate victims of medical research, goldfish provide living decoration to living rooms. But Snakes, Spiders and Sharks ? Essential elements in the ecosystem and vital players in the food-chain ? Well, O.K. I find it however simply unbelievable, literally incredible, that God, had He existed, would have created this unholy trinity. In the God hypothesis, some animals provide us with food as well as some of the other advantages mentioned above. But don’t tell me that bedbugs have a divine purpose.