In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, God is depicted as looking over the expanse of creation on the sixth day and declaring that all he had made was "very good." This necessarily means that God declared that everything was "very good," not just some of it. So according to God, not only were butterflies and flowers "very good," but also parasites, predators and predation, natural disasters, and all sorts of nasty things that cause death and suffering.
What's more, declaring them to be "very good" means that these nasty, terrible things aren't merely unfortunate side effects of what is good. Instead, they are themselves just as good as everything else. Is this a moral or just conclusion to adopt regarding any of it, even predators and predation?
Genesis 1:31: And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
So, what does this passage tell us? First, we already know that God is directly and personally responsible for everything in existence. This is something frequently cited by believers as a reason for worshipping their god, after all. Absolutely nothing that exists could exist if it weren't willed to be so by God.
Second, the Genesis text quoted above states that God "saw every thing that he had made," which means that God is also fully aware of everything that has been created. Thus there was nothing in existence and nothing going on that God didn't know about and didn't understand. This excludes the possibility of something coming into existence by accident and excludes the possibility of there being some unforeseen consequences of what was created. None of this requires that God be omnipotent, though that quality is typically attributed to God by believers.
Third, it tells us that God took the time to evaluate all that he made and decided that it was all "very good" — not merely acceptable or the best that could be achieved under the circumstances, but "very good." This evaluation is applied to every thing in existence equally — there's no equivocation and no hint that some features are unfortunate but necessary.
Apologizing for Predators & Predation
Can the existence of the suffering caused by predators and predation be defended or justified? Even the most ardent apologist won't try to argue the suffering experienced by animals hunted and killed by predators is "good," especially when humans themselves are the target of predation.
At most apologists may argue that the system of predation we find in the natural world is some how an unavoidable necessity — that predators and predation are somehow needed as part of creating a world that is, on the whole, better than a world without predators and predation. You'd be hard pressed, though, to find an apologist who can explain how and why an omnipotent god couldn't create a world without predation that's good. After all, there's presumably no predation in heaven but heaven is good, right?
Is It Moral to Create Predators & Predation?
I think that the morality and justice of God can reasonably be judged by looking at the sorts of things which God deems moral and just. According to God, predation is "very good." What does this say about the morality and justice of God?
What are you feelings on the issue? Do you agree that calling parasites, predators, and natural disasters "very good" is a sign of immorality and injustice, or is there some way to read and interpret this biblical passage that makes God look more moral? If so, your solution cannot add anything new that's not already in the biblical text and cannot leave out any details that the Bible provides.