I recently watched an interview with Sir David Attenborough, who considers himself an agnostic. When asked whether his observation of the natural world has given him faith in a creator, he responded:

"When Creationists talk about God creating every individual species as a separate act, they always instance hummingbirds, or orchids, sunflowers and beautiful things. But I tend to think instead of a parasitic worm that is boring through the eye of a boy sitting on the bank of a river in West Africa, a worm that's going to make him blind. And I ask them, 'Are you telling me that the God you believe in, who you also say is an all-merciful God, who cares for each one of us individually, are you saying that God created this worm that can live in no other way than in an innocent child's eyeball? Because that doesn't seem to me to coincide with a God who's full of mercy."

Could you please tell me why G‑d created a worm to tear out the eyes of human beings?

And parenthetically, why did these worms not affect Noah on the Ark?


Why are there creatures in the world that cause harm? Why are there tsunamis that wash away entire towns; earthquakes that destroy entire populations; disease, drought and famine that ravage the earth?

And how is it that men and women of faith never notice these calamities? Could it be that only those that never suffered nor witnessed suffering have faith?

Rather, the world we are living in is a broken world and we are here to fix it. The Master Creator who generated matter and space, energy and time out of an absolute void, set them into consistent patterns and a myriad of forms, billions of billions of them in a symphony beyond knowing—He purposely left over an unfinished world, just so that He could bend down to our ear and whisper, "Want a piece of the action? I've left over a little for you."

When do we hear that voice? When we see the brokenness of our world, feel outrage and are stirred to do something about it. That is when we become partners with an Infinite Creator.

In that sense, I believe that Sir David Attenborough, despite his protests otherwise, is also a believer. As of late, especially, he has been less satisfied to simply document the wonders of nature, choosing to publicly express his resentment over humankind's ravaging of the environment. In the statement you quote, as well, I detect a tinge of outrage that the world contains such horrors as this. Why the outrage, why the concern, if all is simply an accident of natural law? Rather, this reaction itself is belief in G‑d and in purpose and meaning behind the universe.

Concerning Noah's Ark: The ark is understood by the Zohar as an archetype of the messianic era, a time when all is repaired, all the instruments are in tune and play together in blissful harmony. In the ark, the wolf was already lying down with the lamb—and this little worm did no one harm. And so will be in a time soon to come.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman for