11 Mill questioned the assumption that nature is good, given its apparent cruelty. This led him to say that ‘Either there is no God or there exists an incompetent or immoral God’. In River out of Eden Richard Dawkins supports this view by using the example of a female digger wasp that not only lays her eggs in a caterpillar so that her larvae can feed on it but she carefully guides her sting into the prey’s central nervous system to paralyse it and not kill it.
12 Some might say that the idea that nature commits crimes is to anthropomorphise nature in a questionable manner. Human beings have ‘intent’ when they commit criminal acts, which is not something we would say of nature. Also Mill is really only limiting his criticism of the Designer to the idea that this designer is benevolent, which, even if he is not, would not undermine his existence. Leibniz’s idea of the ‘best of all possible worlds’ raises other questions about what we perceive to be evil.