Did God Make People Lactose Intolerant?
Last week Answers in Genesis featured an old article on their website, entitled “Milk-Digestion Gene Disabled, Evolution Proved?” The article states that “All humans are able to digest milk from birth; the mutations allowing lifelong lactose tolerance don’t “add” any new ability; they merely cause a malfunction in the automatic shutdown of lactose digestion in children.”
So, they believe that the ability to digest milk in adulthood is a malfunction caused by mutations, which in turn they believe is caused by sin. Scientifically, this was the only tenable position for them to take. We have plenty of evidence, including the study cited in the article, that producing lactase into adulthood is the result of mutations in the genes that normally stop the production of that enzyme.
Theologically, on the other hand, I think there are some pretty significant issues they’re ignoring. The article states that “this mutation… while perhaps beneficial, is still a loss of information.” But if a random loss of information is beneficial, the design must have been far from perfect, right?
Does anyone else find it odd that God’s design for perfect human beings, Adam and Eve, included the inability to digest milk as adults? That seems like a pretty big flaw to me. It would presumably also seem like a pretty big flaw to the authors of the Old Testament, who considered milk a luxury. The reward promised to Moses for following God is a promised land “flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8, 3:17, 13:5, 33:3, Leviticus 20:4, Numbers 13:27, 14:8, 16:13, 16:14, Deuteronomy 6:3, 11:9, 26:9, 26:15, 27:3, 31:20, Joshua 5:6). Do those sound like words inspired by a god that designed people to be unable to process lactose?
Answers in Genesis holds that God created the world without pain and suffering, which were introduced into the world through the sin of Adam and Eve. They often describe mutations as harm brought into the world by sin. But lactose intolerance is a clear example of unnecessary pain and suffering that’s actually fixed by a mutation! There is no downside to lactase persistence in humans. While with other animals failing to wean and consuming the mother’s milk indefinitely would obviously be inefficient, humans drinking milk from other species is obviously a dense source of nutrients. According to the Bible humans were keeping livestock from the very beginning. In fact milk is commonly listed as a reason Abel might have been keeping flocks when God had forbidden them to eat meat.
Interestingly, God himself drinks milk in the Bible! Genesis 18:8 is the first direct mention of milk in the Bible. God appears to Abraham as three men, and Abraham feed them cakes, meat, butter and milk. Interestingly this is one of the places where it is clear they are consuming liquid milk, while a lot of other references seem to refer to curds or butter, which have less lactose. Was God’s body lactose intolerant? It’s not clear that he remained in the body long enough to experience intestinal distress, but if he had been would he have? Inquiring minds want to know!
 Some interpret the three men as all being angelic beings. The interpretation of God himself being one of the men is the more literal reading and is common among fundamentalists. If they’re angels. I still have questions. Do angels fart?