I've been skimming through William Dembski's The End of Christianity. I was pleased to find out that he also attributes the design of natural evil to Satan. As he correctly points out, C. S. Lewis suggested this idea in Mere Christianity and The Problem of Pain. And I'm also pleased to see that he, too, thinks that predation and animal pain is evil, along with Lewis.
However, the question arises, why allow Satan to cause so much pain and suffering, especially long before humanity appears on the scene? If I understand Dembksi's answer from the little I've read, he suggests that the best explanation is that God has acted retroactively in Earth's history, foreseeing the Fall of Adam and Eve. In other words, the natural evil that has plagued Earth for hundreds of millions of years before we showed up is a retroactive consequence of our rebellion against God. Since God is not bound by time, He is able to act in the past, based on events that happen in the future. As punishment and as part of the redemptive process, God allows Satan to
reek wreak havoc upon this planet, both before and after Adam and Eve's rebellion.
I think I buy the idea of God being able to act in the past based on future actions. But I find something unsatisfying about it. What right did Satan have to this planet, before we fell? I can understand his having a right to it after we fell, but not before. Perhaps he had a retroactive right to it. Perhaps God said to Satan, "Because 500 million years from now humans will listen to you instead of to me, you have the right to this planet now." I guess that would work.
But there might be an equally good alternative. In Lewis's fictional work, Out of the Silent Planet, each of the planets of our solar system is ruled by an Oyarsa (an angel), who has helped to create the planet, the life on it, and takes care of it. In Lewis's story, the Oyarsa on Earth is probably Satan, who may have been in charge of Earth before he rebelled against God. Perhaps he has a right to rule Earth because it was given to him before he rebelled. In The Silmarillion, J.R.R.Tolkien pursues the same sort of theme. God sings and the angels join in. One of them tries singing his own tune, which throws everything into disharmony. God starts another tune, which brings the disharmony into harmony. The rebellious angel then tries singing another tune, which is also in disharmony. Once again God starts another tune, which brings everything into harmony, again. Then God reveals to the angels that by their singing they have created Middle Earth, which has both good and evil in it.
Perhaps Lewis and Tolkien's fictional accounts reflect something that actually happened once. Perhaps before Satan rebelled he was given responsibility over Earth. And with his rebellion evil came to life on Earth.
If we adopt this alternate view, what then do we make of humanity's role? Could it be that their role was originally a redemptive one? Had they obeyed God and not fallen, would they have been given the authority to usurp Satan, and rule Earth in his place, restoring it to what God originally meant it to be? By not obeying God, did they subject all their descendants to Satan's power, until the One came who could finally live in perfect subjection to God, even unto death, and then rising from it, and thus free us all?
I'm not sure if this second view is better or more faithful to Scripture than Dembski's. But it might be worth thinking about.