About 10,000 years ago, humans began to domesticate plants. They planted fields which not only fed more humans, but also fed the insects which had fed upon their wild ancestors. Not fully understanding the ecological interrelationship of the species involved, the humans pleaded with their gods to intervene on their behalf. In one rather interesting case, they actually took the insects to court.
The crops around Berne, Switzerland, were being ravaged by beetles in 1478. The mayor appointed a lawyer to go to an ecclesiastical court and demand punishment. According to the complaint:
“With grievous wrong, they do detriment to the ever-living God.”Following the legal standards of the time, a lawyer was appointed for the beetles. In the ecclesiastical court the defendant (the beetles) and the plaintiff (the farmers) made their cases. The bishop, having listened carefully to both sides, ruled in favor of the farmers and declared that the beetles were incarnations of the devil. He declared:
“We charge and burden them with our curse and command them to be obedient and anathematize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, that they turn away from all fields, grounds, enclosures, seeds, fruits and produce, and depart.”In spite of the court ruling, the beetles stuck around and continued to feast on the local crops. It was thus declared that the beetles were not devils, but a punishment that God had sent to the farmers because of their sins. The solution was for the farmers to give a tithe to the Church from what little they actually were able to harvest. The beetles disappeared.
While there are those who see this as proof of the power of a god, it is also likely that the beetles had simply used up their food supply and as a result their population crashed naturally (i.e. without supernatural intervention).