Think about ravens. They don’t sow or harvest, they have no store or barn, yet God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than birds!
— tr mine
The common raven (Corvus corax) can live for up to 40 years. They mate for life (though can be unfaithful), and reproduce from the age of 2-3, one time each year. In each brood they average around 5 offspring.
Imagine an initial population of 100 breeding ravens and assume 5 chicks per year per pair, and 3 years before reproduction. After 1 year there would be 350 ravens. In 2 years 600. In three there would be 850, and in 5 years 1,975. After 10 years there would be 21,974, and after 30 years 28,200,000. Clearly this doesn’t happen. Some ravens must die off sooner. How many? Well to keep a stable population of ravens, over 70% of all ravens must die every year.
Ravens have very few natural predators. A few are killed, a lot die of disease. But most die from starvation, despite spending the vast majority of their energy trying to secure food. The raven neither sows nor reaps, nor builds barns, but God most definitely does not feed them. He allows the majority of the population to starve to death every year.
Jesus (who made the statement I quote) knew none of this. It is a curious fact that even this simple arithmetic wasn’t noticed for centuries of civilization. It took until Malthus in 1798 to draw attention to the implications of this elementary school math.
Jesus seems to be saying that the ravens spend less energy and less concern for eating than we do. Yet they find enough food to eat (by God’s provision). In this he was dead wrong.
A literal approach to the bible isn’t just bad biology when it comes to evolution or the history of the natural world. If you think Jesus is right in this statement, you have to deny Malthus’s basic arithmetic too.
And if you don’t like your biblical inerrancy literal, but instead seek to find metaphoric truth, well I think you are still in trouble. Because as metaphoric as it is, it is a metaphor for the wrong thing. In fact, as a metaphor it works perfectly for my point of view. Because to consider the ravens is to understand that there is no God who will ensure your needs are met.