Member (Idle past 3031 days)
From: Virginia, USA
Message 1 of 2 (589244)
11-01-2010 5:47 AM
Some Christians -- notably physician and geneticist Francis Collins and biologist and philosopher Francisco Ayala -- believe in both evolution and an omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent God. For example, Ayala said:
|The point should be valid for those people of faith who believe in a personal God who is omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent, as Christians, Muslims, and Jews do believe. The natural world abounds in catastrophes, disasters, imperfections, dysfunctions, suffering, and cruelty. Tsunamis and earthquakes bring destruction and death to hundreds of thousands of citizens; floods and droughts bring ruin to farmers. The human jaw is poorly designed; lions devour their prey; malaria parasites kill millions of humans every year and make 500 million people very sick; about 20 percent of all human pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion because of the flawed design of the human reproductive system.|
People of faith should not attribute all this misery, cruelty, and destruction to the specific design of the Creator. I rather see it as a consequence of the clumsy ways of nature and the evolutionary process.
(Quoted in Science and Religion Today, http://www.scienceandreligiontoday.com/...ns-templeton-prize)
Does the theory of evolution really get God off the hook for permitting “natural evil” (i.e., suffering caused by nature, as opposed to “moral evil,” caused by human misdeeds)? It seems to me that Ayala is begging the question. If God created the evolutionary process, why is it so “clumsy”? Why does it cause so much suffering?
A traditional Christian response to the problem of natural evil is to blame it on original sin:
|Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it will grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”|
But accepting the theory of evolution negates the original sin argument. How could natural evil be caused by original sin if animal pain and suffering predated the emergence of humans by hundreds of millions of years?
Another response to the problem of natural evil was suggested by St. Augustine of Hippo. He reasoned that God must permit evil to exist so that free will can exist. In his view, moral evil exists because of human free will and natural evil exists because of Satan’s free will.
Do Christian believers in evolution see Satan playing a large role in the evolutionary process? Or is the natural evil of evolution, contrary to Ayala’s view, a reason to reject the idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent God?
Edited by Stephen Push, : No reason given.