Theology & Science – Part 6
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Click HERE for an introductory YouTube video for Theology & Science (Part 6)
This blog series will cover my final exam for my recent Theology & Science class. Here is the second question and part three of my answer.
Click HERE for Part 5.
Exam Question: This entire course has been aimed at addressing the particular problem of evolutionary suffering. As precisely as you can, describe this problem in relation to evolutionary theory (its cause, its range, its challenge, its distinctiveness, etc.).
[its cause and its range] The question assumes that evolution is true, and I agree that it is, so it is here necessary to show the difference in the way someone who assumes both the reality of evolution and the existence of a good God and how they would answer to the problem of suffering in nature. This is the cause, isn’t it? Suffering in nature is not the same for the creationist described above for the aforementioned reasons and it may not be much of a problem at all for the Atheist who doesn’t have to hold to a good God. The atheist can simply say that nature and its creatures suffer and that’s just the way it is. But this will not do for the Christian.
Another idea that Southgate shows will not do for the Christian comes from Kenneth Miller. His idea is that this whole issue is just a failure of perspective. We’re all giving this much too much thought. Everything hangs on if we’re looking from the perspective of the predator or the prey. That relationship is just a fact of nature. I agree with Southgate when he says that we can dismiss this case without much effort. I’ll make an epistemological sin and say, I just don’t buy that argument. It’s an argument by ignoring which to me makes it an ignorant argument. To quote Forest Gump, “That’s all I got to say about that.”
So, the Christian is faced with skepticism from interlocutors who press the famous question “How could a good God allow so much suffering in the world?” Pat answers like, “Well, it’s all a mystery” or “God has a plan that we just have to trust” may work for a good number of people, but not for me. In my way of thinking, these kinds of answers may not be the cause of the problem of suffering, but they certainly enhance it.
The second one in particular puts God in the place of being the cause for the suffering. However, it seems to me that God can’t be both all good and the cause of suffering. So, in terms of the range of the problem, it ranges as far as it is able to because it extends out far enough for some to question the very existence of God. Specifically in regards to range and the concept of evolution, I think there are a few paths a person could consider when it comes to the reality of God, suffering, and evolution in terms of a solution.
A person could consider the idea that God set up evolution from the start, or that God set up laws that allowed for the possibility for evolution and it then came to be. Further dialogue on the ramifications for those answers should be reserved for question 4. However, I point them out to show how deep and wide this question can get. Certainly, the range can go as far as the doctrine of God to ask what kind of God would create a (physical) nature with evolutionary suffering. However, I think it is sufficient to show that if the range can go as far out as the furthest possible place, by my definition the existence of God, that that is enough for our purposes here.