Theology & Science – Part 8
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Click HERE for an introductory YouTube video for Theology & Science (Part 8)
This blog series will cover my final exam for my recent Theology & Science class. Here is the third question and part two of my answer.
Exam Question: Given how you answered #3, give your answer to the problem of this course. In other words, given the problem of evolutionary suffering how can the Gospel still be considered to be “good news”?
So, how can we now go about the topic of the way in which the gospel remains the Good News in light of evolution? In my view, very little needed to change for me here. I’ve never claimed to have the clear picture regarding the eschaton so I didn’t need to do a lot of adjusting there. I do somewhat follow Moltmann’s eschatology over and against Left Behind or other escapist proposals so I do see that there is something in creation that needs to be “put to rights.”
Here, I am out of favor with Sideris and Rolston. However, they are correct to point out that Moltmann has failed to truly account for evolution by natural selection. I’ve also had to do little overhaul of my theology in regards to what the Good News is for humans. For humans, it is a freedom from the bondage of sin, among other things. However, my thinking regarding what the Good News is for nature did have to change quite a bit.
I will lay out what I so far see as the minimum changes that I had to make as a result of taking this class regarding the Good News for creation. This does not mean I’m unwilling to make further changes. It just means these are the changes I’ve thought of so far that need to be changed.
Firstly, I see it at least as a freedom from bondage but not a bondage to sin. What that bondage is to, I’m not sure yet. Some, like Boyd or Southgate may introduce the idea of bondage to fallen angelic beings here. I’d probably lean this way if I had to presently. However, I’ve not had the time to study the topic in any depth yet. From a bird’s eye view I see lots of reference to angelic beings in scripture although I also recognize that mentions of fallen angels in scripture, if that’s even the proper reference here, are extremely vague and speculative.
Maybe nature is simply in bondage to its own nature. This would be a non-anthropocentric view since humans can never say the same thing. We can’t say we’re in bondage to our own nature without any involvement with sin. Every way we can describe our bondage includes sin. But maybe nature, which cannot sin, by definition, but which can only fall short by its own finiteness, can be in bondage to its own way of doing things. Maybe the lion is so in bondage to its own nature that he/she never sees other options.
It’s impossible to imagine, because we’re all so entrenched in the way things are now, but somehow, in the escaton, there will be a new heavens and a new Earth. In my view that will include no suffering for humans and for non-humans, if they are around. It’s at this point that I have to take the stance that there is much in the eschaton that we will never fully understand until it comes. For example, will animals be a part of the new creation? If not, could we really say they were “put to rights?” I believe there may be ways for God to accomplish that without granting eternal life to them. However, I also see this possibility as less likely than the possibility that all of God’s creatures go on, and things are put right.