Re: [asa] Wells and traditional Christianity

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Fri Sep 01 2006 - 23:40:31 EDT

Do caterpillars suffer? Suffering normally implies some level of
consciousness, which they don't have. Do they even feel pain, in the
sense that higher animals do? I note that there are special nerve tracts
for pain, distinct from those for itching, in mammals. Can you show them
in caterpillars? I can, with relevance, assume that caterpillars do not
suffer. It seems to me that your hasty response is akin to that of YECs,
who figure that any allegation of a problem with evolution is proof of

Note also that what may be a problem for a morally competent person is
not thereby relevant in other circumstances. Additionally, designing a
device to produce a great deal of pain is not necessarily immoral.
Tazers, Mace, pepper spray, nose grips, etc., are extremely useful to
police and farmers, allowing control in most situations rather than
lethal force. Tragically, they don't work when people have taken some

You missed my point about offal. Darwin's argument was exactly
parallel--transferring an "I don't like" into a moral judgment. Looks to
me like an obvious case of the naturalistic fallacy.

As for the arguments of YECs, when did they have any relevance? They
argue that the 2nd Law didn't apply until after the fall, though that
would make nutrition and movement impossible. You apparently go along
with their implication that the brute creation acts immorally when
carnivorous. But you will feel revulsion if I use a term earthy enough to
describe their nonsense.

On Sat, 2 Sep 2006 00:20:09 +0100 "Iain Strachan"
<> writes:

On 9/1/06, D. F. Siemens, Jr. <> wrote:

On Fri, 1 Sep 2006 12:55:45 +0100 "Iain Strachan"
<> writes:

>I guess it does. I'm just working through these ideas myself.

>I find the "literal" interpretation to be something that is way too hard
to stomach; namely that everything was perfect and there was no death and
suffering. Then Adam & Eve go and eat a piece of fruit that they were
told not to. As a result God puts the most appalling curse on the whole
of creation, not just Adam and his progeny, and animals start eating each
other and inflicting suffering on each other. I have sympathy with
Darwin, who said:

>I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have
designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their
feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars

Iain (and Merv),
This strikes me as an "I'm smarter than God" approach based on "what I
don't like is bad and should never be." It also involves an illegitimate
transference, assuming that the caterpillar has the same feeling as
humans do.

But equally, you can't assume that they don't suffer. I take it you
wouldn't think it was right to suck the insides out of a paralysed
caterpillar, or slowly pull the legs off a spider, or to toy with a mouse
as a cat does ( something Darwin also mentioned in the letter the above
quote was taken from) ? I'm not arguing that I'm smarter than God - more
pointing out the absurdity of treating this as a literal historical
account - God causing _everything_ to suffer just because Adam disobeyed
him over a piece of fruit. The account clearly means much more than a
literal historical account would imply.

A little thought, rather than emotional reaction, should quickly
demonstrate that a world with life but without death is an impossibility,
unless it is strictly static.

On the other hand, I might argue in a form parallel to Darwin's that I
find offal offensive, so there should not be any. But it is a necessary
consequence of the nutrition of mammals, so a good God would not have
allowed any in his creation. So our existence has just disproved the
goodness of God, if not his very existence.

Sorry, but I can't see the parallel here. You don't like offal ... but
it doesn't do anything that you'd consider morally bad. You might just
as well say that because I don't particularly like the colour yellow that
God is bad.

But what the YECs would have you believe is that these wasps flew around
innocently living off flowers and never touching caterpillars & then just
because of Adam's disobedience, that God turned them into savage
predators. It seems to me this is a whole different situation - animals
doing to each other what the vast majority of us would consider morally


It's easy to "fix" something if everything else can be ignored, a human
specialty wonderfully practiced by Vernon and other YECs.

After the game, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.
- Italian Proverb
To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Fri Sep 1 23:44:16 2006

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Fri Sep 01 2006 - 23:44:16 EDT