Re: [asa] Wells and traditional Christianity

From: Merv <>
Date: Sat Sep 02 2006 - 06:22:21 EDT

D. F. Siemens, Jr. wrote:
> 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 YEC.
> 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
> drugs.
> 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.
> ...snip...
> Dave
I am certainly not an authority on nerve tracts in various species, but
I don't think Iain's points are leaning at all heavily on that specific
example. Think of it as the iconic literary device of the moment. If
literal nerve tracts are bothering you then simply replace the example
with higher mammals that have them -- the point remains that suffering
and death seems to be woven into the fabric of creation, hence our
interest in how it relates to the fall.

But your point about distinguishing the "I don't like" from moral
judgments is well taken. So are your apparent position is that what we
see as suffering could very well fit within the "and it was very good"
category of creation despite our own humanly limited judgment on it.

Paul Brand authored some great books on the subject: "Pain: the Gift
Nobody Wants" to show how necessary that basic function is to any
healthy or "normal" life. One of his points was to answer the
objection: "Why couldn't God have just allowed us to perceive sensory
signals alerting us to problems without having those sensations be so
acutely 'unpleasant'? " (an insufficiently strong word). And the
answer is that unless they were so horrible to us, we would just ignore
them to our own detriment. How long have I been driving our old pickup
around with its "Check-engine" light on? Quite a while now -- you can
bet a toothache gets more prompt attention. So we are bestowed with
that which motivates us to take care of ourselves. Why would the rest
of the animal kingdom not experience the same? They may have other
instincts which motivate them to flee predators, etc. but I'm willing
to bet that pain is very much part of the package at least in other mammals.

I think part of our challenge is to refine for ourselves what pain and
suffering are. When does pain become suffering? That is probably
where physiology gives way to metaphysics and higher religious
explication. However much we may wish to think that suffering is the
exclusive domain of humans because of our own falleness, that doesn't
match up with Scriptures. Romans 8:20 - 22 "For creation was
subjected to futility, not of its own will, ... For we know that
the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together
until now"

You may pour contempt on simplistic YEC interpretations of this, -- fine
-- but I'm still trying to find a good answer to their easy response
back: "Okay -- YOU come up with a better explanation from within TE
thought." That is the challenge still at large to me.


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Received on Sat Sep 2 06:21:52 2006

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