Re: [asa] Wells and traditional Christianity

From: Iain Strachan <>
Date: Sat Sep 02 2006 - 07:37:53 EDT


I did say right at the start that I was trying to work out these ideas
myself, and I was trying to respond to Merv's points. I may not have got it
right in the course of the debate, but let's at least try to be civilised in
that debate.

You know very well that I have completely rejected YEC-ism. To accuse me of
thinking like a YEC is unfair, and, if I may speak plainly, pretty
insulting, and doesn't contribute anything useful to the argument. Try
telling Dawkins he's thinking like a YEC when he makes precisely the same
points about animal suffering in "River out of Eden".

Dawkins, as an atheist, has an easy way out - the fact that there is so much
misery and suffering means there is no God - it is precisely what we would
expect from blind, indifferent Nature. We don't have that easy way out &
have to think up a reasonable answer. Stating that caterpillars probably
can't feel pain seems neither relevant nor persuasive. In the same sentence
Darwin mentioned the cat playing with the mouse. Presumably a mouse can
feel pain and fear as part of its own survival instinct, so you're not off
the hook because you haven't addressed the general issue of whether animals
suffer, and whether this is a direct consequence of the sin of man, and how
do we square this with the notion of a loving God. I'm sure any atheist
that one would want to witness to would think that was a reasonable question
to ask.


On 9/2/06, 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.
> 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.
> Dave
> 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 repugnant.
> Iain
> It's easy to "fix" something if everything else can be ignored, a human
> > specialty wonderfully practiced by Vernon and other YECs.
> > Dave
> >
> --
> -----------
> After the game, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.
> - Italian Proverb
> -----------

After the game, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.
- Italian Proverb
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Received on Sat Sep 2 07:38:52 2006

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