Re: [asa] Wells and traditional Christianity

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Sat Sep 02 2006 - 18:16:44 EDT

First, the problem noted was Darwin's feeling for the poor. eaten-alive
caterpillar, transference as if he were being eaten alive. Cat and mouse
is a different matter, but the "playing" sharpens the predator's
technique. Felines cannot power up simulations such as are used to train
law enforcement personnel.

Suffering, pain and physical death do not relate specifically to the
fall, unless you contend for a notion that the church fathers saw through
and rejected. Days without markers cannot be normal 24-hour periods.
There was death from the beginning of life, several billions of years
back. Without it, the universe would have had to be static rather than
dynamic. The problem with theodicy, which you say continues to puzzle
you, has various complexities because our emotions lead us to make
irrational judgments. If one starts with certain irrationalities, then
many of the later problems can be papered over. I think of the reports
from family and friends virtually every time police use deadly force: the
deceased was a kind and gentle soul and doing nothing seriously wrong. I
also consider the constant change of incompatible explanations YECs keep
offering. The latest drivel has 99.99+% of the total radioactivity
occurring within the year of the flood, raising the question among
themselves of the dissipation of that much heat energy. In other words,
they've produced a contradictory situation, which is impossible and
nonsensical, as an explanation. And I am supposed to consider what they
build on this base as an explanation.

On Sat, 02 Sep 2006 05:22:21 -0500 Merv <> writes:
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

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.



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 18:56:09 2006

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