Re: [asa] red in truth and claw?

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Date: Thu Dec 11 2008 - 16:50:34 EST

Murray, as usual, puts it very well.  I would add that it is easier for many people to accept some of the theodicies where humans are concerned than for animals.  One could argue that in some sense humans have a choice but most amimal lives are short, nasty, and brutal, and can't even live up to a "fulfilled" animal life -- however one cares to define that.  This is one strong reason for arguing that the ultimate redemption of creation (creatio ex vetere) should and will include the redemption of animals -- a redeeming of all things (ta panta) as Colossians puts it.  And not only species as Polkinghorne suggests but also individual animals.  Christopher Southgate has an excellent new book "The Groaning of Creation: God, Evolution, and the Problem of Evil" which approaches the whole problem from a "traditional" theological viewpoint.  Not surprisingly, his approach is kenotic in nature and mirrors at least some of what George has expressed on this list.

Gaymon Bennett, Marty Hewlett, Ted Peters, and Bob Russell have also edited a book on The Evolution of Evil, but I haven't seen that one.  It's certainly a hot topic these days in the faith-and-science literature.

BTW, Tennyson's line about 'nature red in tooth and claw' was written well before Darwin ever published.  Many people aren't aware of that.

Karl V. Evans

-----Original Message-----
From: Murray Hogg <>
To: ASA <>
Sent: Thu, 11 Dec 2008 1:55 p
Subject: Re: [asa] red in truth and claw?

Hi Bernie, 
Personally I take this to be part of the broader problem of evil and respond accordingly. 
In part this means acknowledging that regardless of how we understand human origins, God saw fit to create a world in which suffering and death is part of God's plan. Note here that I personally don't consider that throwing this back on Adam and Eve comes even remotely close to resolving the question of why God allows the POTENTIAL for suffering and death. So even given the normal YEC response to the problem of evil, it strikes me that God still bears some culpability (unless, of course, we only selectively apply language of primary and secondary causation!) 
Not liking the "blame Adam and Eve" option, then, my response to evil is to point to (1) the fundamentally incarnational nature of Christian understandings of God in which God "suffers with" his creation, (2) the deep wisdom of God which may place a comprehensive explanation beyond our understanding, (3) the Christian eschatological hope of a world in which all such evils are set right, (4) the nature of Christian faith which at least involves accepting that God is good, wise, and in control despite appearances to the contrary, and (5) the various theodicies which have been proposed. 
On (5) I'd expand a little to suggest that whilst I don't think the various theodicies provide us with an "answer" to the problem of suffering and death, nevertheless they are20helpful in making some sense of it. So, for instance, I don't think Hick's "soul building theodicy" (that suffering is a necessary part of emotional growth) is wrong in as much as I don't think it the full picture. So too for the free will theodicy, etc.  
On (1) one would want to emphasize that the Christian notion of the incarnation points to a God who suffers with his creation so it's not entirely a case of God standing outside the process and expecting us to bear it alone or unaided. 
On this, it's probably worth mentioning that I believe we should be grounding our theology in an understanding of God's redemptive work in Christ rather than in God's creative activity as (purportedly) represented by Genesis 1-3. I disagree vehemently, in other words, with claims that one has to read Gen 1-3 literally in order to make sense of Christ. 
As such, I believe that TE's are quite free to appeal to long established theological responses to evil. About the only thing a TE CAN'T do is pass the buck to Adam and Eve but, as mentioned, I don't find that the least compelling and wouldn't be wanting to go that way in any case. 
Hope it helps somewhat, 
Dehler, Bernie wrote: 
> I’m going to be making a presentation to a mixed group of > believers/non-believers. I’m going to talk to them about how a > Christian can accept evolution. I know the question will come up “Isn’t > evolution evil- full=2
0of pain and suffering- red in tooth and claw? Isn’t > God evil if that was His design means?” 
> > > > Just wondering how evolutionists on this discussion group might respond. 
> > > > Personally, I’d go further. Not only tooth and claw shaping creatures- > but SCULPTURING creatures. I’d say the most beautiful creatures were > sculpted (metaphorically) by evolution through tooth and claw. 
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Received on Thu Dec 11 16:51:39 2008

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