Re: [asa] red in truth and claw?

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Fri Dec 12 2008 - 12:42:44 EST

First, it's worth noting that, although nature generally and evolution
specifically can be red in tooth and claw, it isn't always. Nature
shows do have ratings in mind, so there's a lot more of lions killing
antelope than lions sleeping on TV, the reverse of the real world.
Evolution can work by cooperation or competition or by finding a
different way to do things that doesn't compete.

"Nature red in tooth and claw" is part of the broader question of how
we perceive the universe. Is it impersonal, hostile, benevolent,
etc.? This is more a projection about how we feel about it (and its
Creator) than an observation, though it can also depend on what aspect
we look at. E.g., C. S. Lewis thought that the vastness of the
universe tended to look impersonal and uncaring (I think towards the
beginning of Miracles). The Bible shows various
perspectives-Ecclesiastes highlights the pessimistic conclusions
reached by considering the world without regard to God, whereas the
psalms already cited take joy in the world, including in violent
things, because it is God's creation. Calvin (not John Calvin but and
Hobbes Calvin) expressed it well: "Like delicate lace, so the threads
intertwine. Oh gossamer web, of wond'rous design! Such beauty and
grace, wild nature produces-Ughh, look at the spider suck out that
bug's juices."

The children's church teacher reported that my four year old recently
suggested dinosaurs as something to pray about. Not sure exactly what
he was thinking, but his appreciation for huge predators is rather
closer to the spirit of Ps. 104 than the sentimentality behind much of
the "no animal suffering" attitude.

Four of the ads that Gmail seems to think are relevant to this thread
are for personal injury lawyers. Focus on animals getting hurt
overlooks the much more serious issue of evil in human history. God
is working through all of human history, including the bad parts, to
achieve His goals, though human behavior is much uglier than
carnivory. There's also the fundamental question of what God's goals
are for creation. Empirically, it's not, as Lewis put it, to be a
cosmic grandfather, seeing to it that "a good time was had by all".
Shaping His people into who He would have them to be is a much higher
priority than making them comfortable, contrary to the prosperity
claims. Also, diversity seems to be valued rather more than comfort.
Evolution seems to be a very good way to generate physical diversity.

As to the theological question of why God should do things that way,
there are various answers (e.g., animal pain not being a moral evil;
consequences of Satan or our sinning-not necessarily in chronological
sequence), but the Bible gives nothing definitive on it.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Fri Dec 12 12:42:53 2008

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