Re: [asa] red in tooth and claw

From: Merv Bitikofer <>
Date: Sun Nov 29 2009 - 00:54:02 EST

I've done my time singing that tune --- and will no doubt sing it again
in season (i.e. theodicy that can casually wave away suffering in the
world). But I reject the idea that this dismissal is always the
appropriate or called for response. It is not abundantly clear to me
that we should not judge a reality by its incomplete history --- quite
the opposite, in fact. We are called to judge many realities in a fully
moral sense for being exactly what they are. It is one thing for Jesus
to accept suffering and death. And quite another to take this as a mere
casual prescription that 'this is just the way reality is' as regards
the general human plight. The same person who casually tells us the 'the
poor you will always have with you', also uses actions towards those
very same poor as a point of separation between the sheep and the goats.
If we haven't learned to become apt judges on what constitutes suffering
or injustice in those around us, then we had better begin attending to
that matter now if we wish to follow Christ. Regarding suffering in
animals, however, I agree with you that such a thing, being the reality
that it is, *must not* be a problem for our theology. But for me, the
animal problem is but a trivial extension of the human problem. I doubt
the whole of it can be brushed aside as mere perspective. Christ, fully
aware of the limitations of death, still agonized and wished his own
imminent suffering and death to be avoided. I doubt many of us will
prove greater than our Master in those regards.

p.s. regarding Eugenics --I am certainly no historical expert; I was
merely using Bernie's example of choice, and I still challenge him to
answer. Having said that though, please count me among those naive
enough to think there isn't much moral distinction between the two
(other than that I see evolution as amoral and eugenics as immoral
--maybe that is a key difference you drive at?) If one were to elevate
evolution into Evolutionism, perhaps seeming to find some moral edifice
in that, [Bernie?], then I'm not at all sure how or why that basis
should disallow anything such as eugenics. But then again, as I really
don't know how anybody can get any moral constructs out of evolution at
all, I guess I can't really be a good judge of that. Please enlighten me.

Schwarzwald wrote:
> What if nature isn't actually as brutal as we take it to be? And
> really, of all the religions that could or should cringe because of
> any 'brutality' we project upon nature - and a lot of it is projection
> - doesn't it seem odd for Christians to do it? The religion with the
> incarnate God who was betrayed, tormented, and executed? Isn't ours
> the one religion, regardless of particular sect, which makes it
> abundantly clear that one should not judge a reality by its incomplete
> history?
> The one lesson I take from Christ's death and resurrection is that
> it's a drastic mistake to regard torment and death as the final lesson
> in history, whether it be human history or the greater, natural
> history. And the idea that Hitler's eugenics was in any way a correct
> reflection of evolution as we know it - particularly given what we've
> learned since then - seems dramatically naive.
> Count me in the apparent minority of Christians who don't think the
> habits of the natural world pose a problem for our theology, and in
> fact bolsters it. The problem isn't the facts on the ground, but the
> perspective.
> On Sat, Nov 28, 2009 at 9:57 PM, David Clounch
> < <>> wrote:
> >Sculptured indeed! Well-stated, Bernie. You are exactly right
> that this is something for Christians to struggle with, and I wish
> I had a complete answer.
> People say Christianity is brutal and bloody. And God is a mean
> inhumane jerk for acts like slaying an entire enemy army in one night.
> Well, why then do they think evolution is kinder and gentler? The
> bloodiness and brutality of Christianity is a matchstick in a
> firestorm compared to the competition in biology.
> What about te ideal of the lion laying down with the lamb? What if
> nature is brutal because it is corrupted by the rebellious? And
> God would have it be different?
> On Sun, Nov 29, 2009 at 7:49 PM, Merv Bitikofer
> < <>> wrote:
> Dehler, Bernie wrote:
> However, and I had glimpses of this as a Christian even, I
> think the ‘red in tooth and claw’ is a tremendous
> acknowledgement of how evolution works. The ruthlessness
> of nature, even Hitler eugenic-style thinking, is how
> evolution created the wonderful life forms that we witness
> today. Nature/evolution isn’t just ‘red in tooth and claw’
> as some unfortunate thing, but it is the way life is
> SCULPTURED. Life is SCULPTED by evolution by “tooth and claw.”
> I’m not saying Hitler and eugenics are right. I’m saying
> that the ruthless nature of evolution being ‘red in tooth
> and claw’ is a major component for getting life as
> beautiful as we know it today.
> For example, why are so few creatures born blind? Because
> they quickly get eaten, with not much chance of their
> genes being passed on. Same thing with many other defects.
> …Bernie
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Sculptured indeed! Well-stated, Bernie. You are exactly right
> that this is something for Christians to struggle with, and I
> wish I had a complete answer. But I do have part of an answer
> that is of course, unavailable to you at the moment. And that
> involves God's use of suffering to craft us. Christians have
> long lived with the paradox of accepting suffering, yet while
> praying to be delivered from it. None of us wants it, by
> definition, and yet we realize (usually only in retrospect)
> that we were made stronger for having gone through it. This is
> only the human element and makes no pretension of addressing
> all of nature. But if I was to begin to craft an answer, I
> would start with the incarnate Christ entering into humanity,
> indeed, into nature. George Murphy's book "Cosmos in the Light
> of the Cross" is helpful in this regard.
> By the way, you seem to want to remain morally above things
> like eugenics or the whole "tooth & claw" scenario. If these
> things are but the brutal tools that sculpted beauty
> (according to you), then why do you find them so
> objectionable? On what basis do you object? You'll note that I
> object to them too even while I acknowledge their existence.
> Christ calls me to live above any such natural law and to
> reject "survival of the fittest" as a means of living with my
> neighbor. But you have rejected Christ, and that basis is not
> available to you (unless you want to engage in the irrational
> practice of cherry picking things you like about Christ's
> teachings while yet thinking Him and his disciples as deluded
> fools or power-hungry frauds.) Since you no longer have the
> Christian basis available and yet regard Evolutionary wisdom
> as a kind of guiding light, on what rational basis do you wish
> to continue objecting to nature's enlightened evolutionary
> teeth & claws whether they come in the form of eugenics or
> otherwise? Do you not quite trust the capable hands of
> evolution to do what needs to be done?
> --Merv

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Received on Sun Nov 29 00:54:43 2009

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