I would like to hear thoughts on a sticking point I’m having with Evolutionary Creationism (EC). First I need to give some basic context. I’ve been a devoted Christian for decades while also believing very much in the importance of all science. I see no problem with the big bang and general old earth concepts and do not think they conflict with biblical understanding of creation. Properly understood and accurate science and biblical understandings will compliment each other and not conflict because they are both true. They may appear to conflict at times mainly because their communication styles and goals are different. I’ve always thought evolution was a tool God used to bring about his creation through a process, EC. The sticking point I’ve always had though is evolution is such an Extremely viscous and cruel process. I was reminded again recently when viewing a nature photography post where hyenas were feeding on an animal. Sorry if the following is disturbing but this helps define my sticking point. As brutal and cruel as it is at least most predators suffocate their prey before beginning to tear them apart and feed. Hyenas do not. Your mind will not over estimate the viciousness and cruelty involved in an experience like that. All covered in blood, unbelievable pain, for who knows how long. There are countless other unbelievably viscous and cruel happenings in nature. Fires burn to death thousands/millions of animals over a short period. Mosquitoes so thick they actually can slowly kill Caribou calves while torturing the adults. Multiple factors like weather and other natural happenings all working together creating a gauntlet that few survive long enough to reproduce before falling victim themselves. Things like this happen countless times every day, endlessly for millions of years for the evolution process to produce it’s results and never stops. I could somewhat understand this if evolution was the result of evil entering the world. But if I’m understanding correctly evil entered creation well after evolution would have already begun. So my sticking point is could God possibly declare the evolutionary process as “good”? Thoughts?
The sticking point as I see it is two fold.
One is that the cell is a massively complex and extremely sophisticated system. It far exceeds all of what the human kind have made in machinery to date and into the far future. This does not come about by evolutionary means, i.e., random mutations and natural selection.
The other problem is consciousness. Dead matter rearranged itself to get to being self aware. Really!
I see your point. I’m not disagreeing with EC like you may. I’m just trying to make sure I understand the concepts and beliefs that go along with it. I also especially understand your comment on consciousness. I’ve thought about that a lot. Is it possible humans being made in the likeness of God were made conscious by Him and animals are biological robots that actually don’t truly experience anything. I see that as a possibility being that animal welfare is never addressed by God other than human. Still seems odd He would deem a gauntlet style process good even if the creatures feel nothing and robotic.
You may find these BioLogos resources helpful:
The answer for me lies in that God planned two creations from the get-go, and unlike YECism’s interpretation, creation was not subjected to futility at the fall, but from its very beginning, precisely because it is going to be replaced. That includes groaning. The first creation is explicitly labeled by God as “very good” and not perfect because it includes death. (There is a Hebrew word for perfect and God did not use it). In Psalm 104, “The Creation Psalm”, God is praised for providing prey for the lions. This is not a perfect world, by design.
That’s very interesting. Especially that there was a Hebrew word for perfect that was not used.
I definitely believe that God miraculously intervenes in his providence, not that we can or will be able to determine the when and where. (The label that I have adopted is ‘evolutionary providentialist’.) Regarding complexities, I believe in lowercase intelligent design, ‘id’, and that our intuition about complexity is correct, but not scientifically demonstrable, that neutral drift can indeed produce complexity, and along with population genetics can ‘explain’ it.
You’re not the only one who has expressed these kinds of thoughts, and I can understand why they would bother you. I think a lot has to do with how much morality one ascribes to animal behavior. And also, as John Walton discusses in his book on Genesis, when God calls the world “good,” is he intending that to be a statement of morality, implying that nothing difficult or unfortunate would ever happen, or did he mean it in a more “functional” sense – more like in an “all systems go” sort of way?
Anyway, that’s what helps me think it through. If “sin” is something that requires a sense of moral agency, then applying it to animals doesn’t seem accurate to me.
How would it be better if all that cruelty were specifically designed into nature? It is interesting that Darwin ruminated over these same topics:
It all boils down to the Problem of Evil, which is a theological problem as old as theology itself. I certainly won’t pretend to have the answer to that one.
I find the idea of a creator with a mind and morality anything like ours as pre existing all else and choosing to make every creature precisely as we find them unlikely. But if instead you see God as the inexorable movement of the cosmos toward greater states of complexity and freedom, from chaos to matter/energy, from the inorganic to the organic and from the instinctual toward ever more freedom and awareness that would make much more sense to me. That that is what we actually find is remarkable and even miraculous. We can all be glad for this turn of events. If God is seen as emerging through and right alongside this ever transforming cosmos, then parasitic wasps and newborns with cancer would not have to be seen as reflecting the dark side of a malevolent genie. We could instead be grateful for the many good and wondrous manifestations of life even as we empathize with those creatures who currently suffer.
It is what it has to be, it has to be what it is. It’s good in that it comes up with conscious beings who, if there is a God, get to transcend. There is no better mechanism. Unless you’re somehow trying to make Genesis 1:31 about evolution? Chalk about cheese?
I don’t think God mean that the world was ‘good’ in a moral sense. After all God gave everyone free will. God did not create puppets on a perfect stage. I think this world is a testing ground. Who would willingly, freely walk the path of Righteousness and who would not.
So the word ‘good’ would refer to seeing the work God did and being satisfied that it was as you say “functional”.
As far as animals go, I think they do have a sense of right and wrong.
It is not long ago that one of the bush turkeys in my yard died and another turkey, a breeding male from the look of it began to cover it over with dead leaves. Another male bird came and tried to peck at the dead bird it in an aggressive manner. The other male turkey, who was effectively burying the dead bird, attacked the aggressor or should I say ‘disrespectful’ male bird and chased it away. Then he returned to cover over the dead bird.
It took him quite some time, maybe 15mins or more. All the other turkey kept well away from the burial scene and none went and scratched in that area. I would not have believed this would happen if I hadn’t seen it for myself. And I have seen other behaviors in other animals like kangaroos, that displays similar respect and consideration for the most part. There are always some that are aggressive.
It makes sense that animals as well as humans have a moral sense because all are embodied conscious beings. They are all interconnected in a spiritual sense, except for those that become bad. They disconnect. Anyway, those that are connected will feel for one another. In real terms I think we can call it love. This forms the basis of morality. I have a video of a kookaburra feeding its juvenile young at my window and it displays care and love towards the young bird. I can post it if you like.
One problem that I see is that the evolutionary biologists have taken adaptation and called it evolution. The genome is highly plastic and there is room for a lot of changes. And we see those changes go one way and then back the other. The peppered moths went from white to black and then back to white again depending on the environmental conditions. The finches show also the same changes from thin delicate beaks to bigger sturdy beaks and back again. This shows intelligent design and the ability of organisms to effect changes.
I don’t think that it is feasible that the level of complexity we see in cells and the ability to make changes and adapt to new conditions can possibly not involve intelligence. And that intelligence afforded not simply and only by God in creation but given to every living form to be able to intelligently adapt as required.
The genes for white and black coloration have stayed the same. What changes is the number of individual moths with those genes.
Newborns with cancer does not imply any dark side of some malevolent genie. There is foul game play that affects the mother, which then indirectly affects the newborn or child or whatever age. The reality is that the body is not a machine, but purpose driven. So adverse conditions can arise and they can also go away again when the problem is resolved.
`Correct, which means that the individual is able, under particular circumstances, to express one or the other color. This is not evolution. It is adaptation.
Nothing wrong with providing prey for the lions. It is perfect by design. What you are probably thinking is that the life in this physical plane is all that there is. This is only a testing ground. The soul of every form of life is forever beyond harm, with the exception of inhumane people, who deaden their conscience to be able to exploit and manipulate and abuse etc., other around them. They darken their souls.
That’s not how it works. The moth has no control over its coloration. The sequences of the two alleles is what determines coloration.
“parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars” has nothing to do with the problem of evil.
So you are saying random… chance?