Saturday, 17 December 2011

Thought of the day - evolution, death and theodicy

Too often, creationists claim that evolution is a process which requires death in order to function. An example from Answers in Genesis is, "Evolution says death plus struggle brought man into existence".

There are a lot of questions we can ask here and a lot of potential answers. Did death come before the Fall? Does the death in evolutionary history contradict Scripture? Is there a Biblically consistent solution to this problem? In many of my writings on theistic evolution I have addressed this problem and do not intend to address it in the same way right now. Instead, I want to explain why I believe AiG and other creationists have made a mistake in their claim that evolution means death and suffering.

It is undeniable that death is common in the history of life (though suffering is not so simple and will be ignored for the time being). However, death is not a necessity for evolution. What evolution requires is differential reproduction, which means that organisms producing more successful offspring will find their genes proliferating. Being successful does not necessitate the deaths of others, but simply being better able to acquire resources and mate (for sexual organisms). Of course, being successful is better demonstrated when death is involved, but such death is not a necessity.

One might then claim that death is a consequence of evolution, but this is not so either. Death is a consequence of "go forth and multiply" as this increases competition for finite resources. Death is an evolutionary product in the sense that organisms are effectively programmed to grow old and die, but it is not a necessity even if it is likely to evolve.

So what a Christian really should be asking is "can God use death in a positive and fruitful way?" In order to answer that, they should look to Christ and the answer seems to be a resounding yes.


klatu said...

As a humanity, we have all been conditioned or indoctrinated, for all of history by 'theological' exegesis, particularly by those with their own religious claims and agendas, to accept that a literal proof of God is not possible for faith. And thus all discussion of morality and apologists 'theodicy' is contained within this self limiting intellectual paradigm and bubble of presumption, especially evident in the frictions between science and religion. It would now appear that all sides squabbling over the God question, religious, atheist and history itself have it wrong! That bubble could now burst at any time!

The first wholly new interpretation for two thousand years of the moral teachings of Christ is published on the web. Radically different from anything else we know of from history, this new teaching is predicated upon a precise and predefined experience, a direct individual intervention into the natural world by omnipotent power to confirm divine will, command and covenant, "correcting human nature by a change in natural law, altering biology, consciousness and human ethical perception beyond all natural evolutionary boundaries." So like it or no, a new religious claim testable by faith, meeting all Enlightenment criteria of evidence based causation and definitive proof now exists. Nothing short of a religious revolution is getting under way. More info at

Claire said...

Authentic Theodicy?