Sunday, December 19, 2010

Evolution and Theodicy

(closing out the papers reviewed at Todd's blog)

The last paper is by John Schneider, entitled (in short) "An 'Aesthetic Supralapsarianism'". As a supralapsarian myself, I was eager to read it (spoiler: I was disappointed).

Once again, I appreciated the forthrightness of the author (page 5):
"the narrative of human evolution makes it very hard, if not impossible, to maintain this position [the Fall] and its approach to theodicy. For it seems, on this science, that not just natural evils, such as animal suffering and violent episodes in nature, but also the disposition for human moral evils, are practically part of God’s original design." (italics in original)
I addressed the problem of evil nearly three years ago. It is a serious matter, one that cannot be dodged (for example, by claiming "mystery").

Schneider makes an interesting claim on page 6:
"Concordists have never been able to resolve this conflict between the Bible and science on the order of nature with their hermeneutics of inerrancy." (he is speaking of Old Earthers here - he intentionally ignores YEC)
If true, this is a useful tidbit. I have been looking for a satisfactory theodicy from Old Earthers, and have yet to find one - it may not exist.

The crux of his argument is on page 10 (although I don't think he realizes it, as he goes into a long mumble about Job later):
"In Domning’s scientific 'theodicy,' these disorders are simply 'inherent in the existence of a physical and moral universe.' The theodicy is that to create a real physical universe, these sorts of sufferings were inevitable, even for God."
To which he adds:
"For now, I choose to ignore the questions that this assertion raises, such as the 'options' that would be available to an omniscient and omnipotent being, and how the 'new heaven and earth,' lacking these sufferings, is eventually possible."
This is a great failure on his part. These are the most important aspects of this argument - if God could not (or would not!) create a world without suffering and death the first time around, why believe the final state will be (or can be) different?

Which brings him to his shocking (and perverse) conclusions (page 12):
"God has 'rightfully,' or 'justly,' and not immorally or amorally, decided to make and to shape the world (and in microcosm, his own life) in this unexpected, undeserved, and painful way, including inexplicably great violence, disorder, suffering, and injustice." (emphasis added)
I don't see how it is inexplicable. God does what is pleasing to Him. So, suffering and violence (at least to animals) must be pleasing.

On page 13, we see his view of the true God of the Bible (commenting on Calvinism):
"God monstrously as creating some human beings for salvation, but all the others deliberately for eternal damnation."
So, a god who creates suffering because it pleases him is not monstrous - but a God who judges sin is?

And (page 13):
"Our experience of God and the world is on the whole exactly what God planned from the beginning." (emphasis in original)
Amen. But is suffering God's response to sin (the signal that all is not as it should be), or does it please God?

These are two pictures of two very different gods.

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