Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

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Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby lancia » Sun Feb 15, 2015 8:23 am

Summary of argument: The problems of evil and suffering that have challenged theological thinking may have an answer in evolution. Evolution may be God’s way of creating sentient beings made in His image and capable of understanding and embracing Him freely. But if that is true, then evil and suffering are expected consequences because (1) evolution requires a world with death and destruction and (2) free-willed, sentient beings are free, not only to embrace God, but to do evil in this world.
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First, consider biological support for evolution-associated evil and evolution-associated suffering coming from the actions of humans.

The ecology of the world depends ultimately on energy transfer from autotrophs (for example, green plants) to heterotrophs (for example, animals, including humans). Autotrophs use light or inorganic chemicals as their energy supply. Heterotrophs use energy from other organisms, both autotrophs and other heterotrophs, as their energy supply. That is, heterotrophs consume other organisms or the living or dead parts of other organisms. Even though autotrophs do not rely on other organisms for energy, they do rely on other organisms for needed elements, which they usually obtain after these other organisms die and are decomposed. Thus, exploitation and death are normal conditions for life and its evolution. This death and exploitation account for some of what we see as evil in the world.

Other evil results from bad choices made by humans. But the capacity to make bad choices comes from nervous systems sufficiently developed to allow us to freely choose in the first place. This development is postulated here to be accomplished by evolution. So, evolution, the very process that prepares humans to freely embrace God, also enables humans to freely commit evil deeds or other acts that cause suffering.

Second, consider biological support for evolution-associated suffering coming from the environment.

The environment creates much of the world’s suffering, apart from that caused by exploitation and free will, through natural forces like earthquakes, glaciation, erosion, winds, floods, droughts, and temperature fluctuations. But these natural forces are precisely those required for a key process of evolution to occur: speciation, the formation of a new species from an ancestral one.

Speciation occurs primarily when a population is split into two or more subpopulations by a physical barrier that prevents interbreeding between the subpopulations. These subpopulations then interbreed only with their own subpopulation members, without any genetic input from or output to the other subpopulation after splitting. This continued isolation permits the two subpopulations to diverge enough genetically such that they are reproductively distinct and thus incapable of interbreeding. Two species have developed where one existed before. This speciation process is postulated by evolutionary biologists to have led to the eventual evolution of humans from simpler predecessors.

The initial splitting of the original population into subpopulations is greatly facilitated, if not necessitated, by the natural forces mentioned above, particularly glaciation, floods, droughts, and hurricane-force winds. So, evolution, the very process postulated to prepare humans to freely embrace God, requires environmental conditions that also produce human suffering.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:14 am

The problem is that you need to first establish that evolution is correct. That are many flavors here to address. Are we young or Old Earth creationists? Or did the young earth just 'appear" old, as in the Omphalos hypothesis? Then do we add evolution to the mix or not, if we are creationists (i.e. How Are Christianity and Evolution Compatible? vs Ray Comfort explains why True Christians can’t believe in evolution, or the water cycle)? And if we add evolution, natural disasters, etc., in the scientific landscape, what role does God have in governing these events - if any?
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby DaveB » Sun Feb 15, 2015 11:12 am

I find the 'evolutionary hypothesis' very interesting. The hard-core doubter, of course, always falls back on this 'fact': God is responsible for evil.
No matter how we parse the problem, it is the accusation against God Himself that seems to never go away.

So it goes like this: (these are not my opinions btw)
Evolution? God is responsible for creation, so should have been able to guide evolution in a wiser manner.
Free will? God is still responsible, even though we choose, because He made everything and could have done a better job.
Determinism? Of course, God is still responsible.
Making us in his image, and giving us some form of free will, with the promises attendant upon faithful obedience - if we choose evil, it is still God's fault, because He should have known better and made a better world.

I think those are misguided ideas, but they are out there and they are tough buggers to answer.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby lancia » Sun Feb 15, 2015 11:48 am

randylkemp wrote:The problem is that you need to first establish that evolution is correct. That are many flavors here to address. Are we young or Old Earth creationists? Or did the young earth just 'appear" old, as in the Omphalos hypothesis? Then do we add evolution to the mix or not, if we are creationists (i.e. How Are Christianity and Evolution Compatible? vs Ray Comfort explains why True Christians can’t believe in evolution, or the water cycle)? And if we add evolution, natural disasters, etc., in the scientific landscape, what role does God have in governing these events - if any?


Evolution was assumed to be correct for the sake of the argument. If you want to discuss why that assumption may be correct, then we can discuss the evidence. But that wasn’t the goal of this thread.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby lancia » Sun Feb 15, 2015 12:15 pm

DaveB wrote:I find the 'evolutionary hypothesis' very interesting. The hard-core doubter, of course, always falls back on this 'fact': God is responsible for evil.


Well, it’s not quite clear to me that such a “fact” is accurate. I mean, that’s like saying just creating the universe makes God responsible for all evil and suffering that occur anywhere in it. Interestingly, the argument I have presented in this thread is almost equivalent to God’s doing just that single act of creating the universe.

I hope I am not thought to be evil just because a reader may suffer after reading this thread about evolution!

The problem with this approach to evil is there is no way to escape culpability, no matter how noble the act. For example, one saving someone from certain death can then be said to be responsible for evil if that saved person someday does something to hurt another. One who feeds the homeless can then be said to be responsible for evil if one of those fed individuals later commits a crime. There simply is no rational end to this blame game. It’s counterproductive because it could stop even noble acts done with good intentions.
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Qot Questions:

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Sun Feb 15, 2015 1:29 pm

The best response I've seen started on evil and the Christian response to it, came from the Journal of Christian Theology and Philosophy. It's called Eternal Selves and The Problem of Evil. Here' are some interesting Q and A from the Protestant site Got Questions. It should be noted that I'm not always in accord with their answers and theological viewpoints,

[/list]
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Re: Qot Questions:

Postby lancia » Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:44 pm

randylkemp wrote:The best response I've seen started on evil and the Christian response to it, came from the Journal of Christian Theology and Philosophy. It's called Eternal Selves and The Problem of Evil.


Yes, thanks for the link. That article makes a strong case for looking at the big picture, which includes postmortem existence. Of course, my argument did not imply there was no postmortem existence.

Even given the view expressed in that article, however, I wonder about (1) living things who suffer in earthly life but whose postmortem existence is not clear and (2) why so much suffering need be felt by earthly life, even given postmortem existence, if God created organisms without employing evolution. After all, our earthly suffering is very important to us now.

If God did not employ evolution to create organisms, then the excesses of natural disasters make little sense, for why are the forces causing these disasters needed otherwise? If He did not employ evolution to do the job, then the excesses of suffering felt by so many organisms lower in the food chain make little sense, too. I mean, if God’s goal in creation is to directly produce sentient beings made in His image and capable of understanding and embracing Him freely, all we really need in life are green plants (autotrophs), which have no central nervous system and so cannot suffer when they are harvested and consumed, and humans (and a few decomposer bacterial species to return elements to green plants). Why create a world ecology with so many superfluous species that do little more than contribute to earthly suffering? Only under the evolutionary scenario do these things make sense.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby DaveB » Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:50 pm

Lancia - I was only pointing out the obduracy of some hardcore unbelievers who say in essence that, if God had not created, there would be no suffering. I find that reasoning - what's the word? Oh yes - STUPID :-) That's my technical term for it, anyway.

I do like the approach you've taken in the posts, and Randy has some good links.
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Re: Qot Questions:

Postby lancia » Sun Feb 15, 2015 7:04 pm



I'm sorry, but I don’t think these links are worth much. I don't think the author is knowledgeable enough about evolution to be an authoritative critic. There are many errors and faulty conclusions made. Here is one example from the first link.

Generally speaking, it’s accurate to say that science has yet to provide consistent answers to how evolution operates at the molecular, genetic, or even ecological levels in a consistent and supportable way.”

This is a bizarre claim. Major advances have been made in our understanding of evolution at the molecular level, such as understanding how mutations occur at the DNA level, how beneficial mutations usally appear long before they are needed in a population and so they are almost certainly random with respect to their need, and how a simple change in a nucleotide can facilitate growth on a novel energy sources, such as styrene, by subtle alterations in the enzyme coded by the affected gene.

I can’t even imagine what the author means by the comment that science has yet to provide consistent answers to how evolution operates at the genetic level. Evolution is ultimately a study of genetics. Every advance in evolution is an advance in genetics, and there have been many consistent answers here.

Finally, evolution has proved incredibly valuable at the ecological level. Many changes in prey coloration, toxicity, and evasion tactics induced by predation have been carefully documented in the ecological literature. Major changes in virulence of pathogens as well as in host resistance have been observed in pathogen-host complexes. Laboratory studies have shown how amenable to natural selection are various life-history characteristics, such as age of first reproduction and longevity, and how they are sometimes coupled in unexpected ways.

Here is a second example from the first link.

"First, there is a contradiction between 'punctuated equilibrium' and 'gradualism.' There are two basic possibilities for how naturalistic evolution can occur. This flaw in the theory of evolution occurs because these two ideas are mutually exclusive, and yet there is evidence suggestive of both of them."

It's unnecessarily provocative and confusing to call these two explanations mutually exclusive and to say there is a contradiction between them; it's like calling the color red and the color blue mutually exclusive and contradictory. Punctuated equilibrium and gradualism are simply different descriptions of the tempo of evolutionary change. They each can be true for different times or in different species. In fact, they are! Fossil support exists for each of these explanations.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby lancia » Sun Feb 15, 2015 7:21 pm

DaveB wrote:Lancia - I was only pointing out the obduracy of some hardcore unbelievers who say in essence that, if God had not created, there would be no suffering. I find that reasoning - what's the word? Oh yes - STUPID :-) That's my technical term for it, anyway.


Yes, I suspected that. Thanks.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Cindy Skillman » Sun Feb 15, 2015 7:42 pm

I agree a hundred percent, Lancia, and I've been positing this same point of view for, I don't know, a couple of years now. IMO it's the perfect answer for the POE. You obviously know more about evolutionary theory than I do, but I'm still not certain that the actual planet isn't going through the process too. Before we became able to make choices of any kind, presumably we were going through that process. Why not dogs and dolphins and octopi and maybe even :? cats. (I said that for you, Dave & Jason.) ;) As for me, I'm allergic to cats; I cannot breathe in their presence, so maybe I'm not all that impartial when it comes to kitties.

But I'm getting sidetracked. Yes, blaming evil on the necessity of the evolutionary process does place evil back in God's lap. I don't have a problem with this any more than I have a problem with the messy process of building a beautiful edifice. I think likely this is the only way that God could have created individuals destined to be truly free. Thanks for a great post!
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby DaveB » Sun Feb 15, 2015 8:32 pm

Cats are no longer evolving; they have arrived, and are waiting for the rest of Creation to finally catch up. :D
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Mon Feb 16, 2015 5:14 am

Got Questions site probably doesn't include scientists in their mix. Therefore, their answers might not be scientifically accurate. However, CARM (i.e. Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry) has a comprehensive link, devoted to this topic at evolution. There's even a link called Debate, if you wish to try your pro-evolutionary viewpoints against founder Matt Slick. I must warn you in advance - he's pretty good at logic and debates. For the record, I am neither pro nor anti evolution. If I were to embrace Christianity and evolution together, it would be with the vision of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in The Phenomenon of Man. It's entirely within the realm of scientific possibility, but I'm currently agnostic on this topic. But I definitely belong to the "Old Earth " camp. It might be refreshing to have scientific friends to discuss these things with, like the crew from The Big Bang Theory.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby lancia » Mon Feb 16, 2015 6:10 am

Cindy Skillman wrote:Before we became able to make choices of any kind, presumably we were going through that process.


I think we are still evolving. We may not see much evidence for recent evolution because of our long generation time. But many potential natural selective forces are active in our environment. One comes to mind immediately, and that is the rapid increase in the number of C-sections. C-sections make it possible to deliver larger babies with bigger heads and brains, which are very likely to be advantageous. In the past, such births were not possible, and the mother and baby died. To the extent that larger babies have a genetic component for their largeness, evolution can occur so that we should see larger and larger babies born over time. This result may not be observable in the near future, again, because of our long generation time. But if the trend continues and if genes for largeness exist, and I think they do, the expected result should be inevitably observed.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby lancia » Mon Feb 16, 2015 6:59 am

randylkemp wrote:For the record, I am neither pro nor anti evolution. If I were to embrace Christianity and evolution together, it would be with the vision of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in The Phenomenon of Man. It's entirely within the realm of scientific possibility, but I'm currently agnostic on this topic. But I definitely belong to the "Old Earth " camp.


As an academic biologist, I could no more reject evolution than I could my own identity. The situation I’m faced with is having to find a theology that is compatible with evolution, which I see as a near fact. It hasn’t been easy! Theistic evolution is a possibility, and I find Universalism very appealing, though I have yet to fully embrace it. So, theistic evolution within the framework of Universalism is an attractive option.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Gabe Grinstead » Mon Feb 16, 2015 7:31 am

lancia wrote:
randylkemp wrote:For the record, I am neither pro nor anti evolution. If I were to embrace Christianity and evolution together, it would be with the vision of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in The Phenomenon of Man. It's entirely within the realm of scientific possibility, but I'm currently agnostic on this topic. But I definitely belong to the "Old Earth " camp.


As an academic biologist, I could no more reject evolution than I could my own identity. The situation I’m faced with is having to find a theology that is compatible with evolution, which I see as a near fact. It hasn’t been easy! Theistic evolution is a possibility, and I find Universalism very appealing, though I have yet to fully embrace it. So, theistic evolution within the framework of Universalism is an attractive option.


Interesting... I am always puzzled why people think religion and science cannot co-exist. Science explains the 'how' and religion, at least in simple terms explains who was behind it all. I fully respect a true atheist, or an agnostic because I can see their point and from their perspective. I also am not distressed when people are atheistic or agnostic. God is the one who grants faith and in due time all will be granted it. In the end, all we really have is conjecture. No one knows for sure... I guess we will all know someday, or if the atheists are correct, we won't know. After all, the dead know nothing.

I am a firm believer that God smiles upon us when we invent and figure out things he has created. He obviously created us for the capacity to learn and he created a seemingly infinitely complex sandbox for us to explore. Science will never disprove God in my beliefs, it will only reinforce how great He is. Science is always (or should be, provided politics and ego stay out of it) self-correcting. So taking an agnostic approach isn't all that bad, since a correction to a theory could be down the corner. Just some food for thought.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Mon Feb 16, 2015 7:34 am

You know what's interesting? It's that mainline churches (i.e. not necessarily bible nor fundamentalist churches) would probably be more accepting to this: Someone embracing either old earth or theistic evolution viewpoints over universalist viewpoints, coupled with mainline church theological doctrines and positions. As Jerry Seinfeld might ask:
"why is that?"

Just to clarify - so there is no misunderstandings. I'm a firm believer in the Christian faith. But I'm agnostic on the theory of evolution as scientific fact, in regards to theistic evolution.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Geoffrey » Mon Feb 16, 2015 9:26 am

Lancia, thank you for the thought-provoking thread.

I recognize evolution in general as factual. The only part of it that I doubt is human evolution. (That said, I don't deny human evolution. I recognize that it is a distinct possibility, and if human evolution is indeed a fact, my religious beliefs would not change.) Tongue in cheek, I like to put it this way: "I believe in most of evolution, but not in the monkey business." :D

Consider Genesis 2:8: " The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. "

I understand this to mean that God specially placed Adam in an "enclosure" (so to speak)--a relatively small area on planet earth that He specially renovated to be free of "nature red in tooth and claw", rather like an idealized Disney version of nature: gentle, beautiful, and harmless. But after Adam and Eve ate the fruit, God kicked them out into the world dominated by biological evolution, thus subjecting them to all the stuff you mentioned in your opening post, lancia.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Mon Feb 16, 2015 10:04 am

I found these articles interesting and thought I would share them. No theologians here who are not scientists and written for lay people:


Hey. I wouldn't mind playing a nerd on the crew from The Big Bang Theory. Look at "Actual Salaries" and you see they probably are paid more than real life, scientific counterparts.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby lancia » Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:26 am

randylkemp wrote:I found these articles interesting and thought I would share them. No theologians here who are not scientists and written for lay people:


Hey. I wouldn't mind playing a nerd on the crew from The Big Bang Theory. Look at "Actual Salaries" and you see they probably are paid more than real life, scientific counterparts.


In your third linked reference, Morris challenges evolutionary biologists to devise an experiment to verify evolution. He suspects that such a verification could not be done. Well, such experiments have been done, and they have verified evolution without fail.

One set of particularly well-known experiments was done by Richard Lenski. He has cultured the bacterium Escherichia coli for thousands of generations, starting with 12 genetically identical strains. Certain bacterial characteristics evolved in every one of these cultures. One was an increase in cell size: each culture evolved an increase in cell size. Similar results have been observed in other bacterial cultures. In general, if bacterial cultures are raised on a sub-lethal concentration of some substance, they will all eventually adapt to that substance, as measured by an increase in their population size to a new stable level, without fail.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby lancia » Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:29 am

Thanks, Geoffrey.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:50 am

In your third linked reference, Morris challenges evolutionary biologists to devise an experiment to verify evolution. He suspects that such a verification could not be done. Well, such experiments have been done, and they have verified evolution without fail.


Hi, Lancia:

I was curious how creationists might respond to this or what questions they might ask. in Creationist Answer to Lenski's Ecoli, the author asks this:

Now the question arises: "How did these scientists prove that these genes were not already recessive traits in the bacteria?" They didn't, and that's the problem. They ASSUMED the genes were new information that never existed before because they started the experiment with the ASSUMPTION that billions of years of evolution had occured.


I'm curious how you would respond to this question and criticism, for example.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby lancia » Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:24 pm

randylkemp wrote:
lancia wrote:In your third linked reference, Morris challenges evolutionary biologists to devise an experiment to verify evolution. He suspects that such a verification could not be done. Well, such experiments have been done, and they have verified evolution without fail.


Hi, Lancia:

I was curious how creationists might respond to this or what questions they might ask. in Creationist Answer to Lenski's Ecoli, the author asks this:

Now the question arises: "How did these scientists prove that these genes were not already recessive traits in the bacteria?" They didn't, and that's the problem. They ASSUMED the genes were new information that never existed before because they started the experiment with the ASSUMPTION that billions of years of evolution had occured.


I'm curious how you would respond to this question and criticism, for example.


You're kidding, right??? Or is this a test?

I say that because talking about recessive traits makes sense only in the context of a diploid organism in which chromosomes exist in homologous pairs. The diploid condition produces a total of two copies of each gene. Only in diploid organisms can a recessive gene copy be masked by the dominant gene copy on the other (homologous) chromosome.

But bacteria, such as E. coli, are haploid organisms in which chromosomes do not exist in pairs. So, gene copies do not exist in pairs the way they do in diploid organisms. That single gene copy will be expressed in bacteria. It cannot be masked in the same way that a recessive gene copy can be masked by the dominant gene copy in diploid organisms.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Mon Feb 16, 2015 1:43 pm

lancia wrote:
You're kidding, right??? Or is this a test?


You passed. On the other hand, the site Science Meets Religion, has this interesting article (also, the second one is good, from another site):

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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Paidion » Mon Feb 16, 2015 2:10 pm

Gabe wrote:I am always puzzled why people think religion and science cannot co-exist.


Actually, I don't know of anyone who thinks that. What some do think is that a belief in creation by God as recorded in Genesis is inconsistent with evolutionary theory. Those who subscribe to a young-earth theory (that the earth is less than 10 thousand years old) believe so. But that is by no means universal. Many people believe both, by assuming the "days of creation" were long periods of time (known as the "day-age theory"). Around 1920-1950, a significant number of Christians subscribed to the "gap theory". They were able to accomodate evolution by assuming that there was a gap of millions or billions of years between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2—plenty of time for evolution to have occurred. (They "translated" verse 2 as "and the earth BECAME without form and void.")
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Jonny95 » Mon Feb 16, 2015 3:02 pm

Yeah nobody actually thinks that science doesn't exist, science being "the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment." It would be absolutely unreal to deny that that exists.

At the same time, to be fair to Gabe, there are an alarming amount of people who basically do phrase it like that, despite them obviously believing that science exists - people who quite happily take many of the results and positives of science but then slag off the whole mechanism when it appears to give evidence for something the person doesn't like (e.g. the evolution of man).
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Gabe Grinstead » Mon Feb 16, 2015 6:13 pm

Paidion wrote:
Gabe wrote:I am always puzzled why people think religion and science cannot co-exist.


Actually, I don't know of anyone who thinks that.


Paidion, I am puzzled why you always seem to take a statement of mine and read into it literally or in a way not intended. I am also puzzled as to how you have never heard that phrase before. I have personally had this conversation many times with people in the real world.

http://www.debate.org/opinions/can-scie ... on-coexist

FYI- 36% say it cannot coexist as the question is understood. You can even read their responses and it should help you understand what the question/statement means. Clearly, you don't get out much and converse with people who are not religious.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:29 am

And now for something completely different.



Recently, I have the opportunity to watch reruns of the TV series Kung Fu. While his science is outdated, If I were to embrace Christianity and evolution together, it would be with the vision of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in The Phenomenon of Man. Teilhard talks about an endpoint of evolution in Christ.



Let's work on the hypothesis that we are created in the image of God (where we will take the Eastern Orthodox view).

    Could we in the garden of Eden all use 100% of our brain capacity and were really like the crew from The Big Bang Theory?
    Could we do the mystical stuff we see on the Kung Fu series, like the Shaolin monk walking through walls? Or any of the mystical stuff we read about in the church saints (i.e. Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox), as well as saints and holy people from traditions like Islamic Sufism, Indigenous native traditions and Eastern traditions?
    As we go towards the end point of Teilhard, would evolution, the Holy Spirit and God's grace re-empower more people with these gifts and abilities, found in the garden of Eden?
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby lancia » Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:19 am

randylkemp wrote:Recently, I have the opportunity to watch reruns of the TV series Kung Fu. While his science is outdated, If I were to embrace Christianity and evolution together, it would be with the vision of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in The Phenomenon of Man. Teilhard talks about an endpoint of evolution in Christ.

Let's work on the hypothesis that we are created in the image of God (where we will take the Eastern Orthodox view).

    Could we in the garden of Eden all use 100% of our brain capacity and were really the crew on like the crew from The Big Bang Theory?
    Could we do the mystical stuff we see on the Kung Fu series, like the Shaolin monk walking through walls? Or any of the mystical stuff we read about in the church saints (i.e. Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox), as well as saints and holy people from traditions like Islamic Sufism, Indigenous native traditions and Eastern traditions?
    As we go towards the end point of Teilhard, would evolution, the Holy Spirit and God's grace re-empower more people with these gifts and abilities, found in the garden of Eden?


As I said to Cindy in a post above, I think evolution is still occurring in humans, as well as in other species. We cannot easily see recent or ongoing evolution in us because our long generation time means such changes are inevitably slow. Given that much of what separates us from other species is our intellectual capacity, that capacity may be where we will see many future evolutionary changes, such as the ones you alluded to above. So, evolution, I think, should not be seen as a static process that is finished in species, even humans. In fact, that evolution is dynmanic could be said to be a major reason why God could have chosen evolution to accomplish his purpose: it does it better than the alternatives.

When one thinks about this issue more than superficially, one can easily envision God’s choice of evolution as way to create humans, and other species, to be based on the fact that evolution allows living things to track environmental change. If God had created all species de novo, or even just humans de novo, we would be static entities needing constant tweaking to keep in tune with environmental change, which is inevitable. Every time a period of cold, hot, dry, or wet climate-change occurred, tweaking would be required for survival and flourishing in the world. And that holds not just for environmental change we can reasonably predict. What about other, less predictable ones? In the history of the world, there have been periods of tremendous increase in cosmic events that could be lethal or near-lethal to us, e.g., increases in harmful radiation. In addition, our own species creates environmental change, some caused by population increases and some cause by advances in medicine and technology. For example, I mentioned the increase in C-sections, which will likely favor larger babies with larger brains. All of these environmental changes could be tracked by evolution. But in the absence of evolution, God would have to intervene often or we and many other species would go extinct.

Thus, evolution is advantageous because it’s so dynamic, always capable of keeping life abreast of the latest environmental changes, without constant intervention by God. That is not a commonly held view of the advantage of evolution as a tool used by God to continue to perfect life in this world.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Tue Feb 17, 2015 7:13 am

You know Lancia, what you are saying makes sense. Evolution in the vision of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in The Phenomenon of Man, would explain some things.
In Teilhard’s view, evolution will culminate in the Omega Point, a sort of supreme consciousness.

At one time, in the garden of Eden, I believe they could do the mystical stuff and were as smart as those on the The Big Bang Theory. We lost that during the fall. But the Eastern Orthodox had the correct perspective, in how we were created in the image of God. It would explain things like the book Psychic Gifts in the Christian Life: Tools to Connect by Tiffany Snow on Amazon. It would explain the mystical stuff you can read about in the saints of the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, as well as the holy people from traditions like Islamic Sufism, Indigenous tribal religious traditions, and eastern traditions. And as we go towards that end point, we can truly envision the words of Christ literally:
"if you have faith the size of a mustard seed and you say unto that mountain..."
or "
greater works than these..."

But here's the catch. This was once explained to me by a Native American elder. In order to have God's gifts and power flow though you, you must become as empty as a hollow flute, so God can play his music through you.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Paidion » Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:47 am

Gabe wrote:Paidion, I am puzzled why you always seem to take a statement of mine and read into it literally or in a way not intended.


Well, I tend to assume that people mean what they say. But if they don't, how can I know in what way their statements were intended?

I am also puzzled as to how you have never heard that phrase before
.

Why do you think that I've never heard it before? I simply stated, "Actually, I don't know of anyone who thinks that [religion and science cannot co-exist]". Thanks for the link. I read some of the comments of those who affirm that they cannot co-exist.

FYI- 36% say it cannot coexist as the question is understood. You can even read their responses and it should help you understand what the question/statement means.


I know what it means.

Clearly, you don't get out much and converse with people who are not religious.


Why have you stated this opinion? That fact that you have, seems to indicate that I have irritated you in some way. That was not my intention. I will endeavour to be more cautious in the future.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Gabe Grinstead » Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:48 am

Randy,

I always thought the faith statement made by Jesus was to show the object of the faith is what mattered. For example, two passengers on a plane... One is scared the entire time. He does not have faith in the plane or pilot. The other guy is sleeping soundly, he has faith in the pilot and plane. The plane lands. Did the faith save either of them? No, but the person who had faith was at peace with himself. I think this analogy might be a glimpse as to why it is better to believe in this life. Our faith doesn't change what God does, but it allows us to be at peace with it.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Gabe Grinstead » Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:58 am

Paidion wrote:
Clearly, you don't get out much and converse with people who are not religious.


Why have you stated this opinion? That fact that you have, seems to indicate that I have irritated you in some way. That was not my intention. I will endeavour to be more cautious in the future.


To be honest, Paidion, I have a great deal of respect for you and your positions, but am often frustrated by some of your responses. For example, I have created many threads where I EXPECTED you to comment, but you didn't. Then, you tend to quote some obscure single sentence of mine and run off course with it in a way I would have never guessed. Your style sometimes has me wondering if you are completely sarcastic or serious in your replies. I know you are a good person, so I don't doubt that aspect. I'll make every effort to overlook what appears like sarcastic statements knowing that it is not your intent. Perhaps some of this is because I have not spoke to your in person. Sorry for the derail. God Bless.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Geoffrey » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:50 am

Gabe Grinstead wrote:I always thought the faith statement made by Jesus was to show the object of the faith is what mattered. For example, two passengers on a plane... One is scared the entire time. He does not have faith in the plane or pilot. The other guy is sleeping soundly, he has faith in the pilot and plane. The plane lands. Did the faith save either of them? No, but the person who had faith was at peace with himself. I think this analogy might be a glimpse as to why it is better to believe in this life. Our faith doesn't change what God does, but it allows us to be at peace with it.


That's a great analogy.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Gabe Grinstead » Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:27 pm

Geoffrey wrote:
Gabe Grinstead wrote:I always thought the faith statement made by Jesus was to show the object of the faith is what mattered. For example, two passengers on a plane... One is scared the entire time. He does not have faith in the plane or pilot. The other guy is sleeping soundly, he has faith in the pilot and plane. The plane lands. Did the faith save either of them? No, but the person who had faith was at peace with himself. I think this analogy might be a glimpse as to why it is better to believe in this life. Our faith doesn't change what God does, but it allows us to be at peace with it.


That's a great analogy.


I can't take credit for it. Back when I was an ECTer, the Young Adult pastor/leader gave that example. It really stuck with me. That is why I think Jesus used the mustard seed example, how could faith be any less than that size? :-)
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:30 pm

Geoffrey wrote:
Gabe Grinstead wrote:I always thought the faith statement made by Jesus was to show the object of the faith is what mattered. For example, two passengers on a plane... One is scared the entire time. He does not have faith in the plane or pilot. The other guy is sleeping soundly, he has faith in the pilot and plane. The plane lands. Did the faith save either of them? No, but the person who had faith was at peace with himself. I think this analogy might be a glimpse as to why it is better to believe in this life. Our faith doesn't change what God does, but it allows us to be at peace with it.


That's a great analogy.

It does raise the question regarding the object of faith. What should be the object of faith? God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the sacraments of the RC and EO churches, the ceremonies of the Native Americans, relics of saints, holy water, the miracles of some TV evangelist, sacred RC, EO and Native American sites, holy people, saints, blessed objects, etc.? Actually, all these can be a focus point to trigger a miracle.

As an inclusivist (i.e. like Roman Catholic inclusivism), I believe that Christ is working in a person's life - regardless of the religious traditions. As long as the adherents try to follow the golden rule. Many Christians claim to have faith but can't follow the words of Christ literally. Many in traditional Protestant Christianity claim the age of miracles ended with the apostles.

Yet I know a Roman Catholic priest, who has the gift of healing and hearing the voice of God. Many healing miracles happen through him. I know through reliable sources that many miracles happen through the Eastern Orthodox monks of Mt. Athos in Greece. I have seen healing in charismatic groups, as well as among the Native Americans, Eastern holy people and Christian Scientists (i.e. I'm personal friends with a Christian Science practitioner in Australia). The last three mentioned don't have a specific faith in Christ but they do believe in God. Sometimes the healing is where the doctors say the person is terminal and there is nothing more they can do. And there have been healing for things like financial situations, no children in a marriage, etc.
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Geoffrey » Tue Feb 17, 2015 2:20 pm

I'm Eastern Orthodox, and I would be foolish to posit that God works miracles only within the Orthodox Church. Correct theology does not monopolize miracles or grace. :)
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby DaveB » Tue Feb 17, 2015 2:53 pm

Neither does incorrect doctrine (in non-essential things) :D
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Tue Feb 17, 2015 3:59 pm

DaveB wrote:Neither does incorrect doctrine (in non-essential things) :D

Which always begs the question, who or what determines "correct" doctrine? :D
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby DaveB » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:18 pm

I'll be glad to. I've got some free time! :lol:
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:52 am

DaveB wrote:I'll be glad to. I've got some free time! :lol:

Well, I'm ready to go to the argument clinic. Which door should I enter into? How much money will it cost me? :lol:

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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby DaveB » Wed Feb 18, 2015 10:29 am

Well, I just argue in my spare time.. :lol:
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Re: Evolution May Explain the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Postby Cole H. » Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:35 pm

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” - Thomas Aquinas
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