Southern Baptist Series: Evolution and the Problem of Evil

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December 28, 2012 Tags: Problem of Evil

Today's entry was written by Steve Lemke. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

Southern Baptist Series: Evolution and the Problem of Evil

Today we post the seventh and final installment in our Southern Baptist Voices series–a collection of essays from Southern Baptist scholars with BioLogos responses to their concerns and arguments. You can read more about the series and access all of the other papers here, and get an overview in Dr. Kenneth Keathley's introductory essay.

But because today's essay from Dr. Steve Lemke is the last in this nearly year-long project, and brings together many of the concerns expressed by his colleagues (not to mention many non-academic Christians), we're handling the response in a slightly different manner than we have in previous exchanges. Instead of posting a separate response essay, we've chosen to highlight how the conversation has developed over these past months by including pertinent links to previous SBV exchanges within the paper itself, and responses to Dr. Lemke's key points in the sidebar: mouse over highlighted phrases to show and hide this additional text. As BioLogos President Darrel Falk explains in his accompanying post (also published today), we think this method shows how prescient Dr. Lemke was when he wrote this paper early on in our dialogue, and how the conversation itself has suggested ways forward in many of the key areas of concern he cites. Please be sure to read Dr. Falk's series summation, as well.

Evolution and the Problem of Evil

Let me begin by expressing appreciation for the commitment and intent of BioLogos. Francis Collins was speaking at nearby Tulane University a couple of years ago when my son was a senior in high school, and I brought him along to hear this noted Christian biologist’s presentation to help prepare him for challenges he would experience (as he is now) in college. This is a tremendously valuable ministry. However, as a philosopher and a theologian I do have concerns about some of the theological implications of the BioLogos theistic evolution view, particularly regarding the problem of evil.

The problem of evil is one of the most persistent and intuitive challenges to the Christian faith and the existence of God. The classic defenses or theodicies that have been used to answer this challenge include the Freewill Defense (God is not responsible for much of evil because it is caused by the free actions of humans), the Soul Making Defense (God allows or sends some evils or suffering in order to build human character in overcoming adversity), and the Eschatological Defense (although the cause of some suffering may be beyond our understanding, whatever suffering we may experience in this life cannot compare with an eternity of blessing in heaven).

These theodicies or defenses to the problem of evil, however, normally presuppose the standard view of divine creation. Were one to propose creation by means of theistic evolution, some of the presuppositions for these responses to the problem of evil no longer function. Therefore, advocating some form of theistic evolution poses problems for standard explanations of the problem of evil.

Cornelius Hunter has recently published Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil,1 an excellently researched book which re-examines Darwin’s motives for developing the theory of evolution. Hunter’s main thesis is that Darwin’s intent was not to undermine belief in the existence of God, but to afford a defense of God’s moral nature. The viciousness of nature caused Darwin and some of his contemporaries to desire to disconnect God’s role in creation from this viciousness in nature, and the blind process of natural selection is the vehicle for disassociating God from the vulgarities of nature. In essence, then, Hunter’s argument is that Darwin’s theory was a form of theodicy – sheltering God’s goodness against the accusation that He is the author of the evil in nature.

Hunter’s thesis sounds hauntingly similar to that of the early Gnostics, who sought to insulate God from the evil material world. They therefore proposed intermediary aeons, archetypes, or a demiurge to isolate the purity of God from the evil of nature. The Darwinian account sharply differs from the biblical account in at least three crucial ways:

  • The Darwinian account removes God from being directly involved in much of creation by utilizing natural processes instead, while the biblical account presents God as directly involved in the details of creation, both in the beginning and throughout history through his providential care.
  • The Darwinian account blurs the distinction between humans and other animals, while in Scripture humans are a distinctive and special creation.
  • The Darwinian account presents God as apathetic and disinterested in the moral status of animals, while the scriptural account presents God (though giving primary focus to humans) as vitally interested in the moral status of animals, and indeed for the redemption of the entire created world.

Another problem with Hunter’s thesis is that whatever Darwin’s original motivation might have been, the novelty of Hunter’s thesis underscores the fact that this is not how Darwin’s ideas predominantly have been used and understood. No one (including contemporary evolutionary biologists) seriously believes Darwin’s ideas as he presented them. Darwin’s ideas about evolution have themselves evolved. ( see Falk, Part 2) So even if Hunter’s thesis were correct about Darwin’s original motivation for the problem of natural selection, this has little relevance to contemporary evolutionary biology.

Any such Darwinian evolutionary biology also undermines classical defenses for God’s goodness. For example, the Christian group BioLogos has presented the perspective that God created all living organisms, including humans, through a gradual process that includes natural selection, group selection, genetic drift or other such physical processes, with God possibly intervening at some undefined points. While this BioLogos approach (which might be labeled a variety of “gradualism” with regard to creation) includes a role for God in creation (as opposed to pure Darwinian evolution), some of the same problems involved with the problem of evil pertain to the BioLogos view as well. In fact, the specific role that God plays in evolution remains somewhat vague and ill-defined. (see Falk, Part 1) Without BioLogos providing a clearer and more precise differentiation between itself and Darwinian evolution – and thus building a clear “Chinese wall” between their view and that of Darwinian evolution -- these views appear to be very close, and the problems that pertain to one view pertain to the other view (at least in part) as well. The following problems arise with regard to the problem of evil in relation to forms of creation by gradualism.

The Best of All Possible Worlds

First of all, it is incumbent upon a good God to produce an optimally good world. We could not necessarily expect an evil or morally mixed God to produce a good world, but we have every reason to expect a good and beneficent God (Matt. 5:48; 1 John 1:5, 4:7-8) to produce the “best of all possible worlds” (given human freewill). In the biblical account, therefore, the evil and suffering we witness in nature and in human experience is not accountable to God because of a defective process in creation, but rather it is a result of the moral Fall of the first humans and subsequent sin by their descendents. However, gradualism has no such vehicle to defend God against the accusation of being responsible for natural and physical evil and suffering. (see Applegate, Falk, and Haarsma, Part 2).

Human Distinctiveness

Second, if God created all living species, including humans, through a gradual evolutionary process that includes common descent from nonhuman primates, there is no clear line to draw a moral or spiritual distinction between humans and other living beings. (see Falk, Part 2).. Yet fundamental to any view of a moral universe is the belief that humans are created in the image of God in a way that is uniquely above all other sensate species (Ps. 8:4-8), and included in this image is our soul and our moral capacity. It is difficult to imagine how humans could receive the image of God through some sort of physical process. Instead, the Bible describes God as being directly and personally involved in creating the human soul by breathing it into mankind (Gen. 2:7). (see O’Connor, Part 1). In the specific language of the biblical account (if not to be discounted, allegorized, or completely ignored), God created human souls directly, not indirectly through some impersonal process. Gradualism offers no clear answer as to how a human soul reflecting the image of God could come about; in fact, such a unique thing in all of creation is everything but gradual or natural. (see Bishop, Part 2).

Whence Cometh Freedom?

Thirdly, even if God intervened at various points in theistic evolution to create new forms from which other species evolve, this does not afford a satisfactory account of human freewill. If humans are not a unique and distinct creation (as the biblical account makes quite clear), but are with other apes the product of a single ancestor, from whence did freewill arise? How can we account for some mutations having freewill and others not having it?

Some quasi-materialists propose some form of epiphenomenalism in which the mind emerges somewhat magically from material cells. This proposal is devoid of any convincing scientific evidence, but it is the only alternative left for materialists to espouse in order to account for some of the most basic human intuitions – that our minds are more than merely a physical organ, that our choices are genuine expressions of freewill, and that we are free moral agents who are responsible for our actions.

Evolutionary biology has no scientific evidence to respond to these basic human intuitions other than to assert that “there is no ghost in the machine” and that any apparent choices are actually mechanical outworking of hard determinism predetermined by prior physical causes. (see O’Connor, Part 2). Therefore, if human choices are merely illusions, humans cannot be held morally accountable, all blame and responsibility reverts back to the God who created this world.

The Problem of Pain

Fourth, gradualism has no moral explanation for animal pain. If humans are the product of an earlier ancestor, it may have taken thousands or millions of years for life to evolve to that point, or for humans to evolve from an earlier primate ancestor. How can the pain of these creatures (some of them quasi-human or proto-human) be justified? (see Schloss, Part 2) This is specifically the issue that worries many Christian ethicists about cloning. Each experiment in animal cloning has produced hundreds of “monsters” before the clone is successful. What if we were cloning humans? What would be the moral implications of creating hundreds of “monsters” just to develop one clone?

The unanimous view is that this would be morally unjustifiable, but this is uncannily similar to the notion of creating animals who suffer for millions of years before evolution finally produced humans. (see Schloss, Part 3) In the biblical creation accounts, pain and suffering comes into the world after the Fall and as a result of the Fall of the earliest humans, and thus God is absolved of direct responsibility for this pain. In this gradualist account, pain and suffering precede the Fall. Millions of generations of sensate beings would have suffered and died before the Garden of Eden. Why would God allow this suffering of innocents for millions of years? (see Schloss, Part 3)

Ironically, Hunter’s Darwinian explanation in Darwin’s God doesn’t work for the BioLogos perspective at this point, because God is somewhat more directly involved at several steps in creation than in the purely Darwinian perspective, so it is God who must shoulder the blame for this undeserved pain. (see Schloss, Part 2)

Another attempt to affirm a gradualist view of creation in which pain preceded the creation of humans was by William Dembski, who in his book The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World2 proposed that the animal world existed in pain for millennia before the creation of humans, and thus the pain of these animals was applied retroactively from the later Fall (pp. 9-10). This proposal was not well received by many in the evangelical world because it depicts God causing pain to sensate beings even before the cause of the pain took place, and Dembski ultimately felt compelled to post a clarification of his views.3 So, the reality of animal pain before the Fall in the gradualist account of creation heightens the problem of evil rather than resolving it.

Death and the Nature of God

Fifth, in orthodox Christian theology, death is seen as the ultimate punishment for the Fall of Adam and Eve. There was a time of created goodness from when humankind has fallen. All human suffering, animal suffering, natural disasters, and death was ultimately the result of the God’s punishment for human sin, the curse after the Fall as described in Genesis 3. (see Schloss, Part 1)

However, in the gradualist evolutionary account, there is no Fall.(see Applegate, Falk, and Haarsma, Part 2). If anything, there is a “rise,” as human beings “come of age” and become morally responsible at some point in the process of evolution from prehuman primates. There are multiple problems with this proposal from a theological perspective:

  • It is one thing to apply symbolic interpretations to the first three chapters of Genesis; it is another to eliminate the historical reality of the Fall altogether.(see Applegate, Falk, and Haarsma, Part 2). .
  • In the biblical view of creation, God creates humans in a paradisical Eden, and humans are ejected from Eden after their sin. In the gradualist view,(see Applegate, Falk, and Haarsma, Part 2). there never was an Eden, and humans never enjoyed the kind of original created goodness described in Scripture.
  • In the biblical view of creation, separation from God and death are the punishments for human sin. In the gradualist view, there never was an Edenic paradise, and persons were created to die. Sin has no real causal connection with physical death. (see Schloss, Part 1)
  • In the biblical view of creation, humans were created “a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor” (Ps. 8:5). In the gradualist view, humans emerged from previously created nonhuman primates. This is a profound re-envisioning and diminishment of the Christian anthropology found in the Bible. (see Falk, Part 2)
  • The Bible describes God creating a beautiful paradisicial Eden with sinless humans, which was lost only because of human rebellion and sin. The gradualist account posits God creating a substandard world that had to evolve to reach even the sad levels of contemporary life. This imperfect creation reflects on the nature of God. Why would a perfectly good God create such an imperfect world? Why or how could a moral God create humans to be already fallen? Orthodox Christian theology affirms that God is already perfect in all His attributes, and does not evolve or change in His essence. The theology more apposite to the gradualist account is Process Theology, in which evolution in creation mirrors evolution within God himself, as he moves from a powerful but imperfect being toward a more perfect being. In fact, Process Theology was designed with a view to harmonizing Christian theology with evolutionary presuppositions. But Process Theology is not held to be orthodox by most evangelical Christians, particularly with regard the nature and perfection of God.

At the core of the Christian worldview is the biblical metanarrative of creation, fall, and redemption. The evolutionary gradualist perspective radically rewrites this standard Christian account by essentially merging the creation and fall into a single event. Humans were created as finite and fallen, not placed in a paradise with created righteousness. This gradualist approach squares well with an evolutionary account, but it does not square well with the biblical creation accounts in Scripture.

Notes

1. Cornelius Hunter, Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil (Waco: Brazos Press, 2001).
2. William A. Dembski, The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2009).
3. Tom Nettles, review of The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World, by William Dembski, in Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 13.4 (2009): 80–85. A partial defense and Dembski’s clarification are found in David Allen, “A Reply to Tom Nettles’ Review of William A. Dembski’s The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World,” a white paper at the Center for Theological Research (February 2010), available online (PDF).


Dr. Steve Lemke is Provost and Professor of Philosophy and Ethics at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he occupies the McFarland Chair of Theology. He is also Director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry and Editor of the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry.

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Ted Davis - #76012

January 16th 2013

Finally, I’ll comment on Dr. Lemke’s point about death before the fall: “the reality of animal pain before the Fall in the gradualist account of creation heightens the problem of evil rather than resolving it.”

Darwin certainly did see his theory as a way of getting past the tremendous about of waste and suffering that he saw in nature, which he found impossible to reconcile with God’s goodness; and, many modern Christians have agreed that for God to create through the process of evolution by natural selection raises very hard problems for theodicy. As Robert Russell writes in “Special Providence and Genetic Mutation,” in Perspectives on an Evolving Creation, ed. Keith Miller, p. 366, “I believe the problem of theodicy is stunningly exacerbated by all the proposals, including my own, that God acts at the level of genetics.” Ultimately, Russell responds with a theodicy based on eschatology, as I discussed in http://biologos.org/blog/science-and-the-bible-theistic-evolution-part-4, where I quote him (from Cosmology from Alpha to Omega, p. 266) as follows: “n order to move us beyond mere kenosis to genuine eschatology, I believe that both kenotic theology and eschatology must be structured on a trinitarian doctrine of God. The reason here is simple: it is the trinitarian God who will act to bring about the redemption of all of nature since it is this God who is revealed as God in and through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. A kenotic theodicy (that God suffers voluntarily with the world) in and of itself is not redemptive. Eschatology is required, in which the Father who suffers the death of the Son acts anew at Easter to raise Jesus from the dead. In turn, the involuntary suffering of all of nature—each species and each individual creature—must be taken up into the voluntary suffering of Christ on the cross (theopassionism) and through it the voluntary suffering of the Father (patripassionism).” Lemke has this as one of the classic strategies for theodicy. The fact that a theistic evolutionist like Russell holds such an Incarnational theodicy should allay Dr. Lemke’s fear that evolution “presents God as apathetic and disinterested in the moral status of animals” and unconcerned about “the redemption of the entire created world.”

Let me return to Ernst Mayr’s point (1), which I mentioned in my previous comment. Darwin and many others at that time, including many Christian authors, accepted the rapidly growing body of evidence for what Martin Rudwick has called “deep time,” the idea that humans arrived on this planet only relatively recently, after a period of immense duration in which other creatures lived and died, most of them becoming extinct. I take this for an established matter of fact, entirely apart from biological evolution. Even if Darwin had never lived and no one had ever come up with evolution; even if everyone believed in the separate creation of every single species, we would still have to confront the fact of death before the fall. Dr. Lemke can’t even accept the very conservative proposal of Bill Dembski, itself based on a highly Calvinistic theodicy presented by Edward Hitchcock in the 1840s, because it accepts the reality of animal death prior to the Fall. (I wrote about Dembski and Hitchcock at http://biologos.org/blog/science-and-the-bible-concordism-part-two). In our view, the traditional theodicy Dr. Lemke endorses (that no animals died before the Fall) is untenable, on the basis of what we now know about natural history. Russell and others have proposed alternative schemes for theodicy, using one or more of the schemes that Dr. Lemke likes.

Suppose, however, that we agreed with Dr. Lemke that the traditional theodicy must be retained, in order to avoid having a “God who must shoulder the blame for this undeserved pain.” Does the traditional theodicy really get God a pass for animal suffering? How are animals in any way to blame for sins that they did not commit? Doesn’t the book of Job teach that God is ultimately responsible for making a world in which bad things happen to righteous people? Didn’t Jesus teach that neither the blind man nor his parents had sinned, such that he had been born blind? If God can make a world without sin and suffering—if God can make heaven—then why didn’t God make heaven now? Theological questions such as these suggest that the traditional theodicy might need to be re-thought, entirely apart from science. I find Incarnational approaches to theodicy more persuasive than the view that all death results from Adam and Eve’s disobedience.


PNG - #76107

January 20th 2013

Excellent as usual, Ted. The attempt to construct theodicy based on denying suffering before a recent Fall fails at every point. Personally, I don’t see how anything but a theodicy based on eschatology can work. This world involves suffering for Man and beast. It always did and neither we nor animals get any choice about whether to be born or not. When God resolves everything in the end, personal and corporate, based on Christ’s work, it will seem worthwhile to those who know Him and (I strongly suspect) all the animals (doggie Heaven, yes) and not worthwhile to those who didn’t come to know Him. In the meantime, everyone has to decide how to regard their situation and the world in general. If you don’t seek you won’t find.


bill wald - #76229

January 28th 2013

First, any logical theodicy must differentiate between suffering caused by the design of this world and suffering caused by human evil. If earthquakes and volcanos are sources of evil then blame the designer for those specific evils, not Adam and Eve.

Second, if all death was caused by Adam’s sin and if this world has “real” physical existence (not the Matrix), then the Garden was not part of this world or was in a mystical/magically seperated part of this world or Adam would have choked to death on his intestional bacteria before God got around to creating Eve. God had to make the special Garden District disappear before all living critters died.

If “death” only applies to spiritual death then this essay is answering the wrong question. 

Third, Do we exist in a real, physical world or do we exist only in the mind of God or only in computer memory? In other words, if God took a vacation day would this universe continue to exist or would everything disappear?

 

 

 


Damon Casale - #76513

February 11th 2013

Actually, the book of Job has been one of the most commonly misunderstood books in the bible.  Yes, it does teach that God created a world in which bad things happen to good people, but not necessarily in the way you might think.  Job wasn’t written to be a universal treatise on human suffering, but unfortunately it’s commonly treated as such.  We need to first understand the historical setting that it comes from, in order to really grasp its message and the intended context of its message.

 

Now, how am I so sure I can figure out the historical context of Job when so many others have failed?  Because #1, we need to recognize that the book of Job was a morality play, intended as fiction and not as historical fact (after all, there were NO truly righteous people in the whole Old Testament, right?), #2, we need to identify the few historical clues accurately, and #3, we need to look at the textual structure of the book and recognize certain important clues to the reason it was written in the first place.  Let’s look at the historical clues first, as these will tell us the historical context with which the writer was familiar.

1) Job 1:15 mentions the “Sabeans”.  These dwelt in the south of Arabia, east of the “land of Uz”.  They existed from early in the first milennium BCE up until about 110 BCE.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabaeans for more info.

2) Job 1:17 mentions the “Chaldeans”.  These were the enemies of the kingdom of Judah, responsible for carrying them away into Babylon.

So, we know that Job wasn’t written in the time of Abraham, for instance.  It was written during the later history of Israel and Judah, likely during the time of the biblical prophets.

Now, let’s ask the question.  WHEN during that time would people have really begun questioning why bad things happen to good people?  When would that question have become really important to answer?

A little historical interlude.  The original Mosaic covenant was basically, if you keep these laws, then you’ll dwell long in the land that God gives to you.  So, something “bad” would probably be on the order of, something significantly affecting that covenantal promise.  Meaning, once northern Israel came under the attack of the Assyrians and was deported, etc.  Therefore, the mention of “Chaldeans” in Job 1:17 becomes significant.

Now, let’s look at one more clue before moving onto the textual structure.  In Job 3, we read that Job cursed the day he was born and wished he’d never even been conceived.  Does that sound at all familiar?  How about comparing it with Jeremiah 20:14-18?

Now, if that parallel with Jeremiah isn’t enough to give you a hint of the real time setting of the authorship of this book, let’s look at a few more things.  In the bible, various creatures are often used to represent foreign powers.  Daniel has his “four beasts” in Daniel 7, but there are many other examples.  In particular, Ezekiel 29:2-3 and 32:2-10, here we have Egypt being compared to a sea creature of some sort.  Let’s go to the end of the book of Job and look at 32-37 and 38-41.  The first section is Elihu, the youngest, chastizing Job.  But, the structure of this section is interesting.  Most of it has to do with poetry ascribing righteousness to God, but chapter 37 looks at nature and uses it to witness against Job.  In and amongst this, Job 37:18, Elihu makes a very peculiar comment:  “Can you join him [God] in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?”  What does this mean?  The Hebrew seems to indicate that the skies are like a scroll set out *with something written on them*.  We’ll see more of this in the next section.

Look at Job 38:31-33:  ”Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?”  This is basically a poetic way of saying that God orders all of creation through the principle of justice, and that the constellations somehow represent the “laws of the heavens” which are being brought down to earth.  Therefore, the purpose of the book of Job is to set Job’s human struggles against the backdrop of God’s grand plan.

Now, finally, let’s look at Job 40:15-41:34.  Here’s a section of God’s rebuke against Job that mentions two legendary animals, Behemoth and Leviathan.  These are NOT meant to be real creatures.  Rather, they’re symbolic of nations, like the animals mentioned by the biblical prophets.  Leviathan is Egypt (compare Ezekiel 29:2-3 and 32:2-10) and Behemoth is Babylon.  The giveaway should be Job 41:34, “He [Leviathan] is a king over all the children of pride.”

What was this section meant to explain to Job?  That Job couldn’t control nature, as it were.  Job wasn’t powerful enough to control the Egyptians or the Babylonians as the balance of power shifted back and forth between the two of them.  At the time of the book’s writing, apparently Egypt had the upper hand.

Job—or rather, Jeremiah, since Job is merely a stand-in for Jeremiah—was having a real struggle with understanding why God would allow wicked men to not only afflict the wicked among the Israelites, but also the righteous.  The Mosaic covenant was in his eyes being broken, because God was allowing these foreign powers to take away the Israelites from the land.

The ultimate message of the book of Job was that God was in control of the situation, precisely because Israel was his chosen nation.  But, that limits the scope of the message of Job.  It wasn’t meant to explain why ALL bad things happen to ALL good people, only why specific bad things were happening to Judah at that point in time.  Although there is some applicability today, it’s still comparing apples to oranges.

Now as far as looking to the suffering of animals and asking why God would allow that, either before or after the Fall, God doesn’t view animal suffering in the same way we do.  There is a natural order of things.  Animals have no concept of what sin is.  What makes human beings human is that they ARE able to distinguish between good and evil.  There can be no sin where there is no law (Romans 4:15; although I’m taking this slightly out of context, the point is still valid).



GJDS - #76034

January 17th 2013

Ted.

 Your comments are scholarly and clearly present your view on the subject. While I find your comment “to move us beyond mere kenosis to genuine eschatology, I believe that both kenotic theology and eschatology must be structured on a trinitarian doctrine of God. The reason here is simple: it is the trinitarian God who will act to bring about the redemption of all of nature since it is this God who is revealed as God in and through the cross and resurrection of Jesus.” instructive, and agree with the broad thrust of your view, I would add the following: the Christian dialogue would include the Law of God, and revelation within freedom. Such a dialogue is possible by virtue of the fact that the meaning of God’s name is contained within the revelation of the goodness of life and this life is sustained through faith in Christ. Faith is part of the dialogue and meaning of God.

Faith becomes God-substantiating within the goodness of life and to reason for human beings and our daily life. This conforms to reason, because the law states we should avoid deceit and seek what is true, and God’s love for humanity has been shown by the fact that God so loved humanity that he gave his only begotten son, so that those who have faith in him would have everlasting life (and we would not intentionally live in sin, as this would contradict the Grace of God). This faith is grounded in the Law of God in that we desire to achieve the righteousness of Christ – since we know we may fail, we seek God’s mercy and hope because of the sacrifice of Christ. This is beyond kenosis; Christ became human for our sake and because of God’s mercy – not to find justification before sinful human beings. It also shows the value that God places on human beings and wills that our souls should be saved.

Hope is part of faith, since hope is required prior to action. Pre-determined outcomes are not required, since hope would be unnecessary. On matters regarding suffering and death, I maintain the view that this results from breaking God’s eternal law, which by definition is universal. The question of the fall, imo does not mean that human beings are intrinsically evil and because of them animals must suffer and God is helpless to prevent this – instead I think that evil is a spiritual ‘break’ from God and human choices have cause our world to be a mixture of good and evil. God decided (outside of time constraints) to offer salvation to those who choose to live by faith. I believe that the entire planet and life in it (except for humanity) would live and thrive without the notion of suffering – it is humanity that ‘destroys’ the balance of nature and has caused so much misery to all – consider the destruction of animals for horns and fins just to satisfy an irrational belief by some. 


lancelot10 - #76979

February 28th 2013

We could even actually believe what God said in his Bible is literally true - he created all things in six days from nothing including adam and eve - they sinned against a holy God - it appears in a short period of time since they had no children at this point - this brought a curse on creation and continued rebellion led to the flood - the evidence of which is all over the world right down to this day. 

God needs to create ex nilo since all the miracles in the bible were instant specific creative miracles - not evolutionary and time and chance based.   And in the final resurrection God needs to instantly raise (not evolve) about 20 billion dead people - bind satan in the abyss for 1000 years while Jesus runs the earth to rule with a rod of iron for this period.  Then after the final rebellion at the end of a thousand years God will create a new earth and heaven - all creative - all powerful living God - no need for evolution - instant stuff.


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