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Defender's Guide to Science and Creationism
Assertion: The cruelty and wastefulness of evolution is inconsistent with the goodness of God.

Mark I. Vuletic

Analysis

I. God seems generally unconcerned with cruelty and wastefulness

Evolution is no more cruel or wasteful than the non-evolutionary processes that afflict and kill billions of organisms every day, including droves of sentient ones. Hence, if the latter is consistent with the existence of a good god, so is the former. To be even more blunt, a creationist who harmonizes the murder of a child with the goodness of a god who refuses to intervene (or even with one who commands the murder of children, as in 1 Samuel 15), should have no problem whatsoever harmonizing the brutality of evolution with the same god. As I have said elsewhere,

for the believer, the wastefulness and arbitrariness of evolution presents no special problem not already presented by the events of everyday life. Consider, for instance, the wastefulness and arbitrariness present in the rape and murder of a child: on the one hand, a person who is inclined to view such things as incompatible with the existence of a loving god is already at the doorstep of atheism, and will hardly be moved by the comparative tameness of the evolutionary history of life. On the other hand, it would be a sick joke beyond measure to suggest that anyone capable of genuflecting at the altar of God after considering the rape and murder of a child could possibly have his or her faith shaken by the cruelty of the evolutionary process. As far as the matter of atheism versus theism goes, the wastefulness and arbitrariness of evolution is either redundant or irrelevant. (Vuletic 2008)

 

II. Evolution, the Fall, and animal eating habits

Christian creationists sometimes reply that the present brutality of nature is justified in the Christian scheme by the Fall of Adam and Eve. Presumably, all creatures initially were herbivores, but some of them spontaneously changed into carnivores because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve. Thus (so the story goes), Adam and Eve, rather than God, are responsible for the cruelty and wastefulness of nature. But (so the story continues), since the evolutionary history of life seems to rule out a historical Adam and Eve, the truth of evolution would mean that God is the responsible one.

To this, one must respond first that Genesis does not actually say any of this. It nowhere says that all creatures were created as herbivores, or that the Fall magically changed the digestive tracts and eating habits of any of these creatures. Secondly, though, even if the Fall did cause such magical changes, it could do so only at the behest of God: it is not as though Adam and Eve went about like mad scientists, operating on the jaws, stomachs, and brains of various animals to turn them into killing machines. Rather, these "spontaneous" changes could only have occurred because God willed them to. But a God who built the fabric of nature so that it could be so utterly corrupted by the actions of one pair of human beings would be just as responsible for the subsequent brutality as a god who made nature that way to begin with. It would be like putting a nuclear trigger into the hands of an infant: no better than pulling the trigger oneself.

References

Vuletic MI. 2008. In defense of evolution. www.vuletic.com/hume/sc/evodef.html.

Last updated: 26 Nov 2014

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