Natural Evil Article

Discussion about scientific issues as they relate to God and Christianity including archaeology, origins of life, the universe, intelligent design, evolution, etc.
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rkb4dodgers
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Natural Evil Article

#1

Post by rkb4dodgers » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:36 pm

I recently read the article on natural evil on this website and wasn't completely convinced by the argument that natural evil actually serves a large amount of good in the universe. While this might be true, I found it contradictory with Romans 8:22 - "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now." If natural evil isn't the groaning and laboring, then what is? Couldn't there have been a universe with physical laws (all of which we might not even be able to imagine) that precluded such atrocities? Thanks for any response you can give me. I just wasn't completely satisfied with the article.

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Re: Natural Evil Article

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Post by Matt DeLockery » Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:03 am

I'm not sure the best way to answer the question of natural evil is to say that it does do a lot of good, but rather that it could be used for good. The point is to show that there is no inconsistency between the existence of both God and evil. Also, there could have been a world in which there was not evil, but that world may not have been possible for God to create as long as He allowed humans to have free will.

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Re: Natural Evil Article

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Post by smiley » Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:17 am

The argument is flawed to the core, because, even if it is conceded that some "natural evils" are the necessary consequences of the present set of natural laws, God being omnipotent, should still be able to prevent them through perpetual miracles.

So yes, there are possible worlds where there is no (at least not as much) natural evil and life as we know it exists.
"Imagine if we picked the wrong god. Every time we go to church, we're just make him madder and madder." - Homer Simpson

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Re: Natural Evil Article

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Post by Canuckster1127 » Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:33 am

What is good and what is evil?
Dogmatism is the comfortable intellectual framework of self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is more decadent than the worst sexual sin. ~ Dan Allender

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Re: Natural Evil Article

#5

Post by smiley » Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:35 am

Since I am a Christian, it's a matter of God's opinion.

Still, even if I wasn't, that's an incredibly feeble trap. All I would say in response (if I didn't believe in the existence of God) is that your belief system is internally incosistent.
"Imagine if we picked the wrong god. Every time we go to church, we're just make him madder and madder." - Homer Simpson

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Re: Natural Evil Article

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Post by Canuckster1127 » Tue Sep 28, 2010 10:07 am

It is neither feeble, nor is it a trap.

There are two elements of what makes a logical statement true or false.

The first and most important is the objective truth of the premises upon which any logical construct rests. You say it is a matter of God's opinion and ultimately that is true. In the presence of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God He becomes the measure of what is "true" "right" and "moral". Then you move onto whether something is internally consistent. This however is where many of the supposed "inconsistencies" can in fact be shown not to be internal inconsistencies at all. Rather, the challenge is really coming on those basic presuppositions upon which the construct rests in the first place.

There are difficult passages in the Old Testament that appear on the surface to present a God who is arbitrary, and inconsistent. However, arbitrary and inconsistent only become meaningful if we lift the presupposition that God is Supreme and the measure of Himself and then impose a basis of justice that is centered upon Man and Man's presumption of what is good and what is evil. So the charge of internal inconsistency is in fact not warranted. What is really disagreed with is the logical constructs upon which the system is based.

Unfortunately, disciplined critical thinking isn't really all that common and not many people put the time and effort into examining these types of questions and instead the accept the charge of internal inconsistency without realizing that there's really something else being changed here. It's fine to disagree and posit other bases of what is "good" and what is "evil" but once you do that and make good and evil the measure of something other that God Himself, then internal inconsistency is no longer an accurate claim. When you've changed the external premises to something else, internal consistency no longer plays into it.
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Re: Natural Evil Article

#7

Post by smiley » Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:03 pm

First, I've never said anything about objective truth. You asked me for how I define good and evil. Of course, if someone denies the existence of objective truth, then they can't even begin to discuss anything, not just the problem of evil.

Answer this:

Do you believe that there is evil in the world, evil that is against the will of God?

If yes, then the charge of internal incosistency is sound. Either it is the will of God that 20,000 children should die of famine every day, or you have to deal with the problem of natural evil.

If not, then I apologize for making the charge. But virtually every Christian in the world will disagree with you.
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Re: Natural Evil Article

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Post by Canuckster1127 » Tue Sep 28, 2010 5:56 pm

Smiley,

That's a false dilemma. Those are not the only two options available in response to the question.

Also, you're quite incorrect that virtually every Christian would disagree with (and you say me but you're referring to the position) the premise that Evil is against the will of God, implying that God is therefore not in control. In fact, Reformed theology, a major camp of Protestant theology is pretty clear in this and other lines of historic Christian theology have similar positions.

Where are you getting this information upon which you base your claims? It hardly sounds like an informed opinion based upon real familiarity with Christian history, theological treatises etc. It rather sounds to me like material from Dawkins, Hitchins and/or Dennett.

That's fine if it is. It just strikes me that I'm seeing consistent themes in a lot of what you're saying that don't match the claims you're attempting to back them up with. Perhaps it would help to look at a multitude of sources and not just one or two. It takes some time and some work, but it's a much more direct method to understanding better the things being discussed here.

Just a suggestion.

blessings,

bart
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Re: Natural Evil Article

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Post by Gman » Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:21 pm

smiley wrote:The argument is flawed to the core, because, even if it is conceded that some "natural evils" are the necessary consequences of the present set of natural laws, God being omnipotent, should still be able to prevent them through perpetual miracles.

So yes, there are possible worlds where there is no (at least not as much) natural evil and life as we know it exists.
I don't get it... How is that flawed to the core in a fallen world? Where is it ever promised that we wouldn't experience hardship in this life?
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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Re: Natural Evil Article

#10

Post by rkb4dodgers » Tue Sep 28, 2010 10:13 pm

Canuckster1127: if you could please expand on your response to my original question I would greatly appreciate it. I am just curious that if it is true that the "natural evils" of the world could be good, then what is Romans 8:22 addressing?

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Re: Natural Evil Article

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Post by rkb4dodgers » Tue Sep 28, 2010 10:27 pm

I am aware that many of the "natural evils" of this world can also serve "good" purposes. But what I am concerned with is its consistency with scripture. If this supposition is true, then what is Romans 8:22 referring to? What about the concept of shalom?

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Re: Natural Evil Article

#12

Post by Canuckster1127 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:11 am

Hi rkb and welcome to the site by the way. Glad you're here.

Romans 8:22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

The context preceding it is the looking forward to the glorification or completion of the work of Christ that takes place within the children of God when Christ returns.

I think what you may be referring to more than this particular passage is found more clearly in Rom 5:12-17

There's an idea that all forms of death were introduced to creation at the time of the fall. I think it's referring to Human death only and not inclusive of the normal cycles of life and death that take place within the eco-system. Clearly anyway, before the fall, it's indicated that fruits, vegetables and plants were food, and there is a "death" that takes place. Creation was certainly impacted by the fall and what we call "natural evil" exacerbated and other elements introduced at that time.

The idea that there could be no form of death whatsoever in a "perfect" system ties back to what I mentioned earlier about the premises of Greek and Roman philosophy and that assumption is carried into the text by those who read it in that manner, in my opinion. Clearly, if there were no death in the natural order of anything, including bacteria, plants, microbes etc (which to be logically consistent you'd have to include) the results would be pretty pronounced pretty quickly. The earth would fill, resources would have to be unlimited, space would need to expand etc. etc.

I frankly don't believe that that greco-roman assumption was in the mind of either Paul as the human writer under inspiration or the receiving audience in Rome when it was written. I don't believe it is necessary to take that extreme of a position to preserve the consistency of scripture. I think the context of the passage in Romans is clearly focused upon Humanity and the metaphor of creation groaning is a recognition of the impact of the fall, but it doesn't carry within it the assumptions some use it to point toward.

Scripture is inspired and reliable. What sometimes happens is that people don't recognize the presuppositions of their particular heremeneutic or interpretation of a passage and they then end up arguing for the "stow-aways" that come into their interpretation that are present in the assumptions they bring to the text, rather than really extracting them from the text. If the line of Paul's reasoning and development all through Romans 5 - 8 (which I think is one of the most important passages of scripture in terms of our understanding of the finished work of Christ and how we are to walk in it) doesn't require the extremes to which some go to make a point that is at best corallary in the text, then I think there needs to be some caution in attempting to say more than the text does, or else we're then left with some difficult questions in other directions.

Paul was familar with greek philosophy but he was a Hebrew and his mindset fell solidly in that perspective. It's important I think to know what the differences are in terms of concepts like "pefect" between the two and not just accept a greek philosophical assumptions being superimposed on a text when they weren't present in the audience or hearers at the time.

I hope that makes some sense. This is a lot to try and address in a short post and I'm sure I've not done it justice or been as clear as I need to be.
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Re: Natural Evil Article

#13

Post by rkb4dodgers » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:30 am

Thank you canuckster for your response as well as the welcome to the site. I find this site extremely useful.

I completely agree with you that all forms of death couldn't have been prevented prior to the fall, you made several impressive points as to why thats not quite possible. The passage in Romans doesn't seem to suggest that either (at least I don't think so). I have been approaching this subject of natural evil from a position of trying to develop consistency in my philosophical beliefs on the subject on evil.

It seems to me that you believe that many natural evils have been heightened as a result of the fall, and this in turn is what Paul is referring to when he states that creation is groaning. The question in my mind that motivated me to post this is how God allowed animal suffering as well as other "natural evils" prior to the fall, when God declares it "very good" and at the return of Christ there is going to be a new Jerusalem and a new earth when the concept of shalom is brought to its completion. I am aware that this is a HUGE topic and is difficult to fully address. Do you know of any books that you feel address this topic thoroughly?

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Re: Natural Evil Article

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Post by Gman » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:39 pm

rkb4dodgers wrote: It seems to me that you believe that many natural evils have been heightened as a result of the fall, and this in turn is what Paul is referring to when he states that creation is groaning. The question in my mind that motivated me to post this is how God allowed animal suffering as well as other "natural evils" prior to the fall, when God declares it "very good" and at the return of Christ there is going to be a new Jerusalem and a new earth when the concept of shalom is brought to its completion. I am aware that this is a HUGE topic and is difficult to fully address. Do you know of any books that you feel address this topic thoroughly?
It's pretty much addressed here...

http://www.godandscience.org/apologetic ... icity.html

or

http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/paradise.html

God was saying that is was "very good" but not perfect... Why? Because physical organisms must succumb to the physical laws of the universe, that being the laws of thermodynamics, physics and such. Not that the physical laws are evil, but that they neutral to the progression of life.. If you want some good books to cover this try some of Hugh Ross's books such as "The Genesis Question" or "Peril in Paradise" by Mark S. Whorton.
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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