When it comes to the theory of evolution there are four basic positions a theist can take:
- Evolution is a natural process that was started by god in the beginning;
- Evolution is partly natural process that god occasionally interacts with and guides;
- Evolution is a process that is completely guided by god at every step; or,
- Evolution is false and doesn't happen.
If you're a theist, your approach to evolution is going to fall under one of these four categories. The naturalist position of course is that evolution is a totally unguided process that never needs supernatural intervention. I praise all theists who have accepted evolution as fact despite the many obstacles that they face. That being said, for those theists who take a position between 1 and 3 above it opens up a new book of difficult questions, perhaps even harder than the traditional problems of evil.
I have a list of 10 questions that popped into my head recently that I think highlight some of the problems of trying to incorporate theistic evolution with theistic beliefs. I wouldn't say the two are impossible to reconcile, but asking the following questions below to various theists has yielded a wide range of contradictory answers that I think theists should stop and try very hard to come up with definitive answers for.
- When did the soul appear? Did it literally appear all of a sudden?
- Did god say *poof* one day and man suddenly received a soul?
- Did the soul evolve and appear gradually?
- Was there literally one generation of human beings that had souls whose parents didn't?
- Did the soul come early in human evolution or late?
- If it came late, why did god wait tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of years to create the soul?
- What about original sin? How do we get original sin if there never was a literal Adam & Eve? I know that only Christianity has original sin, but if we don't have it, how do you make sense of Christian theology without it?
- If god gave man a soul suddenly and waited until late in human evolution to do it, that means that all the human beings who died before humans got their soul possessed the same cognitive functionality in order to consciously suffer as much as their descendants did who did have souls, and yet they were not compensated for the suffering they endured. How can this be reconciled with standard Christian or Islamic doctrine that basically says heaven compensates all the suffering that humans experience?
- What about animal suffering? Biology and neuroscience shows us that animals consciously suffer as most mammals have a prefrontal and neocortex. If animals consciously suffer and have no souls, why do they suffer and why isn't there suffering compensated? How could a wholly good god create beings who could consciously suffer and then just plan for them to die with no compensation to them?
- Why create human beings through a long slow process that involved numerous mass extinctions that caused millions of species to suffer and die who had varying levels of consciousness to experience this suffering? It seems unnecessarily cruel.
I've never heard a theist give me a satisfactory answer to a single one of these answers let alone all 10. Many of these questions should be easy to answer since they cover the same area: the soul.
I'd like to propose these questions as a challenge to any theist willing to take them on who can give reasonable definitive answers that are compatible with the concept of an all-knowing, all-powerful and especially an all-good god.
Any one up for the challenge?
(Please also check out my Evolutionary Argument Against God here.)