Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Quote Of The Day: Paula Kirby On How Evolution Threatens Omnibenevolence

This is from Paula Kirby's post on the Richard Dawkin's site (the old one) about how evolution threatens Christianity, and by extension, the premise of an omnibenevolent god. It espouses a view I've had for years that evolution is incompatible with an infinitely good being due to the insane level of suffering and cruelty it requires. Unfortunately, I want all theists to embrace evolution, and I'm glad that a growing number of theists are, but I can't help but see the major philosophical problems one has to wrestle with in order to be honest with themselves about a being who is said to be infinitely good and the grounding of goodness itself, with the cruelty of evolution.

But of course evolution poses a problem for Christianity. That's not to say it poses a problem for all Christians, since many Christians happily accept evolution: they see Genesis 1 as merely a metaphor, and declare that if God chose to create us using evolution, that's fine by them. I used to be this kind of Christian myself; but I must confess that my blitheness was only possible because I had only the vaguest possible idea of how evolution works and certainly didn't know enough about it to realize that unguided-ness is central to it. While I welcome anyone who recognizes that the evidence for evolution is such that it cannot sensibly be denied, to attempt to co-opt evolution as part of a divine plan simply does not work, and suggests a highly superficial understanding of the subject. Not only does evolution not need to be guided in any way, but any conscious, sentient guide would have to be a monster of the most sadistic type: for evolution is not pretty, is not gentle, is not kind, is not compassionate, is not loving. Evolution is blind, and brutal, and callous. It is not an aspiration or a blueprint to live up to (we have to create those for ourselves): it is simply what happens, the blind, inexorable forces of nature at work. An omnipotent deity who chose evolution by natural selection as the means by which to bring about the array of living creatures that populate the Earth today would be many things - but loving would not be one of them. Nor perfect. Nor compassionate. Nor merciful. Evolution produces some wondrously beautiful results; but it happens at the cost of unimaginable suffering on the part of countless billions of individuals and, indeed, whole species, 99 percent of which have so far become extinct. It is irreconcilable with a god of love.

Merry Christmas!!!

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