Five items appear below:
 
 
Theodicy: God, Tsunamis and Evil #104 Anonymous
The Problem of Evil: A Naturalistic Perspective #106 K Straughen
The Problem of Evil  Reply #107 Anonymous
The Problem of Evil – A Final Reply #108 K Straughen
The Problem of Evil – Reply to Final Reply #109 Anonymous

 
 

THEODICY:
GOD, TSUNAMIS and EVIL

Anonymous

(Investigator 104, 2005 September)

"Because they hated knowledge… therefore
they shall eat the fruit of their way." (Proverbs 1:29-31)

"Distress of nations in perplexity
at the roaring of the sea and the waves." (Luke 21:25) 
  
 

WHO'S TO BLAME?

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami killed an estimated 230,000. Many people blamed God:

…any concept of a good God must preclude the existence of evil at all. If God ever existed he'd be banished to hell, for unforgivable crimes against humanity…
(The Australian January 5, 2005, p. 12)

Believers in God usually affirm the following three statements:

1    God is omnipotent;
2    God is good;
3    Evil exists.
Philosophers, however, claim, the three statements are inconsistent and therefore no such God exists.

For a biblical answer we'll have to refer to Adam and Eve. The reader can do this hypothetically or regard them as historical.

Critics also ridicule survival "miracles". They ask, "Why would God save one person but let 230,000 die?"
 
 

TSUNAMIS

Tsunamis may follow from:

1 Earthquakes
The 2004 tsunami followed the most powerful earthquake in 40 years, which lifted part of the Indian Ocean.

2 Volcanic explosions
A tsunami followed the Krakatoa eruption in 1883 and killed 36,000.

3 Underwater landslides
In one ancient underwater landslide a rock the size of New York produced a tsunami that flooded coasts around the Pacific. (Knight 1999) If the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands erupted it could devastate all Atlantic coasts by a landslide kicking up walls of water higher than any in recorded history.

4 Asteroid Impacts
There is a 1 in 5 chance of an asteroid of 300 to 1,000 metres hitting Earth this century. (New Scientist, September 14, 2002, pp 4-5)  A mere 100-metre asteroid hitting an ocean could inundate everything to 20km inland! Ted Bryant, geomorphologist, has found evidence of six great tsunamis on Australian coasts since 4,000 BC. (Jones 2002) One: "came in about 1480 AD…over the headland at Jervis Bay [NSW] which is 130 metres high…"
 
 

RISING SEA LEVELS

The Greenhouse Effect whereby heat-trapping gases warm Earth's climate is starting to raise sea levels:

…Measurements of glaciers flowing into the Amundsen Sea, on the Pacific Ocean side of Antarctica, show they are melting much faster than in recent years and could break up… (Sunday Mail, September 26, 2004, p. 46)

…the oceans have warmed by around 0.5OC at the surface, and the warming extends to a depth of several hundred metres. (New Scientist, June 11, 2005, p. 17)
 

A sea level rise of only two metres would threaten hundreds of cities. (Boyle & Ardill 1989) Former Federal Government adviser Dr Graeme Pearman said:
 
Climate change could put hundreds of millions of lives at risk…from coastal flooding…malaria, and about 3.5 billion people will be affected by water shortages. (Rehn 2005)
 

AFTER THE GREAT TRIBULATION

Comparing Jesus' words in Matthew 24:15-28 and Luke 21:20-27 shows the sea and waves will cause "distress of nations" after the "great tribulation".

The "great tribulation" is a period of trouble upon the Jews which began in 70 AD with Jerusalem's destruction and continues until Jerusalem is Jewish again. (Investigator 60) When explaining Luke 21 previously I focussed on global warming. However, oceans can also "distress" nations via tsunamis.

But why does God, if omnipotent and good, not stop evil including "natural evils" like tsunamis?
 
 

GENESIS

The brief biblical answer is that humans think they can determine good and evil without God and rule themselves adequately without Him. God has distanced himself to let humans prove it.

According to Genesis humans started in the Garden of Eden. The world outside was dangerous but Eden was a secure start until humans could expand safely.

God commanded Adam and Eve to avoid a certain tree because, "In the day you eat of it you shall die." (2:15-17) This implies:

1    God's original intention was to give whatever guidance humans needed to avoid death.

2    Adam and Eve need never die – which suggests their immune system could destroy every pathogen and they had self-healing abilities beyond anything known today.

Humans furthermore can, when united, achieve almost anything:
 
"Nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them." (Genesis 11:6)

God created humans of unlimited potential, offered guidance against danger, gave them freedom to choose, but reserved for Himself the right to determine "good and evil". (2:16-17; 3:22)

What, then, if humans chose to determine good and evil for themselves? To bludgeon them into submission or prevent consequences would contradict:  

  1. Giving them unlimited potential; 
  2. Giving them freedom to choose; 
  3. Putting them in a universe where decisions and actions have consequences.
The consistent policy in the event of rebellion would be to let humans demonstrate their ideas of good and evil until the consequences prove humans need God.

They would have to establish their own religions, institutions, governments, laws and ethics – based on all the notions of "good" and "evil" they think up – and experience the consequences.

In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve ate the "fruit" which God said would kill them. The Hebrew literally says, "Dying you will die." The process of dying began the day they ate.

A scientific explanation would investigate whether the human genome allows for unlimited life and health and whether any "fruit" can mutate the DNA perhaps by harboring viruses that integrate with it. What is known so far is that genes effect lifespan and health:

Scientists have found a whole family of genes that appear to control lifespan… There is a growing realisation from the ageing field that we might finally control certain aspects of the ageing process… (Radowitz 2005)


Once expelled from Eden humans would have encountered viruses, parasites, chemicals and radiation and cohabited with Neanderthals. All this could further damage human DNA leading to thousands of diseases, cancers, and inherited disabilities.

The Bible says evil is in "the flesh". (Romans 5:12-14; 7:15-20) Today we'd say it's in the genes. Already many genes have been identified that predispose people to conduct the Bible calls "sin".

Since Adam we had thousands of wars, deceptive religions, stupid superstitions, natural disasters, numerous types of government and legal and ethical systems, and ideologies that killed millions. Yet everyone believed himself to be "good" and "right".

The conviction of being "good" and one's beliefs "right" was originally linked to reliance on the Creator. But without the Creator that conviction gets linked to whatever we get involved with – Nazism, superstition, Atheism, cults, terrorism, astrology, cigarettes, idolatry, lies and deceit, paedophilia, whatever.

Everyone who disobeys God, in effect, says to Him, "I know right from wrong better than you; I don't need you." Such attitude cannot be refuted by force but by God responding, "Show me."

What about "natural disasters" like tsunamis and crop failures?

Genesis 41 tells how Egypt, about 1700 BC, had seven years of poor harvests. Famine was defeated because God gave instructions to store up grain during the bountiful harvests.

The lesson of Genesis 41 is: If there was warning – if we had God's guidance as originally intended before humans decided they know better – then natural disasters would not hurt anyone.

Natural disasters are cheap. The single costliest one in the 20th century cost $100billion – an average of $17 per person. The single costliest year was 1995 when all natural disasters cost $180billion (Guinness 2000) – only $30 per person.

If humans were forewarned and also shared the cost, natural disasters would be harmless! They are "evil" because human negligence, failure to predict, and failure to "love your neighbor" make them so.

In the originally-intended God-guided world, humans would either have the technology to prevent natural disasters, or they would have God's warning like, "On December 26 in twenty years an Indian Ocean tsunami will…" With such warning no one need be hurt and costs per person would be minor.

We can generalize this argument to cover every dangerous event.
 
 

SECONDARY CYCLES

Within the worldwide cycle of humans rejecting God and seeing the consequences, the Bible discusses secondary cycles. Consider Jeremiah.

Jeremiah became a prophet 40 years before the destruction (586 BC) of Jerusalem. (1:1-3)  He declared the Jews had rejected God:

And I [God] will utter my judgments against them, for all their wickedness in forsaking me; they have burned incense to other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands. (1:16; 2:8-12)


The Jews' rejection of God would have consequences:

Your wickedness will chasten you, and your apostasy will reprove you. (2:19)

The "chastening" and "reproving" occurred by God not stopping what anyone would expect him to stop if He were "almighty". He allowed other nations to plunder and depopulate Judah.

The Jews prayed for help, "Arise and save us!" but got no reply:

They…say to a tree, 'You are my father,' and to a stone, 'You gave me birth.'
For they have turned their back on me, and not their face.
But in the time of their trouble they say, 'Arise and save us!'
But where are your gods that you made for yourself?
Let them arise, if they can save you… (2:26-29)
  When people reject God, the evil that follows is their choice. They either have to "save" themselves or whatever they substituted for God is what has to, "arise…and save you."
 
 

PROVERBS

Human rejection of God to try out alternatives also explains much individual suffering. Proverbs 1:24-32 explains:

Because I have called you and you refused to listen,
have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
and you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof,
I also will laugh at your calamity…
when distress and anguish come upon you.
Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way and be sated with their own devices.
For the simple are killed by their turning away,
And the complacence of fools destroys them.

The New Testament has the story of the Prodigal Son. (Luke 15)

The son demanded his inheritance, deserted his father, and descended to such degradation he ate from pig troughs and faced death. But he returned home and his father forgave him.

Similarly, in the worldwide situation humanity forsakes God, descends into degradation, and chooses destruction or salvation.
 
 

EXPERIMENT

The reign of evil can be compared to a "controlled experiment". In psychology a controlled experiment is:
 

An experiment in which one or more variables, the independent variable(s), are manipulated in order to determine the effect produced on one or more other variable(s), the dependent variable(s). By attempting to control all other extraneous variables that might influence the relationship, the investigator seeks to eliminate alternative explanations for the observed results. (Middlebrook 1974)

The independent variable, when using this analogy to explain evil, is God's absence. God absents himself to let humans demonstrate their "knowledge of good and evil".

The dependent variables are the rules, laws, ethics, religions, governments, institutions and conduct humans present as "good".

In many psychology experiments the psychologist avoids his subjects and also keeps them uninformed of the purpose of the experiment. The reasons are:

1    The experimenter may influence the responses of the subjects and thus thwart the experiment from discovering what it's supposed to discover;

2    Subjects who know what's being investigated will modify their responses and this will give misleading results.

 
As Middlebrook put it: "the more thoroughly the true purpose of the experiment is concealed from the subject, the less likely he is to distort his responses…" (p. 51)

Applying these ideas to the question of evil explains why God stays away and seems not to exist. To obviously intervene would modify human behavior and prevent humans genuinely demonstrating their "knowledge of good and evil".
 
 

GOOD NEWS

The Bible teaches that human religion, government and morals will lead to the "end of the world". This is the ultimate proof that human ideas of "good" are largely destructive. So what about punishment?

For people who acknowledge their inadequacy, the New Testament has the "good news of salvation" to reconcile them to God:

God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

For people who accept reconciliation, the Bible has guidance for living the best life while awaiting the end of evil. For example, after warning that "They shall eat the fruit of their way" Proverbs continues with thirty chapters of counsel!
 
 

SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Even when people torture or kill other people, God is always a co-torturer and co-murderer, in that He decides the knife will not, at the last minute, turn into rubber, the bullet will not evaporate before it hits its target… Day after day, hour after hour, God knowingly tortures and murders innocent children (children dying of painful diseases)… (Maxwell 2002)


QUESTION
: Some people survive danger and call it a "miracle" whereas others die – why?

ANSWER: The Bible presents God as intervening in the world when things get too horrible or to fulfil prophecies such as:

O Bethlehem … from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel … he shall be great to the ends of the earth. (Micah 5:1-4)

Intervention is non-obvious so that human freedom is not compromised by displays of supernatural power. God might help one person but let others die – because to help one person:

*****

QUESTION: The Old Testament is full of instances where God is active in human affairs. Doesn't that invalidate the "experiment"?

ANSWER: Even in Old Testament times people had alternative explanations. Most people were idolaters and could blame their idols. They also believed in coincidence and nature.

*****

QUESTION: Why do children have to suffer?

ANSWER: Because:

*****

QUESTION: Couldn't God, if omnipotent, have created a different universe where no one gets hurt?

Wertheim (1999) says:

The basic claim is that if a scientist can, in his or her mind, fiddle with the force of gravity, or the fine-structure constant, or any of the mathematical parameters found in various equations, and thereby imagine some other universe, then such a universe must ipso facto be a genuinely viable alternative reality. In any other area of human endeavor, such imagining is called fantasy.

If technology with right standards and God's oversight can produce paradise in this Universe why seek a different one?

*****

QUESTION: God, if "omniscient", knew the consequences of Adam's rebellion yet still allowed it. Why?

ANSWER: The Bible ends with humanity at peace with God. A Universe in which humans have rebelled and suffered and then accept God willingly, is better than a Universe in which humans have not learned the effects of rebellion but feel like finding out and must be controlled by force. To achieve the better Universe requires allowing a period of rebellion and its consequences.

*****

QUESTION: The Bible has God declaring, "I create evil." Therefore, why blame humans?

ANSWER: God accepts responsibility because He:

 

TSUNAMIS

The test whereby humans try out their ideas of "good" has run during Earth's most benign period – geologically, astronomically, biologically, and climatically. Consider climate:

The climate record shows that the whole 8,000-year span of human civilization, from the dawn of cities to space flight, has taken place during a period of extraordinary warmth and stability. The past 150 years, which have seen the industrial and information ages, have been even more remarkably clement. The experience has left humanity with the notion that climate is warm and stable. But those who look at the past know different. (Time, March 17, 1997, p. 105)

Despite enjoying Earth's most benign time to test their "knowledge of good and evil" humans botched it. Thousands of wars! Deceitful religions! Countless crimes! Oppressive slavery! Racism! Failed political systems! Worthless ideologies!

Humans squandered their wealth in conflict to enforce false notions of "good" and neglected to factor into their political, social, religious, economic and legal systems the cost of climate change, asteroid impacts and super tsunamis. Great cities line the coasts where climate change, or a moderate-sized asteroid hitting an ocean, can destroy them. In 1996 Australia even cancelled its "space watch" effort!
 
 

THREE STATEMENTS CONSISTENT

"Omnipotence" does not include ability to do what's logically impossible like drawing a square circle. (Mackie 1982)

To test human self-rule with God preventing the effects before they occur is like requesting a square circle. It's a contradiction. It's a request to have something – i.e. the proof and the effects – while also requesting not to have it.

The "inconsistent" three statements we opened with are answered by excluding from "omnipotence" the ability to do something and simultaneously not do it in the one universe.
 
 

CONCLUDING COMMENTS

Evil is a consequence of human rejection of God, which God permits until it's proved humans need him. If rising oceans lead to "distress of nations" the fault is human for not preventing it – it's their "knowledge of good and evil" proved wrong.

I haven't proved God exists. But by showing that the three "inconsistent" statements are consistent I've removed a major barrier to belief in Him.

For simplicity I've ignored the teaching that human rebellion is part of a wider conflict led by a supernatural agent the Bible calls "Satan". I've also ignored animal suffering but considered it in #65.

When the "experiment" of humans deciding good and evil is over:

He [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
 
 
REFERENCES:

Boyle, S and Ardill, J 1989 The Greenhouse Effect, Hodder & Stoughton
Guinness World Records 2000 Millennium Edition, p. 194
Jones, N 2002 New Scientist September 14, p. 15
Knight, J New Scientist Supplement, August 7, 1999
Mackie, L 1982 The Miracle of Theism, Clarendon Press, p. 151
Maxwell, N 2002 Philosophy Now, March/April, pp 22-25
Middlebrook, P N 1974 Social Psychology and Modern Life, Alfred A Knopf, pp 50-51  
Radowitz, J V 2005 The Advertiser, July 30, p. 65
Rehn, A 2005 The Advertiser, February 2, p. 22
Wertheim, M 1999 The Sciences, Volume 39, No. 2, March/April, p. 40
 
 



 

The Problem of Evil–
A Naturalistic Perspective

Response to Anonymous' God, Tsunamis and Evil (#104)

Kirk Straughen

(Investigator 106, 2006 January)


The situation reminds me of two philosophers who were hotly debating the number of teeth in a horse's mouth. Both sages presented their respective arguments in the most sophisticated and elegant manner, but neither could convince the other of their respective positions.

A farmer overhearing their debate went up to the horse, opened its mouth and counted its teeth. He then laughed uproariously – both gentlemen were completely wrong. The moral of this story is simple: The best way to find the truth is by appealing to empirical facts, rather than through speculations that have no foundation based in reality.

So, what do we know about reality? Science has revealed that the universe, life and mankind arose through the natural process of evolution. There is not one atom of evidence for the existence of God, Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, or any other facet of Genesis mythology.

Genesis is simply a pre-scientific creation story (one of many) that draws its imagery from a common fund of Middle-Eastern mythology. It is no more or less true than the creation myths of the Hindus, Buddhists or ancient Chinese, and to claim that the Bible prefigures in some way the findings of modern science is to completely misrepresent and misunderstand the culture of the time in which it was written.

The Bible is a reflection of ancient beliefs that were current at the time. It. along with all other scriptures. are of entirely human origin, written by fallible men who were limited in their understanding due to the paucity of knowledge in their age.

Because Anonymous has not substantiated any of his core beliefs – the existence of the Biblical god, for example, it is only sensible to consider his views unproven and look for an answer to the problem of evil that is more in keeping with known facts. I Shall now proceed to offer one possible suggestion which is as follows:

Evil exists because the universe does not exist for the sake of humanity any more than humanity exists for the sake of the universe. Nature is non-conscious and therefore non-moral. It just is – a brute fact bereft of intrinsic meaning.

Any theological meaning we find in nature is merely a projection of human desire onto the fabric of reality, like finding patterns in windswept clouds.

Nature has no favourites – it strikes down young and old, god and bad with equanimity, and those who survive disasters do so because of blind luck, or because of their own abilities, the help of others and so on. There is no sound evidence that God can or does intervene in such matters.

Indeed, we humans are a conceited lot – in the past we thought we were the center of creation, that all the universe revolved around our puny world, that we were the pinnacle of the great Chain of Being, just below Heaven's angels. But now we know we are just one infinitesimal bubble in a might sea of stars. Already, hundreds of other worlds have been discovered orbiting distant suns, and this is but just the beginning of our discoveries. Indeed, if god exists, then it probably has better things to do than worry about the speck of cosmic dust we call Earth.

This may seem like a rather bleak philosophy, but in my opinion it is better to face the harsh truth than to believe a comforting improbability such that a celestial father figure who will rescue us at the eleventh hour. When we were children, we looked to our parents to comfort us when we were frightened, to help us when we were sick or injured- to solve our problems. Belief in a saving god is merely an extension of this desire for a larger than life protector.

If humanity is to survive and prosper, then we must look to our own salvation, find our own solutions using reason. The world is too complex for all the answers to be found within the pages of a single book, whether it is the Bible or some other work. If peace on Earth is to be achieved, then it will be done through human effort, if disease is to be conquered, then it will be through human effort, if disasters are to be averted, then it will be through human effort.

With each passing century, we push back the shadows of ignorance – diseases that were incurable in 1900 are now curable, facts that were unknown in 1900 are now known. Terrorism is a threat, yes, but communism has fallen and Europe is largely at peace. Each new problem presents a challenge, but the problems are not insurmountable. Environmental problems are being addressed – alternative energy sources are being explored. I'm not attempting to downplay the problems we face – they are serious, but I think that we have sufficient intelligence to find effective solutions for them.

All evidence points to the fact that we are alone in the universe – no gods, no benevolent aliens whose technology we can call upon. It's a frightening thought for many, and I can understand why some people have a burning desire for the existence of a higher power. But the facts are the facts, and we're fools if we ignore them. If we are to have faith, then let us have faith in humanity in our capacity to overcome evil, in our capacity to solve our problems, in our capacity to live in peace with each other.

Perhaps it's a naive faith, but I think one nobler than blind belief in otherworldly things.
 
 




The Problem of Evil–Reply

Anonymous

(Investigator 107, 2007 March)
 
 

GOD AND EVIL

A former Church of Christ minister recalled on ABC radio his visit, as a young theology student with other theology students, to a care-centre for hydrocephalic children.

The children had huge heads, were totally helpless, and needed constant care. This was about 1961 before treatment that drains the fluid-build-up from the head was available. A doctor asked the theology students, "Well gentlemen, do you still believe in God?"

The former minister said, "I cannot reconcile an almighty, all loving, compassionate God with what I saw that day."
 

PROBLEM AND RESPONSE

In #104 I answered the common claim that the following three statements are an "inconsistent triad" and cannot be reconciled:
1. God is love;      2. God is all-powerful;      3. Evil exists.

I could have answered by attaching an "If" to much of what I wrote:
 


Instead of such "If" statements, I used the phrase "according to the Bible". The point is that Adam and Eve do not have to be real for the alleged "inconsistent triad" to be refuted.

And refuted it was. Just think of analogies where the desire and power to stop others harming themselves isn't used – for example, teenagers may make stupid choices but the parents do not physically restrain them. Even someone "almighty" is limited if he has agreed to let people make their own decisions.
 

EMPIRICAL ASPECTS

Showing the three alleged incompatible statements to be compatible does not tell us whether Adam and Eve existed.

Human origins were debated in #86 to #90 where I listed four points in the Adam/Eve story that have scientific support. The Bible is being proved progressively and hundreds of other statements, touching many areas of science, are confirmed. This challenges the claim (#106 p. 33) that "The Bible is…of entirely human origin."

The Adam/Eve story implies there was an edible fruit that degraded the original human DNA. Science is now discovering circumstances where ingested food alters DNA. (New Scientist November 10, 2005, p. 12) Even red wine has an "anti-ageing ingredient" that: "slows ageing by preventing chemical damage to DNA in mitochondria". (February 11, 2006, p. 14) Perhaps this is the beginning of a scientific understanding of the "forbidden fruit".

And does God exist? I quote again Sir Fred Hoyle who researched "resonance states" of carbon atoms:

A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.
(Engineering & Science, November 1981, p. 12)

Mr Straughen (#106) hopes humans will survive by "finding our own solutions using reason." That's the origin of human suffering in the first place. Humans cannot work out long-range consequences of their policies or the set of ethical rules of most benefit.

The evidence is that humans under God's guidance were meant to live indefinitely in perfect health. Instead they chose independence, and faulty ideas of right and wrong that produced billions of diseased, abused, impoverished, deceived and dead.
 
 



 

The Problem of Evil - A Final Reply

Kirk Straughen

(Investigator 108, 2006 May)


Anonymous, in his reply to my views on the above subject, has not presented any sound evidence in support of his beliefs.

Fundamentalists and similar minded people have misunderstood the discovery of Mitochondria Eve, as if she were identical with the mythical Eve of Genesis. This is simply not the case:

According to the analysis, modern humans can trace their genetic ancestry to a female who lived in Africa perhaps 150,000 years ago. (It should be borne in mind, however. that this one female was part of a population of as many as 10,000 individuals; she was not a lone Eve with her Adam.)

Not only did the analyses indicate an African origin for modern humans, but they revealed no evidence of interbreeding with pre-modern populations. (Page 96-97 in Leakey, R: The Origin of Humankind, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London, 1994.)

No anthropologist or paleontologist who understands the issues involved would conclude from these findings that the data lends support to the idea that Genesis' Eve was a historical figure.

What evidence is there that humans have ever been gifted with perfect genes that would have (to paraphrase Anonymous) kept them alive and healthy indefinitely? Whether we like it or not, sickness and disease are part of the natural order, even existing in the Age of Dinosaurs, a time well before the advent of our species:

An isolated left humerus of a hadrosaur, Hypacrosaurus, now preserved in the American Museum of Natural History, New York, had been obliquely fractured and suppurative periostitis, or infective inflammation of the bone covering, supervened, with the result that the periosteum was raised up and a bridge of bone was formed extending over practically the whole anterior surface of the humerus, and covering a great subperiosteal abscess. This evidently contained several liters of pus, and the sore must have discharged throughout the remainder of the life of the animal, although death did not apparently follow very quickly on the injury or infection.
(Page 266-267 in Swinton, W.E: The Dinosaurs, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1970.)


Traditional Christianity maintains that death and suffering arose from Original Sin. Clearly, this can't be; for, as science has shown, these unpalatable facts existed well before mankind evolved.

The idea of the Garden of Eden probably arose in part from early people's ability to imagine Nature in ideal form – an Arcadian paradise free from suffering. Indeed some of the first gardens were developed by the early civilizations of the Middle East – a sanctuary free from noxious plants and animals, a place where the air is scented by gorgeous blooms, where one can relax in the shade of spreading trees, and for a short time escape the cares of the world. The Garden of Eden, in my opinion, is merely an extension of this idea in mythological form.

Evil exists not because of sin, but because the world is the product of non-conscious and therefore non-moral forces. Earthquakes and tsunamis happen because of the geology of our planet. Neither the world nor we have been designed by a supernatural intelligence. Our existence is due to the blind forces of nature, which tear down and build up without regard for the welfare of individuals, nations, or species.

I don't begrudge anyone the right to their beliefs, but hoping that God will intervene at the eleventh hour to save our species form the danger of climate change or asteroid impact is the height of folly. To take the view that humanity can't survive without divine aid, and that such aid will be forthcoming, is to put all one's hopes in the unproven, the implausible, and perhaps the impossible.

The only thing that can save humanity is humanity, and if we're not up to the task then our fate will be that of the dinosaurs. It's a harsh thing to say, but true nonetheless.
 

 



 

THE PROBLEM OF EVIL:
REPLY TO STRAUGHEN'S FINAL REPLY

Anonymous

(Investigator 109, 2006 July)


My explanation (Investigator 104 & 107) of why an all-powerful God who cares about humans would permit human suffering, is not refuted by Kirk Straughen in his two replies (#106 & #108).

Mr Straughen did not answer my explanation but raised peripheral concerns, which I'll now consider briefly.

In #108 Straughen returned to the topic of human origins, particularly "Mitochondrial Eve", with the claim: "this one female was part of a population of as many as 10,000 individuals; she was not a lone Eve with her Adam."

Human origins, including Adam and Eve, were debated in Investigator 86; 87; 88; 89; 90.

At present we can not identify any peers of "Mitochondrial Eve" – whatever number is estimated will depend on prior assumptions.

Nor did I claim that "Mitochondrial Eve" and Eve in the Bible are one and the same. To prove or disprove such a claim would require their DNA samples, which we don't have.

What I claimed were points of similarity between scientific discoveries and Genesis in the Bible as follows:

1. Both Eves gave rise to the entire subsequent human race;
2. Another human-like species (now called Neanderthals) existed alongside the descendants of both Eves;
3. The human race descended from one human "father";
4. Fossils linking humans to earlier hominids, or linking humans and Neanderthals to a common ancestor, are not known – this is true scientifically and is anticipated from the Genesis story.


Three of the points of overlap were not available 30 years ago. The Bible, however, is gradually being confirmed by science over a time-scale of centuries. This I've shown with numerous examples in over 100 Investigator articles.

From this established trend of ever more Bible statements getting proved we can predict that more confirmation on human origins, the Bible version, is only a matter of time. That's the argument; that's the reasoning. Anything more is, at present, faith not science.

Straughen rejects the biblical implication that the first humans were "gifted with perfect genes that would have kept them healthy indefinitely." He cites evidence of infection and injury in a Hadrosaur (a type of dinosaur).

Dinosaurs lived over 60 million years before humans. Their degree of health is not an indicator of the genetic health of humans! Death and suffering resulting from "original sin" applies to humans, not to animals – see Genesis 2 & 3.

The Bible teaches that all humans descend from two original humans who could have lived indefinitely in health. Today we'd see this as a claim they were "gifted with perfect genes" which became damaged.

The Bible also teaches that humans can achieve almost anything, nothing will be impossible, if they were united:

Behold, they are one people…and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. (Genesis 11:5-7)


This raises the probability that future gene technology could recreate the "perfect genes" that the Bible implies we began with. Evolution theory does not predict this – but the Bible implies it.

And if an alleged event leaves traces – the traces in this case being the human genome of today – that make the event reproducible it could amount to verification.

Many scientists do now speculate that genetic engineering will eventually produce "super humans". In New Scientist magazine (May 13, 2006) they're called "the incredibles".

Mr Straughen's dogmatism on human origins is clearly premature.
 

 Mysteries of the Bible and God investigated on this website:

http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/

http://ed5015.tripod.com/