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Problematic Natural Evil

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  • Problematic Natural Evil

    Is the belief that natural evil is retroactively caused by human beings popularly held by Christians today? I'm only aware of one modern book that argues for it, which is Dembski's The End of Christianity. I recently finished that book, and would like to start on another book that explains why PONE fits the definition of "very good," which God declared creation to be in Genesis.

    Dembski's view is that PONE is bad but that human beings caused it.


    I found William Dembski's treatment of the subject unconvincing. He spends many pages explaining why natural evil is bad, but he only reinforces why the Problem of Natural Evil is such an impediment to belief. He does this by explaining how much the problem plagued him as a Christian. What are some other Christian views on the subject that try to rationalize the state of affairs without concluding that human beings retroactively caused it?

  • #2
    Gregory Boyd argues that Satan and other malevolent forces (i.e. demons) are responsible. This was apparently also a popular view in the history of early Christianity, though admittedly at a time before today's scientific knowledge. I will state at the outset that I am not convinced by Boyd's view at this time, but here is an extended example of his line of thinking:

    http://reknew.org/2008/01/satan-and-...ven-arguments/
    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
      Gregory Boyd argues that Satan and other malevolent forces (i.e. demons) are responsible. This was apparently also a popular view in the history of early Christianity, though admittedly at a time before today's scientific knowledge. I will state at the outset that I am not convinced by Boyd's view at this time, but here is an extended example of his line of thinking:

      http://reknew.org/2008/01/satan-and-...ven-arguments/
      That would be CS Lewis' view. That like the way Satan twisted and infected mankind through Adam, he also twisted nature, early on, long before Adam.

      From your link:

      The final argument for the thesis that “natural” evil is due to the work of nefarious spirits comes from the early church fathers. These authors obviously aren’t inspired and thus can’t hold a candle to the authority of the Bible. At the same time, their proximity to Jesus and the New Testament church gives their teachings more weight than theologians of later periods, all other things being equal. While we can certainly detect various pagan influences in some of these second and third century fathers – especially in their increasingly Hellenistic conception of God — we have many reasons to think that their basic theology and worldview was inherited from, and remained true to, the apostolic tradition.

      What’s significant for our purposes is that the primary way these early theologians explained evil in nature was by appealing to the work of Satan, powers and demons. These fathers uniformly believed that angels, like humans, were created free and given a sphere of influence and responsibility over creation. As with humans, angels could use this influence for good, as God intended, or they could choose to use it for evil. They understood that this is simply what it means for God to genuinely give us free will.

      The earliest fathers thus believed that, just as God had given humans “say-so” over the earth, which we could use for better or for worse, so God also gave “say-so” over aspects of the cosmos, and to some degree over humans, to angels...

      ....“Natural” evil was consistently explained in the early church as resulting from these spirits rebelling against God and thus abusing their authority over creation. Hence, for example, Origen argued that famines, scorching winds and pestilence were not “natural” in God’s creation: they were rather the result of fallen angels bringing misery whenever and however they were able (Against Celsus, 8.31). These rebel guardians were also “the cause of plagues…barrenness…tempests… [and] similar calamities” (Against Celsus,1.31).

      Along the same lines, Tertullian argued that “[d]iseases and other grievous calamities” were the result of demons whose “great business is the ruin of mankind.” When “poison in the breeze blights the apples and the grain while in the flower, or kills them in the bud, or destroys them when they have reached maturity…” one can discern the work of these rebellious guardian spirits (Apology 22). For Tertullian, as for Origen and Athenagorus (and we could add Tatian, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria and others), creation doesn’t consistently reflect the beauty of its Creator because it has been, and is being, corrupted by demonic forces.

      http://reknew.org/2008/01/satan-and-....n6t3lgmk.dpuf
      Last edited by seer; 05-12-2014, 12:18 PM.
      Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

      Comment


      • #4
        Another point of view, which I suspect will enjoy a resurgence in popularity in the common years due to some of the implications of theistic evolution (which of course I'm not seeking to discover here) is to view creation as being created in a state of immaturity with room to grow. This was posited by Irenaeus in the early church. Here's a brief blog post elaborating:

        http://biologos.org/blog/how-could-g...heodicy-part-2

        While I am not arrogant or deluded enough to think I have such a massive theological/philosophical quandary figured out, I am very sympathetic/open to this particular position.
        "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
          Another point of view, which I suspect will enjoy a resurgence in popularity in the common years due to some of the implications of theistic evolution (which of course I'm not seeking to discover here) is to view creation as being created in a state of immaturity with room to grow. This was posited by Irenaeus in the early church. Here's a brief blog post elaborating:

          http://biologos.org/blog/how-could-g...heodicy-part-2

          While I am not arrogant or deluded enough to think I have such a massive theological/philosophical quandary figured out, I am very sympathetic/open to this particular position.
          IIRC, shadowmaster held to the belief that the garden of eden was actually a separate plane/dimension (or something). Adam and Eve were basically kicked from there to the earth upon their disobedience.
          I'm not here anymore.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
            Another point of view, which I suspect will enjoy a resurgence in popularity in the common years due to some of the implications of theistic evolution (which of course I'm not seeking to discover here) is to view creation as being created in a state of immaturity with room to grow. This was posited by Irenaeus in the early church. Here's a brief blog post elaborating:

            http://biologos.org/blog/how-could-g...heodicy-part-2

            While I am not arrogant or deluded enough to think I have such a massive theological/philosophical quandary figured out, I am very sympathetic/open to this particular position.
            Interesting...
            Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
              Gregory Boyd argues that Satan and other malevolent forces (i.e. demons) are responsible.
              Does Boyd say anything about who is responsible for the existence of Satan and other malevolent forces?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                Another point of view, which I suspect will enjoy a resurgence in popularity in the common years due to some of the implications of theistic evolution (which of course I'm not seeking to discover here) is to view creation as being created in a state of immaturity with room to grow. This was posited by Irenaeus in the early church. Here's a brief blog post elaborating:

                http://biologos.org/blog/how-could-g...heodicy-part-2

                While I am not arrogant or deluded enough to think I have such a massive theological/philosophical quandary figured out, I am very sympathetic/open to this particular position.
                The implications of evolution large indeed if they make the fall inevitable. The fall precipitates the incarnation. I like that view because at least it admits natural evil handicaps the human species to a large extent, which would've made moral perfection almost impossible to sustain.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by seer View Post
                  That would be CS Lewis' view. That like the way Satan twisted and infected mankind through Adam, he also twisted nature, early on, long before Adam.

                  From your link:




                  http://reknew.org/2008/01/satan-and-....n6t3lgmk.dpuf
                  CS Lewis never addressed how a supernova, earthquake, or rock fall could possibly be viewed as "twisted." What would a non-twisted world even look like?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Doug Shaver View Post
                    Does Boyd say anything about who is responsible for the existence of Satan and other malevolent forces?
                    He holds that not even God himself knows what will happen in the future so their creation could have plausibly led to a different result (I don't hold to this myself).
                    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Doug Shaver View Post
                      Does Boyd say anything about who is responsible for the existence of Satan and other malevolent forces?
                      I would like to know how malevolent forces invented gamma ray bursts and bolides. How do these phenomena differ in any significant way from, say, tectonic activity or broken bones?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                        He holds that not even God himself knows what will happen in the future so their creation could have plausibly led to a different result
                        An interesting theology.

                        Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                        (I don't hold to this myself).
                        Can't say I blame you.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Romans 8:22

                          "For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now."

                          What does that mean?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by whag View Post
                            Romans 8:22

                            "For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now."

                            What does that mean?
                            I'm doing some commentary searching to see what others have to say, because this doesn't seem all that clear.

                            One commentary I'm looking at (by Thomas Schreiner) does seem to connect this to the Genesis curses on creation where work is harder than it ought to be, or at least states that Paul is drawing on that tradition. I am curious how Irenaeus (whom I alluded to in a previous post) would have interpreted that within his paradigm.
                            Last edited by KingsGambit; 05-22-2014, 10:27 AM.
                            "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I consider the problem of evil to a significant problem of justifying the reality of Christianity, based on an ancient scripture and world view. Most views that attempt to justify or explain Natural Evil based on scripture are clearly in conflict with science. Many theologians over the century have spent considerable effort to explain and justify Evil in both humanity and in Nature.

                              Plantinga has made a twentieth century effort, which is as futile as any over the past millennia. Plantinga's 'Transworld Depravity' fails the same as the rest in that providing self justified explanation does not truly address the issue, but is simply argued to justify ones belief. These footnotes form the paper cited reveal some of the problems of attempts to justify evil.

                              Source: http://people.ucsc.edu/~otte/articles/otte.twd.pdf



                              1 Robert Adams (1985) writes \it is fair to say that Plantinga has solved this
                              problem. That is, he has argued convincingly for the consistency of [God and evil]."
                              William Alston (1991) has expressed similar views: \Plantinga . . . has established the
                              possibility that God could not actualize a world containing free creatures that always
                              do the right thing." See also William Rowe (1979).

                              2Plantinga uses the term \theodicy" to give God's actual reasons for permitting
                              evil, and the term \defense" to give a logically possible reason God could have for
                              permitting evil. Plantinga does not give a theodicy that claims it is true that everyone
                              su ers from transworld depravity; instead he gives a defense that claims that it is
                              logically possible that every essence su ers from transworld depravity.
                              3For example, after arguing that Plantinga has not shown that it is possible that ev-
                              ery essence su ers from transworld depravity, Howard-Snyder and O'Leary-Hawthorne
                              (1998) write \[I]t is not reasonable to believe that TD [universal transworld depravity]
                              is impossible; for all we reasonably believe, it is possible that every essence su ers
                              from transworld depravity."(p. 15) Later they write \After all, what do we reason-
                              ably believe that entails that it is absolutely impossible that every essence su ers from
                              transworld depravity? Is there some compelling argument for it? Is it just obvious?
                              Are we within our rights to accept it without argument? We think not. So far as we
                              can see, our epistemic situation vis-a-vis the proposition that it is impossible that every
                              essence su ers from transworld depravity is precisely that which we are in vis-a-vis the
                              proposition that it is possible that every essence su ers from transworld depravity."(pp.
                              15-16)

                              5Some might object that God's sustaining the world in existence involves his strongly
                              actualizing some states of a airs. If so, the world I describe is not possible and this
                              objection to universal transworld depravity does not arise.

                              7If we look at Plantinga's original de nition of transworld depravity, this follows
                              only if we assume that the relevant counterfactuals of freedom are not dependent upon
                              what God might do after the choice is made.

                              8Plantinga used counterfactuals of freedom in his free will defense because they
                              were assumed to be true by those proposing the deductive argument from evil. One
                              version of the problem of evil assumes that God knows what each person would do
                              in each counterfactual situation. From this it is argued that God should have acted
                              so that there would be moral good and no moral evil. However, if there were no true
                              counterfactuals of freedom, the objector could not say that if God had acted di erently,
                              then a world with moral good and no moral evil would have been actual. Because of
                              this, Plantinga granted the objector the truth of counterfactuals of freedom in order
                              to have a strong statement of the problem of evil. Without true counterfactuals of
                              freedom, it is difficult to even state the deductive argument from evil.

                              © Copyright Original Source



                              The bottom line is science at present has the best natural simple explanation of is described as evil in these arguments and explanations from the Christian perspective.
                              Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                              Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                              But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                              go with the flow the river knows . . .

                              Frank

                              I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                              Comment

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