Darwinism Intelligent Design

Is suffering in the world evidence against Intelligent Design?

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A being so powerful and so full of knowledge as a God who could create the universe, is to our finite minds omnipotent and omniscient, and it revolts our understanding to suppose that his benevolence is not unbounded, for what advantage can there be in the sufferings of millions of the lower animals throughout almost endless time? This very old argument from the existence of suffering against the existence of an intelligent first cause seems to me a strong one;

Charles Darwin

Consider that Darwin loved shooting birds. Shooting birds is an act that induces suffering for the bird and the bird’s family.

In the latter part of my school life I became passionately fond of shooting, and I do not believe that anyone could have shown more zeal for the most holy cause than I did for shooting birds. How well I remember killing my first snipe, and my excitement was so great that I had much difficulty in reloading my gun from the trembling of my hands.

“How I did enjoy shooting”
….
If there is bliss on earth, that is it”
….

So Darwin thinks that an intelligent being would not inflict suffering on other creatures, yet he himself inflicts suffering for his own blissful pleasure.

Darwin implicitly assumes he himself is an intelligent being since he presumes to know what God ought to do in managing the affairs of creatures on Earth. Yet Darwin argues intelligent beings won’t cause suffering, yet Darwin himself, an intelligent being, does the very thing he claims an intelligent being wouldn’t do. Would Darwin therefore argue Darwin doesn’t exist because Darwin causes suffering in the world? His line of reasoning is most ironic.

So I would say, by Darwin’s own behavior, suffering in the world is not at all evidence against ID. Maybe suffering in the world is evidence the Intelligent Designer doesn’t behave in way we find acceptable to ourselves. I presume the birds that were Darwin’s victims didn’t find Darwin’s “intelligent” behavior acceptable to them either, but the existence of their suffering was not proof against Darwin’s existence nor Darwin’s intelligent designs (such as loading and aiming his guns).

This observation may not make the thought of ID endearing, but it hopefully negates Darwin’s complaint that an intelligent being would not allow or even inflict suffering on creatures.

13 Replies to “Is suffering in the world evidence against Intelligent Design?

  1. 1
    Pedant says:

    Maybe suffering in the world is evidence the Intelligent Designer doesn’t behave in way we find acceptable to ourselves.

    Exactly. That would be anthropomorphic thinking.

  2. 2
    Titus Rivas says:

    You’re right that an intelligent designer does not have to be compassionate as well. However, a good intelligent designer certainly needs to be compassionate, as this is entailed by the concept of goodness.
    So there are two ways out:
    – give up the notion of a good creator (as defined in the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Vaishnavite, Sikh, and other theistic traditions)
    – show that ‘even’ for indvidual innocent animals there is individual compensation and an ultimately positive development after death (which is particularly problematic for those specific theistic and deistic systems which do not accept an immortal soul for animals, such as most currents within christian theology).

    Titus Rivas

  3. 3
    Titus Rivas says:

    Unless of course one wishes to deny any type of sentience in (non-human) animals, which was the ‘solution’ proposed by Malebranche, see my paper

    The denial of injustice

  4. 4
    Ilion says:

    Is suffering in the world evidence against Intelligent Design?

    I have no opinion on that question.

    But, I do know that far from being evidence for a lucid argument against the reality of God, pain and suffering (and the general “imperfection” of the world) is evidence that God is.

  5. 5
    bevets says:

    On a similar note, was it Paul Nelson who makes the argument that intelligently designed cars still get rusty?

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    I found this a couple of weeks ago, and thought it was very good;

    If God Exists, Why is there Evil? – Dr. Norman Geisler
    http://www.youtube.com/view_pl.....B5E122C07F

  7. 7
    mynym says:

    It’s ironic Darwinism generally arose based on a legalistic sort of Christian theology which doesn’t deal with dirty, brutal reality. It’s little wonder that the concept of animal sacrifice is done away with. Yet it’s ironic because the Lamb of God, blood and so on are central to the Christian ethos and its symbolism. It has little meaning otherwise.

    But apparently it is all to be discarded by people who apparently have a better knowledge of good and evil than the old God of the Jews. Given their new knowledge/scientia, it would seem that they are as gods…. or soon will be thanks to science and technology.

  8. 8
    Joseph says:

    Suffering and other imperfections lead to scientific discoveries. And that seems to go with the premise the universe is designed for scientific discovery- if everything were “perfect” what could we discover? Would we be driven to discover anything?

  9. 9
    Clive Hayden says:

    Titus Rivas,

    So there are two ways out:
    – give up the notion of a good creator (as defined in the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Vaishnavite, Sikh, and other theistic traditions)
    – show that ‘even’ for indvidual innocent animals there is individual compensation and an ultimately positive development after death (which is particularly problematic for those specific theistic and deistic systems which do not accept an immortal soul for animals, such as most currents within christian theology).

    No, these are not the only ways out. If you give up the standard of goodness then you give up the ability to declare anything evil, and thus the condemnation of suffering has no basis, and consequently there remains no way to even state the problem of evil.

  10. 10
    Titus Rivas says:

    Clive Hayden,

    Do you mean to say that a third way out would be adopting a non-duality stand on good and evil (as in pantheistic Advaita Vedanta)?

    From a human point of view this is not very different from saying that the designer does not really care about the suffering of any being and in that sense is not good (the designer would literally be beyond good and evil, two concepts which both would be the product of false, ‘dualistic’ consciousness). The problem for me is that it is very hard to believe any suffering experienced by a sentient being can in ultimate (non-dual) reality be ‘neither evil nor good’. Suffering is a subjective phenomenon and as such its nature cannot be ‘corrected’ by any non-subjective or even divine perspective. As in: if I’m experiencing some kind of pain, it cannot be the case that I really am not.

    Either I’m really experiencing some kind of suffering (which would be bad) or I really am not (which would be good), but I can’t be simultaneously experiencing some type of suffering and really not experiencing any kind of suffering (which presumably would be the point of non-duality theory). In the case of subjective experience, the mere illusion of suffering is really (ultimately) a type of suffering, which means suffering (and thereby evil) cannot be merely illusory</b<.

    Thus, if any being ever experiences suffering, there really is such a thing as evil. This is not to say that nothing good can ever come from evil.

  11. 11
    scordova says:

    Titus Rivas wrote:

    You’re right that an intelligent designer does not have to be compassionate as well. However, a good intelligent designer certainly needs to be compassionate, as this is entailed by the concept of goodness.

    So there are two ways out:
    – give up the notion of a good creator (as defined in the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Vaishnavite, Sikh, and other theistic traditions)

    On what grounds do you say an intelligent designer must be compassionate in order to be good? Your own notions of compassionate, good, and evil? Certainly not the notions of good as outlined in Judeo-Christian theology that proceeds from the Bible.

    Judeo Chrisitian theolgy states that we are, like villains in a story, deserving of destruction. Whether that makes sense to us as to why God would so despise us is another issue.

    This issue reminds me of cockroaches wondering why we are exterminating them and their offspring in our houses. To them we aren’t good, but to our families whom we are protecting we see killing (versus nurturing) pests as a good thing. The cockroach might question our goodness, but cockroaches shouldn’t provide the standard of what constitutes good, any more than humans provide the standard of what a good God ought to do!

    So too, it might be a God who is much higher than us, might despise us for reasons we don’t completely comprehend, and he is far above us than we are over cockroaches.

    How compassion in Judeo-Christian theology is defined is that an exalted God has compassion on otherwise undeserving, despised, and lowly creatures.

    Saying we deserve compassion is like a cockroach in your house saying “if you’re good the we cockroachs and our families ought to be provided for by you humans!”

    That said, Judeo-Christian theology describes at least two reasons the Intellignet Designer creates suffering:

    Reason #1: The Intelligent Designer enjoys causing suffering:

    the LORD will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you.

    Deuteronomy 28:63

    How will He delight brining ruin? Outline in the same chapter:

    54The man who is the most tender and refined among you will begrudge food to his brother, to the wife he embraces,[d] and to the last of the children whom he has left, 55so that he will not give to any of them any of the flesh of his children whom he is eating, because he has nothing else left, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in all your towns. 56 The most tender and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate and tender, will begrudge to the husband she embraces, to her son and to her daughter, 57her afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears, because lacking everything she will eat them secretly, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your towns.

    58″If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the LORD your God, 59then the LORD will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting. 60And he will bring upon you again all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. 61Every sickness also and every affliction that is not recorded in the book of this law, the LORD will bring upon you, until you are destroyed

    Reason #2 The Intelligent Designer in His grace is causing suffering for the ultimate good of His beloved people:

    For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

    2 Cor 4:17

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    scordova, as to your quote from Deuteronomy, particularly the gruesome
    Deuteronomy 28:52-57 passage,,,
    http://www.biblestudytools.com.....y+28:52-57

    ,,, that passage actually came to pass in the second destruction of Jerusalem,,,

    The Prophesied Second Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1Yyhb0EH6KaMTeX5bYuLD2fRFgEYJC2RKsjiTcqgEbII

    excerpt; per Josephus;

    A woman, named Mary, secretly cooked and ate her still nursing child. When the zealots broke in the house at the smell of roasting meat, threatening to cut her throat if she did not tell them where the food was, she pulled out the uneaten half of her baby and offered to share. At this sight even the brutal tormentors were shaken. They left the woman to the rest of her “meal” and went out trembling.

  13. 13
    Titus Rivas says:

    scordova wrote:

    Judeo Chrisitian theolgy states that we are, like villains in a story, deserving of destruction. Whether that makes sense to us as to why God would so despise us is another issue.

    I know what you mean and it reminds me of a scene in a shocking movie I once saw (I can’t recall its title) about the Holocaust, in which a learned Jewish prisoner stresses that God ordered the merciless genocide of certain enemies and compares this with the Shoah.
    Well, taken literally, this means such a God would even despise babies just for belonging to a certain tribe or people.

    It still doesn’t explain though why other, clearly innocent individual animals would have to suffer as well. They haven’t done anything to deserve any type of suffering, not even through the bare fact that they descend from sinful ancestors, which means their suffering is unjust by any standard. Their suffering is all the more appalling if one believes that creation is (as in most, though not all, of Christian doctrine) exclusively centred on people and not on the salvation or eternal bless of any other creatures.
    Their can be no justification for it, not even in the divine sense (to try and justify it, means to debase divine standards of morality). It always remains a question of injustice and thereby also of the abuse of the designer’s power to create the universe any way he or she (or it) wants. Unless, as I said before, every individual sentient being is compensated for all of its suffering in the hereafter (which is what I personally believe by the way).

    But apart from the specific theological Judeo-Christian traditions mentioned, I’m certain compassion is an obvious aspect of the universal core of the concept of goodness. It’s part of goodness in the Christian (‘love thy neighbour!’), Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Humanist, Baha’i, etc. sense. So if God is to be good, God must also be compassionate. I’m sure there is room for such a God in any liberal and rational tradition of theism.

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