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The Socratic Club A club that Lewis founded at Oxford. A forum devoted to general philosophical and spiritual discussion

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  #1  
Old 12-30-2017, 11:53 AM
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Default Creation/Evolution: Death

Hi,
Is this the form for creation/evolution/theistic evolution debate?
If so it's mostly theistic evolution that I'm focusing on and the morals of it.
Evolution requires death, the removal of alleles from a genepool as well as new alleles being added.
I don't think I have gone into this much before with other people (I don't discuss the debate in general much), but some theistic evolutionists say that death can sometimes be a good thing. But surely this would only be the case because of the brokenness of the world. In a perfect world, why would death ever be desirable? (Leaving aside "it is His will that none should perish...")
Secondly, evolution includes death, not just of individuals, but of entire populations and species, it's only a short step to argue "if a species then why not a race or ethnicity?". The theory of evolution could be accused of condoning genocide.

If there are any theistic evolutionists reading, I'm not saying you're immoral for believing evolution, I have some friends who are theistic evolutionists and others who are comfortable on the fence, but I am curious as to how you defend the morals of evolution and how it reflects the character of God. I also realise that the second argument isn't quite as strong as the first.
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Old 12-30-2017, 11:35 PM
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I'm not sure why you think evolution requires death. In truth, evolution is merely mutations that gradually enter into a gene pool. The beneficial or neutral ones will spread while the negative mutations will usually not be allowed to go as far depending on how bad it is for the carrier.

As for the theological discussion that you want, death was required as soon as G*d commanded to Adam and Eve that they be fruitful and multiply. Without death, humanity couldn't multiply after a certain point as the Earth wouldn't be able to sustain them, but then again, an immortal people wouldn't necessarily feel the need to be fruitful or multiply or care about monogamy. A set of commandments for an immortal race of beings would be far different than one for a mortal race.

There are many secular theories that try to explain whether aging would be an evolutionary aspect.
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Old 12-31-2017, 03:18 AM
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Thanks Mr Bob,
I suppose it would be more accurate to say that "the most popular version of the theory of evolution" requires death.
You also have a good point about population control and the command/instruction to multiply. However, the verse continues with "fill the earth", this could be interpreted as an instruction to multiply to the point of filling the earth but not beyond capacity. Also, we were created with intelligence and the ability to use science to increase the population capacity of the earth. Whether this potential capacity increase is infinite however, we cannot know without seeing eternity (the main part of science is realising how little one knows/we know. But overlapping with the science argument is the interplanetary option (which would work better for immortals than for mortals, in terms of travel time), God created the universe for us, not just the earth.
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Old 12-31-2017, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGardener View Post
Hi,
Is this the form for creation/evolution/theistic evolution debate?
If so it's mostly theistic evolution that I'm focusing on and the morals of it.
Evolution requires death, the removal of alleles from a genepool as well as new alleles being added.
I don't think I have gone into this much before with other people (I don't discuss the debate in general much), but some theistic evolutionists say that death can sometimes be a good thing. But surely this would only be the case because of the brokenness of the world. In a perfect world, why would death ever be desirable? (Leaving aside "it is His will that none should perish...")
Secondly, evolution includes death, not just of individuals, but of entire populations and species, it's only a short step to argue "if a species then why not a race or ethnicity?". The theory of evolution could be accused of condoning genocide.

If there are any theistic evolutionists reading, I'm not saying you're immoral for believing evolution, I have some friends who are theistic evolutionists and others who are comfortable on the fence, but I am curious as to how you defend the morals of evolution and how it reflects the character of God. I also realise that the second argument isn't quite as strong as the first.
Old earth creationist here. A couple things.

First--it is extremely important to avoid taking the Bible out of context on the topic of pre-Fall animal death. "It is His will that none should perish" is, I think, part of a verse that ends, "but that all should come to repentance." It's talking about spiritual, not physical, death--as well as only about human death. Many (not all) young earthers also tend to take passages about human death in Romans 5 and I Corinthians 15 out of context. They are clearly talking about how human death followed Adam's sin, and how Christ's atonement for our sins brings new life to humans. Animals are not in view. They haven't sinned, and they can't be saved. There are no Bible verses that provide an open-and-shut answer on whether animal death occurred before the Fall. Centuries before Darwin, there were Christian theologians who believed that animal death occurred before the Fall based on their understanding of Scripture. So it's important that we don't try to force the Bible to say things it doesn't actually say.

Second--modern young earthers do recognize that plant death occurred before the Fall. Even if all creatures were vegetarian, for vegetarians to eat, plants have to die. Typically young earthers try to argue that there are differences between plants and animals, and so plant death is not a moral problem, while animal death is. In any case, everyone, or nearly everyone, agrees that some sort of death had to occur. The question is, what kind? Modern young earthers say only plant death occurred before the Fall, old earthers believe plant and animal death occurred before the Fall, and theistic evolutionists believe plant, animal, and human death occurred before the Fall (assuming they believe in a literal Fall). The different kinds of death have to be addressed differently.

Third--I agree that animal death isn't always easy to understand, at least when it comes to animals large enough to feel pain. C. S. Lewis tried to deal with this issue in The Problem of Pain, which I haven't read since transitioning from young earth creationism to old earth creationism. I should glance over it again. He attempts a sort of theodicy, although I don't think some of his later concerns about evolutionary theory had developed much by that point. (I don't think old earthers/theistic evolutionists are the only ones who need a theodicy regarding animal pain/death, though--young earthers attribute these to God's curse on the ground for Adam's sin, but that raises the question of why God would cause animals to suffer for a sin that they did not commit. No matter where you stand on origins, animal pain/death isn't an easy thing to explain.)

In general--I don't think that the kind of argument you're making works when even young earthers have to accept plant death, and you're trying to criticize a belief in death even down at the cellular level. Personally, my concerns with evolution have more to do with how it affects human origins.

There are a few young earthers who have expressed concerns about how many young earth creationists try to approach the death issue. I'd strongly recommend this article by Dr. Jay Wile, a young earth scientist, to get that perspective.
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