The other day I was discussing Matthew Halteman’s booklet Compassionate Eating as Care for Creation in one of my classes. (Published by HSUS, it is a helpful, concise resource exploring the ethics of eating from a Christian perspective. If you’re interested, you can download the PDF from HSUS by clicking here.) At one point Halteman […]
Living artwork over the plains of Texas
If you haven’t seen this time-lapse video of a supercell storm over the Texas plains you should definitely check it out. And since I’d be remiss not to include a theological or philosophical angle, isn’t it interesting how many of the most beautiful entities (structures, processes, etc) in nature yield the greatest destruction?
God is responsible for the legally insane. Therefore, God exists
Two years ago Richard Kachkar stole a snow plow and began driving it down the streets of suburban Toronto. In the process he struck and killed police sergeant Ryan Russell. On March 27, 2013 Kachkar was found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity. Philosophically the verdict is interesting. On the one hand, the evidence presented […]
Can animal resurrection compensate for suffering endured?
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” Matthew 10:29 This passage reflects the benevolent providence thesis according to which God is providentially superintending the lives of all creatures. But if this is the case, then why does the sparrow fall […]
Satan and the problem of evil: is the devil in the details?
Let’s consider further the attempt to attribute natural evils to the operation of malevolent spiritual agencies. Kerk takes issue with the way I described the role of malevolent agencies in the natural world. He writes: I think you are distorting the way that the evil agency hypothesis purports to explain natural evil. One does not […]
Are demons responsible for natural evil?
In the discussion following my critique of William Dembski’s theodicy Dima asked about Greg Boyd’s thesis that natural evil can be attributed to demonic agency. The relationship between natural evil and demonic agency was memorably proposed by Alvin Plantinga in God, Freedom, and Evil when he noted that Augustine attributed natural evil to demonic agency. Based on […]
William Dembski on Natural Evil
Over the last couple weeks we’ve been wrestling with aspects of the problem of natural evil. Today we’re going to consider a solution to the problem of natural evil as it relates to animals which is proposed by William Dembski in his book The End of Christianity. We can summarize the problem in two parts: suffering and […]
Does natural evil always require sentience?
In an earlier discussion of natural evil I defined the concept as follows: Natural evil refers to any event or state of affairs which (i) directly or indirectly leads to the suffering and/or deprivation of sentient creatures, (ii) is unconnected to the acts of commission or ommission of any finite creature (iii) but which is […]
What is it like to be a bat bug? Two errors of anthropopathism
This article takes up the discussion of natural evil from “Bat Bugs? Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” In 1974 philosopher Thomas Nagel published a paper in Philosophical Review titled “What is it like to be a bat?” which became a classic of modern philosophy of mind. In the paper Nagel argues that […]
Bat Bugs? Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn
My discussion of tramautic insemination and the problem of natural evil elicited a range of responses. But I’d like to focus on the response from David Marshall. He writes: As for bugs and their sorrows, frankly, my dear, I couldn’t give a damn. Sorry, but it’s not like they have feelings. Wow, that’s even stronger […]
Traumatic Insemination and other Natural Evils
A few weeks ago I had to take a road trip of several hours across the prairie to teach a course in another city. So I dropped off at the library and picked up a few books on CD. One of the chosen titles was Amy Stewart’s Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army & […]
Why nobody really believes natural evil exists: Natural Evil Explained (Part 2)
A definition in need of revision In the first installment of my discussion of natural evil I offered the following definition of the concept: Natural evil refers to any event or state of affairs which (i) directly or indirectly leads to the suffering and/or deprivation of sentient creatures, (ii) is unconnected to the acts of […]
Natural evil explained (Part 1)
Whenever the topic of natural evil comes up there are always those who express befuddlement at the concept. Yesterday I gave the example of a mudslide burying a campsite of children. That kind of event would constitute a horrific natural evil. The claim was met with some skepticism. NW responded like this: I’m wandering into unfamiliar […]
Allowing is not commanding
Over the last week I have heard on at least three different occasions claims made to the moral equivalency of God allowing x and God commanding x. The argument has been made by Christians to demonstrate that if I accept that God providentially allows evils like genocide and infant sacrifice, I should have no problem […]