Saturday, December 03, 2011

Evolution and its impact on Christian theism

There are two aspects of evolution that raise issues for religion. One is the obvious conflict between the theory of evolution and the traditional literal reading of Genesis. If, as traditionalists assert, the Bible gives us a comprehensive genealogy of the human race, then the age of not only "the earth" but also the heavens can at least approximately be calculated, and it comes to about 4004 B. C. (at least, that is what Bishop Ussher thought). That, of course, conflicts with evolution, but it also conflicts with garden-variety astronomy, which teaches that distant stars can be a million light years away. This site attempts to answer that question on behalf of the traditional reading of Genesis.  But such a reading of Genesis was rejected not merely by moderns who have been shown the problems with this by modern science. It was rejected by St. Augustine, hardly someone running scared from modern science.

The other, and more serious issue, is that evolution attempts to provide an explanation of speciation which replaces design with a trial and error process without design. At least in theory, you should be able to get to any level of sophistication in the engineering of the human body through genetic replication, natural selection, and, of course, enough time. So we can't go as easily as believers would like from what looks like the tremendous engineering of the human body to an intelligent designer, much less a creator. What looked to even our eighteenth century forbears like overwhelming reason to believe that there was an intelligence behind our universe (even for deists, who claimed that God created and designed the universe, but did not interfere in its operation, and did not incarnate himself as Christ to save the world). Even Hume, depending on how you read him, seems to cave in to a very denatured form of the design argument at the end of the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. But ever since Darwin, the sledding has been tougher for arguments from design to a Designer of the world. Some of the most popular forms of the design argument today make an end run around evolution, and look at the cosmic constants in place at the Big Bang, which, by definition cannot be products of an evolutionary process. 

223 comments:

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Anonymous said...

"The other, and more serious issue, is that evolution attempts to provide an explanation of speciation which replaces design with a trial and error process without design."

The "without design" part is not part of the science, since an evolutionary process is just as capable of being designed, in both operations and outcomes, as anything else.

B. Prokop said...

Evolution has never given me a nanosecond of difficulty with my faith. All any advance in scientific knowledge can do for us is explain how God chose to design and maintain His creation (universe). Remember what Saint Paul wrote: "Ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely, His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made." (Romans 1:20) Or, if you prefer your Truths to be rendered more poetically: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament His handiwork." (Psalms 19:1)

David B Marshall said...

Evolution provides a third strong challenge to Christianity, I think: it undermines the doctrine of the Fall. If what we are has been created, not by a choice our ancestors made, but by billions of years of "survival of the fittest" that privileged "nature red in tooth and claw," on what grounds should we expect human beings to be kind and generous? Why should we blame them for not being selfish, like all animals are selfish? And can conversion really change the basic hardware and software of the human brain, programmed by 3.8 billion years by the survival imperative to be sneaky, dishonest, cruel, and savage?

B. Prokop said...

David,

You must have missed the lo-o-o-ng thread on this very subject some weeks back, in which I as a staunch Catholic argued (I hope convincingly) that the whole idea of an original ancestor is a literary device, and not to be taken as historical. Doing so has zero effect on the dogma of Original Sin, as Pope Benedict eloquently demonstrated in his book In the Beginning. The Fall of Man occurs within each individual human soul, mine and yours included. Evolution has no bearing on this issue - it's completely irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Problem one evaporates if one does not hold to a Protestant literalist and oracularist understanding of scripture. The Catholic and Orthodox traditions do not have this problem.

Problem two disappears if one embraces teleology, which is very difficult to get evolution to conflict with, rather than design. This, again, is little problem for the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

BenYachov said...

>that the whole idea of an original ancestor is a literary device, and not to be taken as historical.

I love Bob. He is a good Catholic and better man then me.

But he is so wrong here & must say Pope Benedict doesn't deny a literal Adam though he doesn't advocate a literalistic reading of Genesis either.

We all did have an original ancestor from whom we inherited Original Sin whom Scripture calls Adam

The following contain a list of links from a Thomist perspective on how Evolution is compatible with Theism especially from a Thomistic perspective. Simply copy/paste the urls into your browser

Did Adam and Eve Really Exist in Human History?

http://www.morec.com/rpc/adam.html

Dennis Bonnette, "Must Human Evolution Contradict Genesis?", New Oxford Review (July–August 2007).

http://drbonnette.com/Evolution_vs_Genesis.html

Kenneth W. Kemp, "Science, Theology, and Monogenesis", American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 85.2 (2011): 217–236

http://www.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/kemp-monogenism.pdf

The above article IMHO solves the problem of polygenism vs a single Adam who is the Father of the human race.

Msgr. Charles Pope, "The Problem of Polygenism in Accepting the Theory of Evolution", Archdiocese of Washington blog (October 18, 2010).

http://blog.adw.org/2010/10/polygenism/

QUOTE from Msgr Charles"Scripture also affirms our connection to the one man, Adam when it records that God sent one, Jesus Christ, as the New Adam. This sets up a parallelism: One Adam, One New Adam. God did not send a committee, or a squadron to save us which would be the parallel for polygenism and/or group sin."

Anonymous said...

"If what we are has been created, not by a choice our ancestors made, but by billions of years of "survival of the fittest" that privileged "nature red in tooth and claw," on what grounds should we expect human beings to be kind and generous?"

They're not mutually exclusive options, and Bob's leaving out that other "staunch catholics" disagreed with him, and certainly with his interpretation both of the Fall and the pope's words on this subject. The Fall was, or at least can be, a real event even given evolution. See Ed Feser's take on this to begin with.

Still, I think this is off-topic. The question seems to be what impact evolution had on the idea that life (humans and more) is after all designed.

Papalinton said...

Wow!
Seven comments in and already the ever 'useful' Creative Apologetics rams into overdrive. Compartmentalization operating in real-time.

Evolution has definitely had a calamitous impact on christian theism differentiating those whose capacity for compartmentalization comes with ease [high probability for psychological compartmentalization, trends to 1] from those whose religious worldview is seriously compromised [low capacity for psychological compartmentalization, trending to 0].

"Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là." [Pierre-Simon LaPlace]

Anonymous said...

"Evolution has definitely had a calamitous impact on christian theism"

The question isn't whether evolution had some manner of impact, Paps, but just what that impact is. Apparently, the evolutionary problem isn't enough for one of your mentor's own disciples to leave the reservation.

Rightly so. It's absolutely a problem for YECs and OECs. For Christianity in general? It's not really a problem whatsoever. As that Christian can testify.

By the way: I suppose we have, right there, an example of a Christian who passed the outsider test with flying colors, don't we? ;)

Anonymous said...

Papalinton, I fixed your post:

Wow!
Eight comments in and already the ever 'useful' speculation over the psychological motives of theists by new atheists rams into overdrive. Avoiding the argument at hand and resorting to psychological speculation in real-time.

Now do you have an argument or are you only here to engage in ad hominems and red herrings?

JesusSaves said...

Here's a message from our Savior on this most blessed Sunday!!

http://flipthatbird.com/random/jesus-christ-velvet-painting-finger/

B. Prokop said...

I luv ya, Ben! But I'm not going to repeat our lengthy debate over this issue.

First off, you've got the advantage here, 'cause I really don't care whether or not we had a First Ancestor ('though I suspect we don't). It wouldn't change anything for me.

Secondly (in my books at least) if a person can say "yes" to every word of the Nicene Creed, and acknowledges the True Presence in the Eucharist, they're my faith brother! All the rest is window dressing.

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

You're engaging in classic projection. The fact is that it is you who are compartmentalizing here. (Excluding fundamentalists) you won't find many believers making up little mental piles, putting "science" in one, and "faith" in the other. It's all one and integrated.

Scientific knowlegse is zero threat to faith, because the more we learn about the universe, the more awesome is our appreciation of God's creation. Where's the compartmentalization there, except in your own mind?

Your own postings reveal more about you, than they do about Christianity, especially when they deal with the faux science/religion "controversy".

David B Marshall said...

I disagree when my fellow Christians deny that evolution is a problem at all for our faith. I think it is glib to pretend the challenges to historical Christian beliefs about the nature of man, creation, theodicy, and the basic Christian story line, are exactly zero -- nothing to see here, folks, move along! And then immediately reconfigure all this as problems for skeptics, somehow.

Skeptics like most of the fans of Loftus, Myers, or Dawkins tend to be glibly dismissive of massive evidence that disconfirms their views -- such as miracles, the character and historicity of Jesus, the enormous amount of good Christianity has done for the world, not to mention any scientific difficulties with atheism that may crop up. While of course we should argue for our positions, and boldly answer challenges, I also think we should set an example for the atheists, by admitting real difficulties, when they appear. Lord knows, they seldom see such an example, in those circles.

I think there are real difficulties with the Christian faith, and evolution creates some of them. Though if I have time, I'll check out your links, Prokop.

Chris W said...

What about Draper's argument? Evolution seems more surprising on theism than on naturalism.

Also, the hundreds of thousands of years between the first humans and the first real revelation of God to humans (to the patriarchs and then to Moses) is puzzling.

I agree with David. Evolution is a problem for Christianity, but not a fatal one. It could be used in a cumulative case against Christianity though.

Ilíon said...

You all do realize, don't you, that 'Perezoso' and 'J' are sock-puppets of the same person?

Anonymous said...

I'm with David on this.

Evolution implies that mass animal suffering, which is undoubtedly a scandal and an evil, when on for millions of years before the emergence of human beings and in fact was integral to that emergence, since evolution as a concept makes no sense without things like predation, parasitism, extinction, and other instances of "nature red in tooth and claw." In other words, human beings couldn't have been the originators of evil via a "Fall." So this excessive evil is either due to (1) God direct will, or (2) other free beings like angels. If (1), then God isn't worth worshiping, and (2) just stretches credibility.

Ilíon said...

According to the email notification I just received for the latest bilge left on my own blog by the 'J' troll (which bilge I immediately washed away), that sock-puppet is registered to the email address: jollyrogerx99@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Looks like we have a troll on our hands.

Ilíon said...

Am I the only one who finds it amazing that those folk who prattle on about the "scandal" of aeons of animal (i.e. non-personal) suffering seem generallly to find in that the excuse to use other human beings as things, rather than as persons>?

Chris W said...

Ma, can I feed him? Pleeeease!

BenYachov said...

@Bob

>I luv ya, Ben! But I'm not going to repeat our lengthy debate over this issue.

No problem my brother. The links I provided speak for themselves.

But we both agree Evolution is a non-starter for the Atheist as a polemic against Christianity.

Aquinas' 5th way vs Paley's nonsense are not alike.

Notice thought Paps is in full panic mode!

What was it Crude said to him about this? That it scares the shit out of him that Catholics can with great ease reconcile Evolution and Theism.

Thus we are coming to take all his toys away from him and there is nothing he can do about it.

Paps if he is serious will one day have to get off his lazy arse and learn philosophy. Because his Chick Comics Dawkins level Atheism still doesn't work for those of us educated in Private and Parochial School.

Ilíon said...

"Ma, can I feed him? Pleeeease!"

I suppose Ma would be ok with that, just so you don't get close enough to be splattered by its drool.

Ilíon said...

"... Because his Chick Comics Dawkins level Atheism still doesn't work for those of us educated in Private and Parochial School."

A French-Canadian (and Catholic) online friend once asked me whether I had been educated by the Jesuits (I wasn't).

But, of course, to the Rah-Rah Catholic and to the Socialism-IS-Christianity Catholic, the question is incomprehensible.

Chris W said...

I just want to know why he/she is calling some commenters here Mormons. To call someone a leftist queer is standard troll fare. The LDS stuff is weird though.

BenYachov said...

>I disagree when my fellow Christians deny that evolution is a problem at all for our faith.

The reason why you are wrong is you unconsciously hold the same mechanistic post enlightenment philosophical presuppositions as the New Atheists do.

Mechanistic philosophy is simply wrong. Aristotelian and Essentialist metaphysics are correct. When see from that perspective Evolution becomes a non-starter objection to Christian Theism.

Plus the ancient Christians while they uniformly held the Deity of Christ and the literal resurrection did not hold a unanimous view of creation. Some held the 6 days as literal, some like Augustine believed in instantaneous creation and some held the days as indeterminate time periods.

Not too few Rabbis taught before the creation of Man in Genesis 2:4 the description of creation up till that point described what took place in the spiritual realm.

So no matter how you slice it Evolution is a non-starter IMHO.

BenYachov said...

>Evolution implies that mass animal suffering, which is undoubtedly a scandal and an evil,

Augustine and Aquinas believed Prey Animals hunted before the fall and died. Many Church Fathers who believed the 6 days where literal agreed with them.

The fall effected only humans and our relation to nature.

This isn't even historic Young Earth Creationism held by the ancients this is merely the speculations of ANSWERS IN GENESIS.

As for animal suffering. I believe animals feel pain but I am not certain they suffer per say. They are material beings only without immaterial spirits created in the divine image. Their "suffering" can be no more morally significant then weeping over the "suffering" of the planet Jupiter when it is struck by comets.

It's mere matter damaging matter nothing more. If I believe Athesit Philosopher Thomas Nagel I can't know what it is truely like to be a Bat. Thus I really can't know it suffers.

Suffering is not the same as mere physical pain. It involves a conscious intellect which animals lack.

Anonymous said...

David,

"I think there are real difficulties with the Christian faith, and evolution creates some of them."

I don't think anyone is denying that evolution creates difficulties in the broad sense, or superficially. The reply is that there are answers to these problems which neutralize them.

BenYachov said...

>Also, the hundreds of thousands of years between the first humans and the first real revelation of God to humans (to the patriarchs and then to Moses) is puzzling.

Why? That makes no sense to my Classic Thomistic view of God?

God is not a moral agent and God is not an Artificer.

The Theistic Personalist deity of Paley is both those things but that "god" does not exist. Only the Classic God exists and is therefore the God of the Bible.

BenYachov said...

Besides how do we know God didn't speak to any humans during the first few hundred thousand years?

Catholics simple don't believe in Scripture alone as the sole rule of faith and the sole source of Divine Public Revelation.

The Atheist telling us "But the Bible doesn't mention X" causes us to roll our eyes just as when the Baptist tells us "Well the Bible doesn't say Mary is Sinless!".

The Bible doesn't say it's the sole rule of Faith either but tells us to follow Church (1 Tim 3:15) and tradition (2 Thes 3:15) with Scripture.

One size fits all polemics are a dead end. All Christians even convervatives like Catholics don't understand the role of the Bible the same way.

Accept it.

Anonymous said...

Ben,

"Why? That makes no sense to my Classic Thomistic view of God?"

I think the Thomist view is that God did, in fact, speak to the first humans, and quite likely to some humans thereafter. But man did fall away from God more or less instantly.

Walter said...

As for animal suffering. I believe animals feel pain but I am not certain they suffer per say. They are material beings only without immaterial spirits created in the divine image. Their "suffering" can be no more morally significant then weeping over the "suffering" of the planet Jupiter when it is struck by comets. Suffering is not the same as mere physical pain. It involves a conscious intellect which animals lack.

I am not buying that. Go torture a puppy dog for fun and tell me it is not suffering. Just because an animal is incapable of reflecting on its own suffering does not mean that animals do not or cannot experience suffering. If evolution is true then pain and suffering existed long before the first "ensouled" proto-human ate the forbidden apple or whatever it was that he did. The question would be why did God create a universe filled with pain and predation from the very start?

Bilbo said...

C.S. Lewis thought animal pain was a problem for Christianity and addressed it:

C.S. Lewis and Natural Evil

Anonymous said...

Walter,

"I am not buying that. Go torture a puppy dog for fun and tell me it is not suffering. Just because an animal is incapable of reflecting on its own suffering does not mean that animals do not or cannot experience suffering. If evolution is true then pain and suffering existed long before the first "ensouled" proto-human ate the forbidden apple or whatever it was that he did."

Well, the first human would not have been a proto-human. And as Ben said, the existence of animal pain and suffering prior to the Fall isn't a new idea either.

But the supposed inability of animals to reflect on their pain and suffering is offered as a reason why they can't experience it. With some materialiasts this goes even further, since some (I read Dennett allegedly as one of these) believing that the lack of animal language not only means animals don't experience pain, but that they are not conscious at all.

"The question would be why did God create a universe filled with pain and predation from the very start?"

Well, it wasn't from the very start, if you mean start of life.

Walter said...


Well, the first human would not have been a proto-human. And as Ben said, the existence of animal pain and suffering prior to the Fall isn't a new idea either.


It does not matter whether it is a new problem or an old one, but is a bit of a problem. Go beat a puppy half to death, listen to it whimper and cry, then come back and tell me that animals do not suffer. It is a ludicrous position to take. Philosophical arguments need to be tempered with some common sense.

"The question would be why did God create a universe filled with pain and predation from the very start?"

Well, it wasn't from the very start, if you mean start of life.


Perhaps not but predation was on the scene well before the appearance of man. I suppose one could attempt to claim that prehistoric animals felt no pain or fear at being eaten alive, and that pain and fear may have been introduced as a consequence of the Fall, but that would lead us to wonder why animals fell under the curse for something they were not responsible for.

Bilbo said...

BTW, Vic, would you mind fixing "theirm"? It's kinda buggy.

Papalinton said...

Fall of man? Just another christian appropriation of an earlier ancient myth that had been circulating for centuries if not millennia before jesus was a twinkle in Mary's eye.

As Prof. Friedrich Ratzel in THE HISTORY OF MANKIND notes; "The legend of the Fall, by which men, once godlike, became mortal, recurs in varying forms all over the world."

Let's face it, folks, nothing in the bible is original. It is an amalgam, a cut and paste from diverse traditions and pagan thought well before the artificers of christianity carved out a comfortable niche for themselves.

For example:

: In Gnosticism, the snake is thanked for bringing knowledge to Adam and Eve, and thereby freeing them from the Demiurge's control. The Demiurge banished Adam and Eve, because man was now a threat. While Gnosticism was a prominent heretical movement of the 2nd-century Christian Church, it emanates from pre-Christian origins. Gnostic doctrine taught that the world was created and ruled by a lesser divinity, the demiurge, and that Christ was an emissary of the remote supreme divine being, esoteric knowledge (gnosis) of whom enabled the redemption of the human spirit

: Ancient Greek mythology held that humanity was immortal during the Golden Age, until Prometheus brought them fire to help them live through cold. The gods punished humans allowing Pandora to release the evil (death, sorrow, plague) into the world due to her curiosity.

: In classic Zoroastrianism, humanity is created to withstand the forces of decay and destruction through good thoughts, words and deeds. Failure to do so actively leads to misery for the individual and for his family. This is also the moral of many of the stories of the Shahnameh, the key text of Persian mythology.

The Fall of Man? Just another piece of earthly human creativity. Just another piece of plagiarism.

Anonymous said...

Walter,

"It does not matter whether it is a new problem or an old one, but is a bit of a problem. Go beat a puppy half to death, listen to it whimper and cry, then come back and tell me that animals do not suffer. It is a ludicrous position to take. Philosophical arguments need to be tempered with some common sense."

I'm not denying pain and animal suffering: I pointed out that some materialists deny it, and on what basis they do. Those same materialists would also argue that "common sense" is a very faulty bit of programming handed down by evolution. I'd agree with you that it's ludicrous, but that doesn't mean the position isn't being taken, and what's more being taken with no theological ax to grind. (I suppose one response would be, I could create a very good simulation of a puppy who reacts heart-achingly when tortured. Is the program really suffering now?)

"I suppose one could attempt to claim that prehistoric animals felt no pain or fear at being eaten alive, and that pain and fear may have been introduced as a consequence of the Fall, but that would lead us to wonder why animals fell under the curse for something they were not responsible for."

But I said that the existence of pain and animal suffering predating the Fall isn't a new idea. It also happens to be what I personally endorse, so I don't think it's right to talk about animals "falling under a curse".

Schmidt said...

I must admit that animal suffering before the existence of human beings poses the greatest for me to belief in Christian theism. It throws a big complication into the question of "What is the Christian story/narrative of reality?"

How Christians account for it? and even if it can be accounted for (e.g. mischievous angels/demons), why must the animals suffer when they didn't - indeed couldn't - do anything wrong?

B. Prokop said...

What am I missing here? Why is animal suffering a philosophical problem at all? It's just something that is, that's all. Stars, Rocks, trees, animals... they all behave precisely according to their natures. Now Man, on the other hand, is the only thing in our experience which does not strictly follow nature. Indeed, he acts contrary to it. Thus the doctrine of the fall.

Schmidt said...

*greatest obstacle

Sorry for the typo.

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

Again you drag out the parallels between the Bible and older mythologies, as though that were some sort of problem for Christianity. Well, I've got some unpleasant news for you. Such "borrowings" are no difficulty - they are, in fact, one of the glories of the Faith. In Christ we have the fulfillment of all the mythologies, all the analogs, all the prefigurings, of His Incarnation, from all times and all cultures.

Please, give us more of them. Perhaps one day you'll tell me of one I hadn't heard of before, and I will be able to rejoice in yet another.

Bilbo said...

Bob Prokop: "What am I missing here? Why is animal suffering a philosophical problem at all?"

Is animal suffering a kind of evil? If so, then how did it come to exist? Did God create it? Then how is God good? If God did not create it, then how did it come to exist?

Lewis's answer

Karl Grant said...

Fredrich Ratzel? Isn't he the guy who came up with the concept of Lebensraum? Oh yes, yes he was. That is an interesting source to cite from Pap.

Walter said...

Is animal suffering a kind of evil? If so, then how did it come to exist? Did God create it? Then how is God good? If God did not create it, then how did it come to exist?

Lewis's answer


Lewis claims that the devil tampered with creation before man showed up. Why would an omnipotent God allow Old Scratch to introduce pain and predation into the world? Why would an omnipotent and omniscient God even allow Satan any where near his creation unless He desired a Fall--like many Calvinists believe?

Anonymous said...

Whether or not animal suffering is an evil cannot be determined from some neutral point where 'Good' and 'Evil' are considered self-evident and obvious. As Nietzsche articulated, the idea of "evil" as an ontological reality comes from theistic conceptualizations about reality. Without God, there is no 'Evil.' As Nietzsche put it, there can only be 'bad' and 'good.'

Modern use of the term 'Evil' is highly deceptive. Many use it as if it carried ontological weight, but do so without the metaphysical foundation to make this claim. Further, such use, while uncritically question-begging an ontological foundation that it cannot support, also replaces the content of the term with a modern liberal one: that suffering and death are the greatest 'Evils.'

This is incoherent and question-begging. If the Atheist wants to make the charge that animal suffering is 'Evil,' he must do so by recourse to a Christian understanding of 'Evil' and then show that the account of the fall is inconsistent on these terms.

Bilbo said...

Walter: "Why would an omnipotent God allow Old Scratch to introduce pain and predation into the world? Why would an omnipotent and omniscient God even allow Satan any where near his creation unless He desired a Fall--like many Calvinists believe?"

Lewis never offers a direct answer to your question, Walter, but in his science fiction novel, Out of the Silent Planet, each of our solar system's planets has been created with the help of an "oyarsa" (sort of like an archangel), who is then put it charge of governing the planet. The oyarsa who is in charge of Earth has rebelled against Maleldil (God), and corrupted our planet.

I would take this as Lewis's fictional speculation on why Satan came to have the influence over the Earth that Lewis thought he had.

Bilbo said...

BTW, William Dembski (I forget the name of his book) adopts Lewis's view that Satan is responsible for natural evil, but doesn't adopt Lewis's ficitonal answer as to why Satan would be allowed such influence. Instead, he thinks that Adam and Eve have been specially created and placed in an island paradise (Eden). When they fall, they are kicked out and into the Satanically corrupted Earth, which God had allowed to happen, because he foreknew that Adam and Even would fall.

Bilbo said...

er...Eve, not Even.

Anonymous said...

Atheistic nihilists don't have to presuppose "evil" and "good" in an atheistic universe when they raise the problem of evil against Christian theism. It's a proof by contradiction that's being employed:

Assume that Christian theism is a true description of reality, and consequently that "good" and "evil" exist objectively. From that assumption, show that a Christian universe is incoherent.


There is no philosophical move to smuggle "good" and "evil" into an atheistic universe, or at least there doesn't have to be.

Gregory said...

One way of skirting the "original sin" objection is to say that "original sin", as conceived in Western and Papal theologies, is false.

Instead, we can say that the primitive "fall" of a literal "Adam" and "Eve" is a prototype of our own, personally chosen, "fall". We can call this the "ancestral sin", rather than "original sin". It is we, as individuals, who choose evil. The idea of "imputed" sin may underscore Augustinian/Calvinist theologies (i.e. Federal Representation theory), but those theologies don't square with the historic, Orthodox belief in libertarian "freewill". You might say that St. Augustine presents a historic exception to an otherwise conciliar acceptance of some form of libertarian freedom up until the great schism between the Eastern/Byzantine and Western/Latin wings of the Church....where the West, then, became preoccupied with rationalizing theology, rather than experiencing the Divine.

With that said, it seems to me that the problem of evolution and the fall is a problem for the West....in particular, for Federalist/Representative theologians and philosophers.

And I don't like the concepts of evolution and creationism primarily because of their humanist underpinnings (i.e. the exaltation and triumph of human reason/rationalism over the mystery of Divinity).

Instead, I prefer to say that the universe is the outworking of God's uncreated "energies", which manifest God's will in a processional manner. It would be more appropriate to say that God hymned/sang the world into being through the Divine Logos. And like a piece of Jazz music---which is a more appropriate analogy---the universe is open to change and revision as the will of God sees fit. This avoids these two extremes: complete cosmic stasis and complete cosmic chaos.

Furthermore, the suffering of animals and the frustration of creation came about, primarily, by the will of Satan. Our original parents fell through deception, rather than sinning in a self-initiated manner (i.e. the fallen angels). But with that "choice" to sin came the consequences of evil spilling over to the rest of the created order as mankind continued to multiply and thus spread it's disease from generation to generation (i.e. ancestral sin).

Remember, there was a time when each of us existed in a state of innocence. But, like Adam and Eve, we too were deceived by the "good life" of sin....meaning that we also wished to decide, for ourselves, what is "good" and "evil".

Salvation, for us Pharisess, is coming to the point of seeing everything as good; and thus casting away our own judgmentalisms as we wholly rely on God, who alone is Judge. For Christ Himself, as our example, relied wholly on God the Father for all judgments. I recommend that we do the same so that the doors of Paradise may fly open for us...that we might, then, count ourselves worthy of being called children of our heavenly Father.

Anonymous said...

The more we learn about non human animals, the less unique humanity seeseems to be. But this should not be seen as a "downgrading" of humanity, but a spiritualizing of all conscious beings.

Anonymous said...

"the latest bilge"

that's your entire life product, you little untalented blowhard. Yr the perp here as well Idion fatuus.

Ilíon said...

God is directly responsible for "natural evil" ... and he is not shy about acknowledging it, as anyone who actually tries to understand the Bible knows. And, in having created you and me, he is indirectly responsible for "moral evil".

It is logically impossible for God to create a world that does not contain some degree of "natural evil". I've touched on this on my own blog, and I thought I had discussed this in more depth here on VR's blog (but, if so, I can't find it). And, it is logically impossible for God to create a world containing agents that does not contain the possibility of "moral evil", that is, of wickedness.

Ilíon said...

Anonymous: "Atheistic nihilists don't have to presuppose "evil" and "good" in an atheistic universe when they raise the problem of evil against Christian theism. It's a proof by contradiction that's being employed:

Assume that Christian theism is a true description of reality, and consequently that "good" and "evil" exist objectively. From that assumption, show that a Christian universe is incoherent.
"

But, to successfully show that the Christian world-view is incoherent, this hypothetical atheistic nihilist must be actually dealing with the Christian world-view. And, for starters, Christianity denies that "evil" even exists ... Christianity says that "evil" is the privation of or absence of "good", not that it is a thing existing in its own right.

Anonymous: "There is no philosophical move to smuggle "good" and "evil" into an atheistic universe, or at least there doesn't have to be."

Of course there is.

Imagine I were say to this hypothetical atheistic nihilist, "You know, you've convinced me: there is no 'right' and 'wrong'. But, you know what else? I don't care: I'm going to keep asserting that there is."

What will be his response to that? It's all but guaranteed that he'll sputter about: "But, you can't *do* that! Now that you’ve admitted the truth of the matter to me, you *must* admit it to others!"

Anonymous said...

*High Five to Ilíon*

I was just about to respond to the objection to my accusation that "Evil" must be understood in Christian theological terms, not in modern sensibilities, but I see that you already did.

Papalinton said...

Bob
"Again you drag out the parallels between the Bible and older mythologies, as though that were some sort of problem for Christianity."

Context is everything. To decouple the christian mythos from its historical evolutionary family tree does not provide it with a foundation any more substantive than any other mythological legend of the period. And largely that is the narrative modern textual criticism and scripture analysis is telling us. Slowly but surely the christian mythos is being dismantled brick by brick; the latest of course being the accelerating trend to recognize gay marriage as simply another social issue about observance of human rights rather than some nonsense about homosex being an abomination before some tetchy god. As that which was once deemed fact, proof and evidence are progressively dismantled, most of the christian fundamentals now reside and is overfilling the metaphor, allegory, and symbolism bucket. These are too numerous to cite but the trend is palpable.

Ilíon said...

Anonymous: "I was just about to respond to the objection to my accusation that "Evil" must be understood in Christian theological terms, not in modern sensibilities, but I see that you already did."

I also see that one of the Anonymoi, whether you or another, had previously done the same.

Ilíon said...

"The other, and more serious issue, is that evolution attempts to provide an explanation of speciation which replaces design with a trial and error process without design."

Even that -- "provid[ing] an explanation of speciation" -- is a red herring. The problem to be explained isn't mere speciation, it is biological novelty. Explaining (an increase of) diversity does not explain (an increase of) complexity.

Ilíon said...

"At least in theory, you should be able to get to any level of sophistication in the engineering of the human body through genetic replication, natural selection, and, of course, enough time."

This is like saying, "at least in theory, successive subtractions from zero can yield a positive number, given enought time and subtractions".

Damien S said...

Mark Bickhard in "Teleonomic Functions and Intrinsic Intentionality: Dretske's Theory as a Test Case"

http://khu.academia.edu/ItayShani/Papers/681709/Teleonomic_functions_and_intrinsic_intentionality_Dretskes_theory_as_a_test_case

Bickhard takes aim at evolutionary explanations of intentionality. Basically, natural selection can give us extrinsic intentionality, or, as John Searle would call it, 'as if' intentionality. An example would be writing on a wall which only has intentionality derived from the meaning its author or any reader would give it. There is nothing intrinsically meaningful about scribbles of chalk on a wall. It only has meaning in so far as one gives it meaning.

Natural selection is purely an 'external agent' so anything it produces only has meaning relative to it. This would make the intentional states of our minds purely derived.

I think this is absurd. Our intentionality is intrinsic if anything is.

The bad news from this is that it equally indicts ID theory which also operates on the basis of an external agent as Bickhard argues. What we need is a system of formal and final causation which gives systems back their intrinsic functions and intentionality

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Victor -- I blogged about Draper's evidential argument from evolution against theism here:

http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/2011/10/biological-evolution-as-evidence.html

Since Christian theism entails theism, it cannot be more probable than theism and hence this argument applies at least as much to Christian theism as it does to 'generic' theism.

Ilíon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BenYachov said...

Walter,

If even Dennett can be shown to have some concepts parallel to Aquinas then when it comes right down to it.

Yours is an argument from emotion. Torturing an Animal for fun is not morally on the same level as torturing a human for fun. But it is unreasonable behavior therefore mortally sinful. It is one step above fantasizing about inflicting suffering for fun and way below inflicting suffering on a being with an immaterial spirit.

I don't doubt animals feel pain but I have no reason to believe they suffer since they can't feel hope or dispair and they have no intellective understanding of their situation.

When you talk about inflicting pain on a puppy you really mean a 5 year old child. You are guilty of the anthopomorphic fallacy here.

Animals are not human & I have no evidence they have human experience when they feel pain.

BenYachov said...

BTW Walter.

You are a semi-Agnostic with Deist leanings?

Are you a materialist when it comes to human beings? Do you believe humans have an immaterial component?

Also do you believe Animals are only different from humans in degree or kind as well (speaking cognitively that is)?

BenYachov said...

>Go beat a puppy half to death, listen to it whimper and cry, then come back and tell me that animals do not suffer.

Well if I wanted too(not that I would or ever have) I could while playing my Fallout 3 video game go beat the children in the Little Lamp Light Village to death. They would scream convincingly(much like the evil Mutants and Slavers I kill) but in the end they are video game characters and nobody really was ever in pain.

>It is a ludicrous position to take. Philosophical arguments need to be tempered with some common sense.

Rather animals feel pain but there is no evidence of suffering. I was in physical pain after I passed my bootcamp physical test. But I felt good! I wasn't suffering. OTOH when I found my Mother-in-Law's body and saw the sorrow on my wife's face I was suffering and not in any physical pain.

The reason in both cases is I have a conscious intellect that can interpret & reflect the situation. An animal has neither & can do neither. So I doubt animals truly suffer.

Walter said...

The reason in both cases is I have a conscious intellect that can interpret & reflect the situation. An animal has neither & can do neither. So I doubt animals truly suffer.

Your view is that something can only truly suffer only if it can reflect on why it is pain. I call bull. Perhaps a dog cannot intellectually appreciate why an asshole of a human is beating it, but I guarantee that it is suffering while it is feeling pain. It is not anthropomorphizing to see fear and pain in animals. This raises questions about why pain is necessary. God could easily have given us a pleasant sense of tingling to indicate damage or disease in our bodies, instead we get the sensation of pain, which can range from mild to almost unbearable intensity.

Walter said...

BTW Walter.

You are a semi-Agnostic with Deist leanings?


Yes.

Are you a materialist when it comes to human beings? Do you believe humans have an immaterial component?

I do not claim to know.

BenYachov said...

>I do not claim to know.

Then rational debate is not possible till you take a stand.

>Perhaps a dog cannot intellectually appreciate why an asshole of a human is beating it,

Sorry that is not what I mean by intellectually interpret & reflect the situation. A child may not know why his father is beating him but he would understand the situation as suffering. The animal would not experience it the same way as a child and would not truly suffer but it would feel pain.

>It is not anthropomorphizing to see fear and pain in animals.

I'm afraid that it clearly is. You are treating that animal as if it where human or unequivocally comparable to a human's experience.

Like when animals of the same gender lick each other's genitals that doesn't make them "gay".

You are rocking the Anthropomorphic fallacy here Walter.

We have no scientific or philosophical evidence this is so.

If I denied God tomorrow I have no reason to disbelieve Dennett here.

If Dennett & Aquinas are correct then animal suffering is an oxymoron. Even with a false "god" who is a moral agent.

BenYachov said...

No matter how you slice it Walter an animal doesn't have a conscious intellect that can interpret & reflect the situation. A child can & the fact the child doesn't know why his father is beating him is irrelevant.

Rowe's Fawn can't interpret it's situation as "hopeless". Rowe's Fawn can't comprehend the horror of lying there for a week without help coming till it dies.

There is no evidence animals have a concept of death the way we do.
Indeed they don't have any intellective concepts at all the way we do.

There is no evidence Rowe's Fawn is a "self" who can precieve itself as a being in pain.

Thus no reason to believe animals experience pain the way we do. Thus to weep over their suffering is the same as weeping over the planet Jupiter for getting hit by comets.

Walter said...

>I do not claim to know.

Then rational debate is not possible till you take a stand.


Unlike you, I cannot avail myself of divine revelation to settle these matters since I don't believe there has been any. If humans have an immaterial component that cannot be detected by empirical means, then I cannot claim to know if such a component exists, now can I? One cannot claim to know something exists that is beyond measurement.

Walter said...

Thus no reason to believe animals experience pain the way we do. Thus to weep over their suffering is the same as weeping over the planet Jupiter for getting hit by comets.

Bullshit

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/11/william_lane_craig_and_the_pro.php

BenYachov said...

Walter your responses are pure emotion and therefore meaningless.

>Unlike you, I cannot avail myself of divine revelation to settle these matters....

Since when is philosophy divine revelation? Dennett & NAgel Atheists both are divine revelation? Seriously?

>http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/11/william_lane_craig_and_the_pro.php

You are citing a known philosophical incompetent to answer me? (Who BTW doesn't address Nagel or Dennett).

How does Myers answer Nagel's claim (which he rigorously proves) that the subjective experience of animals is beyond scientific investigation?

Does Myers have a mind probe device that allows us to experience what an animal experience?

Even then we would be experiencing their senses as humans not as animals?

Myers proves animals feel pain and try to avoid it. So what? Pain is not philosophically the same as suffering.

Pain is not a problem for God. Suffering is more of a problem.

Non-starter argument.

BenYachov said...

Myers believes philosophically that animal cognition is different from human in degree not in kind.

Thus that colors the interpretation of his data. Plus he is rocking the anthropomorphic fallacy without shame or awareness he is doing it.

Clueless individual?

Anonymous said...

Thus no reason to believe animals experience pain the way we do. Thus to weep over their suffering is the same as weeping over the planet Jupiter for getting hit by comets.

Go talk to a veterinarian.

BenYachov said...

I guess some people wish to equivocate between "experiencing pain the way we do" vs "experiencing pain.".

Additional they with to equivocate between "pain" vs "suffering".

They also wish to equivocate between subjective experience vs observed behavior.

Not to mention science vs philosophy of mind.

Adam's body no doubt had a pre-frontal cortex before God put an immortal soul in that body. The animal that existed there before Adam existed no doubt felt pain but till an intellective soul appeared there was no potential for suffering.

No conscious person at all. Just an animal.

Walter said...

What is the difference between suffering and pain, Master?

BenYachov said...

>What is the difference between suffering and pain, Master?

Pain is an adverse physical sensation. Suffering is deeper. It is the pain that goes beyond mere adverse physical sensation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suffering#Terminology

Now go my not so young Padawan.

BenYachov said...

From the wiki QUOTE"The words pain and suffering are often used both together in different ways. For instance, they may be used as interchangeable synonyms. Or they may be used in 'contradistinction' to one another, as in "pain is physical, suffering is mental", or "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional".

Shackleman said...

I'd give a hat tip if I could remember who it was that said it but I don't remember. But I believe it was on this blog where someone equated animal pain to human baby circumcision. I was circumcised as an infant, and I'm told by my parents that I writhed and cried and was in obvious horrendous pain and tremendous distress. Yet, I can attest that I did not *suffer* one iota. I have no memory of the event. I had no conscious thought about it. I had no fear. I was just reacting in such a way as my c-fibres would have me react. Makes perfect sense to me that when an animal feels pain, they too are reacting similarly and therefore not really "suffering" as the term is usually understood.

I also remember when I was placed under "twilight sleep" for an endoscopy. I can remember the physical sensations of a tube being placed in my throat, and I can remember the sensations of choking and gaging as the surgeon shoved a camera and claw down my gullet to take a biopsy. I can even remember the weird sense of displacement as the surgeon asked me politely to try not to swallow the tube and to try to relax instead. I can even remember how I thought it was absurd that I was laying on my side, getting choked and gagged, and yet I just sort of didn't mind so much. It was very uncomfortable and I *should* have been suffering, but, I just didn't care and wasn't suffering at all, even though my body was reacting in a way consistent with suffering.

Given these first-hand experiences, I think animals probably do not suffer even when they appear to be in pain. They lack what appears to be a missing ingredient, necessary for suffering: that is, they are missing *conscious* experience consistent with suffering and therefore probably are *not* suffering.

BenYachov said...

Shackleman

We are of like mind.

My mom said I screamed bloody murder when I was circumcised. I don't remember.

Papalinton said...

From Yachov: "Thus no reason to believe animals experience pain the way we do. Thus to weep over their suffering is the same as weeping over the planet Jupiter for getting hit by comets."

Such idiocy as this statement comes from ignorance. Simply because an animal can express fear, an anticipatory reflex to an existential threat, is clear and unambiguous evidence that animals do indeed have capacity for conscious projection and interpretation of a future circumstance. The only difference is a question of degree of evolutionary development.

And as for animals not feeling pain as we feel pain, just another very silly and infantile statement from arrogant thoughtlessness born out of scriptural ignorance.

We learn as much of ourselves by studying other animals and animal behaviour as we do gazing at the navels of our neighbours. Touting such personal pious ignorance and lack of understanding of biology and its related sciences in a public forum is not something to be proud of.

B. Prokop said...

I'll probably satisfy no one in this debate by what I am about to post, but throwing caution to the wind...

I differ with Ben in that I suspect that consciousness is more widespread than we humans tend to think. Although I am a complete agnostic on where the line should be drawn (I normally include cats, dogs, horses, whales, and dolphins within the consciousness circle), I believe that restricting it to homo sapiens alone is dangerously close to species-based solipsism.

Even in my own personal experience, there is no bright line of demarcation between consciousness and non-consciousness (e.g., being "half-awake" at 5:30 AM or drifting off into a mindless stupor on an airplane flight).

I have occasionally even suspected plants and microbes of having a measure of consciousness.

The expedient thing to do is to assume the capability for suffering, so as to minimize its possibility. For example, even when killing an insect, I try to do it swiftly and decisively.

Anonymous said...

Walter,

Let me ask you this. Say the claim is correct that animals, or at least the vast majority of animals (let's assume the cutoff is the great apes) do not suffer. There is no conscious experience of pain.

Would you say that would be a major boon to the theist, and a major blow against the conventional problem of evil, if it were in fact the case?

B. Prokop said...

Paplinton and I posted simultaneously, so I hadn't had a chance to read his comments before clicking on the "Publish" button.

But I must take exception to his characterization of Ben's outlook as "another very silly and infantile statement from arrogant thoughtlessness born out of scriptural ignorance".

Sorry, Papalinton, but that's just an irrelevant and gratuitous slap at Scripture. Ben never mentioned an argument from scripture (at least I don't recall him doing so). He was arguing from philosophy - an entirely different ball of wax. I happen to disagree with Ben on this (see my last posting), but your comment shows you haven't really any attempted to follow Ben's reasoning at all. You just used his comments as an opportunity for yet another knee-jerk attack on a Faith, which isn't even an issue in this particular discussion.

Papalinton said...

Just out of interest for those who deny that animals grieve and suffer, you might want to read these:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201111/grief-mourning-and-broken-hearted-animals

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201112/ptsd-in-war-dogs-finally-getting-the-attention-it-deserves

Papalinton said...

Bob
I'm with you as one on the animal issue. But i do regard christian theism a significant element in the development of thought and philosophy that makes unsupported and pious distinctions between animals and humans. That a long standing tradition exists with many if not most strains of christianity is consistent with the form of philosophy that Yachov espouses. To attempt to explicate religion from the mix is perhaps disingenuous, after all it is a worldview proudly interpreted:

"In the beginning "...God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth (Gen. 1:26)."

...Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Gen. 1:28).”

And after the Great Flood where the whole world was destroyed, but for eight people (Noah and his wife, and their sons and their wives) and a boat-full of animals, GOD again gave man rule over HIS creation. In Genesis 9:2 it reads, "And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand."

..." And thefear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air ..." Yeah, right.

BenYachov said...

Anthropomorphic fallacies both articles.

It's a wide spread mistake. Many animal psychologist make it.

You are simply read human experience into animal behavior.

Animals complain if a positive sensation are denied them. They evolved this behavior.

http://drbonnette.com/Ape-Language_Studies_Part_I.html

http://drbonnette.com/Ape-Language_Studies_Part_II.html

Animals are just not human. Dave Stove believed that & he was an Atheist philosopher.

If I deny "gods" I don't see why I have too. I would be like Dennett and deny animals are concious.

BenYachov said...

Can Clever Hans the horse really do Math?

I think not.

Papalinton said...

Bob
"Sorry, Papalinton, but that's just an irrelevant and gratuitous slap at Scripture. Ben never mentioned an argument from scripture (at least I don't recall him doing so). He was arguing from philosophy - an entirely different ball of wax. I happen to disagree with Ben on this (see my last posting), but your comment shows you haven't really any attempted to follow Ben's reasoning at all. You just used his comments as an opportunity for yet another knee-jerk attack on a Faith, which isn't even an issue in this particular discussion."

Bob, another case of compartmentalization? When a theist wishes to downplay the role of theism in their response, the usual ploy is to mark the distinction; 'this is not about a religious worldview, this is about philosophy'. I wish the intricacies of life were so demarcated. Poor understanding of animal behaviour and clear unapologetic distinctions between us and the rest of the animal kingdom does not come from philosophy alone. It comes from ignorance of current reading in the field of animal behaviour. And whether one is predisposed to reading in this field, it is shaped by the particular worldview one holds. Most scientists directly involved in animal behavior work in one of four broad fields: ethology, comparative psychology, behavioral ecology, or anthropology. These disciplines overlap greatly in their goals, interests, and methods. However, psychologists and ethologists are primarily concerned with the regulation and functions of behavior, whereas behavioral ecologists focus on how behavioral patterns relate to social and environmental conditions.

A cursory read through any of the current fields above would have apprised anyone about the nonsense of animals not feeling pain or suffering or not having a predictive sense of consciousness.

And no, not a knee-jerk reaction at all. My comments and contributions are consistent with the spirit of the article, "Evolution and its impact on Christian theism"

Anonymous said...

It's not really a Clever Hans effect. It's just anthropomorphizing: attributing intentions and emotions to creatures and things which in fact lack them. You know, what atheists accuse theists of doing with regards to the world. ;)

Paps displays the usual ignorance most would-be teachers tend to have in quoting articles, rather than research. Best of all the first one leans heavily on the attestation of an anthropologist. So it's a shame that anthropology is not a science.

Papalinton said...

Ben Yarchov

"http://drbonnette.com/Ape-Language_Studies_Part_I.html

http://drbonnette.com/Ape-Language_Studies_Part_II.html"

PapaL: "New Series of Lectures in Thomistic Philosophy

Foundations of Metaphysics 
By Dennis Bonnette, Ph.D. 
Co-founder of the Aquinas School of Philosophy with Dr. Raphael Waters 
11 Audio CDs & CD of course notes 
A lecture series on fundamental principles and teachings 
of metaphysics according to St. Thomas Aquinas.
http://www.aquinasphilosophy.com/page29/bon.htm


http://drbonnette.com/author.html
At the end of 2003, Dr. Dennis Bonnette retired as Full Professor of Philosophy at Niagara University in Lewiston, New York, where he was also Chairman of the Philosophy Department from 1992 to 2002. He received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1970, and taught philosophy at the college level for more than 40 years. Dr. Bonnette was a faculty member of the San Diego College for Women, Loyola University in New Orleans, and the University of Dayton, before coming to Niagara University. He has participated in many radio and television programs on social, ethical, and theological topics in the course of his career, and written a number of scholarly articles as well as two books, Aquinas' Proofs for God’s Existence and Origin of the Human Species. This last work has just been published in a second edition (Sapientia Press: 2003) with a new foreword by Dr. Michael J. Behe, Full Professor of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University and author of Darwin's Black Box. Dr. Bonnette and his wife, Lois, live in Youngstown, NY.

Well we won't be taking anything useful away from Dr Bonnette after reading this bio.

In respect of your noting Dr Dave Stove, I can see why you would be enamoured of him:

"His essays on Darwinism were collected in the book Darwinian Fairytales."

Stove's views on race and gender
Stove made bigoted and sexist arguments in some of his works, most notably in "The Intellectual Capacity of Women" and "Racial and Other Antagonisms" (both of which appear in Cricket versus Republicanism and Against the Idols of the Age). In the former he argued that women are "on the whole" intellectually inferior to men, while in "Racial and Other Antagonisms" Stove asserted that racism is not a form of prejudice but common sense:
"Almost everyone unites in declaring "racism" false and detestable. Yet absolutely everyone knows it is true."
He argued that, while these differences were likely caused by cultural rather than genetic factors, where statistical associations existed it was rational to make decisions based on them. His views led to his being threatened with disciplinary action by Sydney University." [From Wiki]

There seems to be a close correlation between Stove's sentiments to your catholic perspective, Ben

Anonymous said...

Paps:Such idiocy as this statement comes from ignorance. Simply because an animal can express fear, an anticipatory reflex to an existential threat, is clear and unambiguous evidence that animals do indeed have capacity for conscious projection and interpretation of a future circumstance.

Wow. One of the vanishingly few times I agree with Paps. Time to uncork the wine...

Anonymous said...

Yachov: "Thus no reason to believe animals experience pain the way we do. Thus to weep over their suffering is the same as weeping over the planet Jupiter for getting hit by comets."

"Thus"? The second sentence is in no way a consequence of the first. Leaving aside the fact that there is plenty of evidence against the second sentence (in addition to just plain old common sense --- I mean, is being a veterinarian a waste of a profession on your view?), you have no positive evidence whatsoever for it.

Papalinton said...

Ben Yachov
"Can Clever Hans the horse really do Math?"


"Men create the gods in their own image."
Xenophanes.

" ... if cattle and horses or lions had hands, or were able to draw with their hands and do the work that men can do, horses would draw the forms of the gods like horses, and cattle like cattle, and they would make their bodies such as they each had themselves."
Xenophanes.

"If horses or oxen or lions had hands and could produce works of art, they too would represent the gods after their own fashion."
Xenophanes.

So long ago, and so wise. Now that is real philosophy.

Papalinton said...

Anon
"Wow. One of the vanishingly few times I agree with Paps. Time to uncork the wine..."

Thanks Anon, and believe me, it is appreciated.

BenYachov said...

Paps you are a public school teacher citing an article from Psychology Today.

Dr. Bonnette is a PhD in Philosophy who is also citing articles from Psychology Today (if you had bothered to read the link)!

So why is your citing of experts in psychology more valid then his?

Indeed he is more educated then you thus must be more discerning.

As for Stove he believed in Evolution and disbelieved in God right up to when he took his own life.

He was also a Gadfly who liked to take absurdly politically incorrect views just to bust chops.

I would think you of all people would appreciate that.

You are great at bullshit Paps. But if you would only think and stop being such a kneejerk funde.

B. Prokop said...

Paplinton,

Be careful, because this "don't compartmentalize" thing can run both ways. Many of the pioneers in animal rights were staunch theists, such as Henry Bergh and Frances Power Cobbe (both Unitarians).

And let's not forget the great Catholic saints, St. Francis and St. Anthony of Padua, who preached the innate dignity of all animal life.

In fact, God Himself proclaimed His love for animals, first by creating them, and secondly by choosing to be born in their midst, in a stable. (Remember, Christmas is coming!)

Your uber-simplistic notion of Christians being somehow gung-ho animal abusers is purely and simply nonsense.

BenYachov said...

Aquinas forbade unnecessary and gratuitous abuse of animals.

BenYachov said...

Paps I have a BA in psychology.

Do you?

Anonymous said...

And Christians have ample reason to maintain the dignity of animals, even if those animals do in fact lack a conscious awareness of pain, even if their origins are in evolution.

Atheists, meanwhile, have used "animals are just machines for our uses" to justify everything from widespread culling of animals to factory farming to gross and pointless animal experiments. Because remember, so long as you say "science" you can justify anything. Even animal torture.

Anonymous said...

"Paps I have a BA in psychology.

Do you?"

That would be way too difficult for Paps. He's a typical "teacher". He wants to have authority, not earn respect.

BenYachov said...

>conscious awareness of pain.

I would prefer intellective conscious awareness of pain.

Animals can have a consciousness of Sense.

BenYachov said...

>Origin of the Human Species. This last work has just been published in a second edition (Sapientia Press: 2003) with a new foreword by Dr. Michael J. Behe.

I've read it unlike some of us. He spends whole chapters arguing how evolution is compatible with Theism from a Thomist point of view.

But he does give a philosophical analysis of YEC, ID and Hindu views as well without endorsing these views he says.

Stephen Barr PhD in Physics & a Catholic is a militant opponent of ID yet he endorses the book NEW PROOFS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD which has a contribution by an ID supporter.

Your tendency Paps to argue guilt by association is silly.

Papalinton said...

Yachov
"Paps I have a BA in psychology."

Ah! a certificate of attendance from a religious tertiary institution? Just asking.

A BA in Psychology and you still believe in mythos as the basis for reality. ;o(

Now this is real ad hominem. ;o)

BenYachov said...

>Ah! a certificate of attendance from a religious tertiary institution? Just asking.

No I graduated from a Secular Private College. Adephi University to be exact.

BenYachov said...

>Now this is real ad hominem. ;o)

I agree & of course that makes it a bad argument by nature.

You deny God Paps and yet it hasn't made you more rational.

Sad.

01010101 said...

Yakkie with a BA in Freudian studies

Now we know why yr so ridiculous, hardly superior to the phony baptists and zionists.

Papalinton said...

Yachov
"Your tendency Paps to argue guilt by association is silly."

How so? How does commenting on a work by someone who's whole life and perspective is underpinned by the mythos of divine creation, and that that work is not influenced by such a perspective, be called 'guilt by association'? Clearly christians, no matter what field their chosen vocation are either OECs or YECs, both of which are simply a superfluous overlay over evolutionary science investigations.

"Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là.” Pierre-Simon Laplace

Another compelling insight from one so old yet so wise:

"Gods of course did not reveal everything to mortals from the beginning, but in time by searching they improve their discoveries."
Xenophanes and M.R. Wright (Translator). "Fragments." in: Philosophy.Gr.

BenYachov said...

So now you are defending guilt by association?

Right! Sure pal. Whatever helps you sleep at night.

(BTW I noticed you ignored my references to Dennet and Nagel)

Papalinton said...

Hi Ben
Adelphi university.

Yes I know of it. It is considered as one of the first tier universities in the US. Good choice.

I dips me lid.

01010101 said...

Moralistic attack on Stove--hmmmm. Sign of a phony. Stove was not PC (and not..a believer) but hardly a nazi.

Where are some of your recent writings, "Paps" (probably one of the mormon troll's slightly clever spam attacks).

BenYachov said...

>Yes I know of it. It is considered as one of the first tier universities in the US. Good choice.

>I dips me lid.

Thank you Paps. It was a good school. I miss it.

Ilíon said...

Walter: "What is the difference between suffering and pain, Master?"

A good save; a worthy response.

Ilíon said...

Son-of-Confusion: "Aquinas forbade unnecessary and gratuitous abuse of animals."

God -- the real one, the one you join Paps in hating -- forbade such long before the Ox was born.

Ilíon said...

"As for Stove he believed in Evolution and disbelieved in God right up to when he took his own life."

Well, sure, he believed in "evolution" (whatever he meant by that), for what other option has a God-denier? Yet, for all that, he despised the never-ending illogic of Darwinism, which is the only "evolution" permissible.

BenYachov said...

Wow Paps said something nice to me!

Which I am grateful for.

llion OTOH hates me for some reason I can't fathom?

Did I slay a relative of his on a MMORPG battlefield somewhere?

God forbid his son?

(Two points to Paps if he can guess which movie I stole that from?)

Ilíon said...

Shackleman: "Given these first-hand experiences, I think animals probably do not suffer even when they appear to be in pain. They lack what appears to be a missing ingredient, necessary for suffering: that is, they are missing *conscious* experience consistent with suffering and therefore probably are *not* suffering."

So, are you closer to understanding my point, made when we were exchanging emails, that the famous "Argument From Pain/Evil" is not a rational, but rather an emotive, argument? And that to hold a grudge against God is pointless?

Shackleman: "... and yet I just sort of didn't mind so much. It was very uncomfortable and I *should* have been suffering, but, I just didn't care and wasn't suffering at all, even though my body was reacting in a way consistent with suffering."

Are you closer to understanding my belief that "in Heaven" none of the indignities and injustices inflicted upon us, no matter how awful, will matter very much to us? And that to hold a grudge against God is pointless?

Anonymous said...

Wow...there are individuals here who actually think that animal pain is equivalent to planetary "pain"?

Speechless. Absolutely speechless.

G. E. M. Anscombe famously held that there are some positions that are so odious that in many cases the proper way to respond to someone who holds them is not to discuss his error with him, but rather to refuse to discuss it. Even still, it is surprising that such a corrupt statement floats through this thread relatively unbloodied.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Ben
"MMORPG battlefield " Movie? I dunno; maybe 'Lord of War' or 'Star Wars' or some such?
:o)

Anonymous said...

Let the record show that, on the subjects of consciousness and psychology, Papalinton is an admitted amateur, while Ben Yachov is someone who at least went and got a BS.

Anonymous said...

Geek alert!

01010101 said...

Yackhie sound more....Kissinger like with each brainfart.


Go back to the ortho-jew sites, dreck

BenYachov said...

BA in Psychology minor in religious studies actually.

MMORPG part was added.

The did I kill a relative of his....God Forbid his son is from MASTER AND COMMANDER, THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD with Russel Crow.

Good try thought Paps.

Cheers.

BenYachov said...

@Anon 10:51,

Some people are just cowardly pussies who can't deal with rational philosophical argument or follow one.

Morally animal pain is no more significant then any other matter damaging matter but it is still immoral for humans to gratuitously cause animals pain for no good reason.

God is not a moral agent. But I have already discussed this in the past.

Torturing animals for fun will still send an unrepentant human to Hell even thought experimenting on them to cure human sickness will not.

BTW I don't for a second believe you ever read Anscombe.

Shackleman said...

Ilion,

My answer to both of your questions is "yes".

Shackleman said...

BenYachov: "Morally animal pain is no more significant then any other matter damaging matter.... "

This is a very important point, and can be used to show what is confused reasoning by many an atheist.

Given materialism/atheism, *all* is matter upon which the blind forces of physics are being applied. Therefore "suffering" is a meaningless word. What looks like pain and suffering in the tortured dog is merely a C-fibre reaction to stimuli.

Now, of course I don't agree, but that is the necessary conclusion of their worldview.

Unfortunately though, it seems so few materialists/atheists are willing to confront this unpleasant necessary truth of their position.

Their inconsistent reasoning is striking, and somewhat disturbing, and leads to odd dichotomies of positions such as being outraged by the hunting of animals for sport because, well it looks like the animals are in pain, whilst simultaneously promoting abortion rights even though it looks like the fetus is in pain.

(not trying to hijack the thread and make it an abortion soup box----just using it as a clear example)

Walter said...

If we tie a dog down and slowly saw its leg off without anesthesia, we can comfort ourselves with the knowledge that the animal is not *truly* suffering. Yes, the animal will be screaming with the sensation of extreme pain but somehow that is not suffering? You have to be capable of abstract thought before you can truly suffer?

What a crock!

BenYachov said...

That is a nice play on emotion Walter but what you are really saying is "If we tie a human child down and slowly saw its leg off without anesthesia,etc".

You are projecting human subjective experience into the animal nothing more.

Of course an animal will scream. Of course the asshole who does this purely for fun will go straight to Hell when he dies.

I would never do this to any of the Fallout 3 character in my video game even thought I know nobody will in face suffer and the game avatars don't even have the consciousness of sense and animal would have.

But I have no reason to believe it's subjective experience would be unequivocally identical to that of a human. I have no reason to believe anybody is there at all having that experience.

When my intellective powers where undevaloped as a baby I didn't experience this suffering when they cut off my foreskin.

So I have no reason to believe animal suffering is real. Animal pain yes but suffering like a human. No I'm sorry.

Make me a rational argument & forget about appeals to emotion.

I don't accept "God must exist or Hitler got away with it". Your appeals to emotion don't move me either.

Shackleman said...

Walter, the foreskin of my private was brutally ripped in two and then severed without any anesthesia. Like all babies who are circumcised, I screamed and shook violently and was in obvious tremendous pain.

My position is that, though I was in pain, I was not suffering. I claim this because of my first-hand experience of it. Pain yes, suffering no. Besides an emotional outburst from you, do you have any rational argument that would convince me otherwise? Perhaps you can at least start with what your definition of "suffering" is and how it differs from "pain". Can you have one without the other? Do we suffer when a loved one dies? If yes, where does it come from since it doesn't cause us physical pain? Do some people experience pleasure from being spanked? If yes, why does that sensation of pain not cause them to suffer and instead is pleasurable?

So far, all you've shown is that you're very emotional about the topic, (and I empathize, but for different reasons) but I haven't seen much in the way of argument or critical thought yet.

BenYachov said...

Thank you Shackleman.

I think Walter thinks because we believe this about animals that means we believe you can do what you want to any animal.

But you & I know that is not the case & I have even said gratuitous torture of animals will send you to Hell.

BenYachov said...

Also Walter makes a strong equivocation between pain vs suffering. Neither Shakelmen or I do.

Shackleman said...

Agree completely, Ben. It's odd to me how the non-theists in this thread imply that Christians are somehow "evil". Yet, ask them what "evil" is, and, if they're being consistent (I know, not common), their answer would be "no such thing".

This is what I mean by their confused and inconsistent reasoning. I've said before on this blog, that the Argument from Evil/Suffering lead me *away* from atheism and *toward* God as described by Christianity.

Given atheism, "evil" doesn't exist.

Evil exists.

Therefore atheism is false.

BenYachov said...

>Agree completely, Ben. It's odd to me how the non-theists..

Walter is an Agnostic with strong Deist leanings.

Shackleman said...

Yeah, I was an agnostic too. And then I decided to actually seek answers, rather than continue to ask an infinite series of hypothetical questions designed to keep me from ever making a stand.

I would never call anyone else a coward because I don't know them....but I can honestly say that when *I* was agnostic, *I* was a coward. It took a lot of intestinal fortitude to first realize this about myself, and even more so to stop being one.

Walter said...

Walter, the foreskin of my private was brutally ripped in two and then severed without any anesthesia. Like all babies who are circumcised, I screamed and shook violently and was in obvious tremendous pain.

My position is that, though I was in pain, I was not suffering. I claim this because of my first-hand experience of it. Pain yes, suffering no.


All you are telling me is that you don't *remember* the suffering you experienced as an infant--not that you did not experience any.

Walter said...

Yeah, I was an agnostic too. And then I decided to actually seek answers, rather than continue to ask an infinite series of hypothetical questions designed to keep me from ever making a stand.

I have "made my stand." I affirm a minimalistic form of deism.

Shackleman said...

Walter: "All you are telling me is that you don't *remember* the suffering you experienced as an infant--not that you did not experience any."

Which is why I used a second example with the endoscopy. And which is why I used the example of people who enjoy pain as pleasure. And which is why I used the example of losing a loved one which causes suffering *without* pain. When are you going to answer my questions, rather than dodge them?

Your position is pain=suffering. I pointed to 4 different examples of how that is not so. Rather than confront the examples and argue for your position, you continue simply to repeat that pain=suffering. That's fine, but it's not an argument and doesn't progress the discussion forward.

Shackleman said...

"I have "made my stand." I affirm a minimalistic form of deism."

You stand on sand.

Walter said...

All of this discussion on whether animals suffer in exactly the same fashion as people is simply a red herring. The point being made is that evolution suggests that death, predation, and copious amounts of pain apparently existed long before Man arrives on the scene to supposedly screw up creation with his moral failings. It is a problem because it shows that the creator *always* intended for this world to be filled with death and pain (at least in the animal kingdom, that is). It shows that animal death and pain are not a result of Man's hypothetical Fall but was part of the original "plan." Obviously, none of this is a problem if you are convinced that animal pain is morally insignificant as Ben suggests.

Walter said...

"I have "made my stand." I affirm a minimalistic form of deism."

You stand on sand.


Do tell, oh wise Protestant! Show me the error of my ways.

parbouj said...

Atheism does not imply moral irrealism. I am a moral realist and an atheist. I am not a materialist, but believe there are true moral propositions, true regardless of whether we exist, the material world exists, etc..

But I am an atheist, I do not believe that any gods exist.

Please folks let's be clear: atheism is not equivalent to vulgar materialism. Read Frege, Russell, Quine, Putnam, Chalmers, Bonjour, etc. etc..

BenYachov said...

>All of this discussion on whether animals suffer in exactly the same fashion as people is simply a red herring.

Not at all that is the point. If animals feel pain and that causes them to suffer in the same way humans do then that is at issue.

Because if they don't suffer as humans do then the whole "Why would God create threw Evolution with it's red tooth in the claw approch is the red herring.

>The point being made is that evolution suggests that death, predation, and copious amounts of pain apparently existed long before Man arrives on the scene to supposedly screw up creation with his moral failings.

Rather man's fall lead to his own suffering but the pain of animals is not suffering and thus is irrelevant. Which is why many Church Fathers who believed in YEC had no problem believing animals hunted and killed before the fall.

>It is a problem because it shows that the creator *always* intended for this world to be filled with death and pain...

But I would have no problem living in a world with death and pain but no suffering.


> It shows that animal death and pain are not a result of Man's hypothetical Fall but was part of the original "plan."

Which vexes YEC who holds too the ANSWERS IN GENESIS view of the Fall. Catholic YEC's accept anaimal death & pain before the fall but suffering is unique to men and angel and or beings with intellects.

>Obviously, none of this is a problem if you are convinced that animal pain is morally insignificant as Ben suggests.

Ilíon said...

Son-of-Confusion: "God is not a moral agent. But I have already [yammered-on about] this in the past."

Anyone who has read the Bible understands that God disagrees with the twin and related assertions that he is impersonal and amoral.

Ilíon said...

... anyone who has carefully reasoned about God and man understand that the twin and related assertions that God is impersonal and amoral cannot be true.

BenYachov said...

Ilion,

How can Jesus be born under the Law if as God He is already under it by being a moral agent?

B. Prokop said...

Walter writes:

It is a problem because it shows that the creator *always* intended for this world to be filled with death and pain (at least in the animal kingdom, that is). It shows that animal death and pain are not a result of Man's hypothetical Fall but was part of the original "plan."

But surely that only must be the case if you posit a deity within time. the creed states that God is "Maker of all things visible and invisible". that would include time. So actions within the time stream (such as the fall) can have consequences prior to the action (such as pain and death within nature), just as a rock thrown into a pool will result in ripples spreading out in all directions.

Once one grasps this idea, there is no impediment to an effect occurring in one billion years BC having been caused by an action within human history. There is no requirement for it to have been part of any original "plan". (Although it very well may have been. St. Paul after all makes reference to creation having been made "subject to futility". I won't even pretend to claim to understand everything that statement might mean.)

(And as to the distinction between pain and suffering, I think you guys are splitting hairs.)

Shackleman said...

Ben: "Because if they don't suffer as humans do then the whole "Why would God create threw Evolution with it's red tooth in the claw approch is the red herring."

*Exactly*. I was going to respond similarly, but you already said eloquently what I was getting ready to so no need.

BenYachov said...

>Which is why I used a second example with the endoscopy. And which is why I used the example of people who enjoy pain as pleasure. And which is why I used the example of losing a loved one which causes suffering *without* pain. When are you going to answer my questions, rather than dodge them?

>Your position is pain=suffering. I pointed to 4 different examples of how that is not so.


Walter,

The burden of proof is on you to show Pain=suffering in all circumstances.

Yeh good luck that BTW.

Cheers.

Walter said...

(And as to the distinction between pain and suffering, I think you guys are splitting hairs.)

ditto

Ilíon said...

Son-of-Confusion: "llion OTOH hates me for some reason I can't fathom?"

Ilíon hates unreason; and he gets very annoyed at persons who insist upon engaging in it.

Ilíon doesn't care for persons who attack him and then act like put-upon little sissies when he attacks the faulty reasoning they employ.

Ilíon said...

B.Prokop "(And as to the distinction between pain and suffering, I think you guys are splitting hairs.)"

As in all threads in which he comments, some of what BenYackov has said is as pointless as much of what B.Prokop or Walter (as two examples) say. But, not everything he says comes directly from his facility for speaking before (or in place of) thinking.

Moreover, Shackleman has offered clear examples of a real distinction between 'pain' and 'suffering'. Another example is childbirth ... it certainly looks like intense pain, but it clearly is not suffering.

Walter said...

Let's see what it says in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, ILAR, National Research Council, 1996 copyright, pg 64:

"The ability to experience and respond to pain is widespread in the animal kingdom...Pain is a stressor and, if not relieved, can lead to unacceptable levels of stress and distress in animals."

I suppose someone needs to send the memo to all Veterinarians to stop using analgesics and anesthesia in their medical practice because Bey Yachov and Shackleman assure us that animals aren't intellectually cognitive of pain.

Right.

BenYachov said...

>(And as to the distinction between pain and suffering, I think you guys are splitting hairs.)

Bob stop enabling him please.

Walter prove pain always equals suffering. Prove suffering always means physical pain.

Because your argument clearly fails if you don't equivocate between pain vs suffering.

BenYachov said...

@Walter,

The wiki article I cited already admitted pain & suffering are sometimes used as synonyms.

But it also point out they can be seen as distinct concepts.

Citing a lab protocol that is not making a philosophical argument on the ethical treatment of animals is not an argument.

Make a philosophical argument or admit you don't have one.

If you do the later it would not automatically prove me right but it will show you need to go back to the drawing board.

There is no shame in that.

Ilíon said...

Gee whiz, kiddies, even human pain, and even human suffering is "morally insignificant" without a context.

Is chopping off someone's leg without anesthesia wicked or good or morally indifferent? The moral significance of even this pain-causing act depends upon the context.

Walter said...

Bottom line Ben, do you think that it is a pleasant experience for a prey animal to be torn limb from limb and eaten alive? Yes or No? If No then my argument stands that it is problematic for many Christians in explaining why the Christian God chose to create a world filled with unpleasant experiences for many of his creatures. It cries out for a theodicy.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I get it! There is no issue here, other than a personal one. The problem is with Christians like me and non-theists like Walter. We are merely being overly sentimental, insufferable nags who are confusing anthropomorphic sentimentalism with rational thought.

Ok.


A bearded father and his young son are walking through Eden. After a few minutes, they come across a pack of hyenas gathered around a large object. They walk a bit closer, only to discover that the hyenas are starting to yank out the intestines of an injured female gorilla. It howls, but the hyenas naturally are unable to care less. The intestines are soon dancing between their teeth like hot, sizzling sausage links. They keep tugging away until the gorilla has nothing but a heap of buzzing flies for a stomach. Then, amidst the deafening howls and the chunks of bloody intestine and saliva flying through the air, the father sits the boy on his lap, gestures towards the fiasco, and says, with a look of purely paternal love in his eyes, "Behold, my child, the deep, multitudinous glories of God! Blessed be His name! Praise his Will! Love every inch of His resplendent handiwork!" Meanwhile, the gorilla's head now hangs from its body by one flimsy crimson thread, and flies are laying eggs in its belly.


...



Right. There's no problem of evil here. There's not even a hint of absurdity within this situation in any form. There's not even an objective problem of aesthetics viz. the aesthetic standards expected of Eden. The issue is simply one of subjective sentimentality.


Well, I find your position of almost Stoic complacency to be patently absurd, and thankfully so do the bulk of Christians and non-Christians. Good luck trying to sell this comical brand of Christianity to the world. If that is Eden, if that sort of world is the direct will of God, then it frankly isn't worth the ticket price of admission. And even if we had a ticket, we would, like Ivan Karamazov, fling it back in God's face without a modicum of hesitation.

BenYachov said...

>Bottom line Ben, do you think that it is a pleasant experience for a prey animal to be torn limb from limb and eaten alive? Yes or No?

Do you still beat your girlfriend yes or no? But I don't have a girlfriend. Yes or no etc...

Walter you are better than this level of sophistry.

I have no reason to believe the animal has the same subjective experience as a human would being eaten alive via Nagel. I have no reason to believe if would be any different then when I was an infant and had no developed intellective memory or cognative intellect and had my forskin cut off.

So there is no need for a Theodicy even if a Theistic Personalist "deity" created the world and of course would need one.

BenYachov said...

@Anon 11:08 AM

Good luck proving to Walter there was no animal suffering before the Fall and that Evolution is false.

I don't have that problem.

Anonymous said...

so i guess Ben thinks of veterinarians as being wholly useless members of society.

BenYachov said...

>They keep tugging away until the gorilla has nothing but a heap of buzzing flies for a stomach.

What you really mean is a "human with Intellective cognition" as a synonym for the noun "Gorilla".

BenYachov said...

>so i guess Ben thinks of veterinarians as being wholly useless members of society.

Ethical ones yes. Ones who do it for health no.

B. Prokop said...

Ben,

I'm not enabling. I think both of you have backed yourselves into unarguable corners, are perfectly aware of this, but neither one wishes to be seen as "backing down", so you both continue to double down on utterly ridiculous propositions. I say you both shake hands, make up, and move along.

After all, we have no need to explain away or justify pain (and yes, suffering) in the animal kingdom. It just is. The burden is on the non-believer, who somehow thinks that objective reality is evil, while denying the possibility of Man's being evil (i.e., pooh-poohing the Fall, a la Papalinton). Now there's an absurd position!

BenYachov said...

>I'm not enabling. I think both of you have backed yourselves into unarguable corners...

No we did that to Walter. If you can do better try it.

Pain is not equivalent to suffering per say.

Otherwise people with unconventional sexual desires wouldn't enjoy a good spanking.
Seeing Mom lying there lifeless hurt more than any physical pain I experienced. Finishing bootcamp felt grate even thought I was feeling physical pain.

I did not suffer as an infant when they cut my foreskin.

The subjective experiences of animals are beyond scientific exploration.

I don't see what corner I am in other then Walter equivocates between suffering and pain.

BenYachov said...

>After all, we have no need to explain away or justify pain (and yes, suffering) in the animal kingdom. It just is. The burden is on the non-believer, who somehow thinks that objective reality is evil, while denying the possibility of Man's being evil (i.e., pooh-poohing the Fall, a la Papalinton). Now there's an absurd position!

I don't see how I can be construed to disagree with the above. If anything I re-inforce it.

BenYachov said...

>so you both continue to double down on utterly ridiculous propositions.

I don't see mine as ridiculous. Truth be told I agree with Walter animal pain before the rise of man invalidates an ANSWERS IN GENESIS YEC view of the Universe.

Walter finds pain unpleasant. I get it. He has an intellect that can come to that concltion and he can consciously ponder that fact and communicate it to me.

When Rowe's Fawn does the same I will reconsider my argument. But for the Fawn to do that it would need an intellect and it would need intellective cognition. But if it had that it would not be an animal it would be a human who looks like a deer.

Then it could suffer and not just feel pain.

BenYachov said...

@Bob


Catholic to Catholic.

Ever read THE FOUR LAST THINGS?

http://www.catholictradition.org/Classics/4last-things3f.htm

Read the paragraph Consequently, if God were to send an Angel to the portals of Hell.....

There you will see what I mean by pain vs Suffering.

BenYachov said...

BTW for the record I don't endorse the Radtrad website I got the link from.

Shackleman said...

Wow, go away for a few hours, and I come back to a heaping portion of emotive dribble from all different spades. 'Tis why I comment so infrequently on this blog anymore. It seems few are interested in actually engaging in intellectual debate and argument and instead just enjoy the sport of lobbing insults and waving their hands.

Have at it, everyone.

Ben, I admire your fortitude. Keep fighting the fight. You make a difference!

BenYachov said...

@Shackleman,

I respect Walter & Bob is my brother Catholic.

Bob is a peace maker in the Franciscan tradition so I recognize what he is trying to do.

Walter is a respectable opponent.

The Anon and the weird dude with the binary #'s monker is just plan funny.

Cheers.

Gregory said...

Anonymous said after my quote:

"direct plagiarism--Byro's fave MO. Yr gonna STFU pronto, cyber-stalker."

I'm not sure what Anon is referring to. If my ideas are not my own...well, I'm not interested in "originality" as much as I am in "truth".

I will confess to this: I write with my own style and panache, even if the ideas I present are found elsewhere. I was familiar with, and defended, the "AFR" before Victor Reppert; and I have used it since "..Dangerous Idea". But so what?

"STFU" has been used by multitudes of anonymous cyber trolls...like yourself. So why quibble over "plagiarism"?

I have identified myself by my Christian name, at least. And I haven't hidden the fact that I'm Eastern Orthodox. And I won't deny that I attempt to keep a conciliar attitude when it comes to dogma.

Fortunately, I've come to accept the fact that people are going to hate me no matter what I say or do, so I try to be myself as much as possible. If people don't like it....and people don't believe it....well, feel free to keep on hating. At least I haven't been threatened by pain of death and can enjoy my freedoms---at least for now---within a liberal, democratic Republic. But when the spectral spirit of Anonymity exists, I wonder for how long?

Gregory said...

"The Wind Blatchmaker: How Pevolution Grammar roves outWith signDe" by Ditchard Rawkins

Ilíon said...

""The Wind Blatchmaker: How Pevolution Grammar roves outWith signDe" by Ditchard Rawkins"

Who can say where the UIND (unintelligent nondesign) will blow next?

Ilíon said...

Walter: "Do tell, oh wise Protestant! Show me the error of my ways."

No one with his eyes closed can be shown anything.

What Walter is really demanding is: "force me to admit that my 'agnostic deism' is false", with the coda: "if I never admit that my 'agnostic deism' is false, then you have never shown anyone that it is".

Trying to reason with Walter about his 'agnostic deism' would be like trying to reason with Parbouj his 'Platonic atheism' -- it's logically impossible to reason with someone who will not reason.

Walter said...

Trying to reason with Walter about his 'agnostic deism' would be like trying to reason with Parbouj his 'Platonic atheism' -- it's logically impossible to reason with someone who will not reason.

When you say "reason" what you mean is that I must agree with you completely. Anyone who has a degree of separation from your ridiculous beliefs is labeled as "intellectually dishonest" or a "fool." But that is okay because I consider you to be a poor "joke."

Although I have little desire to converse with a smug and narcissistic ideologue like Ilion, I'll respond a little. Deism is simply the belief that there is a divine creator. Full stop. We make no further assumptions beyond that. Some deists believe that miracles are impossible, others have no problem believing that God does intervene providentially at a macroscopic level but does not answer every single prayer for a good parking spot at the local ballgame. The core claim of a divine creator rests at the heart of every monotheistic religion, so for a Christian to claim that my belief "rests on sand" is to scorch the ground from beneath their own two feet.

Now you can happily go away, Troy.

parbouj said...

iliotroy read frege, quine, bonjour, russell, putnam, benacerraf, and then you will be qualified to open your mouth about me. so uneducated, so typical

BenYachov said...

veterinarians?

Oh for some reason I was thinking of Vegetarians!

I don't see how disbelieving in animal suffering as humans do equates with Vets not using painkillers on animals they treat?

I already said it is morally wrong to gratuitously cause pain to an animal for no good reason.

Even Dennett who surprisingly has a view of animal consciousness similar too mine believes we ought to protect animals and not cause them unnecessary pain.

It's rare he & I might be on the same pain on one issue only. But there you have it.

Anonymous said...

For a devastating reply to Murray's Nature Red in Tooth and Claw, see Mylan Engel's NDPR review of the book, here.

Walter said...

Even Dennett who surprisingly has a view of animal consciousness similar too mine believes we ought to protect animals and not cause them unnecessary pain.

I am not much interested in starting another round of this discussion today, but the point that animals do feel pain *is* the whole point. Did God himself cause unnecessary pain by giving the animals the ability to experience the sensation of pain? For some people it is counter-intuitive to believe in a loving creator who designed nature to include the existence of pain in the animal kingdom--a design that obviously preceded the appearance of man by millions of years, and cannot be blamed on Man's Fall unless you believe Bob or Bilbo's reasoning.

Now as to whether pain "feels" as bad to a dog as it does a human we may never know since we can't ask a dog to rate its pain on a comparative scale. But empirical evidence suggests that pain is not a pleasant sensation for many animals--regardless of whether they are capable of mental anguish or emotional suffering.

Anyway, you and Bob have already answered the question (although in different ways): evolution presents no problems for your beliefs. So, I consider any further debate in this area to be a waste of time. Question asked and answered.

I'm off to work.

BenYachov said...

devastating?

Hardly...Thomists reject Cartesian dualism if Murray relies on it that is a non-starter.

OTOH maybe the reviewer equivocates all forms of dualism with Cartesian dualism?

In which case they should have a talk with our resident Platonic Atheist who is a property dualist & or myself who holds Hylemorphic Dualism.

There are a few replies to standard Theodicies but that is unremarkable. Brian Davies gives the same relies in his book REALLITY OF GOD & THE PROBLEM OF EVIL in two chapters titled "How not to exonerate GodI,II".
Given that Davies & many Thomists reject the idea God is a moral agent that needs Theodices this is also a non-starter.

Then there is this reviewer's unforgivable tendency toward the anthropomorphic fallacy. I am still not given any reason to believe an intellective human's subjective experience is in anyway equivocal to an animal with blind instinct? Nagel is never addressed & neither is Dennett.

to continue...

BenYachov said...

>I am not much interested in starting another round of this discussion today, but the point that animals do feel pain *is* the whole point.

Sorry no the issue is suffering not pain. I can with ease imagine several worlds where there is physical pain but no suffering.

Till that important distinction is recognized the "problem of animal pain" is by definition a non-problem.

BenYachov said...

Finally back to the "devastating" review.

In addition to not making a distinction between pain vs suffering the following statement IMHO based on Common Sense doesn't even pass the laugh test..

"do we have evidence that the HOT-account is false? The answer is "Yes." First, we have reason to think that the HOT-account of phenomenal consciousness is false when applied to humans, because human infants and severely retarded human beings experience (morally significant) pain, even though they aren't capable of forming HOTs." END QUOTE

Except if my Mother didn't tell me I screamed bloody murder when they took my foreskin I would not have known it. Feeling pain is not relevant it's suffering.

Retarded humans have intellective powers animals do not. This uneqivocal comparisons between humans and animals is just so much question begging.

Lame!

BenYachov said...

>But empirical evidence suggests that pain is not a pleasant sensation for many animals-

Pleasant is an intellective value judgment. Animals are adverse to pain because evolution has programed them with it to avoid damage. Lifeforms avoid damage even with primitive nervous systems.

But we have no reason to believe animals "suffer" even if they feel pain and try to avoid further damage.

BenYachov said...

How can something that isn't even a "Self" suffer?

BenYachov said...

>Now as to whether pain "feels" as bad to a dog as it does a human we may never know...

It's not pain as a matter of "degree" but as a matter of "kind".

I felt no physical pain when I saw Mom dead. But the kind of suffering I felt was worst than any physical pain. Even when I feel intense physical pain part of the suffering is intellectivelly contemplating "Is this ever going to stop? How will I stand this? This feels worst that X?".

An animal just feels the pain. He doesn't think about it. That must be so much better. That plus the fact there is no self as I am a self to experience it in the first place.

BenYachov said...

>Anyway, you and Bob have already answered the question (although in different ways): evolution presents no problems for your beliefs. So, I consider any further debate in this area to be a waste of time. Question asked and answered.

Cheers then.

I however still feel we need to frame the actual argument and the presuppositions behind the argument.

Nagel has shown philosophically we can't scientifically know the subjective experience of animals.

If one is a materialist however who believes animals are different from humans in degree not kind. Then they might philosophically infer animals "suffer" in a manner like humans do. Since both are material entities.

So if you are a Christian Materialist (a Christian who believes God made human Nature material only with God being the only non-material reality) then IMHO animal pain = suffering and is a problem requiring Theodicy.

That is my sum.

Cheers.

Walter said...

Sorry no the issue is suffering not pain. I can with ease imagine several worlds where there is physical pain but no suffering.

Till that important distinction is recognized the "problem of animal pain" is by definition a non-problem.


Merriam-Webster definition of pain:

2a usu. localized physical suffering associated with bodily disorder (as a disease or an injury); also : a basic bodily sensation induced by a noxious stimulus, received by naked nerve endings, characterized by physical discomfort (as pricking, throbbing, or aching), and typically leading to evasive action b : acute mental or emotional distress or suffering : grief

Dictionary definition of suffer:

1 Experience or be subjected to (something bad or unpleasant).
2 Be affected by or subject to (an illness or ailment).

Wikipedia on "suffering"

Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, is an individual's basic affective experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with harm or threat of harm. Suffering may be qualified as physical or mental.

Walter said...

Suffering may be qualified as physical or mental.

I think this sentence sums up most of the confusion on this comment thread. I am referencing *physical* suffering, and I suspect Ben is referring to the latter definition of mental suffering. My claim is that animals can physically suffer, even if it impossible for them to experience mental or emotional anguish.

Myshkin said...

Walter,

I, like you, am quite surprised that pretty much all of the Christians here think that animal suffering before is a complete non-issue, no more relevant than "planetary pain." But, unlike you, and as a Christian, I am convinced that this circle can be squared without needing recourse to such ridiculous assertions as "animal pain is insignificant...poses no more of a problem to Christianity than 'planetary pain.'"

The view I am committed to is directly derived from the view which many of the Greek Church Fathers were committed to. That is, that all of creation - living, inanimate, dead, visible, invisible - is holistically connected, that what affects one thing affects all others, and that the initial act of sin changed not just human beings, but the face of the whole cosmos. St. Maximus the Confessor for example argues that humanity was the "priesthood" uniting heaven and earth, and by way of the first act of sin, heaven and earth were disjoined, thereby completely changing the metaphysical aspects of the latter and introducing death into reality. This sort of understanding of the doctrine is well over 1000 years old.

Now, this is where I (and several others) go with it:

If the entire cosmos is "fallen," then this includes not only space and all of its contents, but time, as well, for space and time are inextricably linked. Fallen, cosmological time as we now experience it is but a shadow of true, genuine time. Consequently, you will not be able to, from where we are seated now in 2011, rewind the tape of our cosmic history all the way down the evolutionary epochs up until the Big Bang event and somewhere within this time-line stumble upon the "Garden of Eden," the "serpent," and our first ancestors (call them "Adam and Eve") in their God-intended forms. Hence, it makes no sense, for instance, to speak of things like "evolution, natural selection, predation, death and violence before the Fall." The Golden Age of God-intended humanity simply belonged to another kind of time, and so consequently to another time-line altogether. We cannot hope to know precisely what went on in that time-line. All we know is that it contained the general acts of creation and original sin.

And that higher, more genuine time-line is where our God-intended ancestors fell from into ours, cutting that time-line off, collapsing that time-line into what is now our own time-line, subjecting the space-time manifold, including the past, to the "powers and principalities of this age" (i.e. death and decay), which then caused the past of this new time to reflect those powers and principalities. Hence the long, bloody, wasteful evolutionary process - an exemplary example of death and decay.

In short, the Fall was so radical that it wrecked the entire cosmos, past and present, with Adam and Eve being at the only common pivot point between the original creation and the messed up history, including biological history, we see today (a true physical history that really took place in our current timeline).

Myshkin said...

meant to say "before the Fall" in my first paragraph

Anonymous said...

William Lane Craig commented on animal suffering this week:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer?pagename=q_and_a

William said...

From this paper:


"Overall, acute grief after the loss of an unborn child was closely related to the activation of the physical pain network encompassing the cingulate gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus, the thalamus, and the brainstem. "


Grief and suffering are felt as pain. So, I doubt that claiming a lack of suffering in the presence of pain is really much improvement for an animal.

Walter said...

@Myshkin

Your view is that God did a timeline reboot like J.J. Abrams did with the new Star Trek movie. I haven't heard that one before. Bilbo's theory is similar in that he thinks that Eden happened in a different "realm" and that the earth was already corrupted by Satan. These are some pretty novel theories!

B. Prokop said...

Walter,

You wrote: "These are some pretty novel theories!"

Not really. In the Purgatorio, Dante opined that the axial tilt of the Earth was due to Christ's death and Resurrection.

Seems there hasn't been any original thought since the Middle Ages!

Myshkin said...

Walter,

I'm just trying to flesh out the implications of understanding original sin as not only that which lead to the spiritual corruption of human beings, but also to universe-wide physical corruption.

If I accept that the Fall affected the physical universe, turning it into a corroded version of what God intended it to be, then it seems wholly arbitrary to maintain that it only affected space and its contents and not time, since space and time are inextricably connected.

And something like the timeline scenario I proposed seems to follow from the view that time #2 is different from (indeed, is an impoverished version of) time #1.

Walter said...

Seems there hasn't been any original thought since the Middle Ages!

I have never seen anything from the Middle Ages like Myshkin has proposed. I don't really accept Myshkin's reboot hypothesis, but the science fiction nerd in me digs it.

parbouj said...

walter is winning this one hands down. ben u r coming off as vivisectionist.

incidentally maverick philosopher just refuted materialism about mind. on a 500 word blog post. that dude got my respect there.

unlike iliotroy and many othes here he doesn't conflate atheism and vulgar materialism.

but no comments allowed at his blog.. wtf wussy

Anonymous said...

"but the science fiction nerd in me digs it." ... indeed.
Even for an agnostic, it's actually a rather inspiring vision, deserves a CS Lewis style novel. Something very epic and grandiose. ( Rushes off to computer with authors gleam in eye)
One wonders though if an atheist might remark:- "Good grief, here we go again. No sooner do Christians realize that science has destroyed the myth of some past Eden with the two originals, than they leap into the next gap in our knowledge, and use other possible time space lines to perpetuate their sad myths!"

And so it goes on. Clever minds will never easily be persuaded, driven I suppose by the same needs that are in us all.

The cleaner.

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