Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Satan and the Carnage of Nature

Hello my blogging friends,

Well, we had another FANTASTIC discussion at the Science and Theology Conference this morning (Tuesday). The presenter was Jeffery Schloss, Professor of Biology at Westmont University in Malibu California (Westmont is a conservative Christian University). He is a leading expert on competing models of Evolutionary Theory. With a breathtaking encylopedic command of the material (the man seems to have read everything by everyone on every topic related to evolution!) he presented an overview of the various ways contemporary evolutionists explain the apparent directionality of evolution.

Against most other experts, Schloss presented a vast array of evidence in making the case that evolution seems to be driven by purpose. There IS "progress," and at the apex of this progress are beings capable of choosing love (but also capable of choosing hate). Even if you don't accept evolution (I know some of my blog readers are young earth creationists), you'd have to appreciate the strength of Schloss' argument.

Now for the issue of the day. As you might expect, I tried to throw a monkey wrench into the proposal by pointing out that, while I grant there seems to be evidence of purpose in evolution, there's also clear evidence of purposelessness -- or worse, a purpose to destroy. This is Richard Dawkins' (the famous scientific atheist who just wrote The God Delusion) main argument against belief in God. Evolutionary history, Dawkins writes, is a history of carnage, waste, and pain.

In response, Schloss acknowledged the problem, offered a few reflections about the constraints God must work within to direct evolution to the production of creatures with our capacities, and the like. I then asked him if he felt evolution HAD to be this destructive to produce creatures like us, and, interestingly enough, he denied this. He admitted natural selection didn't require any death or violence at all.

How interesting.

Well, I felt I'd already hogged too much time, so I shut up. BUT, two hours later I found myself being driven to the Airport with him, so I asked him point blank: "Given the high profile that Satan and fallen powers have in the New Testament, why couldn't we explain the carnage that is evolutionary history by simply admitting that God isn't the ONLY influencer in the process? Why not suppose that Satan and fallen powers also influence evolutionary history? And since you (Jeff Schloss) admit that evolutionary history COULD have unfolded without this vast bloodshed, don't you as a believer HAVE to introduce a demonic influence at some point to explain why it DIDN'T unfold this way?"

His response was truly astounding. He chided me for not being explicit about what I was getting at in my question during the session. "I would have loved the opportunity to address this, and my answer would have been bold," he said. Then, getting rather animated, he said, "I'm hestitant to admit it in academic circles because no one seems to take it seriously, but I think there is absolutely NO WAY to adequately account for the carnage in nature unless you accept there's an evil destructive force that pervades nature -- the one the New Testament calls Satan." He said that he believed that God is always working for life, even through the evolutionary process, while Satan is always working to destroy life, even through the evolutionary process.


Folks, this is the first live, professional scientist I've ever found who agrees with me -- and he's one of the leaders in the field!

I then talked about the possibility of "coming out" with this conviction and doing a joint Science and Theology academic paper on "The Satan-in-Nature Hypothesis." He said he'd love to. Like me, he thinks it’s the missing variable in theodicy thinking.

And, we both agreed, the vast majority of our academic peers will regard us as looney.
So what.
Blessings on you all.