THE existence of pain, disease and suffering is, for many people, a major obstacle to believing in a good and loving Creator. Many Christians, too, struggle with this problem. The man who popularised modern evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin, also found this to be a dilemma. Although he originally began training to become a clergyman, the problem of suffering eventually destroyed any last remnants of faith.
’TOO MUCH MISERY’
Although never an atheist, as Darwin developed his theory, with its millions of years of death and struggle, he had growing doubts about the existence of a personal, loving God. He wrote: “With respect to the theological view of the question, this is always painful to me. I am bewildered. I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world.”1
As far as we know, Darwin never returned to the faith he had rejected. He ended his life very depressed, after suffering years of illness, which many believe was caused by stress due to the implications of his theory. He confided in a friend: "My theology is a simple muddle: I cannot look at the Universe as the result of blind chance, yet I can see no evidence of beneficent Design."2 Darwin’s commitment to his theory made it impossible to retain his faith.
The “theistic evolution” view promoted by so many people in the Church today, provides no solution to Darwin’s dilemma, and no answer to the multitudes of people many of whom would like to believe — who find it impossible to reconcile the existence of suffering with the concept of a loving God. Why would a wise, all-powerful Creator use such a wasteful, cruel process as His means of creation? Many Christians seem to be in a state of denial about this, even though many atheists can clearly see the inconsistency of theistic evolution. Atheist Professor Jacques Monod once commented, "[Natural] selection is the blindest, and most cruel way of evolving new species.... The struggle for life and elimination of the weakest is a horrible process, against which our whole modern ethics revolts.... I am surprised that a Christian would defend the idea that this is the process which God more or less set up in order to have evolution."3
NOT ‘VERY GOOD’ NOW
When He completed His creation, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1: 31). Yet the whole creation is not very good now. In fact, parts of it are very bad. The Bible clearly tells us that this is due to human disobedience at The Fall, and that since then the whole creation has been “groaning”, waiting to be “liberated from its bondage to decay.” (Romans 8: 21-22). If God used evolution then Paul’s words are a nonsense, since creation has been groaning through millions of years of death and struggle, and was never “very good.”
There is growing evidence that evolution has never happened, and is, in fact, impossible. Christians don’t need to compromise with an idea that is so destructive to Christianity and so at odds with what the Bible teaches us about the character of God and the truth about pain and suffering.
1. Letter to Asa Grey, 1860.
2. Letter to Joseph Hooker, 1870.
3. “The Secret of Life.” Interview on ABC, 10th June 1976.