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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Origins of natural evil (humour)

Now and then I find something over at Pharyngula that I just have to share. PZ Myers claims that this is the genuine abstract of an academic paper (apparently by an academic at a fundamentalist college in the US). I just love it, especially scenario 1., even if (contrary to information from the commenters at Pharyngula) it turns out to be a hoax. PZ loves the "Satan et. al.", which sounds like an article by the Prince of Darkness and his colleagues.

Here, for your enjoyment:

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The Origins of Natural Evil
Gordon Wilson
New St. Andrews College

In a cursory survey of life it is obvious that a vast number of species spanning most kingdoms and phyla have features that are teleologically designed to deal out disease and/or death. Many pathogens, parasites, and predators have sophisticated genetic, morphological, and behavioral arsenals (natural evil) that clearly testify to the God's eternal power and divine nature (Romans 1: 20), i.e. they are not the result of mutation and natural mutation.

These range from the bacterial type III secretion systems, the cnidarian nematocysts, the toxoglossate radula and apparatus of Conus, the parasitic physiology of Wuchereria bancrofti, the piercing/sucking mouthparts of predaceous insects, and the solenoglyphous skull, pit organs, and venom apparatus of pit vipers. Scripture states that: 1) every green plant was given for food (Genesis 1:30), 2) death and disease are a consequence of sin (Genesis 2:17), and 3) creation was completed on the sixth day (Genesis 2:1). The following six scenarios attempt to explain the presence of natural evil in the biological world from a young earth creationist framework. I will then assess them in light of these aforementioned biblical truths.

At creation creatures that were to become pathogens, parasites, and predators:

1. had dual gene sets: (such as in holometabola: larva, pupa, and adult) one gene set for benign morphology and behavior (sinless contingency) and one for malignant morphology and behavior (Fall contingency) with only the benign genes sets expressed prior to the Fall.

2. had malignant morphological gene sets expressed for an imminent preordained (or fore-known) Fall, with no usage prior to the Fall. Malignant behavioral gene sets expressed after the Fall.

3. had the same malignant morphology before and after the Fall, however benign usage was normative before the Fall. After the Fall micro-evolutionary factors altered benign behavior into malignant behavior.

4. were morphologically and behaviorally benign and then subsequent to the Fall malignant genes were designed, created, and incorporated into the genome of certain creatures transforming them into pathogens, parasites, and predators.

5. were subject to random mutation and natural selection after the Fall transforming their benign gene sets into malignant gene sets. The latter were not designed by God.

6. were completely benign in all respects but at the Fall the enemy (Satan, et. al.) engaged in post-Fall genetic modification and/or bestiality that resulted in creatures with malignant behavior and morphology.

I will argue that the two scenarios that are the most harmonious with both scripture and the scientific data are 1) and 2). Any scenario attributing the presence of these highly complex morphological and behavioral arsenals to random mutation and natural selection is granting creative powers to mindless processes (this is no better than atheistic evolution). Any scenario that attributes these complex arsenals to God's creative power yet shifts their time of origin to a post-Fall creative act, contradicts the finished creation on day six. Finally, any scenario that attributes these complex arsenals to Satan et. al., attributes too much creative power and intelligence to the powers of darkness.

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So now you know how to reconcile the existence of a loving and providential God with the existence of all those pesky parasites and carnivores. Easy, wasn't it?

1 comment:

Wanderin' Weeta said...

It's not a Poe. Wilson actually wrote that, and is dead serious about it. He has legitimate degrees, too. And a serious case of cognitive dissonance, I think.