Animal suffering and transworld depravity

This is a fine article, but I wonder if they are too quickly rejecting the idea that the world is the way it is due to human sin.

Let me run my molinist proposal: God saw that no matter what type of world he would create humans in, we would always end up blowing it. Creating the universe in some sort of immortal state would be no type of world for fallen humans to live in. This would be a type of hell. Therefore, God chose to create the world with inherent decay and death from the big bang onwards because he foreknew that regardless of what type of world he would create, humans would always fall. And this type of world was the most suitable world for fallen humans. This is not a punishment, like it is for Dembski, but a pedagogic world suitable for our restoration to God.

This can be attached to the “only way” argument but also enable us to say that if God foresaw a world where humans would not have sinned, maybe he would have created that one without all the death inherent to evolution. So in a way, it IS because of us that earthquakes ans famines, and animal suffering have existed for millions of yrs.



@structureoftruth and @Philosurfer?

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This proposal might have been what kept my ThM thesis from getting higher marks because the second reader hated speculation. But I still think it’s a good idea! Haha


One question that this doesn’t address is the place of the cross and incarnation in all this. I think that’s a weakness. It seems to go in the direction of making the incarnation contingent upon human sin, which I’m not comfortable with…

@vjtorley, I know you’ve suggested something similar but maybe more retributive. Thoughts?

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I like how you are inferring a good purpose to death, to limit evil. I make the same move in the GAE.


I think there are interesting points to molinism, but to me the big weakness is that we don’t have access to middle knowledge, we only have access to the world we have. So any reasoning from molinism seems to be post hoc and above argumentation. In other words, maybe God saw that in all possible worlds we blow it, maybe he didn’t, we have no way to know without having God’s omniscience. I think molinism works as a philosophical way to understand free will and predestination, but I’m not sure how good it is as a basis for arguing any particular outcome.

Or, God could have just skipped all the animal death and decay and put a timer on humans (120 years and you’re done). Your proposal seems consistent with the evidence, but is not the only way to accomplish the same thing so it seems like there must be more to the story.


In your opinion, did God have to create a world for humans? Did he have to create a world for humans that also included animals? Did he have to create a world that contained disease and destruction prior to humanity? If he didn’t have to do any of these things, but did so anyway knowing it would lead to millennia of suffering before humans even existed, I can’t see how humans can be blamed for that choice.


The first question that always comes to my mind is “So what is heaven supposed to be like?”.

Isn’t heaven supposed to be a perfect immortal state? If we are eventually going to heaven, then why the stop off in the world we find ourselves in. Are we going to eventually ruin heaven too?


It has much to do with why God created. This may be familiar to some of you:


One possible answer: Christ’s parousia will have a type of dispositional strengthening. If you’ve ever seen Captain America, what made Captain america stronger and better and more righteous made the villain much more evil.

I see the Parousia as having this sort of effect. But only our life on earth can prepare us for the hidden judgment of the Parousia. As Maximus says, the life on earth is about doing while the afterlife is about “undergoing.” This means a state of purification and deification for hopefully everyone though some may choose to hate Christ and move towards eternal ill-being (hell).

Because the Parousia will manifest The Good in its purest form, I believe that it will “set” wills in place so that those destined for heaving will undergo purification and eventual perpetual deification, while those who hate Christ would never choose anything differently later because the Parousia is the manifestation of truth that the will can’t go back on and change its mind about.

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I see God as interested in the glorification of ALL creation, and its participation in Him. Only human beings can lead all of creation into participation with God because they contain all of the animal and plant world in them (literally through evolution), but also contain the Image of God. Christ the only true human being, God, was born of a woman who we can then trace back through common ancestry to the first cell(s). God’s ancestor was the first cell on earth. Quite remarkable. And so Christ took all of creation and united thr uncreated to the created so that ALL OF CREATION can participate in the life of God. So yes, ALL the animals, all the millions of yrs of death were worth it because it is the only way for all the animals, plants, rocks, to participate THROUGH human beings in the life of God.

Humans needed to come after everything else so we can lead all of creation to God.

Apparently @swamidass recognizes me as one of the resident Molinists here. :slight_smile: I’ve certainly considered this scenario and agree with @Mark that it is a possibility, given God’s middle knowledge.

But as far as the thesis of the linked article goes, I would also mention (paging @jongarvey) that there just might not be as much of a “problem of natural evil” as we’ve become accustomed to thinking. (If you haven’t read Jon’s book, I highly recommend it!)


Not if it’s our experiences and lessons learned in this life that enable us to not ruin the next one. (E.g. by learning the hard way that making ourselves the authority of our lives, rather than submitting to God, doesn’t work out in the end.)

Maybe I’ll take a look at Jon’s book.

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Since middle knowledge is just God’s knowledge of counterfactuals of creaturely freedom, I would say we do have access to middle knowledge, albeit in a very limited and fallible way. Any time you know what your friend would do in a certain situation (simply by way of knowing their personality and character) you have middle knowledge.

The way that we have middle knowledge is different from the way that God has it, but that is true of every kind of knowledge.

It comes with no less than eleven free Orthodox saints!