Here is a quote from James McGrath's blog:
If one had to believe that God directly created parasites to feast on other organisms and devour them alive, it would lead to a far more problematic view of God than evolution does. One simply cannot avoid rethinking one's views about God in light of scientific knowledge, but without evolution, the things we know about biological organisms might necessitate the abandonment of any notion of a benevolent deity.I think this is an interesting point. It seems to me that the simplest way to reconcile the existence of God with the existence of, for example, parasites that feast on other organisms--not to mention all the other messy aspects of the natural world, like death and tornadoes and kidney stones--is to accept that the natural order in all its details was not the outcome of a predetermined divine blueprint that God conceived and implemented from top to bottom.
In order to reconcile the imperfections of our natural world with a perfect God, I could imagine a few possible explanations, many of which I don't consider tenable. I am sure there are others, but here are some possible proposals that come to mind:
* An omnipotent God really did create this world as it is in full detail, down to the lowest parasite, but despite the seemingly imperfect nature of things this is actually the best of all possible worlds (a la Leibnitz), and is the result of a perfect Divine plan that we just cannot understand. Every complex system has unintended consequences if you tweak just one little thing; take away one bad thing, and you instead get something else that is worse. So God made all sorts of compromises, and this is the best he could come up with. (Somehow, the idea that this is the "best God could come up with" doesn't really sound like a ringing endorsement of God's abilities, but maybe that's just me.)Or:
* An omnipotent God created a slightly different sort of world that really was perfect, but then human sin altered the creation somehow and made it "depraved". Presumably the "depraved" world we know is not too radically different from the perfect world that God created; so, for example, in a perfect world, creatures that resemble us humans would walk on a world that would resemble our earth, perhaps even bound to that earth (so they walked instead of flew off into space) by physical laws that would resemble our gravity. But these humans in this perfect world wouldn't die or feel pain. And if the lamb would lie down with the lion, that means that creatures resembling our current lions and lambs would exist in this perfect world, with the difference being that the former would not eat the latter. It is as if God created a perfect oil painting, but then someone spilled a few drops of turpentine on it before the paint fully dried. (This point of view seems derived from a time when the Genesis story of Adam's Fall was taken to be literal history, but even today some Christians, even some who believe in evolution, take this position. It seems to me more feasible to take this view if you are a hardcore creationist. Otherwise, how or why the first human sinners managed to retroactively change the very physical laws of the universe, which were formed billions of years at the time of the Big Bang, long before any sinners were even born, isn't exactly explained.)Or:
* An omnipotent God created the universe, using evolution as the mechanism through which we got the world we have today, and the world today thus reflects God's exact plan. God planned out the details, but the execution was slow and deliberate rather than immediate. This is essentially just a refinement of the first explanation above, except that it tries to reconcile this with the fact that we know that the universe evolved into its present state after billions of years since the Big Bang. (As to why God chose such a tedious, not to mention messy, process, complete with evolutionary dead ends, suffering, parasites, and all the rest-- since this God is omnipotent and could just wish the world into existence--isn't clear. )Last, but not least, here is the position that I favor:
* A non-omnipotent God evoked the universe into being. Evolution is the natural result of the creative processes of cosmic development in place since the time of the Big Bang. God did not plan out the exact and full course of evolutionary development from the beginning. Instead, at each moment in time God offered the best creative outcome for that moment, which may or may not have actually taken place in response to God's lure. Because God could not control the outcome of each individual event, God then had to take stock of the new situation after each moment and respond accordingly with new divine lures to try to take the universe forward a little further. God is thus not directly responsible for the existence of, to name an example, parasites. When God created the universe, God did recognize the full possibility that the natural order would eventually lead to things like parasites, but God was willing to take that chance 14 billions years ago because he/she believed that the benefits of a universe that could eventually produce conscious creatures outweighed the potential problems. Because God is not omnipotent, every last detail of the natural order is not the direct product of a divine blueprint. Instead, God lure the universe forward despite its own imperfections, working in response to the state of the universe at each moment.Ultimately, I think that if one is going to believe in God, the last of those possibilities makes the most sense. As James McGrath points out, evolution provides us with the way out of the theodicy conundrum--but I would argue that this is true only if we don't try to produce some sort of hybrid theology that hopes to merge a supernatural theism with an evolutionary understanding of the universe.