Saturday, January 23, 2010

QUESTION OF THE WEEK - What's wrong with death and suffering?

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January 23, 2010

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Q: What's wrong with death and suffering?

Evolution requires death. At its core, Darwin's postulate appeals to the power of death to remove those less able to survive so that the "more fit" can take their place. Natural selection, in this Darwinian sense, toils mindlessly on, removing individuals, populations, and even entire species. Whether something—or someone—lives or suffers, Darwinism offers only the cold machinations of time and death. Anything more would require existential purpose, after all, and that cannot be allowed.
Evolution, in an atheistic worldview, is morally neutral. When tragedies strike, evolution cannot tell us something is detrimental. Death, after all, can neither be untimely or tragic, since death is the means by which "progress" is made.
If we take the idea of "survival of the fittest" to its logical conclusion, it seems almost absurd for anyone who accepts the story of evolution to think of death as being the enemy. Whether through human actions, animal attacks, or natural disasters, what value can we attach to those lives if they are nothing more than "stardust" after billions of years?
In fact, the consistent atheist could even rejoice that nature has eliminated competitors for resources with the death of those unable to survive such events. Of course, few, if any, rational humans would hold this viewpoint, and atheism certainly doesn't remove compassion. However, this is the ultimate fruit of Darwin's anti-God philosophy: no death can be bad according to evolution.

Continue reading about this pertinent topic on our website in the article Tragedy in a Godless Universe.

News to Note Quick Look

The bird–alligator–dinosaur connection: If alligator lungs are like bird lungs, and dinosaur lungs were like alligator lungs, does that mean birds evolved from dinosaurs? Read more.

Giving Darwin a hand up: Two perennial questions for evolutionary anthropologists are how humans began walking upright and how humans began to make and use stone tools. For one team of scientists, the answers are intertwined. Read more.


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