On a Loving God and The Theory of Evolution: Is There A Conflict?   Leave a comment


In light of Reconciliation #2 between Organic Sciences and spiritual Christianity I felt compelled to Address a particular question that nags people and that question is: How can a Spiritual Christian accept both the Notions of a Loving God with The Theory of Evolution as something at its helm in the Creation Narrative? This question is posed both by believers who deny the notions of Evolution as well as the atheists who deny the notion of a Loving God that is found in Christianity. I became aware of this problem back when I was on vacation with my family this previous summer, as I was in a bookstore I passed by a book called: The Selfless Gene: Living with God and Darwin, that mentioned this issue. I intend to buy this book at a later date, so that I may address the points brought up in the book, but in this post I intend to answer the question based on my own research and understandings accumulated thus far.

The Principles and Problems of Evolution in Light of a Loving Creator

The principle behind the Theory of Evolution is Natural Selection. Natural Selection is defined as, “the nonrandom process by which biological traits become more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers.” Species survive and evolve through the genetic mechanism of Mutation. Species will live or die based solely on the variation in the gene pool and their interactions both internal and external of the species. Does the animal kingdom possess competition, dominance, and extinction within it? Absolutely this cannot be denied. It is through this process that even we came into being as the intelligent species that we are today, we had to compete against various creatures, but in the end we became dominant, and possibly in our dominance we have made some animals extinct. Of course, it would be intellectually dishonest for me to say that humanity is responsible for the extinction of all species on this planet, because we have only really been on the scene for the last 10,000 years or so.

So the problem that is posed to us is, in light of this cruel game of survival and competition on one hand as well as dominance and extinction on the other hand, how can we say that a Loving God would allow such things to happen? After all where there is competition, wouldn’t a Loving God seek to create Cooperation between the species? Where there is dominance, wouldn’t a Loving God seek to create Reciprocity between the species? Finally where there is the finality of extinction, wouldn’t a Loving God seek to save all species from from such a finality? We are told after all that God is Love and that He Loves His Creation! This is the problem posed to us, and it would be intellectually satisfying to answer.

Catholic Teaching on Creation and Scientific Evidence for Cooperation

So let us answer these questions by breaking all these down first and conclude by rebuilding with new answers. So to start let us answer both the question of “After all where there is competition, wouldn’t a Loving God seek to create Cooperation between the species?” or “Where there is dominance, wouldn’t a Loving God seek to create Reciprocity between the species?” There is two-fold answer to this both a Theological as well as a Biological response. First the Biological response and that comes with the simple observation that in ecology there are multiple manifestations of relationships between the species, they are as follows: (1) Mutualism (2) Symbiotic (3) Commensalism (4) Parasitism (5) Reciprocal Antagonism aka Predation.

From the get go already, 3 of the 5 ecological relationships founded within the plant and animal kingdoms are non-dominating and non-competitive and in effect so long as the host and its associate relationships continue to exist together the likelihood of extinction remains minimal. So I would argue then that we can see that in Nature, God has created both competitive but also cooperative relationships within the Animal and Plant Kingdoms. The expression of His Love is not specific to every creature per se [save through being present in the core of all created beings so that it maybe kept in a state of existence], but rather His Love is shown in the whole of these lower two orders of creation through creating more than one type of ecological relation.

Having now completed what I find to be a more fitting response toward those two questions I wish now to answer the other and that is, “Where there is the finality of extinction, wouldn’t a Loving God seek to save all species from from such a finality?” To this I point back again towards a previously cited excerpt of The Catechism of the Catholic Church which reads,

“But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better. But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world “in a state of journeying” towards its ultimate perfection. In God’s plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.” #310

The created world is always changing, always transforming. God has often been depicted as an artist, like an artist, when an artist draws a picture, he does not merely “start painting” but draws outlines and refines the image until it suits him and conforms to His Mental Image, then once the image is truly a masterpiece after his own Heart that is when he really begins to paint the work of art. We can say then that the extinction of certain species is like part of the process of God refining the Image of Creation until it reaches its Perfected Image. Upon reaching that perfection, the great joy of putting color into the image will be had and all of Creation will have realized both its Image and Likeness of the Divine Realm. Again keeping in mind that creation is in a State of Journeying. One could say, that if God removed a species from existence through the evolutionary process, it was done for the perfection of creation that God sought to move the whole of creation toward.

I think we need to examine though the Idea of Love as it relates to the notions of a Loving God. I feel like as if this question possesses a level of worldliness to it that is filled with misunderstanding. When we think of Love as Humans we think of things in terms of “bonding” and “attachment,” I believe we have taken this understanding of “bonding” and “attachment” and placed it on God’s Relationship to His Creation. However, God is complete unto Himself, He is in need of nothing. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church also had said,

“Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this fundamental truth: ‘The world was made for the glory of God.’ St. Bonaventure explains that God created all things ‘not to increase his glory, but to show it forth and to communicate it’, for God has no other reason for creating than his love and goodness: ‘Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened his hand.’ The First Vatican Council explains:

‘This one, true God, of his own goodness and ‘almighty power’, not for increasing his own beatitude, nor for attaining his perfection, but in order to manifest this perfection through the benefits which he bestows on creatures, with absolute freedom of counsel “and from the beginning of time, made out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal.'” #293

With special attention to St. Bonaventure I would like to point out that, His Love is not a “clingy” or “needy” love, it is both intimate and highly personal but in other ways not attached like as if He would be incomplete without that which He would be attached to. God’s Love Transcends Human Understandings and as such we can only grasp [or have the understanding revealed to us] at how His Love is Compatible with the world around us. This understanding then would follow that His focus is on the fulfillment on the Whole of Creation, not particular parts, although in this creation mankind was created with a special dignity. God is not De-glorified if their is competition, dominance, or extinction in Nature but rather through these things we can understand for ourselves what it means to be Cooperative, Egalitarian, and Vigilant with ourselves and our interactions between each other. The true conformity to these values however, would not diminish our uniqueness but fulfill it, for surely if the plants and animals who are certainly lower then us in the Hierarchy of Creation can do these things, then how much is it that we should be able to do it too?

Synthesis and Conclusion

So upon looking at the apparent incompatibility of a Loving God in light of an Evolutionary Worldview we see that there is a dynamic play in the created order. This dynamism is a sign of God’s Love for His Creation as a whole. His Love is such however that it is not Obsessive, it is not attached to anything because God is Complete Unto Himself and needs nothing but all need Him. God’s Love is not necessarily directed toward a specific species of plant or animal, save Humanity who was created in His Image and Likeness for a specific reason. All other parts of creation are in flux, as creation itself is in the middle of being perfected by God Himself, both organic things and inorganic events have come and gone in the past and they will come and go in the future until the perfection of creation is realized.


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