The cockroach babies


It’s been a long time since I’ve visited the crew over at William Dembski’s abandoned blog Uncommon Descent, but this post by scordova caught my eye. He’s wrestling with the problem of malicious “designs” in nature, and gets right to the heart of the matter.

Can the Intelligent Designer of life create malicious designs? If the flagellum and other parts of bacteria are intelligently designed, it would raise the question whether microbially-based diseases and plagues are intelligently designed. It seems the best inference from the evidence is that even malicious designs are also intelligently designed.

Always the ID dilemma. Once you start confusing function with purpose, there’s no reasonable way to stop inferring design for everything, even the nasty stuff. And since ID, apart from superficial lip service to polytheism and panspermatism, is just window dressing for good old-fashioned fundamentalist creationism, the presumed design of the more “malicious” aspects of nature poses a theological problem of no small proportions.

I have to commend the writer for taking an unusually frank and forthright position on the topic.

So from the standpoint of Christian theology, God creates malicious designs. If you’re not a Christian, then trying to solve problem of malicious design and the notion of a loving God isn’t a problem. But if you are a Christian, then the explanation of why all the bad things in the world are happening cries out for an answer. I’ve stated before, that one possible explanation is that this is God’s makes heaven more meaningful by making the present world miserable. (See 2 Cor 4:17 and Romans 8:20).

Apparently, contrary to what you might have heard, heaven’s not really all that great. God has to invent things like spina bifida and raped altar boys and murdered babies so that heaven will seem better by comparison. Not that it really matters, because the only people who suffer from such things are, well, people.

How is it possible God finds guilt in a little baby? I will venture my humble opinion by saying God left answers for us in the pictures of intelligently designed biology. When we exterminate other creatures for our own good will and pleasure (like that rat or cockroach), we don’t think of ourselves being unjust, in fact, just the opposite. Hard as it is to accept, perhaps in the scheme of things, humans apart from God’s mercy and love, are like those detestable cockroaches which we give no thought to exterminating.

Now let me stop right there and point out that the writer does not, I believe, regard babies as being “like detestable cockroaches.” He’s considering the possibility that they might be, and that he might need to resort to such a misanthropic assessment in order to account for the inconsistency between ID and his faith. But he’s not absolutely committed to the idea, and would probably prefer a better solution if there were one.

This post is dramatic, not to say sensational, especially because it is trying so hard to grapple honestly with the problems posed by ID, even for believers. They want to impose the Gospel on the cosmos and make everything reflect a certain worldview, and they find that the real world is strangely impervious to worldviews. Their dogmas and superstitions don’t fit reality, and have to be bent and twisted in unpleasant ways at times. The above post is merely a sample.

 

Comments

  1. Chrissetti says

    Of course, while this can explain a generic Superior Being, to whom we petty little humans are no diferent to our regard for cockroaches or bacteria, it does not explain a loving Christian God according to their theology.

    If we are to God as cockroaches are to us, then the Christian God is like a man who apparently loves the cockroaches, let them into his house and knows all the hairs on their legs and the number of eggs in their egg sacs. While it’s easy to see any old human crushing a cockroach, why would the cockroach lover crush them underfoot, make them suffer and pluck their legs off?

    Even as a metaphor, it doesn’t do anything to answer the question of evil in the context of a loving Superior being.

  2. Randomfactor says

    And that man CREATED cockroaches, knowing they’d become a pest. Could’ve done better, made them more useful and sanitary but blames the cockroaches anyway.

    In fact, he only had to refrain from doing one incredibly stupid thing (like creating and planting that cockroach-attractant bush right in the kitchen) in order for the whole thing to work in spite of the kludgy design, and decided consciously to do that incredibly stupid thing anyway.

  3. A+ Hermit says

    As usual, the Pythons say it best:

    http://www.montypython.net/scripts/allthing.php

    (To the tune of “All Things Bright and Beautiful”)

    All things dull and ugly,
    All creatures short and squat,
    All things rude and nasty,
    The Lord God made the lot.

    Each little snake that poisons,
    Each little wasp that stings,
    He made their brutish venom.
    He made their horrid wings.

    All things sick and cancerous,
    All evil great and small,
    All things foul and dangerous,
    The Lord God made them all.

    Each nasty little hornet,
    Each beastly little squid,
    Who made the spikey urchin?
    Who made the sharks? He did!

    All things scabbed and ulcerous,
    All pox both great and small,
    Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
    The Lord God made them all.

    Amen.

  4. says

    All Things Dull and Ugly

    All things dull and ugly,
    All creatures short and squat,
    All things rude and nasty,
    The Lord God made the lot.
    Each little snake that poisons,
    Each little wasp that stings,
    He made their brutish venom.
    He made their horrid wings.

    All things sick and cancerous,
    All evil great and small,
    All things foul and dangerous,
    The Lord God made them all.

    Each nasty little hornet,
    Each beastly little squid–
    Who made the spikey urchin?
    Who made the sharks? He did!

    All things scabbed and ulcerous,
    All pox both great and small,
    Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
    The Lord God made them all.

    Amen.

    -Monty Python-

  5. Steve R says

    The contradiction between an all-loving, all-powerful God and observed reality is easily resolved if you just assume that God is a sadist. From that it follows that the whole Christian “Salvation” game could be a cruel hoax, that if you do a good-enough job of suffering through life you won’t get pie in the sky when you die, but a thunderous “GOTCHA!” and a quick drop to Hell.

    • Jer says

      Actually there’s a perfectly good out for Christians already – it’s called Calvinism. Where you drop the idea that God is all-loving and all-good and instead grant that God is a sadistic bastard who has already picked out a handful of Elect who will get to have immortality in Heaven while the rest of the world is consigned to an immortal life in Hell for his amusement and the amusement of his Elect.

      It’s a workable theology that doesn’t stretch a Fundamentalist reading of the Bible any more than any other Fundamentalist theology does. It’s incredibly hard to sell, though, since most decent-minded people would look at a god with those attributes, think “wow, I hope something like that doesn’t exist” and wander off in search of a less Lovecraftian alternative.

      • Didaktylos says

        The trouble is that Calvinists generally get all uptight if you take their argument to its logical conclusion: namely there is no point in not sinning – if you’re one of the elect nothing you do is a sin; if you’re not of the elect then you’re bound for hell in a handcart anyway and the best you can do is enjoy the ride.

    • chewbacca-stylist says

      The Manicheans had a ‘way better story: a less-than-omnipotent but well-meaning god is opposed by an eternal evilness. God makes the butterflies, Satan makes mosquitoes, and so it goes. It all fits!

      • Jer says

        Oh hell, MOST other religions had better explanations of the problem of evil. Hell some early branches of Christianity had better explanations.

        My favorite is that of some of the Gnostics. The god that created the world was an idiot screw-up who did it by accident. There’s a higher God who wants to help us but he can’t because the idiot god keeps getting in his way. Some sects thought the idiot god was malicious, others just ignorant and stupid, but either way “this universe was created by an idiot god who didn’t know what he was doing and screwed it up” is a much better explanation for the existence of evil than an all-loving, omniscient, omnipotent creator god.

  6. CJO says

    Good ol’ Sal Cordova… takes me back to the days of yore and the Kansas Kangaroo Kourt on Kreationism. Sal was the first sincere, active creationist I ever interacted with online. I was amazed. There are actually people who “think” like this?! Little did I know.

  7. says

    There’s a point at which an ideologue, if he still retains a shred of sanity and integrity, has to look at the rationalizations he makes for his belief and ask, “If this is what it takes to make sense of my faith, is it really worth working so hard to keep?”

    scordova has walked right past that point.

  8. Randomfactor says

    Stuff like this makes me think that the most devastating argument against Christianity is how SILLY it all is.

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