Can sin save the Creator?

My last post about AJ Castellitto’s column attacking evolution has drawn the attention of the author himself, in the comments. In my reply, I pointed out the fact that, by denying evolution, creationists are accusing God of failing to come up with any idea as good as Darwin’s. The Genesis design won’t let species improve and makes it impossible for new species to emerge, which means that sooner or later, as environmental conditions change, all of God’s creatures are going to go extinct under conditions where evolution would have allowed life to continue. Rather a shabby bit of work for an “intelligent” Designer!

AJ’s “rebuttal” (as expected) was to try and blame extinction on sin.

Creation is dying – the effects of sin…. Completely consistent with the Biblical rendering of reality…. You needed 3 paragraphs to spew nonsense & propaganda?

Evolution is on trial here not God

But is sin enough to save God from the mediocrity and failure that creationism consigns Him to?

The problem, remember, isn’t just that species go extinct. According to creationists like AJ, God’s design for creation never did include any mechanism that would allow species to innovate, improve, and generate new species. God’s design explicitly locks down each species to a fixed and narrow range of variations, always and forever, even before the Fall. That’s a bad design. The best it can do is delay the inevitable ultimate breakdown. It can never achieve the power and versatility of an evolutionary system.

Remember, too, that God’s plan of salvation (as the story goes) is supposed to be something He came up with before He even started creating the world. That means He knew before He started that His creation was going to be corrupted by sin—and He still had to wait for the genius of a man like Darwin (a seminary drop-out) to show Him how He could have designed a much more robust and versatile system that was equipped and ready to deal effectively with the detrimental effects of entropy.

Meanwhile, AJ tells us God is not on trial, yet it is AJ himself who is accusing God of failing to figure out how to overcome “probability, entropy & the futility of mutations.” Perhaps he does not intend to, but he really has no choice. There’s only one real world out there, and if he’s going to claim both that God created the world, and that the world has all these deficiencies that keep it from having awesome evolutionary powers, then he’s got to say that God’s design for life on earth is deficient, needlessly fragile, and inferior to Darwin’s idea. And then he has to claim that this flawed and inferior implementation is what God, in His ignorance, believed was “very good.”

The problem with Genesis, and the problem that evolution exposes, is that Genesis is a myth invented by superstitious and ignorant people who understood very little about how the world really works. We can imagine mythical gods we label as “all-wise” and “all-powerful,” but we can’t invent myths that contain information we ourselves do not possess. The reason the Genesis account lacks any mention of any kind of evolutionary abilities is because the people who invented the myth knew nothing about evolution, and therefore the God they imagined was unable to include it in His “creation.” And not even sin can save Him from being exposed as a fairy tale.


  1. says

    Since it’s nearly Burns Nicht I hope I’m not out of place to quote a footnote I wrote to a radio essay on the haggis. This explains (I think rather succinctly) a way round your arguments against Intelligent Design!

    “This does not, we hasten to add, add up to an argument against Really-Stupid Design nor indeed Rather-Weird-Sense-of-Humour Design.”

  2. kraut says

    “then he’s got to say that God’s design for life on earth is deficient, needlessly fragile, and inferior to Darwin’s idea.”

    If we consider all the kludges in the anatomy, physiology to get a body functioning just well enough to procreate to ensure the continuation of a set of DNA we come to the conclusion that a designer who did so in full knowledge of what he was designing (including the knowledge that part of his creation would fail and not stand up to his plans and a blood sacrifice was necessary to correct the failure – all knowing before he pushed the “create” button) is an indication of an incompetent designer – or one who did so with forethought of malice.

  3. sqlrob says

    Evolution is on trial here not God

    Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    One one hand, we have a theory that explains observed evidence over many, many fields. On another we have a hypothesis that has no predictive power and probably doesn’t even rate the title of hypothesis because of all the evidence against. And then you try to add that hypothesis onto the theory?

    The only way to do that is with a lot of evidence. So, evidence for God, put up or shut up. And I mean evidence. No platitudes, no philosophical baloney, hard evidence. First Cause, Ontological Argument, Cosmological Argument, “look around you for the evidence”, none of that is acceptable.

    • Alverant says

      If creationists are going to keep saying “evolution is just a theory” then we should start saying, “creationism is just an opinion”.

  4. Alverant says

    You also have to wonder about a god that punishes animals for the sin of Man. I remember a story where a cop shot the dog of a witness in a police brutality case as an act of intimidation. We see the same kind of cowardly actions. And yes, AJ your god is on trial. You put him on trial, all we’re doing is making it an honest trial.

  5. Iain Walker says

    There’s also the problem that there is no plausible mechanism by which sin (a mere act of disobedience) can result in the “death” of creation. The options seem to be that God either:

    (a) created an initially perfect world, and then deliberately trashed it when Adam and Eve sinned.

    (b) created an initially perfect world, but one that was designed to trash itself when Adam and Eve sinned.

    Either way, God is responsible for death, extinction and suffering, because this was his chosen reaction to Adam and Eve making a decision for themselves. This isn’t an effect of sin at all – it’s the effect of AJ’s pet Alpha-Male-In-The-Sky having a colossal strop.

    Remember, too, that God’s plan of salvation (as the story goes) is supposed to be something He came up with before He even started creating the world.

    And doesn’t it chill you to the bone that there are people who think that a deity should be praised for inflicting suffering on billions of sentient beings just so that he can act out an self-indulgent, narcissistic morality play? Lovecraft has nothing on the mythos of conservative Christianity for sheer moral horror.

    • Len says

      There’s another option: that God created an initially imperfect world. For some reason, that doesn’t seem to go over too well with believers.

      • Iain Walker says

        Len (#6.1):

        There’s another option: that God created an initially imperfect world.

        True, but given the Genesis story in which God does initially create a paradise, those seem to be the main options for how death and suffering “entered” the world.

      • kraut says

        How can a being its worshipers call perfect even conceive of a imperfect creation?
        How can it then go forward to create imperfection?
        Creating and conceiving imperfection does mean this being is after all not perfect.

  6. busterggi says

    If one believes Genesis then sin is what saved humanity – without sin there would just have been two immortal gardener/slaves and no human race.

    And Yahweh would be eternally whining about having no multitudes to worship him or be damned eternally although worshiping Yahweh eternally is the same imo.

  7. stever says

    I’ve heard Biblical literalists say that before the Fall, nothing died. That might have made sense to a bronze-age subsistence herdsman who thought of the Earth as infinite, but even the classical Greek logicians would have realized how resoundingly stupid that is. It’s right up there with the solid sky (the “firmament”) that has windows in it. I suppose all of our outgoing spacecraft have just happened to hit an open window. You can’t argue with these people. It’s not just joining a battle of wits with an unarmed man, it’s attacking a man who is wearing the impenetrable armor of willful ignorance. You can’t hurt him and he can’t hurt you, but he can just sit there until you’re exhausted, then declare victory.

  8. had3 says

    If nothing died before the fall, then why was there a tree of life in the garden for which Adam & Eve were expelled from so they wouldn’t eat of it? (The biblically stated reason they were expelled, otherwise they have both knowledge and immortality and are thus gods.)

    • Deacon Duncan says

      It must have been very difficult for all those animals to eat all of those plants without killing any of them. I wonder how the plants survived being digested?

      • James Willmott says

        My main problem with the whole ‘nothing dies Before The Fall” is this. If nothing died, then there were clearly no predators.

        But we have predators now, who are beautifully designed to hunt and kill things, so where did they come from?

        The argument that lions have sharp teeth to open coconuts or whatever, falls flat when you consider that the animal is built for speed , has forward facing eyes, and the instinct to kill etc, all requirements of a GOOD design for a hunter.

        The sheep has sideways facing eyes and gathers in herds for protection… GOOD designs for a prey animal that doesn’t want to be eaten, but if there was no death planned from the beginning, then why make prey animals this way at all?

        Creationists claim the design of the world is obvious just by looking at it, so lets look. It would appear though that God clearly wasn’t the creator, since animals are designed with death in mind, either they hunt , are hunted, or eat things that die naturally. This was supposedly never God’s intention.

        One could argue that the Fall magically ‘changed’ animals into their present form when everything went to hell in a hand-basket, but then that removes God as the creator again, since it is now the Fall that is responsible for the current shape of the world.

        Evolution moves too slowly for animals to change from herbivorous to carnivorous diets over the thousands of years given to us by creationism, but even if it were possible, we see animals today that HAVE evolved diets and we can see the origins of their original diets in their digestive systems. Whales are carnivorous yet have the internal structures of herbivores, ( and vice-versa for pandas ). We would expect ALL predators to have obviously herbivore digestive systems today if they had evolved from a deathless pre-Fall animal.

  9. says

    Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

    For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

    h t t p : / / w w w . w e s t e r n j o u r n a l i s m . c o m / i f – t h e r e – i s – n o – g o d – p a r t – i /

    • Deacon Duncan says

      Yes, I’m familiar with the stories men tell about some fantasy future where we’ll all have magical powers and everything will be perfect. As I pointed out in my post, however, the God who is supposed to do all this wonderful stuff is a mythical god. Blaming extinction on sin, and promising that someday creatures will stop going extinct, doesn’t save the myth from the problem of God originally failing to figure out how to design a creation capable of recovering from the consequences of that alleged sin problem. The Creator’s failure to know about things His inventors didn’t know is a dead give-away of His mythical nature and human authorship.

      And it’s creationists like you who are insisting that God could not possibly have come up with anything close to the power and sophistication of an evolutionary design. It’s your argument, and if the consequences make you unhappy, you have no one to blame but yourselves.

  10. says

    h t t p : / / w w w . w e s t e r n j o u r n a l i s m . c o m / i f – t h e r e – i s – n o – g o d – p a r t – i i /

    h t t p : / / w w w . w e s t e r n j o u r n a l i s m . c o m / a t h e i s m s – a t t a c k – c h r i s t i a n i t y – d e s t r o y i n g – a m e r i c a n – l i b e r t y /

    [NOTE: links have been disabled for this comment and others, see my reply below — DD]

    • Deacon Duncan says

      Just to clarify, the purpose of this blog is to provide my audience with interesting and informative reading, and comments are required to live up to the same standards. The comments section is open to all who wish to engage the arguments I present, whether pro or con, provided they sincerely attempt to engage in genuine dialog regarding the issues at hand. This rules out comments such as spam, link-farming, gratuitous promotion of personal posts elsewhere, trolling, baseless insults and slanders, and so on.

      If you wish to respond to the things I am writing, then you are welcome to do so, but in general the responses that get published will be the ones that (a) identify the specific issues they are trying to address, and (b) actually address the issues.

      If you are making points that you have discussed more fully elsewhere and would like to link to those posts as a footnote, then you are also welcome to do so.

      You are not welcome to submit bare links to posts that promote ignorance, superstition, gullibility, intolerance, and so on, and that are only marginally or tangentially related.

  11. Al Dente says

    The problem I see is that the creationists’ god may be omnipotent, omniscient and various other omnis but he isn’t particularly wise. According to the propaganda he set up Adam and Eve to fail and then punished them and the rest of the world for their failure. If I do evil or malicious things then punish me for those sins, don’t punish me for something someone else did thousands of years before I was born. That’s just plain mean.

  12. Nightshade says

    How do we distinguish between ‘descent with modification by natural selection” and descent with modification by intelligent selection?Between “apparent design” and real design?

  13. kraut says

    “How do we distinguish between ‘descent with modification by natural selection” and descent with modification by intelligent selection?Between “apparent design” and real design?”

    Agriculture is “intelligent selection”. An animal is selected towards a particular goal, i.e. pest resistance, milk production, meat production – maximizing the goal while minimizing selected energy input, be it pesticides, food, water etc. but at the same time increasing other inputs – care, nutrients, etc.

    Those goals typically and almost always produces animals or plants that would do survive without extensive care in the areas not selected for.

    Natural selection typically produces “all rounders”, animals with a set of abilities to just get by to produce the next offspring.

  14. Iain Walker says

    Nightshade (#13):

    How do we distinguish between ‘descent with modification by natural selection” and descent with modification by intelligent selection?Between “apparent design” and real design?

    By demonstrating the existence of a designer and showing that the phenomenon in question shows the hallmarks of its usual design process. “Being designed” is an empirically-determined historical property of a phenomenon, and as such, there is no independent criterion for design that is revealed just by looking at it. To tell if something is designed you need to know what designers there are, what sort of things they design, and how those designs differ from naturally occurring objects. If you don’t have that background knowledge, then you have no basis for making the distinction between design and non-design at all.

    • corwyn says

      there is no independent criterion for design that is revealed just by looking at it.

      There is, if you can look at multiple generations. There is a speed limit to how fast modification with natural selection can take place. There is a *much* higher speed limit for how fast modification with intelligent selection can take place.

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